One thing that most hunters can expect on a hunting trip to British Columbia is Rain. Our hunting area is located inland, near the headwaters of the Yukon River system. As such, we don’t see nearly as much rain as the coastal forests. However, 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 become more inhospitable later in the season. But even throughout the summer months, 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 northern BC. It wouldn’t be unusual 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 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 at least 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 and are certainly lightweight, 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 offer a high level of protection and they allow moisture to escape. Sure, a rubber rain suit might be totally waterproof. But after a short hike, you’ll be wetter inside than outside. Letting moisture escape is equally as important as keeping it out.
These breathable, 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 British Columbia, you need something a bit more substantial.
In the realm of three-layer rain gear, look for options that weigh in around 24 ounces or less. Your rain gear should not be insulated. You’ll want a separate insulation layer that can be added or removed as necessary. A quality rain jacket like the SEAK Stormtight Jacket from First Light weighs just 23 ounces, yet boasts a robust 3.5 layer construction. The Sitka Stormfront Jacket and the Kuiu Yukon jacket all fall within that range as well.
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. You might also check the breathability rating and the water resistance rating. In comparing these specifications, you’ll notice a balance between these competing priorities, in addition to the price. Just remember, a little extra cost might be worth saving an extra half-pound on your back during 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 version of a rain shell for these hunts. When you’re wearing 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. You’ll notice that rain pants usually weigh a little more than the jacket. That’s because they often feature full side zippers for getting on and off over boots, plus extra reinforcements in high-wear areas.
Speaking of rain pants with a full side zip – this is a feature we’d highly recommend. Full side zippers make 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 as you try and 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 and stone sheep. 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.