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Rain gear questions

Old 12-05-20, 09:40 AM
  #1  
Jno
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Rain gear questions

I am planning a long tour but havenít done small tours so I havenít got the body of experience to help me make informed rain gear choices. Before I make my specific request for help, please know that I am familiar with the types and attributes of lightweight rain jackets for one day rides, and with a host of Gore-tex jackets for general use where packability is not an issue.

That said, my first question is, do members of the forum tend to have one ďdo it allĒ waterproof coat (on bike and in camp) or two such that each is more suitable for its application?

The second question is, if you use a do it allĒ coat, which feature is most important for a long trip: durability? Light weight? Bomb-proof water proof-ness (and if you could recommend such a coat, what would it be (Iím in Canada).

Thanks
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Old 12-05-20, 09:56 AM
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When touring, I use layering. One hardshell raincoat.
Most important: Very well vented: zippered long/large vents with mesh to keep it together when opened.

Openable/closable cuffs so you can adjust how much air you want going up your arms. That means: No elasticated cuffs.
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Old 12-05-20, 11:39 AM
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Tourist in MSN
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Rain jacket and rain pants that can be worn in the campsite too. Breathable and waterproof.

I never wear a hood on my bike, but I often wear a hood in the rain in the campsite. Should be a color that traffic can easily see at a distance behind you when their car windscreen is fogged over and they have worn out wipers. Just a few weeks ago I mentioned that I was quite happy with a Marmot Precip on this forum for rain jacket, someone else responded that he had a terrible experience with that brand and model. That said, I am still happy with it. Extra vents, such as arm pits and maybe on the back are nice. My jacket lacks vent on the back but has pit zips. That jacket is quite light and packs down quite small.

Rain pants, the ones I have are no longer sold so I won't suggest them. They are long enough that when my knees bend, I do not pull the bottom of the pants up higher than my shoe covers. Lots of rain pants have legs too short for cycling. Zippers on the sides that are high enough that I can get my pants on and off without taking my cycling shoes off. I probably am in a very tiny minority here, but I like suspenders on my rain pants, that way I am not repeatedly pulling my waist back up and cinching it tighter. You will need an ankle strap to keep the pants out of the chain, but I am sure you already knew that, I often carry a spare as that is something that is easy to misplace.




I prefer a rain cover for helmet, but most bike tourists do not bother with one. Can be waterproof or breathable, there is good ventilation under it. Visor on helmet and the cover helps keep most of the rain out of my eyes. And light color glasses (these have a yellow tint) for poor visibility days when you want to keep the rain out of your eyes.



Shoe covers.




But what I described above is for cool weather.

In hot weather I might forego the rain pants and shoe covers. But if I do that, my shoes will get soaked. I bring a pair of hiking shoes on my tours and I am always careful to keep one pair of shoes dry. So, if my cycle shoes were soaked, the next dry day I often wear my hiking shoes on the bike. And that is why my pedals are SPD cleat on one side, platform on the other. I also carry a pair of shower shoes (sandals) to wear in public showers. If need be, I can wear those sandals in the campsite.

I usually tour with Ortlieb Front Roller front panners (I think these were recently re-named to something else), those panniers have a strap over the top. I usually strap my rain jacket over the top of one front pannier, my rain pants over the other pannier. Thus, it is extremely fast to access it if it starts raining. My handlebar bag is not water proof, I have a cover for that and my helmet rain cover in a pocket in my handlebar bag.

Gloves - I have some that I bought from the UK that I like for cool and/or rainy days, not sold in USA and I suspect not sold in Canada. Just checked, they are no longer sold. They are thin, full finger, keep my hands somewhat warm without overheating, and they have some separate covers that can turn them into mittens. I do not have a good photo.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 12-07-20 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 12-05-20, 02:34 PM
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Similar setup to Tourist in MSN's. The jacket and pants are light weight, and can also be worn off the bike, and for warmth on cold dry days.





My wife and I also carry an ultra light wind breaker (4 oz.) for those times when the rain jacket would be too warm. we have used Showers Pass rain gear, and REI's brand. I like the REI gear better. In the past MEC's gear was very similar to REI's.

Last edited by Doug64; 12-05-20 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 12-05-20, 02:45 PM
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There are two major schools of thought--try to keep dry, or get wet and stay warm. After trying many expensive jackets, I've given up on the first.

I go the simple and light route. My favorite rain jacket is a homemade silnylon anorak, weighs 3 oz and packs the size of a fist. Matching pants are 4 oz. Managing the layers under the jacket and in the pack is key, and takes some experience in various conditions.

