RAIN JACKET REVIEW IN LAKE CLARK, ALASKA
Dan Urban | Headwear Director | Confidence Starts Within
The jacket was a prototype at the time, and I had a perfect opportunity to put it through a stress test on a fishing trip to Alaska I planned with four good friends. It was lightweight and incredibly packable inside my suitcase, and later inside the drywell of my kayak. I decided to wear it this trip due to dark clouds and swift mountain air gusts of the freshest oxygen you’ve ever put into your lungs. White-cap waves gave us a wet and wild ride, but the temperature held at 65 degrees. It rained off and on for the entire three-mile trip from camp to the salmon hole that two of us found on a trip a few years earlier.
A half mile in, I began to sweat and overheat. Having come off a long and extremely cold Wisconsin spring, my blood was too thick for any sort of jacket in mid-summer. The mosquitos knew this as well, as they anxiously awaited over my head for me strip down to bare skin. I decided to zip down the underarm vents and my core was immediately greeted with the misty cool headwind that also pushed against my kayak. The rain continued sporadically and the skeeters patiently hovered, unknowing they had been outsmarted. I was cool, dry, and comfortable, and now in my element.
Fishing pliers and a small knife were in my breast pocket. A bottle of skeet-deet was in my right pocket, and a spoon lure I found on the trail was in my left. The lure never snagged the inside of the pocket once, which I thought was an unbelievable feat, and should not go un-mentioned.
The weather changed as it wished, and I zipped up and down all day long with smooth pulls and quick zipper connections. The hood fit nicely over the visor of my ballcap and provided me about eight inches of vision in the heavy downpours, and the pull-ties fit it to my head tight. The seams were perfectly welded shut and I was still dry as a bone underneath; it reminded me of a very high-end personal tent.
At the river mouth, the salmon were not quite ready yet. We still caught a dozen greyling; three of them with my found pocket spinner. I harvested a few fillets for the dinner campfire and walked to the river’s edge to wash my fishy hands. I stuck both jacket sleeves in as well and the current of the icy blue glacier water washed off the blood and fish remnants. The rain stopped again, and my wet sleeves dried within minutes. The sun finally joined us, and I rolled the jacket up, stuffed it into the front of my waders, and kept fishing with my friends on that stunning Alaskan beach for hours.
The temperature dropped, but the Alaskan sun did not. We started the paddle back to camp, and I put the jacket back on to break the now-chilly wind slicing through the back of my thin cotton tee-shirt. When zipped up, not a single puff of air passed through. I’ll always remember how extremely glad I was that I had brought it and how comfortable I had been all day long. Rain jackets have two purposes based on their name alone and this inventive over-layer is both (and then some) and undoubtedly contributed to a truly exceptional paddle.
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