Choosing the Right Weather Gear
Knowing what you are comfortable spending is a good first parameter in the process. Options range anywhere from $40 or $50 on the low end and go go up exponentially for a full jacket and bib combo. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to budget, it is more about deciding what works best for you and your situation more than anything else.
As a general rule, the higher the price tag the more benefits, features and durability your weather gear is likely to include. That said, there are some always some work arounds. We’ll get to a couple of those later.
Type of Activity
The next important consideration involves the type of activity that you plan to do while wearing your gear. What you need for an upland elk hunt in the wilds of Idaho or Alaska—where you face the prospect of cold rain for six days straight and staying dry can really be a matter of life and death—will be something different than the lightweight rain jacket you pack in your bag as an after thought for a day fishing at the beach.
Understanding where you are and how important staying dry will be to your comfort and safety is a great way to guide your buying process. If you spend time on the water, fishing in multiple types of weather, Frogg Toggs has multiple options that will fit your needs, regardless of budget.
Consider the Temperature
Another consideration is the temperature in the place that you will be wearing your gear—and what types of activity you will be performing. If you are headed to hot weather where it likely to rain quite a bit, look at the breathability rating of your jacket. While it may seem counterintuitive that a rain jacket can be breathable, you might be surprised by all of the technological innovation that is available these days.
If you are headed to a colder destination—in a place where you will pack on an extra layer or two of clothing under your rain gear, consider size requirements. If the place you are headed is cold enough, you might even wear a rain jacket over the top of a sweatshirt and a jacket for warmth. In this case, the size of rain jacket that would normally be perfectly form-fitting, might be too small for this application. In such case, consider purchasing a size larger than you would otherwise.
Level of Activity
The next consideration is that of your level of activity. If you need to stay dry while hiking or moving frequently, you might need a higher end jacket than you could get away with if you only needed something to cover you and keep you dry while standing still. If you are in the active scenario, look for features such as hemmed wrist guards (some are even adjustable) that form a water tight barrier around your wrists.
Such features as welded seams and folds of water impermeable material over the top of zippers go a long a way in minimizing seepage into your jacket. You might also look into making sure that the hood is adjustable—either by drawstring or sometimes in the form of buttons or zippers where the sides of the hood meet the body of the jacket.
The rain jacket you’ll need for hunting will likely have an additional feature from those that you need for fishing—and it has nothing to do with camouflage. While any quality, all-purpose rain gear can keep you dry in the woods, if you’re serious about sneaking up on something you’ll need quiet fabric.
Walking around in the woods in rain gear made for fishing you’ll sound like a swishing, crinkling person stomping around in rain gear. With some of the higher end options from Kuiu or First Light, however, you can be both sneaky and dry. The stealth options available in the higher end hunting category are really quite incredible.
By getting a handle on what you will be doing and the type of rain gear that best serves your purpose, you can combine performance desires and budget constraints. How can you do this? Think about what you really need and what you will use the most. Buy the highest quality piece of equipment in this category that you can find. For most applications, this is typically the rain jacket.
You can then round out your gear pack with lower end options of other apparel items. If you have $500 for instance, you might not be able to purchase the highest option of both bib and jacket. In this scenario, you might be better served by purchasing the higher end jacket and spending less on the bibs (or vice versa, depending on your situation).
Once you have a handle on your budget and your situation, it’s then a matter of knowing the terminology. Water resistant means something quite different than water proof. A water resistant jacket might not be able to stand up to a down pour for an hour, but it is likely to be lighter weight and more packable than something labeled water proof.
Checking and comparing the options and ratings on your top choices of gear is a great way to make sure that you get the gear that will best serve your needs.