Mountain Hardwear Backcountry Recon Pants
Backcountry Recon Pants
Gear Guy

Which rain pants can survive the rugged West?

I'm headed to the Bob Marshall Wilderness this July. We'll be riding horses in and out of the Bob, and from cp to cp. Any ideas on rain pants that could stand at least some time in the saddle without breaking down? Jeff arillo, Texas

Mountain Hardwear Backcountry Recon Pants

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Well, that’s an interesting question. But really, how much will you need rain pants in July? Granted, afternoon thunderstorms are a probability, if not a certainty, but the odds that you and your horse will spend days on end trudging through a downpour are remote. One inference from all this is that you’re not going to want to ride in thunderstorms, anyway. You’ll see it coming, hop off the horse, don any appropriate rain gear, and ride it out under a tree for the 30 minutes or so it takes to pass.

Mountain Hardwear Backcountry Recon Pants

Mountain Hardwear Backcountry Recon Pants Backcountry Recon Pants

Still, I do see your point about “at least some time in the saddle.” Patagonia’s Guide Pants ($140; are nice pants, but they’re not really a rain pant. They’re water-resistant, but are aimed more at repelling a little blowing snow or mist than a real drenching.

One option would be to simply buy a pair of fairly inexpensive rain pants with the expectation that this one trip might be their last. If the seat wears a little during the trip, so what? Marmot’s Full-Zip Precip Pants ($90; marmot) would fit that bill nicely. Mountain Hardwear’s Backcountry Recon Pants ($195; mountainhardwear), on the other hand, are three-ply and reinforced for durability. So they would keep you dry AND probably survive time in the saddle.

Another solution is to buy rain chaps. Filson’s Tin Chaps ($60; are rainproof and very tough. Plus they’re quite stylin’. Like other true rain wear, they’re not going to be the most comfortable thing if the weather is wet AND warm, but chaps are cooler (temp-wise) than full pants.

Have a great trip!

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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