By Cameron Ownbey

It’s that time again… the wet season around here. But even when it’s clear and dry, I always pack my rain pants. They are one of those bits of gear that does more than the name implies. Take a look!

Whether you are sitting around camp in the cool evening, fending off mosquitoes or actually using them as rain pants I always have a pair with me.   They even seem to make bushwhacking a little more pleasant allowing you to slip by devils club or blackberry bushes with minimal damage to your legs. While during the summer months it might seem a little silly to have a pair I always bring them. They usually end up being more stuffing for my makeshift stuff sack pillow but are nice to have just in case.

There are specific features  you should probably look for to optimize this awesome piece of gear.

1)Rain pants are manufactured by all of the major brands.  Typically made from the same ‘Goretexish’ material your rain jacket is made from. Probably not wise to select those off-brand varieties you occasionally see made out of cotton, crepe paper or fruit leather. I have tried these and, well, let’s just say it was a problem.

2) Side zippers full or half. Consider your boots and how you get your gear on and off. A little more zipper can ease a burden in certain circumstances.

3) Re-enforced mountaineering features.  ‘Kevlarish’ material on the inner calf area is often used to thwart nicks from crampons and some have re-enforced seats for glissading. Note, glissading in rain pants: good… glissading in crampons: bad!

Good use of rain pants!

Personally, I prefer full length zippers on the outside of each leg so that I can put them on without having to take my boots off.  For the minimal extra weight I also prefer the fully reinforced seat and inner calf.  Having the reinforced seat makes me feel more comfortable about sitting on the ground and not worrying about getting a hole in them.  Inner calf because I do use crampons occasionally.

So don’t take the whole kitchen sink when you load the backpack, but take the rain pants. They are a multi-use tool that is worth taking with you.

Happy ‘Packing!


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