Rain gear or easy to dry clothes


Jan 25, 2019
I’m starting to plan for a future hunt possibly for black tail in SE Alaska. My childhood buddy and I who I bear hunt with every fall in the UP of Michigan have been talking about a hunt to Alaska for black tail for a couple of years now. One common theme has been “plan on being wet”. I’ve asked around about rain gear and what I hear is if it’s breathable you’ll get wet. If it’s rubberized and rain proof you’ll sweat your arse off and be wet so just plan on being wet. So, what to do? Should I just use the old military goretex I have and get some clothes that dry out fast and wick water or what? Or is being soaked inevitable and just embrace the suck. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Any tips on good no nonsense water wicking and fast, easy drying clothes would be great. No need for fancy namebrands either , my career with GQ is long over. I can use them for chasing hounds and bears in September at the very least to break them in. Thanks.
"Should I just use the old military goretex I have and get some clothes that dry out fast and wick water or what? Or is being soaked inevitable and just embrace the suck. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated."
Lots of folks here with more experience (probably with newer equipment than me) will chime in with more useful advice, but your statement here seems logical to me. Back when I could still get around a little better, my set up looked like this: Combo wool/ poly pro synthetic long underwear, old school says wool pants when I can find 'em and shirt, rag wool sweater. wool socks- sorry no help with foot wear. Then I go to the wind and water "proof" stuff like nylon or heavy treated canvas "duck". Remember, I told you I was some what old school. I have used down or other synthetics as insulators. If Im not to worried about real precip (which you are) I have an old Korean war era flight suit bibs that are cotton but super heavy. They also zip down the front of both legs (handy for a guy in a wheelchair). They work well for really cold weather. Keep in mind I do a lot of just sitting when I hunt, so I cant get out of the elements well, nor do I exert myself once I am where I need to be (usually).

Sorry to ramble on, my situation dosent really apply to what you are doing but over the years I have spent a good amount of time out in the elements. I did some experimenting w/ army surplus Gortex, back in the day, which I liked. but the good stuff then and now is out of my budget.

Three things I always have- A bandanna or scarf around my neck and a neoprene/ fleece neck Gaiter that covers face/ neck ears and back of head. Usually a fur felt or wool felt hat w/a stampede string. Those three things do more to regulate body temp than any other. and they work no matter how hard the wind blows or it rains.

I do feel qualified to give you my .02 0n gloves. After all I push a wheelchair every day in Minnesota. I have not found anything that works better than 3M thinsulate lined leather gloves. Get the heaviest Gram weight thinsulate you can find and "waterproof" with your favorite concoction. All of the other nylon and synthetic stuff I tried gets wet, and stays wet including Gortex and takes too long to dry out. The thinsulate seems to provide some warmth even when wet. I havent found a wool/ leather combination that isnt too bulky and provides me with the usability I require. I keep three pairs and swap them out during the day as needed, you could probably get by with two. $80 Sitka gloves are out of my price range.

Last obvious piece of advice is try all this stuff out well ahead of time. Really try it out. take a shower with it on, or have the kids hose you down and then go out and sit for an hour at 30, and then chop some wood.... :) Good luck, have a great time! CL
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While there are benefits to some of the newer hi tech clothing that wicks moisture and dries fast...and is lighter...they aren't very warm when wet. And when you're wet and its warm out, that's one thing. When you are wet and cold, it doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in.
This is where wool holds the advantage. It retains warmth, even when wet. The lighter weight clothing will dry faster. And some say that it doesn't stink up as bad...

There are a few brands that have blended wool with synthetic for a hybrid offering benefits of both materials...check reviews on these...I haven't tried them myself so cannot comment. And this may help those that suffer from wearing pure wool next to their skin.
A wool toque/watch cap is important as most are aware of the warmth lost from the head...but do not overlook the gloves mentioned above! We lose a lot of heat through our hands, and just taking off your gloves, or putting them back dependent upon your level of activity and exertion will amaze you if you pay attention to it. The advice given above is good!

One trick that I've read about drying clothing in wet environments is to put some of your wet clothes, (e.g., lighter base layers wrung out as much as possible of course) in the foot of your sleeping bag with you overnight, where your body heat will help them dry out by morning.

Check with the outfitter or locals as to the normal temperature range for the time you plan to hunt, to plan accordingly for the temps you should be facing. I would take a light set, some medium, and a heavier set just in case; so you can layer as needed, as you just never know exactly what you'll face until you are there and in it!

The trick here is balance, as if flying in to a remote camp, weight will be a factor for the flight, and most people take too much. If backpacking, weight will be even more important.

Dress down when hiking/climbing so that you do not overheat. But once you stop to glass, put another layer back on so you do not get cold as you sit. And take something light and insulated to sit on, so you are not soaking up cold from the ground. It will make a huge difference! And a lightweight fly you can set up with your hiking poles will protect you and your hunting partner(s) from wind, rain and/or sun as you glass and make life a while lot comfier. I got mine from Seek Outside. They are light, compact, and quick to set up.

Prepare for worst and hope for the best.
And do not forget to hydrate! Probably one of the most often overlooked things people forget to do when cold and wet; and will cause/add to health issues in a hurry!

Hope you have a great adventure!
I have a Cabela's Gortex rain suit that works pretty well. You can check it out next time you come over.

No Alaska experience, but wet and cold sucks everywhere else I've been in the world. A few observations, which might have already been covered, and I suspect none of what I have to say will be a surprise to you anyway -
. Fast drying is great when you're back at camp. When you're out in the wet, you're just as wet and just as cold.
. There is a difference between being wet and being in the rain. When the rain is actively falling, there is a difference between wet and WET.
. Wool keeps you warm, even when wet - up to a point. Insulation only works if you have body heat to retain.
. Socks. Dry socks.
. Hunting by glassing is different than over bait, and has different gear requirements.
. Socks. Dry socks.
. I know someone said it: neck gaiter.
. Socks. Dry socks. And leg gaiters.
Also, as I think I have said to others; I find the state of Alaska has resources, though I don't know if it covers clothing, etc. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.biggameintro

Oh, and I really hope you enjoy yourselves.
No Alaska experience, but have spent weeks in WA and Oregon rainforests in winter.

Rubber boots with two pairs of wool socks inside. Superfeet insoles. Dry them at night however you can- stove/sleeping bag.

Old Goretex pants with rubber bibs over. Either poly long bottoms, or light wool pants or just briefs underneath. Take off the bibs if out of the wet brush and rain stops.

Rubber parka over layers of wool/poly. If you aren't weight limited bring a Goretex Parka for nice days.

I also like some sort of very puffy jacket for stops. If fastidious you might get away with down.
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Well I guided in S/W Alaska for twenty years, logged in S/E Alaska and western Oregon for 10 years. I retired to the high desert of eastern Oregon for that reason. That country was wet and cold. Guiding I had affordable access to the best Gortex gear available. Got new stuff every couple years as Gortex is relatively fragile. Light rain, Gortex is fine but for really wet days I kept a rubberized Canvas jacket in my boat to pull over what ever name brand Gortex I was wearing.
Cory Jacobsen did an elk hunt there, and Randy Newberg has done sitka blacktail hunts.
Both have reviewed what gear did - and did not - work for them.
I'd search out those videos and podcasts for some tips.