Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ULA-Equipment Rain Skirt

One piece of gear that gave me some mental grief was rain gear. I simply couldn’t figure out what I wanted to carry which was lightweight and kept me dry. For a long time I wore Gore-Tex Paclite, which worked fine until I started sweating because it didn't breathe very well. Getting soaked from the inside is just about as bad as being soaked from the outside (although it was warmer...which is actually more important than anything else). Ultimately I didn't like carrying it because I rarely used it and continually thought it wasn’t worth the weight. I then switched to eVENT, which was wonderful, but again I didn’t like carrying the extra weight because it was an item I rarely used. DWR treated garments worked to some extent and were lighter, but often felt clammy or cool and eventually the DWR wore off. Finally I wised up and settled for a DriDuck/Frogg Togg outfit which worked fine as I had no intent on using it for bushwacking and it was both lightweight and highly breathable…not to mention inexpensive.

My choices in rain gear then pushed me in a direction I never thought I’d go – to wearing a skirt. I figured the lightest pair of rain pants was good enough, but the reality was that all rain pants are generally a pain to put on because it required that I take off my shoes. With the exception of those made with extremely breathable fabrics, most were usually hot, didn’t ventilate very well, and cost more than I’d like.

In the end, I settled on the Rain Wrap from ULA-Equipment ( Now I fully appreciate the fact that a man wearing a skirt comes with it a certain lack of machismo, but the reality is that I choose my backpacking gear by electing for function over fashion. The function of a rain skirt works well, but little did I know the skirt would be one of those multi-use pieces of gear which I simply can’t imagine not carrying at this point. The ULA-Equipment Rain Wrap has many imitators, but I like this version for several reasons. Aside from keeping my legs dry and offering good ventilation, the Rain Wrap can also be unfolded flat to be used as a ground cloth, sleeping system cover for drippy shelters, a modesty wrap when doing laundry and not having a spare piece of clothing, and even a sling. I could envision it as a temporary water container too and other things, but you get my point. It even has a key chain and a small pocket for it to pack into itself into a very small package.

A medium is 2.9oz and $25, a large is 3.2oz and $25, and an XL is 3.7oz and $28… less expensive and more functional than any rain pant that I’ve found.


Squeeze Press said... just posted my DIY on making a rainskirt from an old raincoat:

Jolly Green Giant said...

Diane, thanks for stopping by.

Oddly enough after posting this topic I just saw it pop up on BPL where you also left a similar message. Good for you for being so creative.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jolly Green Giant,
Alright, I've got a pair of the mesh water shoes now I'm probably going to order the rain skirt. Thanks for the ideas. Does it unfold completely, and is it closed up with some sort of velcro set up? I post as anonymous cuz I'm too much of a luddite to figure out how not to but my name is Evan and I like your blog very much. And if you know what the lightest nylon shirts and convertible pants are, (besides Bozeman Mountain Works, too expensive), let me know.

Jolly Green Giant said...

Hey Evan, thanks for stopping by.

Check out the various products by RailRiders and Royal Robbins for mesh and convertible stuff if you want to stay away from GoLite.

And yes, the rain skirt does completely unfold so you can use it flat for whatever application makes the most sense. It uses velcro on the seam to help out with the rain when worn.

Good luck.

Judith Hirschman said...

Has anybody used this as a ground cloth for their tent?

Jolly Green Giant said...

@ Judith - Yes, me! I initially purchased it to do double duty. It worked fine, but isn't a long-term solution due to the abrasion.