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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > ULA Rain Wrap Skirt > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

ULA-Equipment Rain Wrap

Initial Report March 16, 2007
Field Report May 22, 2007
Long Term Report July 24, 2007
Update:  August 2007


Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  49
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)

E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking 3 years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, but managed a week long section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) last year.  I hike and backpack mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but will be section hiking more of the AT this year.  I’m usually a hammock sleeper, but will soon be testing a Tarptent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist, and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.



Me wearing Rain WrapInitial Report - March 16, 2007

Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA-Equipment)
Manufacturer Website:  http://www.ula-equipment.com
Year of manufacture:  2007
Product:  Rain Wrap
Size tested:  L (large)
Color:   Blue
MSRP:  $25 US
Manufacturer's stated size:  ~32 x ~54 in (81 x 137 cm); stuffed size:  5.25 x 4 x 2.5 in (13.5 x 10 x 6.5 cm)
Measured size: 32.5 x 62.5 in  (83 x 159 cm); stuffed size:  5.25 x 3.5 x 2.5 in (13.5 x 9 x 6.5 cm)
Manufacturer's stated weight:  large 3.2 oz (91 g); medium 2.9 oz (82 g)
Measured weight:  large 3.1 oz (88 g)

Construction details:   silicon nylon fabric
                                  flat elastic draw cord style waistband
                                  Velcro adjustment/closure tabs
                                  corner stakeout loops
                                  integrated stuff sack


Product Description:

The ULA-Equipment Rain Wrap is a simple rectangle of silicon nylon fabric with a folded over hem at the bottom, an encased elastic draw cord at the top, a 3/4 in (2 cm) wide Velcro fastener at the waistband, and two 1/2 in (1.5 cm) wide Velcro fasteners to fasten the sides together.  The waistband Velcro is a little over 4 1/2 in (11.5 cm) long, and the side fasteners around 4 in (10 cm) long.  Three of the corners have a 1.5 in (4 cm) long loop of 3/8 in (1 cm) wide elastic, and the fourth has a plastic D-ring, so the Rain Wrap can be staked out for use as a ground cloth, or flooring for a tarp or vestibule.  The Rain Wrap has a 4.5 x 6 in (11.5 x 15 cm) rectangle of silicon nylon sewn to the bottom left side which serves as an integrated stuff sack - I simply turn it inside out and stuff the Rain Wrap inside it for compact storage.  An extra strip of Velcro (the softer loop side part) is sewn to the stuff sack to allow it to be fastened, and a plastic glove hook attached to an additional loop of elastic extends from the top to allow the stuffed Rain Wrap to be fastened to my pack or a belt loop.  A size label and a logo label with the company name, website address, physical address, and telephone number extends from the side of the stuffed Rain Wrap.  The label also states "Made in the USA".

The flat elastic draw cord at the waist is sewn into place on the left side, and pulls through a metal grommet on the right side to allow the cord to be drawn tighter.  A yellow plastic toggle can be slid up and down the cord to hold the draw cord in the desired position.  A small thin D-ring is sewn into the loose end of the draw cord.  The smaller D-ring and the toggle can be slid through the larger D-ring at the waist to hold excess cord out of the way.

The Rain Wrap as a 'Superhero' CapeInitial Impressions:

 The Rain Wrap appears to be well made.  I see a few minor irregularities in the stitching and a minor bit of puckering of the fabric in the integrated stuff sack area, which seems to be fairly typical of items constructed of silnylon in my experience.  Having attempted to repair a small area of a silnylon tarp in the past, I know how difficult it can be to hold the slippery material in place in order to keep all stitching even, so I don't regard this as a flaw.  I'm very impressed with the detail that went into the design, such as positioning the Velcro fasteners so that the hook side of one piece can be used both to fasten the Rain Wrap at the bottom and to hold the stuff sack closed, requiring only an extra piece of loop side fastener for weight savings; the simple yet effective draw cord; and even the way the labels are sewn into the stuff sack so they are visible when the Rain Wrap is stuffed, and out of the way when it is being worn.

