This is a strictly no photos article :)
I don’t like rain pants: they’re odd to put on and take off, weight too much for an item that stays on the pack for a long time and don’t breathe enough. Sometimes, I found I wouldn’t be using them even if I was carrying them, letting my regular pants get wet and trusting my leg muscles to keep legs warm while moving. A quick drying, comfy when wet pant fabric is a must too. The net effect is I quit carrying rain pants.
In this context, the rainskirt is not meant to substitute anything and it only comes to add functionality so no matter how little functionality it may add, at least it comes at a cheap price, weight wise.
While the no-rainpant strategy technically works, the lack of protection feels uncomfortable and even a bit daunting sometimes so I tried to find a somewhat better solution. First thing I thought was a very thin, minimalist, non-breathable rain pant. It’d mean heavy condensation but at least it’d be light on my back when not in use and, after all, I would get condensation when wearing membrane-based, barely breathable pants unless it was very cold or in static applications. Silnylon came inmediately to mind. I could even wear these pants on their own and keep my regular hiking pants dry in my pack.
In the summer, one of my possible strategies in the rain was wearing shorts and letting my lower legs get wet. After all, human skin is waterproof *and* breathable and dries quick so how about combining this with the formerly mentioned silnylon pant and building a pair of non-breathable shorts? I’d make them quite baggy so I could even have some ventilation and avoid some condensation.
Then I thought if was making them baggy, why not a skirt instead of pants? A skirt is actually the baggiest a pant can go… and it’d be so much easier to put on and take off. So the rainskirt idea was born (at my personal level, at least… not that I invented nothing new but I had not seen it before).
- 1.3 silnylon.
- 100% polyester Guttermann thread
- Hook & loop
The construction couldn’t be simpler: just cut a rectangular piece of fabric, form fit at waist level and add matching hook & loop for closure. The skirt would open completely so it’d be very easy to put on and take off.
I sized the skirt so it’d be as short as possible while still covering my regular shorts (usually, convertibles)
Raw piece of fabric: 119.5 x 41.5 cm
- Closed skirt, laying on a flat surface:
- Width at the waist: 43.5 cm
- Width anywhere else: 57 cm.
- Length: 38.5 cm (ouch!)
- Waist: 91 cm.
- Anywhere else: 117 cm.
Final weight: 23 gr.
The rainskirt is not a perfect solution but it works well to an extent. The main drawback is the exposure of the lower legs which is fine in mild summer conditions but not so fine or even unacceptable in cold/windy rain. This rainskirt as I built it has the addional problem of being probably too short… it got incredibly light and packable so the added protection came at a minuscule price but it added a somewhat limited of protection.
The best part is it actually works quite well if the conditions are not too harsh. The main advantages:
- Lightweigh: very important for an item that will be in the pack for a long time.
- Easy to put on and take off: keep it in a pant pocket, you could almost do it in the move!
- Good ventilation, low condensation
- Good protection (of the part it protects)
- Stylish or not, it encourages conversation, particularly if you’re a guy. It may even give you a trail name.