An experienced traveler with a plastic poncho can be more comfortable than an inexperienced person with the latest in high-tech fabrics. There are many factors involved. Even fitness, nutrition, and hydration play a role.
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Old 12-05-20, 04:00 PM
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My Showers Pass 2.1 jacket triples as on-bike rain protection, off-bike rain protection and chilly, dry morning/long descent protection (if other layers are not sufficient).

Last edited by indyfabz; 12-05-20 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 12-05-20, 05:59 PM
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I like Gore-tex paclite. It compresses more easily into your bags. Does well keeping you dry too
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Old 12-06-20, 01:41 PM
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If budget permits, and you’re a serious year-round cyclist (not just planning for this One Big Trip) I can highly recommend something new, the Gore Shake-Dry fabric. In the past I’ve mountaineered, backpacked, traveled, and bike-toured extensively with ProShell technical WPB shells. Wore one out, replaced under lifetime warranty (arcteryx), will always have one of these.

But I got a shakedry jacket on sale couple years ago, and holy cow it’s amazing. Very light, packs down to nothing, totally waterproof, and more breathable than anything I’ve ever experienced. One caveat, it’s a 2-layer WPB fabric, the backer and the membrane. Generic heavy WPBs are 3-layer with backers front and rear protecting the membrane. They’re heavy and don’t breathe that well. 2 layer can be a lot more breathable but the membrane is more exposed to potential damage. With shakedry the membrane is on the outside so it can never be used with a backpack, or bushwhacking hiking.

Many people will not bother with WPB, and rather make do with waterproof non-breathables and use vents and zips for temperature control. This works, it’s simple, it’s cheap, it’s less fragile. All I can say is my shakedry is extremely comfortable in a very broad range of conditions and for me, an all-season bike enthusiast, it’s been worth it.

As for other rain gear - I agree with the framework of Stay Dry vs Warm & Wet. I’ve been a hybrid - keep the top and core dry, but let legs and particularly feet get warm & wet. I have tried and chewed through 3-4 shoe covers and they’re the worst. The best of them just seem to delay the onset of wet - for a half hour commute they can do the job. For all day rain touring there’s no choice, your feet will eventually be wet. Best to have one pair of neoprene socks to manage if it will potentially be very cold. These are commonly found in paddling and canyoneering supply and can be very comfortable to wear in shoes. If it’ll be warmer, nothing more than wool-blend socks needed.

Last edited by fourfa; 12-06-20 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 12-07-20, 07:26 AM
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I never stay dry in rain clothes due to perspiration and general damp vapor buildup during rain (moisture will get in no matter what) - so I have sort of given up on seeking the 'dry nirvana' although I am a fan of trying new products all the time. However as a consequence of my past experiences I really just grab what seems to make sense for the season and location. It may range from nothing, to a Patagonia Houdini top and bottom to a Monbell rain poncho, to Arcteryx rain jacked and pants, to Marmot rain jacket or nonbreathable windproof Klattermussen Anorak ... it depends
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Old 12-07-20, 03:21 PM
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Thanks for the replies

Thanks again to the forum. I think I know how Iíll go on this front. Iím sure this isnít the last question Iíll ask, though, since ďtouringĒ looks like a rabbit hole into which Iím dropping, with credit card clutched tightly in hand.
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Old 12-07-20, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
since ďtouringĒ looks like a rabbit hole into which Iím dropping, with credit card clutched tightly in hand.
When youíre descending for 20 miles from 8,000í in rain, snow and sleet you wonít regret quality rain gear.
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Old 12-08-20, 08:38 AM
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andrewclaus
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
When youíre descending for 20 miles from 8,000í in rain, snow and sleet you wonít regret quality rain gear.
And how you managed your layers on your ascent is just as important. Being able to don a dry jersey or two, something that hasn't been soaked through with sweat, at the summit feels real nice.

It is difficult to strip down and change in those conditions! Same as putting on cold wet layers in the tent the morning before the climb, to save your dry layers for the descent.

That brings back memories of a ride across the North Cascades. Not 8,000', but mixed snow and sleet with an inch or so on the pavement at one of the summits. That descent was thermally challenging for about 20 miles.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:17 AM
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indyfabz
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
And how you managed your layers on your ascent is just as important. Being able to don a dry jersey or two, something that hasn't been soaked through with sweat, at the summit feels real nice.

It is difficult to strip down and change in those conditions! Same as putting on cold wet layers in the tent the morning before the climb, to save your dry layers for the descent.

