Rain Gear for Camping, Hiking, And Backpacking

woman holding clear umbrella while standing near trees at daytime

The best rain gear is largely dependent on a lot of things. It depends on personal taste, the activity that will take place, the location where you’ll have to use it, and the list goes on. In this article, we give you a little guide to fight the perfect rain gear for you.

Poncho

person wearing blue raincoat

A poncho is a rain gear that has a rectangle material that hangs over the shoulder and it hangs in front and at the back of the hiker. Some variants offer fastening of the sides in various ways and others have a top hood for head coverage. Some are especially made for backpacking too by having an extra space at the back to give space for the backpack. Generally, ponchos are waterproof but durability varies from one model to another.

Pros

One of the key factors why ponchos are great is their breathability and ventilation. They allow a significant amount of circulation so heat is not kept. They are easy to access and pull out without the need to put off any gears. The majority of the ponchos are affordable and are available in a lot of locations.

Cons

The very feature that we love in this type of rain gear, which is the open sides and sail-like form, is the very reason why it’s so bad at staying in place. It easily catches the wind, thus, it’s easy to have it all over the place. Also, the same feature allows some water to enter in. So, this is best used only with light weather with extended drizzle and little wind.

Rain jackets or rain suits

As the term implies, rain jackets have a jacket and pants which are typically made from Gore-tex. This material is known to be breathable as it allows sweat to evaporate. There are also more affordable variants but they are usually made of rubberized cloth which removes the breathable feature. There are variants out there too that offer zippers in the underarm area for more ventilation. Pit zippers are also available for backpackers to promote easy removal.

Pros

Obviously, coverage is an advantage here because of the jacket and pants combination. Since it’s basically a complete set of clothing, it’s easier and more comfortable to use as when compared to other variants. Additionally, this rain gear can also assist in insulating some heat in when used as a shell for other clothes.

Cons

A rain suit is more likely to be more expensive than other types of rain gear. There are cheaper options, but as discussed, they are made of materials that are not as breathable. This type may cause excessive perspiration. But, some reports that this same problem is also experienced even with those made with Gore-tex.

Umbrella

For obvious reasons, umbrellas won’t be the first choice of frequent campers, hikers, and backpackers. But for casual ones, this may do. If this is the last resort, then at least choosing the right size for you is a big factor. 

Pros

As we all know, umbrellas are compact and can be stored in small spaces and are convenient because they are easy to put out and release once the rain fails. Depending on what type of rain gear an umbrella is compared to, it can be heavier or lighter. Also, this offers more control for the user since it can easily be maneuvered to where the direction of the rain is coming from. Plus, ventilation is not a problem with this one.

Cons

Like some other rain gear types, umbrellas have no power against the annoying wet grass. A drawback is of course having to hold the umbrella during the activity and it leaves at least one of your hands unavailable for other purposes. Plus, it’s no stranger to all of us how umbrellas can just flip if it’s unable to withstand the strong wind. But take in consideration that most of these drawbacks are more applicable for hikers and backpackers than campers.

No rain gear

An option, but obviously the least one, is to not utilize any rain gear at all. This may decrease body temperature and may further expose you to some harmful elements. 

Pros

Since there’s no rain gear, you are left with less baggage, thus, less heat buildup. The body is cooled down by rain. Just remember to always change eto dry clothes once the weather or the situation allows! 

Cons

A rain gear is a hiker’s best friend, but if there’s no choice, at least be strategic with planning the locations of the trip. It can be tedious having to change and carry wet clothes along the way. Additionally, having wet clothes all the time may induce hypothermia which can create events that are rather avoidable only if a rain gear is available.

Final thoughts

For hikers and backpackers, a great rain jacket is enough to do the trick. Using a rain cover for your backpack is also a great idea. If you decide to use a full rain suit, take note that it can build up sweat which makes the hiker even more wet as compared to when she allows some drizzle in. Some cold rain is a lot better than having to deal with sticky hot sweat.

If you’re in for just some camping trips, a light poncho or umbrella is sufficient. They are cheap and they can do the job. On the other hand, if a person is not using a cooking tent, a poncho will be a great option since they allow the hands to move freely. 

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