I'm pleased with the fit - the waist cord adjusts extensively, and feels comfortable.  When worn around my waist, the wrap hits just above my ankles - a good length for me, since I don't normally wear gaiters.  And, if I am brave enough to do so, the wrap is long enough to wear as the manufacturer suggests, as a 'modesty wrap' while doing laundry at resupply stops on longer trips.  For the most part the Rain Wrap is what I expected from the manufacturer website, although the blue is more of a navy color than the bright blue pictured on the website, for which I am glad since I prefer muted colors when hiking.

I've already found an additional multi-use for the Rain Wrap.  My three year old grandson Daykota thinks it's a great 'Superhero' cape!

My only real concern at this time is whether the strips of Velcro that hold the Rain Wrap closed in the front will prove effective enough to hold it closed in windy conditions.  At this time, I believe the advantages the Rain Skirt has are that it will be easier and hopefully faster to employ in the rain than rain pants, which even with side zips take some time to don, that it should provide better ventilation than pants in warmer temperatures; and that it takes much less space to pack than any of my rain pants.

This concludes my Initial Report.

Field Report -  May 22, 2007

Field Conditions:

In late March I hiked about 10 mi (16 km) of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the Grayson Highlands area of Virginia, where elevations were around 3500 to 5000 ft (1100 to 1500 m).  Temperatures ranged from around 50-70 F (10-20 C).  Although I carried the ULA Rain Wrap in my pack, and used it as a ground cover for our lunch break, I did not need to use it for rain protection, since the weather was dry.

In April I carried the Rain Wrap while hiking about 70 mi (113 km) of the AT in Tennessee and North Carolina.  This included several 'slackpack' hikes (which are basically long dayhikes) while staying in a hostel in Erwin, Tennessee, and on an overnight backpacking trip with a stay at Curley Maple Gap Shelter.  The overnight trip was approximately 9 mi (15 km) and the slackpacks ranged from 11 to 22 mi (18 to 35 km).  Temperatures ranged from an overnight low of about 20 F (-7 C) on the overnight to a high of about 60 F (16 C).  Elevations ranged from 1700 to 5500 ft (500 m to 1700 m), with over 12000 ft (3700 m) of elevation gain, and a similar amount of elevation loss over entire section.  Most of the days were sunny or partially cloudy, so I only used the Rain Wrap as a ground cover for rest stops those days.  I did use it as a wrap during part of one snowy 20 mi (32 km) slackpack.

I also used the Rain Wrap as a ground cover only for a short overnight backpacking trip of about 3 mi (5 km) in southern West Virginia in late April, where the overnight low was 35 F (2 C), and the day time high was about 65 F (18 C) with no precipitation, but high humidity.

In May I used the Rain Wrap on a rainy overnight backpacking trip in central West Virginia.  The distance was short, only about 2 mi (3 km), with rain all of the way to camp and during most of the night.  The low temperature was around 40 F (4 C) and the high about 70 F (21 C).  The elevation ranged from 700 to 900 ft (200 to 300 m).  The trail was mainly mud and wet vegetation (grass and weeds).

Use and findings:

I've greatly enjoyed the Rain Wrap as a ground cover, and for the way it packs up in a neat compact package that I can stow in a small corner of my pack.  It's compact enough that I can actually store it inside my rain jacket pocket (with the rain jacket itself also stored in there) to keep both pieces together.  I've also just clipped it to a small loop on the front of one of my pairs of hiking pants for one hike, but I didn't like the way it bounced around when I carried it there.  Most of the time I store it inside my self-stowed rain jacket in the outside pocket of my pack for easy access.  A few times I didn't feel like storing it back inside it's own little integrated stuff sack (although this is a simple process it takes a few seconds) and just loosely stuffed it into the outer pocket or even inside my pack.

The Rain Wrap is very easy to deploy into a ground cover suitable for seating up to two people, or comfortable for me to recline on by myself.  (See photo below, taken during lunch break near 'The Scales' on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia).