That brings back memories of a ride across the North Cascades. Not 8,000', but mixed snow and sleet with an inch or so on the pavement at one of the summits. That descent was thermally challenging for about 20 miles.
It was totally dry and cool during he climb, and I did not get very sweaty at all. I storm moved in while I was at the summit (Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway in MT) layering up for the descent. Took off the regular jersey I had been wearing and put on the warmer, long sleeve one. I can still hear the ice crystals pinging off the front rack platform, which had nothing on it at the time. I seriously considered pulling off into the forest when the snow started but kept going.

As for the North Cascades Highway, you and I had similar experiences. This was near the summit of Washington Pass back in '99. It had started raining somewhere before Rainy Pass. That turned to snow for both summits. Fortunately, nothing was sticking to the road surface. It was around the first week of my first ever tour. I thought I had good gloves. I was wrong. During the descent I had to stop and warm my fingers inside my pants. At the time, it was the craziest day on a bike I had ever experienced. Probably still is. The nasty $0.99 beer at the Winthrop KOA tasted like heaven. A few days later we had flurries while eating breakfast in Republic, then it snowed later that day on Sherman Pass.



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Old 12-08-20, 09:22 AM
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My five week tour of Candian Maritimes in summer 2019, I saw five consecutive days of rain in the forecast, so I adjusted my route and made a reservation to stay at a hostel in Charlottetown PEI for three nights.

I would have been miserable if I had been tenting and riding for that entire time. Rode in the rain for two days before checking into the hostel. Those three dry nights and two days at the hostel allowed me to dry out and do laundry. Plus a bit of sightseeing on Canada Day Weekend. It was still raining when I left, but fortunately only for one day.

The day before I checked into the hostel, photo below.



That evening there was so much mud in my tent vestibule that I put down newspaper sheets in the vestibule to make a barrier between the mud and my gear to keep things cleaner.



The day I left the hostel, below.



It was a light rain for most of the day, but I had started out dry and actually enjoyed riding in the rain that day. Rode mostly the provincial trail system to the Confederation Bridge before I took the shuttle to New Brunswick.

That was pre-Covid, I wonder if hostels will still exist in a few years.

When you do your cross Canada trip, on the eastern end I highly recommend the Propeller Double IPA.


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Old 12-08-20, 09:42 AM
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Jno, others have put down really good info, but here's my added little bits.

-specific biking rain jackets (like my Showers Pass one) have the advantage of usually longer arms (for riding position) , often a longer back section (again, useful in riding position and can cover the back of you better , mine has a detacheable section that even goes further down, and good venting that I personally find very helpful for general riding in the rain as the increased air flow helps with less of a sweaty feeling.
- rain pants are really important also, I have a pair of North Face ones that must be some of that light, one layer waterproof stuff the other guy mentioned, and they work remarkeable well for not having me feel sweaty, and work very well in the rain.
-rain booties--this is my preference, but I find them to be super useful. My shoes don't get soaked, they stop dirt and muck going all over my shoes, and the extra bonus is that in cold they really really keep your feet warmer. I use mine all the time in fall and spring for warmth. Even put some fleece on my shoes as insulation--simple but it works.

as for the dry vs warm and damp---lets face it, after a certain amount of time you will get damp, but the main thing is to just have proper tops that will keep you warm when damp, and thats easy as nearly all bike tops, long sleeve tops or fleeces will do this, but you will always always appreciate rain gear from keeping you from getting chilled even if you are a bit damp under your rain gear from rain seeping in after hours in the rain or from a bit of sweat.
-A good example here is this last summer, I couldnt do the overseas biking trip I had planned, but at one point did a 5, 6 day trip from Montreal to Ottawa, in an around about route. This was in August, so hot.
Nearing Ottawa, hit a huge storm and the temps dropped to maybe 16 or something from 25 suddenly and I got rained on pretty damn seriously for an hour or two. I even had to stop to put my fleece neckup on, as my shoulders and neck were getting cold from rain seeping in a bit, and that fixed that easily. Later as the rain let up, and the temps went up again, I could undo my rain jacket a bit and eventually take everything off, and the tops I had on dried out quickly. But even in august near Ottawa (ie, not up in the Rockies) having good rain gear kept me from getting cold and miserable, and I dried out quickly.

