Light pants

Just got back from Virihaure and will be collecting my impressions and photos in the next couple of days. The Cuben fiber shelter kept me warm and dry. I'll do a separate write up on that later. But while learning how to work with that material I made a pair of rain pants for my son. He used them quite a bit during our trip recently to the Bunner Mountains in Jämtland. Weighing in at 36 grams I imagine they will do very well in the contest for "the worlds lightest rain pants". Of course it is a bit of cheating since he is only 11 years old...

By Jörgen Johansson


I used a pair of old rain pant as pattern and the fit was pretty tight, he won't be using them next year. But his old pants had proven to be csompletely useless so I thought it was a good idea to practice with the Cuben fiber and the tape, as well as fixing a cheap solution fast. Since they were tight Daniel thought it was a bit of a hassle to take them on and off and ended up walking in them quite a bit, even when it was not raining. Afterwards we could feel that there was quite a bit of moisture on the inside of the legs. So Cuben is of course not in the least breathable. What I could imagine though, is using Cuben for a pair of rain chaps. The ventilation over the top might be sufficient. In the past I have combined chaps with "rain shorts" which are necessary if the weather is really wet and windy. Getting your groin wet and cold can really dampen anybodys spirits...

This stylish combination can be seen at the photo of me fording above. The shorts could be made out of waterproof breathable material and the chaps from Cuben, which might be the ideal combination between ventilation and weight. Since I like to hike with an umbrella in rain when there is little wind, chaps work very well to keep the legs reasonably dry. This means that I do not need to put on a rain jacket, the windshirt is usually enough, which in my mind makes for a more comfortable, less sweaty, hike.

3 comments:

Joe Newton said...

Interesting idea. If you're lucky and it's not raining all the time then the lighter your rain gear the better!

I went in a different direction this summer and decided to bin rain pants altogether. I hiked in running shorts and if it rained then I just let my legs get wet. Skin is the ultimate waterproof/breathable fabric! If it was cold and raining then I wore UL wind pants that wetted out after a while but dried in a flash and kept convective heat loss to a minimum.

Jörgen Johansson said...

Joe,
As you write, the skin is of course the perfect water-proof breathable membrane. Going without rain-pants or rain gear might sometimes be the optimal solution. However, you are at the mercy of some variables of which you have a certain amount of control and some that you do not. Wind, temperature and your own physical ability to keep moving vigourously enough to avoid getting chilled comes to mind. Also maybe your mental ability to withstand a certain amount of discomfort.
I think that in the Scandinavian mountains it means running it a bit to close to the brink for most of us to skip the rain pants. And I do not think you do it on a regular basis :-)
In another area of the world, my friend Brian Doble did a yo-yo on the AT a couple of years ago without rain gear. I interviewed him in an article here (in Swedish)at Fjaderlatt and he thought the Arctic would not let him go without rain gear.
http://www.fjaderlatt.se/2008/11/700-milasommaren-r-ver-del-i.html
(You might get some decent information if you run it through Google Translator)

Joe Newton said...

True, going without fully waterproof pants is something I would only do in the summer (June/July/August). To be honest my backpacking waterproof pants only weigh 175g anyway but it has been a good experience leaving another thing behind. The less I carry the happier I am!

Thanks for the link to the Brian Doble article - very interesting.

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