AdventureWater Sports

What kind of rain gear do I need for a rafting trip?

I’m rafting the Colorado River in April and need rain gear, but I don’t know what to buy. Any help would be appreciated. Troy Huntington Beach, California


You could do all sorts of things. Because you’ll likely be wearing a rain jacket most often when sitting around camp or in a raft, you don’t really need a high-tech breathable piece. You’d do just fine with a completely waterproof and non-breathable piece such as the Helly Hansen Essential Jacket ($55; You could sit in the rain for a month in this thing and not a drop would get through.

Westcomb Mirage Jacket

Mirage Jacket

But then you’d decide to take a walk, and it wouldn’t 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 REI’s Taku ($199;, a nicely designed, well-made piece that uses REI’s proprietary waterproof-breathable fabric to keep the rain out, while stretch pieces and vents make it a good choice for active use. It’s seam-sealed and has a hood—a very functional piece. Mountain Hardwear’s Cohesion ($140; doesn’t have the stretch panels, but it deploys Mountain Hardwear’s own waterproof-breathable membrane in a well-priced, waterproof jacket.

But you can always can spend more. At the high end you’ll fine Arc’teryx’s Beta AR Jacket ($399;, which uses three-ply Gore XCR fabric. It’s sturdy, reasonably light, waterproof, and breathable. Good stuff. Or, while you’re contemplating loosening your grip on four C notes, take a look at Westcomb’s Mirage Jacket ($375; It has a clean, minimalist design coupled with thoughtful touches such as a zipper that curves away from your chin so the zippers don’t stack up when you’re layering. Plus it’s made with eVent, which is my preferred waterproof-breathable material.

You also can spend $99 and toss in a Marmot PreCip (, 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.

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Filed To: Hard Shell
Lead Photo: courtesy, Westcomb
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