Derrek Sigler 04.19.21
No one really likes getting wet, especially when spending the whole day on the lake or in the field. The rain doesn’t always play by the same game plan as you, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out into the great outdoors. We took a look at the latest rain gear for the outdoors and based upon our own experience with what’s out there, we’ve compiled a list of the latest rain gear at various prices and functionality to give you the best possible experience.
We based our opinions on breathability, durability and functionality using our in-the-field experiences with the rain gear, as well as customer reviews from our retail partners. We want you to have an unbiased look at the latest rain gear available so you stay comfortable and dry, no matter what Mother nature throws at you.
Cover image: Shutterstock/ArtFamily
Table of Contents
1. Cabela’s Guidewear Xtreme – Editor’s Pick
I bought my first set of Guidewear years ago right before a month-long fishing trip to Alaska. If you’ve ever been to Alaska in the summer, rain is going to be a thing you need to plan for. The rain gear I had before was less that desirable, as it would soak through after a short while and I’d be wet. The Guidewear is a little pricey, but it works. I still have that set and use it for everything from steelhead fishing in the spring, to ice fishing in the winter. I liked it so much I just bought another set that I plan to keep in the boat. Guidewear is made from GORE-TEX and has fully taped seams and waterproof zippers. The zippers are all oversized to be easily used with gloves on, and the pockets are all easy to reach and big to hold your stuff. Here’s the thing you truly need to know about Guidewear. It was originally designed to be tough and hold up under extreme use. It does just that. I have not been kind to my set and the newer styles hold up just as well. The fit is still perfect and the company seems to have improved the comfort levels.
Tip: Guidewear is perfect for colder weather, but can be too heavy when it’s a warm summer shower.
Pros/Extremely durable and completely waterproof
Cons/The cost can be harder to take at first
Bottom Line/Perfect for cooler weather rain showers
2. Columbia Glennaker Rain Jacket – Lightweight Pick
When it’s warmer out, or when a shower suddenly pops up, you don’t want bulk and you don’t need extreme durability. There are lots of lightweight, packable jackets that fit that need, but my personal pick is the Columbia Glennaker. Why? I have quite a bit of Columbia PFG clothing for fishing and love the fit. When I wanted a packable rain jacket, it seemed natural to try the Glennaker out. It’s a light, nylon jacket with a mesh liner. Nothing too fancy, but it sure fits the bill, and has saved me more than once from getting soaked while out in the boat, or hiking along the trout stream. The pockets are deep and these jackets are available in a wide size range, including big and tall sizes. It’s even nicer that these coats come in under $40! Will this work in an extended downpour? Maybe. I know from past experience with nylon jackets like this that eventually the fabric gets too saturated to repel water anymore. So far, however, I’ve stayed dry in my Columbia Glennaker jacket. It’s Columbia-tested tough and you can’t beat the price or fit.
Tip: I keep mine opened up and hanging when not in use. I pack it down when I leave the house.
Pros/Lightweight, packable and comfortable with a great fit
Cons/Don’t know how long you’ll stay dry
Bottom Line/A great, lightweight jacket
3. Frogg Toggs All Sports Suit – Suit Pick
Frogg Toggs exploded on the scene a few years back and has grown into a company serious about keeping you dry. They have some really cool technical clothing, but for most of us, our experience with the brand is centered around the original-style suit. When makes Frogg Toggs so special is the weight. The suits weigh hardly anything, and will not add any bulk. The secret is the fabric, an unwoven polypropylene that keeps water out and has minimal weight. The suits come in a wide range of colors and camo patterns, and have been used in my house for things like turkey hunting. Ever been on a bird and had the clouds open up for a few with those spring showers? Yeah, it can stink, but with the Frogg Toggs suit, you’re good to go in minutes. Durability was something I was concerned with, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well it held up, even with my teenage sone using them.
Tip: Avoid snags, as the light material can tear.
Pros/Lightweight and extremely packable
Cons/Not very breathable, so expect to sweat if it is hot or you’re active.
Bottom Line/A great option to stay dry
5. Huk Gunwale Rain Jacket – Mid-Range Pick
Everywhere you look these days, you see the HUK logo. The company makes some serious performance fishing apparel and the popularity helps show that it works, too. What we really like about HUK is how the gear fits, with sleeve length and sizing being about perfect for both men and women. My wife loves the stuff I bought her. The Gunwale jacket is a great-fitting packable rain jacket that weighs very little. It has fully taped seams and zippered pockets. The back extends down with a “storm flap” that helps keep your pants from getting filled with rain when you sit down. It looks nice, too.
Tip: This is a great spring/summer weight jacket, so don’t expect it to keep you too warm in cooler temps.
Pros/Great fit and easily packable
Bottom Line/A great fitting packable rain gear system for summer-weight fishing
Waterproof versus water-resistant
A question that gets brought up a lot, especially with coats and pants is whether or not something is truly waterproof. If something is waterproof, it means that the fabric actually sheds water, not allowing it to soak into the fabric in any way. Water resistant fabrics will shed water to a point. The problem comes when water has the chance to sit on the fabric.
Water resistant fabric will eventually allow the water to soak through, and then you’re wet. Be sure to check the tags for the jacket or pants you plan to use as rain gear. There are waterproof nylon fabrics, like those used in a couple of the jackets listed in this story ( Columbia and HUK for example). These are waterproof nylon fabrics, but experience has shown me that is a serious downpour, you may end up getting wet, as it is easier to overwhelm nylon and other fabrics of this type.
How GORE-TEX works
You see a lot of products using GORE-TEX as the waterproof material. It seriously works, and does so by using a specially developed membrane that is patented. This membrane fabric has microscopic pores that allows your body’s water vapor to escape when you sweat, but the pores actually repels water and will keep you completely dry. The material has been around for a while and the GORE-TEX company has refined and improved upon it to the point that it is the best way to stay dry. You’ll find it in everything these days, too.
How long will rain gear last?
Over time, some waterproof material loses the ability to shed water. It helps to not use a washing machine to clean it. GORE-TEX fabrics tend to last as long as the fabric holds out.
Why do I get wet with a rain jacket?
The number one reason for a wet feeling is sweat. Most waterproof materials don’t allow your body to fully shed water vapor from sweating, so you get damp.
Who makes the best rain gear?
For the best gear, the Grunden’s BUOY X line would be our pick for best of the best. The runner up would be the Cabela’s Guidewear line.
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