I have been asked a lot about KUIU’s rain gear a...

I have been asked a lot about KUIU’s rain gear and how it compares to other brands in weight and performance.  When researching rain gear it is really important to understand the different choices of waterproof breathable fabrics to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.  Below is some basic information that I  hope will help you make the best choice for your type of hunting.

There are three categories of waterproof breathable fabrics, 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer fabrics.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each. 2-layer & 2.5-layer fabrics are lighter in weight and less expensive. 3-layer fabrics are significantly more durable, will last longer and are much more dependable.

2-Layer

Two-layer fabrics glue a laminate or coating to a lightweight face fabric thus forming a single fabric. You can identify 2-layer rain gear by looking at the inside of the garment; it will typically be white or light grey.

 

2.5-Layer

2.5 layer fabrics add a very thin protective film to the laminate of a 2-layer fabric to increase abrasion resistance and add some protection for the laminate. You can identify 2.5-layer fabrics by the printed grid pattern over the top of the laminate.

 

 

3-Layer

A 3-layer fabric is made up of a laminate sandwiched between a face fabric and inside or backer fabric. 3-layer fabrics are much more durable due to the two layers of fabric protecting the laminate creating added strength.  3-layer fabrics significantly decrease abrasion and punctured caused failures so often experienced in 2-layer and 2.5 layer fabrics.  The downside to most 3-layer fabrics is cost, weight and the lack of stretch.

Waterproof breathable laminates and coatings are very thin and fragile. Abrasion, stress and punctures can create tiny leakage channels.  I have researched and tested 2-layer and 2.5 layer fabrics that have failed in less than an hour of field-testing.  The obvious advantage is the light weight and stretch which are really nice on backcountry hunts, especially when you may only be in your rain gear once or twice.

My goal for KUIU was to develop a durable, four-way stretch, 3-layer fabric that would weigh as much as a 2-layer and 2.5-layer rain gear.  I worked closely with Toray to successfully develop a fabric that is the foundation of lightest 3-layer rain gear available.  This new fabric uses Toray’s 4-way stretch laminate technology with an amazing 20,000/20,000 waterproof & breathability rating.

To answer many of the specific questions regarding the features of KUIU’s new rain gear. KUIU’s Chugach Jacket weighs in at only 17oz and the Chugach pant is a mere 13oz which are on par for 2-layer and 2.5-layer rain gear.  The Chugach Jacket offers a full front zip, two hand pockets, generous pit-zips and a well-designed hood.  The pant has reinforced cuffs, full leg zips that double as ventilation, zippered fly and built in belt.

Photos of this gear will be released early this spring, in. I hope this information helps you in researching rain gear and helping you better understand what KUIU has coming out in the next few months.  Let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

Jason

This article has 30 comment(s)

  1. peter iacavazzi

    Jason,

    Very interesting and imformative. I’m excited to see the final product and with a June bear hunt planned in Alaska with “Rosey”…I’m sure we’ll put it to the test! Great work my friend.

    Peter Iacavazzi

    • Jason Hairston

      Thanks Peter, I look forward to you putting it to the test.

      Jason

  2. john

    Jason,
    Great info. What about price point? For gear of the quality you are proposing I’m envisioning stuff that’s even pricier than the Mountain Hardware parka I’m currently using. I’m willing to pay for good gear but it’s a concern for sure.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi John,

      I totally understand your concerns on price. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, KUIU is developed without a set price target allowing me to use the finest materials and manufacturing possible. Toray fabrics are very expensive, but offer an unmatched performance level. As we get closer to launching the gear I will release the pricing, we are still finalizing the product line from testing comments and reviews.

      Jason

  3. Tom Ryle

    Jason, this sounds awesome! Based on your description of the 2, 2.5, and 3 layer laminate systems, I would lean toward the 3 layer option.

    Here in the Pacific Northwest, it obviously rains a lot compared to other regions. But one aspect that is often overlooked is the fact that even when it is not raining, the abundant, thick vegetation will hold a lot of water, especially salal and sword ferns under the canopy of mature timber stands. So, just getting to and from a hunting location can soak you to the bone before you even get started.

    To compound matters, moving through brushy country littered stiff, woody shrubs, devil’s club (thorns) and blackberry tangles (even more thorns) is very hard on fabrics, with the exception of fleece.

