So, rain pants are great in theory. The problem is they’re difficult to put on / take off fast because they generally require removing/replacing shoes plus a full pack drop (possibly in the rain and mud). Then there’s the limited success they have in keeping your waist and legs dry anyway (often failing to keep water out or sweat off).
But if you don’t want soggy bottoms and legs, you need them right? Not necessarily . . .
Enter the hiking kilt!
It’s NOT a Skirt!!!
Let’s get something straight right off the bat. Just because it’s a free-hanging part of an outer garment extending from the waist down, that does not mean it’s a skirt.
I mean, really, why would you even think that?
A “kilt” is, like, totally different: a knee-length pleated
skirt garment usually of tartan worn by men in Scotland. A “rain kilt,” then, is basically just a waterproof kilt (only without pleats, not made of tartan, and usually worn by non-Scottish men outside of Scotland).
OK, so now that we’ve established beyond reasonable doubt that this piece of testosterone-driven hardcore hiking gear is definitely a kilt (and not by any means a skirt), we can get on to the point of this post.
Rain Kilt > Rain Pants (?)
Rain kilts may be better than rain pants. Consider the upsides kilts have over pants (besides the, um, you know, obvious one):
- Rain kilts can be actually 100% waterproof (depending on the material) while still being actually breathable.
- Rain kilts can be put on quickly (like wrapping a towel around the waist), or even left on and simply rolled up when not in use.
- Rain kilts weigh far less than rain pants.
- Rain kilts are typically less expensive than comparable-quality rain pants. Examples:
- Bluefield Rain (ahem) Skirt (2.3 oz., $16)
- ULA Rain Kilt (3.5 oz., $35)
- MLD Silnylon Rain Kilt (2.7 oz., $35)
- Zpacks DCF Rain Kilt (2 oz., $59)
- MLD DCF Rain Kilt (1.7 oz., $70)
- Zpacks Vertice Rain Kilt (2.5 oz. $79)
- Multi-function: the kilt can be used as small tarp / ground cloth when not being worn.
Downsides to rain kilts compared to pants include the following:
- No protection for lower legs or shoes. (Not a problem unless it’s really cold, gaiters can protect shoes.)
- Limited mobility. (At least when compared to pants, probably not a huge issue.)
- Ignorant people think it’s a skirt. (Only an issue for insecure men).
DIY Rain Kilt
As shown above, rain kilts start around $35, but they can be DIY’d for less. While the potential money savings might not be worth the labor involved, the customization options might be worth it.
A rain kilt is not a very advanced or technical piece of gear. YouTubers show how you can make one yourself out of various materials such as silnylon, cuben fiber (aka Dyneema / DCF), or even Tyvek.
I am not 100% sold on the idea of a rain kilt, but they seem worth checking out. Maybe I’ll see if my wife will make me a rain kilt out of a tarp or my oversized Frogg Togg pants!
(After all, sewing is for girls.)