The Right Raingear for You

Six ways to avoid rain delays in the field.

Face it: Throughout the course of a hunting or fishing season, sportsmen deny themselves a lot of opportunities just because they don't want to go out in the rain. But the plinking of rain on the forest canopy need not be a signal to exit the woods; and those drops trailing down the bedroom window when the alarm sounds an hour before first light aren't just an excuse to roll over and go back to sleep.

I've downed deer on rainy days, and I've seen turkeys called to the gun during downpours. Anglers know that a drizzle will often get the fish up and feeding. In this sport you don't necessarily need to "play in pain," but in the rain? That's a whole 'nother matter. All you need is the right raingear.

If you're a minimalist, you can stick with the $1.99 vinyl rain poncho, but you risk getting pressure-cooked in your own juices or springing a leak the first time you brush up against a bramble. Instead, think about investing in one of the new all-weather hunting and fishing jackets offered by such companies as Cabela's, Browning and Woolrich. These garments not only repel water, but they also block wind; they'll keep you warm when the weather is dry, and warm and dry when it's wet.

The jackets, which are available in a variety of camo patterns, are constructed of durable "quiet" outer fabrics such as Hydro-Suede (Browning), Saddle-Cloth (Woolrich) and MTO50 (Cabela's)-all are soft to the touch and don't sound like high-grit sandpaper when the wearer moves or brushes up against a tree branch, obviously an important benefit when you're bowhunting or turkey hunting. (The Cabela's and Browning jackets also are available with odor-masking liners called Scent-Lok and Scent-Sorb, respectively.)

The only drawback we found with these jackets was that, once they get wet, the cloth outer fabric seems to absorb water and doesn't dry as quickly as nylon. That's not to say that the jackets leaked-they didn't. But we had to hang them on a rack overnight to get them dry.

Outdoorsmen looking for a traditional-style nylon rainjacket or shell have some new selections, too. Patagonia, Columbia and Ex Officio have models that will keep you comfortable through a range of conditions, from late-summer sun showers to an autumn torrent.

We wore six new models of rainjackets in the woods and on the water to gauge their fit and overall rain-shedding performance. The box below summarizes our findings.