Can anyone recommend a good rain jacket/shell, for example one that kept you dry on this years JMC? I know there are various features to consider (including how waterproof it is, Goretex or not, weight, functionality, extra bells and whistles that you don’t need, closable cuffs, wired or stiff hood, being able to pull the hood snug over your face, elasticated cord around your waist) and all jackets will offer a bit of this and less of that. I am looking at the Salomon Bonatti, but after trying it on I am not 100% confident it will do the job. Has anyone used one? The First Ascent Dry-Lite has also had good reviews, but have not seen anyone wearing one. I am sure there are many practical experiences I and other trail runners can learn from, rather than buying a jacket off the shelf in hope, and testing it out afterwards.
I have a question related to rain jackets/shells that I would like to put to you or all those who did the JMC this year. Or any event in wet weather. I did the JMC in 2011 and got evacuated at CP1 down Kurkterkkerspad when the front caught up with us. Three years later, this year, I did it again with the same equipment (I don’t learn) and with the same result. I made the cut-off with about 10 minutes to spare, but was so wet and cold that I didn’t fancy tackling the other half of the route, firstly up into more weather and then later back into the wind and rain until breaking through the clouds again. As in 2011, all started well, but up Swartboskloof, the higher I went the wetter I got, the wetter I got the colder I got, the colder I got the slower I went, the slower I went the wetter I got… I am certainly not looking to brand-bash here, but I was using an old SA-brand rain jacket that I bought in 2004. Back then it was top of the range, but I must be honest I have not maintained it and now it pretty much just absorbs water and in heavy rain whatever I am wearing underneath gets soaked pretty quickly. I know, I am a fool for not getting a new jacket, but before “shelling” out a grand plus I am looking for some advice. Not salesman talk, because of course every salesman will tell you why their brand is better than the next, but some practical information based on comparison and actual experience. Perhaps a good way to go about it is to ask who WAS happy with their jacket on this years JMC, rather than who wasn’t. I know there are various features to consider, including how waterproof it is, Goretex or not, weight, functionality (pockets, extra bells and whistles that you don’t need), closable cuffs, wired or stiff hood, being able to pull the hood snug over your face, elasticated cord around your waist. And all jackets will offer a bit of this and less of that. Recently I tried on the Salomon “Bonatti” jacket. Apparently it is 100% waterproof and “will keep you dry in the worst weather out there”. Now I know things get a lot worse than JMC this year (like in 2011!) but I wonder if anyone used a Bonatti, and what their thoughts are. It just seems way too light and flimsy to be a proper shell, that you can 100% rely on when you need it most, when things get serious and personal safety becomes the most important thing. Then again I see Ryan Sandes wore one for his Drakensberg Traverse, but he was obviously packing super light and moving quickly, risking exposure if they got caught by really bad weather. The specs say it has a “waterproofness” of 10,000mm, but it weighs only 210g. As many of you know, the Apple weighs 95g and is not waterproof at all. The jacket that I think looks pretty good is the First Ascent Dry-Lite. This too says it has a 10,000mm waterhead, but it weighs in at double that of the Salomon jacket at 420g. A massive difference is that the Salomon jacket folds away to almost nothing (into its sleeve) compared to the Dry-Lite, which is obviously a huge plus when getting all into your kit bag. Then again, I have also heard that Goretex is the way to go, and nothing else compares. I know there are so many runners out there who would have both good and bad experiences using different products. If I can learn from those bad experiences, then it will obviously go a long way to making sure I get kit that is cost effective, but ultimately helps me to avoid the situation where I have to come down that damn Kurktrekkerspad for a third time!