The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.


The WildeBeat edition 45: Rain Pants Reviewed

This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.

Most people realize that a rain jacket is an important item to bring on wilderness trips, but in many situations, rain pants are just as crucial, and are often overlooked. This week on The WildeBeat; Rain Pants Reviewed.

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News from the WildeBeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.

This is program number forty five.

I'm Steve Sergeant.

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STEVE: [00:37] I talked to three volunteer testers from Backpack Gear Test dot ORG about the most interesting products in the range of rain pants they recently completed testing. Here are their reviews in the order from the lowest to the highest priced products.

STEVE: [00:51] Our first reviewer is Brian Tannehill, from Lompoc, California. As in all Backpack Gear Test reviews, Brian starts out by describing his own relevant experience.

BRIAN TANNEHILL: [01:03] Basically, I've hiked, hunted, camped most of my life between east Texas, Colorado, and California. The majority of it has been, I guess, when I was older in Colorado and California. And I'm just now back into Colorado. Some of my favorite places are on Stanley Canyon on the Air Force Academy. Being new to Colorado again, I have to go find some other places to hike, but Stanley Canyon right now. California I went to the Los Padres National Forest.

BRIAN TANNEHILL: [01:33] The product I tested was the Red Ledge full-zip pants. They were rain pants with full zippers down either outside edge of the pants, and they had Velcro adjustments on the waist and on the cuffs of the feet. The fabric on the pants were a nylon taffeta ripstop, micro-porous polyurethane. And they also had TH-4 waterproof material coated onto the pants. Unfortunately, being out in California I didn't get a whole lot of rain with these. One thing you can't count on is the weather. We had a hundred eighty days dry spell. I did use these in the morning times, there was some trails out near my house that were heavily dewed. So I would go break brush through there. These pants held up well in that, they didn't leak or anything and they didn't get any tears in them, and I was probably in knee-deep brush tromping around out there. Having the zip on the side I could easily unzip them and the air would flow through there easily. I noticed also that while I would hike or walk in them, if I was in shorts, my legs would really perspire in them, but I could unzip from the bottom, from the cuffs, and I could get air flow inside of there. When I evaluated them, the first pair I got, based off of what I could find, online about the sizes, was a thirty-six inch waist, and that's about what I wear; a thirty-four to thirty-six inch. When I got them in though, the inseam was way too long for me, and I wear about a thirty-two inch inseam. So I was lucky enough to trade off with another tester who had a medium pair, and like I thought, the medium pair were a little bit small for me. Overall they did pretty well, I did get into a little bit of rain with them. They did great for that. They did great breaking through any brush, any wet dew stuff in the morning. So if you can definitely try them on before you get them, you know, I would definitely do that. They've become my permanent rain wear that I take with me.

STEVE: [03:30] Next, we hear from Pam Wyant, from Ripley, West Virginia.

PAM WYANT: [03:35] I've backpacked for about three years. I've been involved in outdoors though for nearly all my life. I camped as a young child with my parents, and was a girl scout. My backpacking style is light weight and fairly minimalist but without giving up safety or comfort. I backpack a lot in the hills of West Virginia, mainly in the eastern mountainous part of the state. The Monongahela Forest is one of my favorite backpacking areas, and I actually started this spring, in April, section-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

STEVE: [04:12] Pam tested the Big Sky Products Epic Rain Pants.

PAM WYANT: [04:15] The pants are a light weight rain pants. They can be worn just as a hiking pant. The material is a nylon soft-feeling, very light weight. They're a navy blue, dark navy blue. The pants are constructed fairly simply, they have a full sip down the side of each leg. And they have a waist band that is tabbed with hook-and-loop closure. They do not have any pockets. They do have snaps at the bottom of the legs to keep the legs closed and to keep the zippers from re-opening. I took them on all of my backpacking trips with me. Anywhere from short day hikes to my week-long trip on the Appalachian Trail. They were carried in my pack much of the time because I don't find they have enough pockets to be practical as full-time hiking pants under most conditions. I like a lot of pockets when I hike because my pack is fairly simple and I'm always storing something in my pockets. Anytime that there was rain, which I ended up not getting a lot of when I was hiking, I did pull the pants on. I've actually found that the fabric itself seems very water-proof. I never really had a problem with the fabric failing. In fact I had no water whatsoever come in through the pants at anytime when I was testing them. I found these pants were a great product and I don't see that they wouldn't work well for anyone. They seemed very waterproof. I never had any problem at all with water leaking through the pants. They're very light weight, they're breathable, they store easily in your pack. And I just found them a great all-around product.

STEVE: [06:13] Our third and final tester is Cathy Waters of White Lake, Michigan.

KATHY WATERS: [06:16] I've been backpacking probably for about eight years now, and started in Colorado. From there on in all of our vacations are geared around some sort of hiking, backpacking, and we've been all over the world doing that: Iceland, Costa Rica, we've been to New Zealand, hiking on glaciers. We are pretty much comfortable packers. I don't like to leave a lot of things behind but I'd really like to be a lightweight hiker.

STEVE: [06:47] Kathy tested the Integral Designs eVENT rain pants.

KATHY WATERS: [06:51] When I first looked at them I thought, "Wow! These are huge." And because they're unisex design they looked bigger that I would like to think that I looked. However, they are so soft and well-made, despite the fact they are still a little big for me. They have some neat features. They have what they call an articulated knee. The way the fabric is sewn; it doesn't constrict you in the knee. You can bend lift your feet better without it bunching up behind the knee. Also they've got a gusseted crotch which when you've got something that is loosely fitting, tends to gather and bunch-up between the legs, and this doesn't do that. The eVENT pants fabric is very breathable. I never really felt like I was sweating in them, and yet I never felt penetration of water from the outside. So I remained dry. With a coated jacket, I would sweat and I would feel damp that way, and I still don't think it was as dry. They're not advertised as being wind-proof, but they're great on top of Colorado mountains. I was mostly concerned, would they tear, would they rip? And how would they hold-up to washing, to cleaning? And I can report that they are wonderful, they wash like a dream, and you just touch a hot iron to them and for some reason that brings back water-proof-ness. I think that the eVENT pants, based on the price, is definitely geared for the real outdoors person. The person who takes a hike once a year, or so, it's probably not necessary, because it is expensive, but this particular pair of pants, I fully expect that I will be wearing it for many years and cost-effective wise, it's well worth the price.

STEVE: [08:51] My thanks to Brian Tannehill, Pam Wyant, Kathy Waters, and the editors at Backpack Gear Test, for making this edition possible. Please remember that these opinions are those of the individual contributors, and don't necessarily reflect those of Backpack Gear Test, or of The WildeBeat. If you want to read the original text reviews of these products, please follow the links on our web site.

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Next time -- getting kids into the wilderness.

The Wildebeat is produced by Steve Sergeant for Effable Communications. Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. Please see our website for ways to support future editions of The WildeBeat. Contribute your comments to webmaster at wildebeat dot net, or call our comment line at 866-590-7373.

This has been The WildeBeat, program number forty five. Thank you for listening.

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