How to stay warm and dry during the Pacific Northwest’s windy and rainy season by dressing with right layers.
There are very few weather stoppages in the activities of life- especially the fun ones like football games, your child’s soccer match, a good hike, or that trip to get the perfect new pair of jeans. Through rain, sleet, snow, and ice, we take to the field and play the game no matter what the conditions. There is no escape from the elements if we want to really experience “the game”. We just stay out there and face brutal rain and wind. So, the proper gear is needed to keep the experience as enjoyable as possible.
Put On a Poncho
A poncho is about as simple as it comes for keeping the rain from soaking into your hide. Although not the greatest of fashion statements, the poncho is inexpensive, easily replaced and extremely portable.
The idea is to stay as dry as possible despite the rain and the easiest way to do it whether you are sitting in the stands or standing on the sidelines is with the rain poncho. Lighter and more pliable than a raincoat, a rain poncho will move with your body and that will allow you to cover more of your body when moving around or sitting in the stands. The poncho will cover you from the top of your head to midway down your calves, and that will go a long way toward keeping you from getting soaked.
While the poncho does a good job keep water out of your clothes, it certainly isn’t designed for protecting your temperature from dropping into the hypothermia level. This is where the right layering comes in.
Any clothing suggestions based solely on weather, though, overlook key considerations, like exertion level and personal metabolism. If your “engine” typically runs pretty hot, or you are “always cold”, you’ll need to adjust your layers accordingly. If your plan is to sit or stand in one spot for more than 30 minutes, or do minimal walking/moving around, then layering is the key.
Base Layer: (underwear layer) wicks sweat off your skin. You have a wide range of fabric options, including synthetics like polyester and nylon, or natural fibers like merino wool and silk. Though there are subtle differences in wicking and drying for each material, and in odor retention and durability, a lot of people simply go with their personal fabric preference. Your options are straightforward—lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight—though you might also see terms like “ultra-lightweight” on one end of the spectrum or “expedition weight” at the other. Generally, heavier (thicker) fabrics keep you warmer, though that’s not really the primary purpose of a base layer (wicking is).
Middle Layer: (insulating layer) retains body heat to protect you from the cold. The insulating layer helps you retain the heat that’s radiated by your body. The more efficiently this layer traps that heat, the warmer you’ll be. Just as with base layers, you have a broad range of options, both synthetic and natural. In general, thicker (or puffier) equals warmer, though the efficiency of the insulating material is also important. Below are some common middle layer materials, though other options, like wool and wool-blend tops, are also available.
Here are some of your primary choices for middle layers:
• Down insulated jackets: Highly compressible for easy packing, down offers more warmth for its weight than any other insulating material. The efficiency of down is measured in fill power—from 450 to 900. Because down is always inside a shell material, down jackets also offer some water and wind resistance. The drawback to down is that it loses insulating efficiency when damp.
• Synthetic insulated jackets: Synthetic insulations have long tried to mimic down’s efficiency, coming closer to that standard every year. While synthetics don’t compress as well as down, they’re a popular option for rainy conditions because they retain insulating ability when they get damp. Like down, synthetic insulation is always inside a shell material that offers added water and wind resistance.
• Polyester fleece: Available in lightweight, midweight and heavyweight fabrics (sometimes marketed as 100, 200 and 300 weight), fleece stays warm even if gets damp, and it dries fast. Fleece also breathes well, so you’re less likely to overheat in it.
The flipside of breathability, though, is that wind blows right through, which can steal warmth. That’s why you need to have a shell layer with you if you’re going with a fleece middle layer. An alternative option is to wear wind fleece, which includes an inner wind-blocking membrane.
Outer Layer: (shell layer) shields you from wind and rain. The outer layer (or shell layer) protects you from wind, rain, and snow. Shells range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple wind-resistant jackets. Most allow at least some perspiration to escape; virtually all are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to make water bead up and roll off the fabric.
Your outer shell is an important piece in stormy weather because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to inner layers, you can get seriously chilled.
Shells can be lumped into the following categories:
• Waterproof/breathable shells: Your most functional (and expensive) choice, this type of shell is your best option for full-on squall conditions. Generally, pricier equals drier, though higher priced shells are often more durable as well.
• Water-resistant/breathable shells: These are more suited to drizzly, breezy conditions and high activity levels. More affordable than waterproof/breathable shells, they’re typically made of tightly woven nylon or polyester fabrics that block light wind and light rain.
• Soft shells: These emphasize breathability. Most feature stretch fabric or fabric panels for added comfort during aerobic activities. Many combine light rain and wind protection with light insulation, so they in effect combine two layers into a single jacket.
• Waterproof/nonbreathable shells: These bare-bones shells are okay for rainy days with light to no activity (e.g., fishing, spectating). They are typically made of a coated nylon, which is water- and windproof. If you exert yourself while wearing one, you’ll probably end up saturating your underneath layers with perspiration.
You have literally dozens of alternatives and options for each of these layers. The trick is to go with options that make the most sense for where you’re headed, what you’re doing and what you’re able to spend.
It’s also key that you take the time to adjust layers as conditions change. If the rain and wind let up, remove your shell. If hiking alone isn’t warming you up, add a middle layer. And many people add a middle layer (on top) and/or outer layer at every rest stop, just to avoid getting chilled.
Rain Pants and Waterproof Shoes
Rain pants and waterproof shoes are essential if you are a fan sitting in the stands. they are also a necessity if you plan on spending any amount of time on the sidelines coaching the soccer game or if you work outside during the Northwest winter. Rain pants protect you from getting soaked while seated and as you move around, waterproof shoes/boots will keep your feet from getting soaked. Wet feet at a sporting event can turn any game into a miserable performance.
Love it Like a Duck (or a Beaver, Husky, Cougar, Trojan… no – not a Trojan)
A football game at the college or professional level will usually take about three hours (not including #tailgating with your new Traeger Grill from Wilco). So in order to prepare for a day in the rain, you have to have the proper mindset for the experience. Your day of activity, whether watching, coaching or running errands will be wet, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Once you get used to being in the rain, you are going through a shared experience with the others. As your body makes the adjustment, it becomes fun, enjoyable and memorable to make the most of being in the rain.
A 100% Waterproof Jacket for UNDER $50!
838CR Viking Tempest Classic Jacket – 100% waterproof designation relates to the garment fabric’s permeability to water in more extreme conditions. This garment is either made of a material that water cannot penetrate or has a coating of PVC that water cannot penetrate. The Tempest Jacket is designed for uses in prolonged foul weather exposure. Products with PU (polyurethane) coatings may claim to be waterproof, however to the porous nature of PU water can penetrate the fabric where hydro-static pressure exceeds 11psi. Hydrostatic pressure increases with wind and the amount of water hitting the fabric. Wind storms where rain is being forced down at +25KPH will likely penetrate a PU coated rain garment.
The Stormblaster hood system reduces wind and rain exposure up the back of the jacket while orienting the front close to the chin and cheek area. It has a safety “Tear Away” design, making it easy to remove and attach. Standard hoods are traditionally attached with hook-and-loop fasteners or buttons, leaving gaps that could allow water and wind to travel up and around the neck area.