Preparing for rain in the spring when traveling can be frustrating–you don’t want to be hot and sticky, but you don’t want to be wet, either. You don’t want to have to pack coats for rain and coats for non-rain days.
And…let’s be honest…I don’t want to be the guy/girl wearing a trash bag under any condition.
So here are my favorite picks for traveling in the rain–except for the Melissa shoes by Jason Wu, I own the pieces below (or a close comparison) and really like them all. I’d love to hear from anyone that has the Melissa shoe and how they hold up in the rain/water, but I thought they were an excellent pick since they are all PVC.
Jackets: If you are heading to a city, a classic trench (like the Coach version pictured) is a great way to go. These aren’t always super water-proof, though they generally are great for a casual shower–mine repels water really well. If you hate carrying an umbrella like me, you might opt for the longer Patagonia Torrentshell coat, which is stylish enough to get you by in the city but is totally, ultimately waterproof. Maybe not what you wear into a Michelin starred restaurant or over a cocktail dress to a wedding, but probably ‘good enough’ the rest of the time.
Now what if you are doing something a little more active or adventurous? For many situations, the long Torrentshell is a fantastic cross-over coat. You can go from wandering around a European city to sitting in a Land-Rover looking at elephants, and it’s still functional and stylish. For example, mine has been both gorilla trekking and to Naples, Italy in early spring. I really like the extra length when I know I’ll be sitting (as it will protect some part of your legs), wearing tights, or wearing pants that are in no way waterproof.
But sometimes something a little more technical is just the better way to go. I got an insulated Patagonia Torrentshell for Christmas, and really like it. It’s not crazy warm (i.e. not o.k. for Antarctica) but it’s warm enough when you throw on a baselayer or are being super active. It’s not super heavy like a parka, so it’s easy to pack. But absolutely watertight. Finally, for the occasion where rain may not be super likely, or where packing space is realllly at a premium, check out Patagonia’s Houdini.
No I’m not paid by Patagonia, but I do own like 30 Patagonia coats (gulp)…
The Houdini packs into it’s pocket–the size of a fist, and is surprisingly water resistant. Perfect for rainforest mist/drizzle–it will keep you dry in a downpour for a few minutes, too (we found that out in Costa Rica). It’s also a great choice if you just need a bit of a windbreak on top of a fleece underlayer.
Dubarry Boot // Coach Trench // Patagonia Black Torrentshell (Long) // Patagonia Insulated Torrentshell (Short) // Patagonia Houdini Jacket // Nike Terra Kiger // Patagonia Guide Pant // Hunter PACKABLE Rain Boots // Athleta Herringbone Tights // Anatomie Pant (similar) // Melissa Shoes by Jason Wu
Pants: I really, really don’t like rain pants. I have this thing where I hate my legs being hot. Like can’t stand have a meltdown hate…I like my legs to be numb when I run in the cold, and I always ski and snowboard in un-insulated pants. Long underwear is my nemesis. So if you like hot legs, you can ignore these recommendations as they are not for you without some serious extra layers.
The Anatomie pants are crazy, crazy thin, but so light and quick drying (and stylish) that they are perfect for the city. The dark colors can go with almost anything, and they are the type of material that can easily be dressed way up (think heels…if you travel with them) or way down (think tennis shoes if you go for a hike). If you got stuck in the rain in these you would be dry before you knew it.
I also really like tights for a lot of purposes, particularly for more active/adventurous type trips. They are quick drying, and don’t absorb a ton of water (since there isn’t much to them). Just be sure to be culturally sensitive if you are in a more conservative location, or wear a longer coat/shirt/tunic.
Lastly, if you need something more technical, the Patagonia Guide Pants are the way to go. They are really water resistant–sure, if you were in torrential rain for 30 minutes straight they will soak through, but for hiking they almost always do the job for a quick shower. They are super breathable (no sweaty legs…seriously…what’s the point of dry legs if they are sweaty anyway?) and tough enough to stand up to some bushes, rocks, etc.
Shoes: Finally, shoes. Wet feet suck. I’ve professed my love for Dubarry boots again and again, and will do so one more time. They’ve made it through another icy, snowy, DC winter, with lots of wading through slush. And I hiked in them, a lot, in Uganda and Rwanda. They are my go to waterproof footwear, as they are by far the most comfortable and stylish and functional shoes I own.
If you are somewhere a lot warmer, I think a waterproof flat is a great way to go. If you need something a little dressier than a boat shoe, check out flats like those pictured. Cute enough to go with a dress, but hopefully comfortable enough for serious walking. And easy to clean by just dunking under a faucet for a few seconds.
That said, when it’s spring and just totally wet with ankle deep puddles, Hunter boots are still the way to go, particularly if there is dirt or mud involved. They rinse off in a flash, and this version is packable–meaning lighter, and more bendy and foldable. Way better for traveling. Still not ideal for packing light, but sometimes–in some places–you just need rain boots.
Finally, for hiking, running, or anytime you need a tennis shoe (like climbing ruins), the Nike Terra Kiger has served me really well. It’s one of the lightest tennis shoes I’ve ever owned, and it’s really low profile. And mostly mesh. YES your feet will get wet, but these are easy to wear (and designed to be worn) without socks, so if that works for you, ditch the socks. They also dry in hot/humid/tropical environments, whereas many other tennis shoes will stay wet (and smelly) for days. I’ve washed mine in the washer at least three times and each time they come out looking just like new.
Don’t let rain ruin your plans, no matter where you are. A little planning, strategic shopping (and proper packing) can go a long way in ensuring you are dry…happy…and appropriately dressed for your location!
What are your favorite pieces of rain gear?