Recently, I was in the market for a new pair of rain pants. In fact, new rain pants were an imperative since late last summer when I discovered my old rain pants were no longer doing their duty while bushwhacking on a wet morning in the Pepperbox Wilderness. Unlike previous trips these well-worn and much loved rain pants were now leaving me good and wet below the knees.
The dread of shopping for new rain pants escalated throughout the winter months but the urgency of this purchase was hammered home in April when hiking out in a cold, torrential downpour from Trout Pond in the Catskills. It took less than 20 minutes before everything below my knees was soaking wet. What I prayed was a fluke last summer was apparently a cold, hard reality. Luckily the hike out was short enough so I was just uncomfortable and not hypothermic.
For the last five years I religiously packed my Golite Reed rain pants for every bushwhacking, backpacking or hiking adventure. These trusty rain pants had everything I ever dreamed of in a pair of rain pants (well, perhaps except for the shapely female model). They were super-lightweight (about 6 ounces), totally no-frills (no pockets, no zippered ankles), tough (they lasted about 5 years of bushwhacking throughout the Adirondacks), waterproof and, most importantly, tan in color. And due to their no-frills nature (they required the removal of my boots to put on) they appeared to have the mystical ability to stave off rainfall.
But the one thing that made the Golite Reed rain pants my heart’s desire was the color. After they started leaking last summer I did some cursory research on outdoor rain pants but I was very disappointed at what I found. Most of the lightweight rain pants were available in a single color: black. Marmot Precip
was one of the few lighter-weight rain pants available in colors other than black but even these were limited to gargoyle (i.e. gray) and Tarmac (i.e. dark brown). And whatever happened to regular colors anyway?
Why this fascination with black? Black is probably the worst choice for rain pants, especially in the Adirondacks where I do the majority of my backcountry exploring. Such major inconveniences as overheating in the sun and attracting bugs suggests outdoor gear manufactures are either completely clueless, or, just downright sadistic. Could this color be a reflection of the nature of their souls?
Many bugs appear to be attracted to dark colors, especially black. And unfortunately some of these bugs just happen to use outdoor enthusiasts as one of their main food sources. Anyone who has survived being surrounded in a cloud of mosquitoes or a swarm of black flies following a summer rainfall knows how poor a choice black can be for a pair of rain pants.
Another reason black is a terrible choice of color for rain pants is due to the varied weather conditions often found in the northeastern United States and especially so in the Adirondacks of New York. Pop-up summer thunderstorms, which are characterized by periods of rain followed by sunny intervals, are common in the Adirondacks. Being forced to suffer through these wet but sunny periods during muggy weather is akin to cruel and unusual punishment. Sunny morning in beaver meadows following a night of heavy dew is another situation where one can easily get overheated in black rain pants.
Does anyone understand the outdoor gear manufacture’s obsession with the color black for rain pants? Are any manufactures brave enough to share their reasoning for almost exclusively using the color black in rain pants?
Does anyone know of any lightweight rain pants that come in lighter colors?
And if these light-weight, no-frills, lighter-colored rain pants are really difficult to put on and therefore have the potential for mystical rain-preventing properties then alls the better.
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