A few weeks ago I posted a video review of my Cuben Fiber Trail Designs CloudKilt by ZPacks here on my blog. This is basically a rectangular piece of cuben fiber which is attached around the waist using a hook-and-loop closure device (Velcro) and is an alternative to using rain pants while hiking in less-than-perfect weather. The benefit: lighter-weight than pretty much all rain pants currently available as well as functioning as a multi-use item (ground sheet & tarp beak as well as its primary use, rain protection for my legs).
However, the CloudKilt is not the only rain kilt on the market. ULA (Ultralight Adventure Equipment) also sells the Rain Wrap. While both of these are essentially the same item, they each have a little different twist to them.
Recently, another hiker by the name of Raul Perez (which has quite a few great videos on hiking gear) has recently striked up an interesting conservation with me in the comment section of the CloudKilt video over on YouTube concerning the real world use of the CloudKilt. Unfortunately, I have not actually needed to use the CloudKilt on any of my hikes yet so the actual effectiveness is still, well, up in the air…
Raul owns the ULA Rain Wrap and after asking him a few questions, he decided to simply do a video review of the rain wrap to answer a few of my questions. So, I decided to go ahead and repost the video of my CloudKilt as well as Raul’s video of the ULA Rain Wrap here in one place. From watching his review, I think that the ULA Rain Wrap is a great piece of kit, as well as the CloudKilt, so I wanted to post these videos together so that anyone interested in this idea could see both versions and go from there.
But before I post these videos, I would like to say that both of these companies make great products. I own gear from each of the companies which I am really happy with and on top of that, well, their customer service has been super. Plus, if it is any count, they are both owned and operated here in the USA. Also, Joe at ZPacks will do custom work to items if contacted first, and while I am not 100% sure, I think that the guys at ULA may do the same. Simply give them a call before ordering and discuss the possibilities. (Of course be aware that by doing this the items may cost a little more $$$ as well as take a little extra time to get to you.)
I would also like to add that the main reason I have decided to carry a rain kilt, as opposed to rain pants, is simply due to the weight savings. Typically, my rain gear is carried much more of the time than it is actually being used, so in this light, weight is a legitimate factor. However, in those times of need, I want to know that the items I carry will go the distance as well, and I believe that either of these kilts will do that job, respectively. I would also like to make note that, in my opinion, the kilts are more so a 3-season piece of kit. If I am planning to be in snow and/or sub freezing temps, I will be smart and carry full rain pants. There is a time and place for kilts, at least in my opinion.
So, without further a due…
Thanks for reading/watching. If you have any comments or questions please just post them below. I would really like to hear some feedback from owners of either of these items (or even some of the DIYers out there ~ come on, I know you’re out there…) And now, I am going to follow Raul’s lead and don my rain gear and hit the showers… :)
Later that night…
Well, I followed Raul’s lead and hit the shower wearing my rain gear. I wore my Sierra Designs jacket with the CloudKilt (my Tumalo is packed up getting ready for my coming-up hike). I turned the shower on and then started doing the rain dance in the shower, and my daughter walked in and wondered why daddy got to play in the shower with his clothes on and she didn’t… :)
Really though, I kept marching in place while slowly turning in circles. I did this for a little over 5 minutes. (Keeping in mind that I had to be careful when facing the shower head because if I looked up the shower would spray me in the face, and inside my jacket…) I also moved forward and backward while in the shower, which, when closer to the shower head, obviously made the water concentrate on the jacket and then run down over the CloudKilt. Then obviously, when farther away, the water hit directly along my waist line. I also stood still letting the water pound on the kilt at times (but not directly at the opening).
After watching Raul’s video I decided to turn the kilt with the opening to the side rather than in the back. By doing this the split seemed to be smaller as well as opening less while moving around. Also, the split didn’t really start until just above my knee, and opened more so when I was stepping up using the leg on the same side as the split, and for only a very brief moment.
So, what are my conclusions?
I do wish that the design/cut of the CloudKilt was wider. The ULA is 62″ wide vs the CloudKilt’s 52″ wide. However, I would like to see the shape be narrower at the top and actually widen out at the bottom. This way, when the “kilt” is being worn, the bottom would actually be shaped like a bell. By doing this, it seems that the kilt would be able to stay secured together leaving no openings and still allow pretty near full strides. Also, if the edges of the split were to be able to be connected with a piece of Velcro, it would be able to easily come undone if taking too large of a step such as stepping up onto a tall object without causing any damage to the actual kilt itself, and then could easily and quickly be re-secured. (The ULA Rain Wrap appears to do this.)
Next, I like the cuben in rain much better than I do silnylon. I have found that the cuben is actually water proof whereas silnylon is simply resistant (although very highly resistant). When wearing the cuben in the shower, no water got through nor did the material feel damp. Then afterwards, a quick shake resulted in an almost completely dry piece of material. (Imagine shaking water off of a sheet of plastic.) In my experience (with my sil tarp), silnylon takes a little longer to become dry. It can be shaken out and become somewhat less wet, but it seems that the material actually holds onto the water a little while, and for it to completely dry it must sit out in a dry place and be allowed to air dry.
Also, in this light, I wonder how the silnylon would feel against my legs once it was soaked. I would imagine it being almost similar to a wet shirt and almost sticking to you, of course not that extreme, but similar. From standing in the shower I can say that the cuben didn’t feel any different once water was pounding on it.
So, if I had to do it all over again, at this point I think I would still go with the Cuben CloudKilt. But, I would call Joe first and ask him about making it in the shape I described above, and even adding a small piece of Velcro along the sides so the split could be closed up while being worn.
I would say though that the CloudKilt as is would work fine though for smaller people. I must admit, at 5’10″ and 200 pounds, I am not the smallest of them out there…