You could do all sorts of things. Because youll likely be wearing a rain jacket most often when sitting around camp or in a raft, you dont really need a high-tech breathable piece. Youd do just fine with a completely waterproof and non-breathable piece such as the Helly Hansen Essential Jacket ($55; hellyhansen.com). You could sit in the rain for a month in this thing and not a drop would get through.
But then youd decide to take a walk, and it wouldnt be long before steam would be coming out of your collar. So if you plan on doing some hiking along the canyons, perhaps something else would be more appropriate. One good choice would be REIs Taku ($199; rei.com), a nicely designed, well-made piece that uses REIs proprietary waterproof-breathable fabric to keep the rain out, while stretch pieces and vents make it a good choice for active use. Its seam-sealed and has a hooda very functional piece. Mountain Hardwears Cohesion ($140; mountainhardwear.com) doesnt have the stretch panels, but it deploys Mountain Hardwears own waterproof-breathable membrane in a well-priced, waterproof jacket.
But you can always can spend more. At the high end youll fine Arcteryxs Beta AR Jacket ($399; arcteryx.com), which uses three-ply Gore XCR fabric. Its sturdy, reasonably light, waterproof, and breathable. Good stuff. Or, while youre contemplating loosening your grip on four C notes, take a look at Westcombs Mirage Jacket ($375; westcomb.com). It has a clean, minimalist design coupled with thoughtful touches such as a zipper that curves away from your chin so the zippers dont stack up when youre layering. Plus its made with eVent, which is my preferred waterproof-breathable material.
You also can spend $99 and toss in a Marmot PreCip (marmot.com), a perfectly serviceable all-around rain jacket. You could get that AND the Essential, for $155, and use the Marmot jacket when hiking around. No reason rain gear has to be expensive
The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.