One thing that most hunters can expect on a hunting trip to B.C. is Rain. And while the area that we hunt at the headwaters of the Yukon River system may not be as rainy as the coastal forests, we still see our fair share of precipitation.
Our early season hunters typically enjoy the best weather of the season. Temperatures tend to drop and conditions get more inhospitable later in the season. But there are always exceptions and rain can be a factor anytime.
On any wilderness hunt, quality rain gear is a critical piece of equipment. It’s even more important in places like British Columbia. It’s not uncommon for our hunters wear rain gear every day of a 10-day hunt. Because even when it’s not raining, you may find yourself busting through soaking wet willows or spruce thickets. Having quality rain gear is a must.
When it comes to choosing rain gear that’s right for a long wilderness hunt, there are a few factors that we would recommend you consider. These are the top three qualities that we recommend in rain gear:
1. Three-Layer Breathable Construction
The rain gear that provides the very best balance of water resistance and breathability is one with a three-layer construction that includes a water resistant face, a waterproof, breathable membrane, and a moisture wicking backer.
You may see ultralight rain jackets advertised that are two-layer pieces. While these often provide great breathability, they suffer in long-lasting water protection and durability. Two-layer shells are perfect for hunts in the arid southern Rockies. But in the Northwest, three-layer shells are best.
Waterproof, breathable membranes, like Gore-Tex, offer a high level of protection and they allow moisture to escape. A rubber rain suit might be totally waterproof. But after a short hike you’ll be wetter inside than outside. Letting moisture escape is just as important as keeping it out.
Three-layer rain shells aren’t cheap. But you’ll get what you pay for. And good rain gear should be at the top of your gear priority list – right up there with your weapon, boots and optics.
2. Relatively Light Weight
Your rain gear needs to be relatively lightweight. We say relatively, because you’re not looking for the lightest shell on the market. Like we mentioned above, two-layer rain shells are perfect for trips in more arid climates where your jacket spends most of the day in your backpack. On those hunts, an ultralight option is best. But in the soggy conditions of B.C., you need something a bit more substantial.
In the realm of three-layer rain gear, look for pieces that are lightweight. You don’t want a waterproof parka with added insulation (that’s a separate piece). A quality three-layer jacket should weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 ounces.
If your rain gear is too heavy, it will slow you down. You’ll be tempted to leave it back in camp, and that’s never a good idea. Make sure it’s light enough that you can carry it in your pack when needed, or wear it all day without discomfort.
The other benefit of lightweight rain gear is that it packs easily into a daypack. When comparing two similar rain jackets, check the weights listed on retailer or manufacturer websites. Again, the best options are usually the most expensive. But remember that a little extra cost might be worth saving an extra pound on your back on a long, wilderness hunt.
3. Tough Enough
No lightweight rain gear is going to be as tough as a canvas slicker. But you probably don’t want to try and climb a mountain in a canvas slicker. You don’t need the toughest material in the world. But it needs to be tough enough.
There’s a delicate balance between toughness and weight. That’s the very reason we don’t recommend the 12-ounce two-layer rain shell for these hunts. When you’re wearing your rain gear all day in sometimes rough conditions, it needs to withstand the abuse. Again, we think that 24-ounce ballpark is pretty reasonable for a rain jacket that’s both durable and relatively light. The pants usually weigh a little less. But compare fabrics and decide on one that you believe provides the right balance for your needs.
Finally look for rain gear with pants that have a full side zip. This makes it much easier to get in and out of your rain pants on the fly without having to remove your boots or without risk of tearing your pants trying to squeeze them over boots.
Here at Kawdy Outfitters, we pride ourselves in providing extremely high quality hunting adventures. We offer fly-in, horseback hunts in the most remote part of British Columbia for moose, mountain caribou, mountain goat, stone sheep and grizzly. Please check out the rest of our website or you can contact us for details.
Written by Ryan McSparran
Ryan McSparran is an outdoor writer, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Kawdy Outfitters team.