    Durability is a huge factor and more important than stretch for me. My MT050 gear does pretty well under this conditions except that the outer shell holds a ton of water and takes an eternity to dry once thoroughly soaked. This renders it nearly useless after one good soaker rain.

    Heat venting is always a challenge but in the end I want to stay dry when the fall seasons rain down upon me.

    -Tom

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Tom,

      I always appreciate your detailed replies, I look forward to sending you a set to put to the test where you hunt. We will find out how tough it is.

      Jason

  4. David Beronio

    Jason,
    Im excited to see the rain gear.
    Hunting mostly in Nevada and the west during the archery season. Things are prety Dry. I find that my rain gear comes with me everywhere, but almost never leaves the vaccume pouch unless necessary. I have had some weeks of constant rain in the Rubies and other times 100 degrees for weeks. I would be willing to pay for good light gear even if I use it once or twice a year, esp when going out of state.
    Even being a dry state resident, I understand the importance for good light raingear.
    Currently using rivers west but looking fwd to getting some Kuiu.

    • Jason Hairston

      Thanks Dave,

      Great feed back. I look forward to getting you into a set.

      Best,

      Jason

  5. Dave C.

    There is no question you want to use 3-layers for waterproof clothing, though it sounds like that is not up for debate.. I had a two-year-old Patagonia jacket disintegrate on me a few years back. When I returned it the clerk taught me about the 2-layer versus 3-layer difference. I will never buy another two-layer waterproof garment.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Dave,

      Well said!

      Jason

  6. Doc

    Jason,

    If I have this right to summarize your post…
    (excluding costs from this, since you have already mention that performance is more important then cost.)

    2/2.5 layer

    Pros:
    – Lightweight
    – Flexible

    Cons:
    – easy to tear/break

    3 layer

    Pros:
    – durable

    Cons:
    – Heavy
    – not flexible

    However, you were able to develop a 3 layer rain gear that is extremely lightweight, flexible, and durable. I guess my question is what did you have to give up if anything to accomplish this? It would seem that in order to get all 3 you would have to compromise a little bit of a 3 features.

    For example, if you took a “Typical” 3 layer rain gear against KUIU rain gear would it be as durable as the Typical rain gear? or because KUIU rain gear is more flexible and lighter then the “Typical” rain gear it looses some of its protection?

    I don’t mean to offend you or question the quality of this rain gear at all, I can’t help but think that in order to gain one thing you have to compromise something else. Ex. In order to decrease the weight and add flexibility you need to give up durability and then from there you have to fine tune it to get that happy medium. However, you very well could have figured out how to add flexibility and decrease weight while at the same time not decreasing the durability of it.

    The big reason why I ask this is because I was very disappointed with the Sitka Rain Gear. For $250 I was able to rip through the rain gear pants within the first 2 hrs of using it. Granted I don’t really expect any rain gear to have lasted from what I did,(Slipped and slid down 20 ft of rocks off the face of a mountain), but now my thought process is why pay $250 when I can go pay for something just as cheap for a lot less of a price.

    Thanks,

    Doc

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Doc,

      You bring up a very good point. Normally as you stated you have to give up something when you reduce weight. By using Toray’s advanced fabric and laminate technology we were able to develop a lighter weight 3-layer fabric without giving up durability and actually gaining performance. 4-way stretch allows for a better fit reducing bagginess and bulk, which also helps reduce weight. You will see this throughout all of KUIUs outerwear products. I hope this answers your questions, let me know if you have any others.

      Jason

  7. Kit Baughman

    Hi Jason,

    I can relate to Tom’s comments as well – wet vegetation, durability, and heat venting are issues I’ve run into too. I used to live in western Oregon, and now live in Idaho. Idaho gets pretty wet during the hunting season too (but at least we don’t have the blackberries). One difference I’ve noticed here compared to Oregon is that early in the season we have lots of dust on the foliage, which turns to mud with the first rains. The mud sticks to rain clothing and allows the water to have constant contact (at least this is my theory) causing leaks. I have rain gear that’s worked fine in all day pouring rain that’s failed after an hour in early season Idaho. Most of my stuff is 2.5 layer, so I’m really looking forward to trying out your fabrics!

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Kit,

      Your experience sounds like a breathability issue. Dirt can reduce your rain gear’s breathability. Try washing and tumble drying your rain gear on a regular basis. The washing will clean dirt and body oils out of the laminate (another downside to 2 & 2.5 layer rain gear) and will help with breathability. Tumble drying will reactivate the DWR, which is similar to a thin layer of wax (on a micro level) on the outside of the fabric. I look forward to you getting in this new Toray fabric, it is really impressive.