my rain jacket is a bit of a heavier commuting version by Showers Pass. If I were to do it again, I'd buy a lighter rain jacket now. And anyway, good rain gear will get used for years and years--take care of them and they will be fine for years. And as said by others, good rain gear will be appreciated the times you need it. Ive done lots of summer trips in Ontario and Quebec in summer, beginning of august, end of july, and it often surprises me how cold a rain storm can get right in the middle of summer. And if in the middle of a day, you can sometimes wait out a short looking storm, but sometimes you just gotta ride, so being prepared is just plain useful.

again, look into shoe rain bootles. I wouldnt go full on roadie tight ones as different shoes may not fit well in them, and my looser fitting ones work fine, even if the shoes do get damp after hours in the rain--but at least I dont have puddles in my shoes.
And anyway, generally summer rain does stop and we can dry out our rain stuff at some point in the day. You have to be unlucky to have days and days of rain in our summer, but if it does happen, proper rain gear is essential.
Oh, I too have a yellow helmet rain cover, very useful in absolute downpours, stops a lot of water from going down your neck.

Oh, and a pair of dishwashing gloves can save your arse in a cold rain, thin gloves under them and at least your fingers will stay warm. They'll be damp, but better than freezing cold numb, which most of us have experienced.
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Old 12-11-20, 11:55 AM
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Despite the snow atop Logan Pass, this was actually a relatively nice day. Unfortunately, there was still so much snow there was nowhere to go off the road.


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Old 12-15-20, 06:15 PM
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The reason most good rain gear is thought to leak is that the seams are, almost always, sealed poorly. Get some seam sealer and go over all the seams and make sure they are solidly covered. You won't have a problem.

The other problem is that most people don't realize the rain is coming in the collar so you have pay solid attention to make sure that's sealed up so water doesn't run down through the collar.

Any of the new materials breathe super well - eVent, NeoShell etc... - there's a number of them. I have two jackets and rain pants that work super well, I don't overheat, I don't get sweaty and I don't get wet. I have a Double Century jacket from Shower's Pass that's made out of eVent and I have a custom jacket from Lou Binik at Foxwear.net. Lou also made my rain pants. Most of the stuff he makes is really awesome, it's made super well and it's generally cheaper than pro-form discount on major brands. Best deal going IMHO. You get exactly what you want. You get it fast and you beat even the pro discounts of the kind of brands you'd want to buy otherwise.

You can do the research on the various materials to find out the waterproofness of the material which is measured as a pressure of a water column the specified height that the material can withstand. 5000mm is pretty poor waterproofing. 15,000mm is pretty serious waterproofing and may not be breathable. Good stuff runs in the 10,000mm range.

We did a tour in Norway a couple of years ago in two parts - a self-guided part and a self supported part. One day it was a drenching nonstop thunderstorm for 5 hours - to the point I was wondering if the Norwegians were going to be bringing animals two by two down to a big ship somewhere. I had on my Foxwear rain pants and my Showers Pass jacket - I stayed bone dry through 4 hours of solid cycling in pouring rain. Worked great. Then a week later we were riding down the Rallervegen in Norway and we were in an all day drizzly rain. I had my Foxwear Neoshell jacket and rain pants - again, stayed completely dry and non sweaty. Both of these jackets are so lightweight (but rugged) that I can roll them up and carry them in a jersey pocket but they're also rugged and will take anything I can dish out while I'm bike touring.

But, I'll also say this - for both of the jackets and the rain pants. I put on a cotton t-shirt (really shows the water leaks) and then both jackets on separately and stood out in a good solid midwest downpour and discovered where the seams were leaky (the neighbors thought I was nuts until I explained what I was doing). The Showers Pass jacket was probably the best I've ever seen out of a factory jacket but I still needed to touch up a couple of spots. Lou had sealed my seams well but being the paranoid guy I am, I went over them all again. Zero leaks and I highly recommend his jackets and Neoshell.

I usually put on those neoprene toe thingie's over my cycling shoes and just live with wet but warm feet but I'm going to investigate the waterproof socks and see if that's not a better solution.