Relaxing on the Rain Wrap


It's worked very well to keep me dry when the ground is damp or wet, and to give me a place to keep my gear from getting muddy.  The Rain Wrap also worked well to shed snow and keep it off my legs when I used it as a wrap on my Appalachian Trail trip.  I did find I needed to pull it up at the front when climbing steeper terrain or stepping up on large rocks so it didn't get caught in my shoes and trip me.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as pleased with its performance in the steady rain I experienced on the May backpacking overnight.  I found the rain dripped steadily from the hem of the Rain Wrap directly onto my lower pants legs and shoes, and ended up soaking them and my wool socks, none of which dried overnight in the rainy conditions.  The temperatures dropped down into the 40 F (4 C), and with wet feet, I grew chilled.  Fortunately I had a warm bag and dry socks to sleep in, but putting cold wet shoes and socks on in the morning chill was not my idea of fun.  I found the Rain Wrap slightly restricted my stride at times, and while the terrain wasn't so steep that I needed to hold the hem up to avoid tripping on it, the bottom edge sometimes separated as I took a longer stride to step up small rises in the trail.  This trip also showed how easily the Rain Wrap dries though, since it was the only clothing I had worn that was dry by morning (including my normally quick drying Epic rain jacket).  I also found another use for it; the terrain I was sleeping on sloped slightly sideways under my Tarptent floor, and I found I could roll the Rain Wrap and stuff it under the low edge of my sleeping pad to alleviate the pad slipping to the downhill side.  Another positive was that it was very nice to have the Rain Wrap on when I sat on a wet log to cook dinner, since my bottom side stayed nice and dry without having to fuss with trying to keep a trash bag or foam pad in place on the log for a 'sit pad'.

After the rainy backpacking trip, I've concluded that gaiters may be needed for all but light precipitation.  While I already own a pair, they're intended more for cold weather use and are rather heavy at 6.7 oz (190 g), in which case any weight savings from the ULA Rain Wrap over my normal rain pants would be lost, so I am thinking of purchasing a lighter, lower pair for summer use.  This would allow me to still save some weight over full rain pants and at the same time keep debris out of my trail shoes, so this may prove a good solution.  At any rate, I hope to be able to test the Rain Wrap with gaiters during the next rainy hike to see if my shoes, socks, and lower pants legs can stay dry.

The Rain Wrap seems to stay pretty clean for the most part.  It's easy to just brush away any bits of dry grass or other debris that clings to it after using it as a ground cover.  The light mud that I've found on it so far has been easy to just wipe away with a damp cloth or on the lower part of my pants legs, which are usually dirty from hiking anyway.  Even after my last trip when a little more mud than usual was clinging to the Rain Wrap from my using it as a ground cloth as I packed up, it was easy to just wipe the Rain Wrap clean when I got home.

Conclusion so far:

So far I love the light weight and convenience of having a handy ground cloth at the ready, and the ease of deploying the Rain Wrap quickly for light unexpected showers, but I need to see if it is practical to use the Rain Wrap with gaiters to keep me drier in steady rain.

Long Term Report - July 24, 2007

Field Use:

Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to use the ULA Rain Wrap for weather protection during the last two months.  This is both good and bad - good because it meant I had great weather on my trips, but bad since I did not get the opportunity to see how the Rain Wrap would perform with a set of gaiters.

I did carry the Rain Wrap on several trips, most notably two overnight trips.  The first was an overnight base camping trip in southern West Virginia, with temperatures in the 60 - 90 F (15-30 C) range, and elevation around 1800 ft (550 m).  I did not need to use the wrap at all, since I was staying in a platform tent and simply sat on the foam mattress or the edge of the tent platform when I wanted to sit, and the weather was clear and dry so I did not need rain protection.  The second was a short overnight backpacking trip in western West Virginia, with temperatures in the 60 - 80 F (15-25 C) range, elevation around 900 ft (300 m).  I hiked only about 3 mi (5 km), and carried the Rain Wrap in the front pocket of my GoLite Quest pack.  The skies threatened storms, but they never materialized.  I used the Rain Wrap for lounging around a bit outside my Tarptent.

I also carried the Rain Wrap on several short (3-5 mi/5-8 km) day hikes, mostly in western West Virginia, using it as a ground cover to sit on, but again the weather did not cooperate to allow me to actually test it in the rain.  We've been experiencing near drought conditions, and it seemed every time I could actually fit a hike in the weather was fine, or threatening storms did not materialize until after the hike.  The few times it actually rained, I had something else I needed to do, and wasn't able to hike.

