Rain Gear for Alaska
By Marcus Weiner
Rain gear is a critical component of an outdoorsman’s wardrobe in Alaska. It often rains in the 49th state, and if you are heading to places in Southeast such as Ketchikan, where over 140 inches of rain falls in an average year, you’ll be wearing that rain gear most of the time.
As temperatures drop during the progression from summer to fall, rains tend to increase. Getting and remaining wet can make you pretty miserable, and in cases where you can’t get dry, the steady moisture can quicken the onset of hypothermia. So from a comfort and safety perspective, it’s crucial to invest in quality rain gear. Generally speaking, the following brands offer a range of jackets, bibs and pants that are of good quality and will protect you in bad weather.
Long recognized as a leader in foul weather gear, this company’s roots date back over 100 years to a coastal village on the west side of Sweden. Carl Grundén produced oiled garments designed to keep dry the professional fishermen of the North Sea and North Atlantic. Today Grundéns is among the most respected manufacturers of rain gear in Alaska and their products can be found on fishermen statewide. Their PVC-coated garments are still among the top choice for professional fishermen. From super-rugged jackets and bibs like the Harvestor or Hercules to strong, quiet products like the Petrus (great for hunting and fishing), there are many styles and designs to choose from.
This brand was developed by Grundéns to provide a technical product geared towards the average outdoorsman. Breathable, lightweight and feature-rich, there are lots of good options to choose from. Storm Surge, Weather Watch and Storm Runner are all great options for the traveling angler and hunter. They pack into a small space, don’t weigh much and keep you dry.
This brand makes rugged products that are well-respected and represented in Alaska. They make both breathable and PVC-based rain gear in various weights to handle a range of climates. Check out the Surrey rain coat and bib, Force Equator jacket and pant, Bad Axe jacket, Mayne coat and bibs, and Medford pant.
This Portland-based brand began as a family business and has achieved global recognition for quality products made for people who like to be outdoors. Founded 77 years ago, it’s named for the mighty Columbia River, one of the most important waterways in America. The company’s website states that the people who work in the company hike, ride, fish, hunt, climb, camp, golf, paddle, run and just enjoy fresh air with friends. Many options exist within the full line of rain gear, and many of them include Columbia’s Omni Tech material, which is waterproof, breathable and fully seam-sealed. Another Columbia technology is Omni-Heat; this breathable material reflects body heat back at you.
Helly Hansen’s long history dates back to 1877 when Norwegian captain Helly Hansen began producing oilskin jackets and pants. Today the company offers a wide selection of waterproof, breathable and packable rain gear. Check out the Loke jacket and pant for a lightweight set, as well as the Seven J jacket and pant. Products feature Durable Water Repellency (DWR) treatment and Helly Tech Performance fabrics.
This company makes awesome camouflage rain gear and is a great option for the fisherman who also hunts. We’ve tried the Koldo rain jacket and pants and stayed dry despite the gnarly conditions faced north of the Arctic Circle. The Poseidon rain jacket and pant are also great performers. The company was founded by a pair of military veterans who loved to big-game hunt in tough environments and their patterns and garments are reflected in their “Battlefield to Backcountry” philosophy.
This brand includes a wide range of jackets and bibs designed to keep you dry in nasty weather. They categorize their garments into medium- and heavy-duty options, which give users a range of choices for a wide variety of conditions.
We’ve enjoyed using both the Typhoon and Strykr Jacket and bibs and remained dry and warm in some really foul weather. The company fuses ultra-thin neoprene with proven outdoor fabrics to produce windproof, waterproof and warm garments.
There are many other companies on the market that make good rain gear; Marmot, Mountain Hardwear and Outdoor Research are top brands to consider as well. The most important thing is to get a quality set of rain gear (or two) so you can stay dry and warm when the weather gets bad and the fish are still biting.