If you’ve been feeling like you need more effective rain gear, you have science to back you up. Because warm air holds more water vapor than cold, climate change means that big rains are now more common across the East— 71 percent more common, to be scientific about it. That’s why road crews are ripping out their old culverts and putting in bigger ones—and it’s why you might need to rip up some of your leaky outdoor gear and try something new.
We’d been hearing about a couple of alternative fabrics to the now-standard GoreTex, and the best thing we can say about rainy weather is that we’ve had ample opportunities to put them to the test.
First up, OutDry, a technology that claims to be “absolutely waterproof, highly breathable, and guaranteed.” To put the “absolutely waterproof “claim to the test, we went for a short hike in a pair of Columbia Titanium OutDry trail shoes ($135), making sure to step in every puddle we encountered. Four miles later the shoes were covered in mud, but our socks and feet were cozy and dry. Then, to simulate slipping during a stream crossing, we slipped during a stream crossing–really, it was on purpose—and watched the water flow over, not into, the toebox. The shoes are comfortable, too, with sticky soles, good for walking on wet rocks.
Columbia has also incorporated OutDry into its OutDry ExDiamond Shell ($400) and here, too, it performs as advertised. And, because the waterproof layer is embedded in the fabric, it will not degrade over time, like so many rain jackets do. The shell fabric here is heavy-duty, with an old-school rubber slicker feel on the outside, which makes its ability to wick moisture from the inside all the more impressive.
The perfect underlayer for a shell (or outer layer when it’s dry) is Ibex Climawool ($239) jacket. It weds a wind- and water-resistant polyester shell to a merino wool liner, and the result is a jacket that moves well, wicks well, regulates temperature well and, well, makes you look like an even better skier than you are. Plus, it’s a Vermont brand.
Last, the next most important thing to keeping you dry is keeping your cell phone dry. While many expensive hard cases on the market that claim to be (mostly) waterproof, the Sea to Summit TPU Audio Waterproof Smartphone Case ($29.95) actually lists as a recommended use: “Swimming.” Thanks to its dry-bag roll top and meets IPX8 testing standards of being waterproof at 10 meters for 1 hour. We didn’t try that but our iPhone did survive 30 minutes in shallow part of Lake Dunmore. As a bonus, this case fits many phones and has an audio jack so you can keep your headphones on while running. The one downside: while you can use the touch screen easily, the plastic is not clear enough for taking photos.
Burlington Beer Company’s Hedgerow Barleywine
If your throat is as dry as your midsection, then head to Mule Bar in Winooski—not far from the waterfalls along the river, first dammed by Ira Allen himself. It’s a comfortable place in the newly trendy downtown. Have yourself a bowl of poutine to put back the calories you’ve lost in the woods or on the bike and for fluid replacement consider Burlington Beer Company’s Hedgerow Barleywine. It’s aged with red wine grapes from Fresh Tracks vineyards in Berlin, so the normal malty caramel sweetness of the style merges with brighter notes from the grapes. The brewers themselves say it will unleash a “typhoon of flavor,” but given what you’re wearing, no need to worry about that.