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Old 12-15-20, 07:09 PM
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Showers pass rain jacket, no pants. Only tour in summer. J&G helmet cover.
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Old 12-18-20, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
<snip>
That evening there was so much mud in my tent vestibule that I put down newspaper sheets in the vestibule to make a barrier between the mud and my gear to keep things cleaner.
<snip>
We have carried a white plastic garbage bag for many years to put in front of the tent door. I don't remember what or why or how, but it's white. Works like a charm in all weather. We call it our lawn. We put our shoes on it to hold it down at night and something else by day.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
We have carried a white plastic garbage bag for many years to put in front of the tent door. I don't remember what or why or how, but it's white. Works like a charm in all weather. We call it our lawn. We put our shoes on it to hold it down at night and something else by day.
car camping we always had a small folded up tarp for this, but the white bag idea is a good one for a bike trip. thanks (although we may throw caution to the wind and go with a diff colour)
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Old 12-19-20, 05:01 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
We have carried a white plastic garbage bag for many years to put in front of the tent door. I don't remember what or why or how, but it's white. Works like a charm in all weather. We call it our lawn. We put our shoes on it to hold it down at night and something else by day.
I used to carry something to put on the ground in the vestibule area years ago, but rarely bothered to use it. Usually camping on grass, even if it is wet grass, my stuff in the vestibule area does not suffer. Anything I want to stay dry and clean is inside the tent, not the vestibule. I almost always use a two person tent for solo bike tours. I think the last time I used a one person tent on a bike tour was eight years ago. Thus have room inside.

That day setting up my tent in the rain in a tiny tiny little overpriced KOA site where there was no grass and I had to set up my tent in the gravel driveway was the first time that I had trouble with mud in my vestibule area in decades.

There have been times when I was camped in beach sand conditions that sand got into everything, that would be the other situation where something like that would come in handy.

When I backpack, I use a one person sized tent, then I carry a piece of plastic from a heavy duty shopping bag that I can use as a floor in the vestibule area.
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Old 12-19-20, 10:39 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I used to carry something to put on the ground in the vestibule area years ago, but rarely bothered to use it. Usually camping on grass, even if it is wet grass, my stuff in the vestibule area does not suffer. Anything I want to stay dry and clean is inside the tent, not the vestibule. I almost always use a two person tent for solo bike tours. I think the last time I used a one person tent on a bike tour was eight years ago. Thus have room inside.

That day setting up my tent in the rain in a tiny tiny little overpriced KOA site where there was no grass and I had to set up my tent in the gravel driveway was the first time that I had trouble with mud in my vestibule area in decades.

There have been times when I was camped in beach sand conditions that sand got into everything, that would be the other situation where something like that would come in handy.

When I backpack, I use a one person sized tent, then I carry a piece of plastic from a heavy duty shopping bag that I can use as a floor in the vestibule area.
We use a 3 person tent for both. Nice to be able to bring all your gear into the tent with you.

Funny how that "lawn" comment attracted interest. It's unusual to find something that works so well and costs so little. New thread title? Ideas? Or have we already done that?
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Old 12-19-20, 11:31 AM
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I bought a rather odd tent that was on closeout, a Big Agness Super Scout. The vestibule area is about the same length as the interior of the tent, and even wider. Great for my kayaking trips where I have extra kayak gear like my dry suit, pfd, etc. A "floor" for that vestibule would be sizeable. I was sitting inside the tent body when I took the first photo.



When I bought it, in part I was thinking that this vestibule was so big I could sit in it during rainy weather instead of putting up a tarp. The door is zipped closed in this photo, the door is the two zippers on the side between the two taller poles.



I think they made very few of these tents, did not stay on the market very long. Theoretically you use two trekking poles for it, but I cut two poles to use instead.
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Old 12-19-20, 03:51 PM
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It's hard to beat the Showers Pass rain jackets. I use the optional hood and leave it attached all the time - I wear the hood under my helmet and stay warm and dry that way. I like the Nutcase helmets for touring for a couple of reasons, the main reason being that they have a good visor that helps protect you from the sun and helps prevent raindrops from dripping on your face - if you have used a helmet with no visor or nor much of a visor, you realize that raindrops in your face is pretty annoying. I have rain booties for hard downpours, and they are helpful - but if you ride long and hard enough your feet will sweat such that they might as well have gotten wet from the rain. I have Showers Pass rain pants, and I have toured with them, but unless you are going to tour in very cold conditions I don't think they are worth taking along - the jacket will protect you adequately as you cycle along, you don't really need pants. My Showers Pass rain jacket also serves as my warm jacket when I'm touring in the mountains in the summer and it gets cold at night. I'm not a Showers Pass salesman, but I must say that everyone I know that uses them is very well pleased - but their gear isn't cheap. Best wishes,

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Old 01-08-21, 07:31 PM
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rain

Carradice Duxback rain poncho......made just for cyclists.......Its like being in a tent riding down the road.....you stay dry your hands are dry the bike is dry your handle bar bag is dry your map is dry...computer.....dry..........seat....dry....wear as many clothes underneath as you want or go au natural.....they have been in use for over 100 years......Brooks still sells them....
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