As someone who’s spent the last 20+ years outdoors camping, backpacking and hiking, having the right outdoor gear is crucial to enjoying the trails. Nothing is more necessary while backpacking in BC than a proper rain jacket. While our past couple of summers have been hot and dry, we can also see intense thunder storms rolling through the mountains. I recently backpacked into Kootenay National Park to hike along the Rock Wall for 5 days and 4 nights, and while it was dry most of the time, I was thankful to have my trusty Stormtech Stratus lightweight shell on hand for the storm we had on the final night.
While the promotional apparel industry is not typically known for its design, function and innovation, it should be! Stormtech, Sanmar and Trimark are among several Sweetwater suppliers producing high quality gear that can be used equally in the cities and in the mountains. When looking for rain jackets, specifically, there are 3 primary factors to consider:
- Cut: What type of cut do you want? If you will be trekking in heavy, constant rain, you may want a longer cut to keep rain off your backside, but if you’re expecting intermittent showers or a faster pace, try a higher cut with better ventilation.
- Material: While many backpackers focus on weight as the primary consideration, it’s important to think about durability and what type of trail conditions you’ll be experiencing. If you anticipate any bushwhacking or hiking through avalanche chutes, you may want to consider a heavier fabric that can withstand a few branch and rock snags.
- Breathability: Would you expect to stay dry while wrapped in plastic wrap? Perhaps, if you didn’t move, you could stay dry. But any exertion whatsoever will leave you dripping from the inside no matter how dry you are on the outside. Make sure that any rain gear you wear has proper ventilation so that you’re not wetter on the inside than out!
Here are some of my top picks for rain jackets – and a little inspiration to get you out on the trail!