Gear Guy

Can you help me pick out some raingear for a canoe trip?

My son and I need to purchase raingear for an eight-day canoe trek to Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area this July. Do I need to get a Gore-Tex parka like most people recommend, or are the newer, lighter styles like Marmot's PreCip enough for such a trip? David Wichita, Kansas

My initial reaction is that just about any rainwear you get will mainly serve to poach you in warm, humid Boundary Waters come July.

Be that as it may, I tend to think that Marmot’s PreCip ($99 for a jacket; www.marmot.com) or something like it, such as Marmot’s Oracle ($150, it adds stretch panels that may be useful) or REI’s Ultra Light ($125, adds pit zips; www.rei.com) will work just fine. They all use similar materials for their waterproofing. Gore-Tex is typically too expensive for just one trip, although L.L. Bean’s Stowaway is a fine Gore-Tex buy at $145 (www.llbean.com).

You might also opt for one of several non-breathable jackets out there. These are completely waterproof, but of course don’t breathe especially well. Or at all, for that matter—they’re completely polyurethane-coated and utterly impervious to moisture. For extended periods, sitting in the rain in a canoe, they might be preferable to any of the “waterproof-breathable” alternatives. Helly Hansen’s Impertech rainwear is a great buy, at $70 for a parka (www.hellyhansen.com).

These all come with hoods, but generally a good rain hat is more comfortable. For years the best rain hat on the planet has been Outdoor Research’s estimable Seattle Sombrero. $56, and worth every penny (www.outdoorresearch.com).

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