Q:

What’s my best bet for a light backpacking pant in rainy conditions?

I hiking the West Coast Trail this June, which is typically a rainy season for the trail. What would you recommend for a good set of backpacking pants that can fend off at least a couple days worth of rain? Reagen Calgary, Alberta

Mar 25, 2008
Outside
Outside Magazine
Marmot’s Precip Full-Zip Pants

Precip Full-Zip Pants

A:

Yeah, rainy is right. As in, air that’s as much liquid as water. Are you sure you can’t wait a few weeks and make the trek in July? It’s much drier then. (For those of you not familiar with the West Coast Trail, it’s a lovely—albeit rugged—trail along the coast of Vancouver Island). But, June can have dry spells. And it is less crowded then, too.

I’d probably wear pants made with Pac-Lite, Gore’s lightweight waterproof/breathable laminate. They’re not the most rugged pants in the world, but they’re very light and packable, and they’ll keep you adequately dry. Arc’teryx makes a nice pair called the Alpha SL that sells for $199 (arcteryx.com). Mountain Hardwear makes something similar called the Typhoon Pant ($185; mountainhardwear.com). Both are pull-on style pants with short zippers at the ankle to help get them on and off over boots.

On the “bargain" front, Marmot’s Precip Full-Zip Pants ($90; marmot.com) use a polyurethane-coated material for waterproofing and add full-length zippers for really easy on-off. It’s not quite as breathable as the Gore material, but not bad. REI uses a similar material in its Ultralight Pants ($79; rei.com).

Be sure to take gaiters to keep rainwater or drips on vegetation from getting into your boots. Outdoor Research Rocky Gaiter ($30; outdoorresearch.com) would be fine.

Have a great trip!

The 2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.

Filed To: Pants

More at Outside

Not Now

Need a Gear Fix?

Open email. Get latest gear. Repeat.

Thank you!