Hiking Gear Guide
Rain Jackets

Rain Jackets

Remember Your Rain Jacket?
Photo Courtesy of NOAA

I'll be honest. I don't really enjoy rainy days. And I really don't enjoy hiking in the rain.

Yet, if there is anything worse than hiking in the rain, its hiking in the rain without a rain jacket. More than a few people have been dragged out of the Montana mountains suffering from hypothermia following getting stuck in the cold rain that hits the higher elevations of Montana periodically during the summer months.

A Typical Rain Jacket designed for Hikiing

Because of this, anybody who plans on venturing into the Montana backcountry, or even visit the mountains or higher valleys in Montana, should be prepared for some wet weather. While Montana is hardly a rainy place, during the summer rain and thunderstorms are frequently found in the higher elevations, particularly in the mountains. As such, if you plan on hiking or backpacking into the mountains for camping or fishing, plan on bringing some rain gear or rain jackets along.

Please remember, generally, when it rains in Montana - or anywhere else there is tall mountains, it tends to get a lot colder - quickly. The combination of wet clothing and colder temperatures can lead to hypothermia very quickly for those not prepared. Thus, always make sure you have something to keep you dry anytime you head into the backcountry.

Compare Men's Rain Jackets

Men's Rain Jackets at REI

Compare Women's Rain Jackets

Women's Rain Jackets at REI

Rain Jackets - What to Get & Not To Get

When shopping for quality rain jackets or rain gear, there are several things to keep in mind to make sure you get the right one.

Rubber Rain Jackets/Ponchos - NO!! - Do not get those cheap rubber rain jackets or pull-over plastic ponchos. These types of rain jackets are not breathable - meaning that your body perspiration quickly makes the inside of the jacket very wet, very cold and very uncomfortable. While those cheap plastic pull-over ponchos work ok in an absolute emergency, you should NEVER count on using them for any extensive period of time - let alone in remote, higher elevations.

Make Sure it is Packable - You want this rain jacket for outdoor activities, right? Well, if you do, make sure that whatever rain jacket or rain gear you get can be easily packed in your daypack or backpack. You want the rain jacket to pack up nice and small, taking up little space in your pack. Additionally, the weight of the jacket should also be light - less than a pound, preferably. I would strongly recommend picking up a rain jacket that folds into its own pocket - thus avoiding the problem of losing the stuff sack for it.

Go Gore-Tex! - This is just my personal preference, but I highly recommend Gore-Tex for any rain jackets that you get. Gore-Tex material is truly waterproof and is also fully breathable. A Gore-Tex rain jacket will prevent any rain to penetrate the jacket while still allowing perspiration from your body to escape. The result is that Gore-Tex rain jackets and rainwear keep you both warm and dry. Gore-Text rain jackets are also incredibly packable, usually packing down into their own internal pocket.

Three Jackets in One - Do you hate spending money? Good. Me too. Another benefit of getting a gore-tex rain jacket is because the jacket can perform "triple duty" as a wind-breaker on warm days as well as serve as a light jacket on cooler days. In short, by getting a good rain jacket up-front, you can sort of avoid the cost of buying a bunch of other jackets and clothing for hiking later down the road. To wit, my Patagonia gore-tex rain jacket I bought eons ago works as a rain jacket, light weight jacket on cooler day hikes and a wind breaker along the ridges.

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