During one warm weather hike, I carried only a water bottle, a wind jacket, and the Rain Wrap, fastening the hook of the stuffed Rain Wrap to a grosgrain loop on the stuffed wind jacket, and simply dangling the two across my fingertips to carry them in one hand with the water bottle.  I found this was not a good thing to do, as the hook of the Rain Wrap shredded the grosgrain ribbon loop on the wind shirt.  On other hikes I carried the Rain Wrap inside a fanny pack, a day pack, and even in the cargo pockets of my convertible nylon hiking pants.

Conclusions:

My first and foremost conclusion is that testing rain gear is the best way to insure the weather will be good when I plan a trip!

I do really like the way the Rain Wrap packs up small and can be stuffed anywhere in my pack, or even fit inside a cargo pants pocket.  I really like using it as a 'lounging pad', since it is long enough that I can stretch out and not worry about picking up leaf litter or mud on my pants, and even take off my shoes and keep my socks clean.  I like that it is easy to wipe mud off the surface or shake leaf litter loose to keep it clean.

I will continue to carry the ULA Rain Wrap as my primary lower body rain protection for my next few trips, at least until cooler fall weather sets in.  I hope to experience some rain to test whether the Rain Wrap will work with gaiters to keep my socks and feet drier, and plan to update my report if/when this should occur.  In the meantime, I foresee carrying the Rain Wrap on warm weather trips where rain isn't really expected as 'just in case' rain wear, but packing rain pants for trips where rain is expected.  I'm a little torn about carrying the Rain Wrap along with the rain pants - it sure is nice to lounge around the camp fire on it, and it's a lot lighter than a 'camp chair', but in those circumstances it doesn't really serve a multi-use function or save me any pack weight.

This concludes my Long Term Report.

Thanks to ULA-Equipment and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Rain Wrap.

Update - August 2007:

At the end of July I had the opportunity to use the ULA Rain Wrap on an additional backpacking trip that turned out to be quite different than my previous experiences.  On this weekend trek in the Dolly Sods Wilderness in the eastern West Virginia mountains, it rained both evenings/nights, and the morning of one day.  Overnight temperatures dipped to around 55 F (13 C), with daytime highs around 75 F (18 C).  My pack weight was about 23 lb (10 kg), including food and 2 L of water.

I wore the Rain Wrap both evenings as I moved around camp in the rain, and found it convenient to sit on the wet ground wearing the wrap, without the need for a sit pad to keep my pants seat from getting soaked.  I also wore the Rain Wrap with a pair of Integral Designs eVent Shortie Gaiters while hiking in the rain the second day of the trip.  Although the gaiters helped keep my feet from becoming quite as soaked as they were on my earlier experience hiking in the rain, my pants legs still became very wet in the area about halfway down from my knees, since there was still a gap between the bottom of the Rain Wrap and the top of the short gaiters; and my shoes and socks eventually still became wet - just not as soaked as previously.  With the weather being warmer than my previous rainy hike, this wasn't more than a slight inconvenience.

I also found the Rain Wrap useful to keep my pants drier after the rain stopped, since there was a lot of moisture clinging to brush and tall grass along the trail that would have soaked my pants legs if I hadn't been wearing the Rain Wrap.  It was convenient to be able to quickly don and remove the wrap without having to pass it over my shoes - it can be deployed in a matter of seconds when the need arises.

On the second night of the trip, I found one more multi-use for the Rain Wrap - I wrapped my damp shirt, rain jacket, and muddy pants up in the Rain Wrap and stored them at the bottom of the tent, which kept all the moisture and dirt away from my nice, dry down quilt.  Since I normally toss and turn a lot at night, it was nice not to worry about dirt or moisture transferring to the quilt.

In conclusion, I find the Rain Wrap very useful for warm weather hikes as rain gear, and multi-use enough that I am leaning toward making it a permanent part of my backpacking kit, even when weather is chilly enough that I feel rain pants are needed.


Read more reviews of Ultralight Adventure Equipment gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

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