      Jason

  8. Joaquin d’A

    Jason,

    Great information you’re providing here.

    From your words I understand the Nimbus line from Sitka is included in the 2.5-layer category, right?

    Did you designed internal zips in the Chugach pockets? It seems you decided to pass on them in order to reduce weight.

    But it will surely be a pleasure to hunt in one of those jackets. Your dedication is going to pay-off!

    Regards,

    Joaquin.

  9. Seth

    Jason, I hunt almost exclusively in the rain forests of Washington for deer and elk. I’ve tried most major brands of rain gear over the years and came to the conclusion that if it claims it’s breathable then your gonna get wet. Everything I’ve owned that was gore-tex or some other breathable fabric has failed in the environments I use them in. The only thing that keeps me dry in the driving rain and wet, thick underbrush is the heavy PVC rain gear. I’d love to find a tough, breathable product that can stand up to a western Washington rain forest, hopefully your product fits this bill.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Seth,

      Thanks for your comment. Your environment is the ultimate challenge to breathable rain gear due to the high relative humidity of a rain forest. If Toray’s fabric fails where you hunt, then PVC will be your only choice. I look forward to you putting it to the test.

      Jason

  10. alex einspruch

    Just when I thought I had ALL the Sitka Gear imaginable in both patterns, KUIU comes along to reignite gear lust……Peter turned me on to the new venture, Jason. Looks like stellar stuff. Won’t do me a whole lotta good in a tree with a longbow down here in TX, though. Can wait to see the offering this Spring. Who knows, I could transform into a sheep hunter……

  11. Tony Reinolds

    Hey Jason, Have you ever considered making H2O proof footware? Every product Ive owned and all the hunting forums Ive read, Nobody and I mean nobody makes a boot that dosent leak after a couple of hardcore seasons. Do they not use the 3 layer system in boots? Thanks for listening. Tony

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Tony,

      I have no plans for footwear at this point. Most waterproof footwear uses a waterproof breathable liner that looks like a sock, which is built into the boot. It different than what we use in outerwear. I hope this answers your question. If not let me know.

      Jason

  12. Mark

    This is exactly what I’m looking for. I hope you makes these in a size small. It seems most companies only cater to the bigger crowd these days, so I can’t find stuff that fits.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Mark,

      What is your waist size and inseam?

      Jason

  13. Matt Schuyler

    Jason, I am very excited to see this stuff. One question, will the rain pants have pockets? Place to put calls, range finder, gloves, scent smoke, etc. Most rain pants have worthless pockets if any at all. I need access to all that stuff if I am going to hunt in the rain. Just curious……..Thanks.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Matt,

      I have designed these rain pants with no pockets to keep the weight down. As you mention hand pockets on rain pants are useless to carry gear in. Cargo pockets add quite a bit of weight, bulk and build to a rain pant. I have intentionally designed the full leg zip to terminate right at the opening of the cargo pocket on the KUIU hunting pant. It makes it reasonably easy to access this pocket and get to those types of items. This seems like the best compromise for a packable rain pant. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Jason

      • Larry Schwartz

        Jason,

        Is the full length zipper on the rain pants a two way zipper (two heads) so that you can unzip it from the top if you want to get something out of your pants pocket, or do you need to unzip from the bottom up to the top?

        Larry

        • Jason Hairston

          Hi Larry,

          The Chugach pant has two zipper heads for ventilation and access to your Attack Pant cargo pockets underneath.

          Jason

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Brandon,

      I will do some research for you and see what information I can dig up on these new fabrics. They seem to all be addressing breathability, which Toray’s laminate breaths incredibly well.

      Jason

  14. chris

    Jason,
    I’ve been doing some reading about you exciting new products, I look foward to trying them out up here in alaska, i do quite a bit of high mountian bow hunting and my current problem with my Arcteryx rain gear is that it is two loud. But so are all the gor tex pro shell fabrics i have looked at. Does this new Chugach rain gear adress this problem?
    Thanks for your time

    Chris

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Chris,

      The Chugach jacket and pants are not silent, but they are quieter than Gore-tex. The challenge with a lightweight packable waterproof breathable solution is noise, Toray’s package is the quietest and best performing rain shell we have tested. I look forward to you trying it.

      Jason