Temperatures in spring are variable, but one weather-related feature remains constant: it will rain in April. And while we love that it washes away the pollen, transforming the city streets into rivers of dusty yellow allergy-plaguing rivers, getting caught in the rain isn’t fun. Here’s what you need to be prepared.
1. Helly Hansen Ask Spring Parka, $500; 2. Fjallraven Abisko Eco-Shell, $400; 3. Oliberte Gorilla Wax, $15; 4. REI Travel Umbrella, ?$35; 5. SealLine Urban Shoulder Bag, $170; 6. Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero, $60; 7. SealSkinz Mid-Weight Mid-Length Sock, $50.
Photo: André Benedix, CC-BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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With its subdued military-inspired design, this men's four-pocket parka leverages serous weatherproof protection in a very light, thin-fabric package. Fitted more like a tailored jacket than your typical rain shell, it's smart enough to wear in the most discerning of urban environments, but technical enough to keep you dry in the most remote stretches of rain-soaked wilderness. The hood packs into the collar, and the waist and cuffs are both adjustable.
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This more traditional rain jacket boasts 2.5-layer construction to deliver protection from the wind and rain without sacrificing breathability, with an adjustable hood, two hand pockets, and a zippered chest pocket. The outer layer of recycled polyester and the eco-shell fabric insides provide four-way stretch, with articulated elbows for increased freedom of movement.
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Breathe new life into your favorite pair of leather shoes this spring with Oliberte's Gorilla Wax. Crafted in Canada using local beeswax, sunflower oil, and bee propolis mixed with organic shae butter from West Africa, you simply apply the this all-natural weatherproofing stick directly from the push tube onto your shoes (or leather bags, jackets, gloves…) and then blend it in with a cloth. The weatherproofing happens instantly, and will add a slightly darker sheen to the leather. Nervous how it'll look? Try a spot test.
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Some travelers reject umbrellas out of hand. But, much like your first rolling suitcase, once you use one, you can't imagine not using one—especially on a rainy, hot day, nothing beats the protection. This travel-specific model has an aerodynamically vented canopy to handle serious rain and wind, with a 43-inch canopy that collapses into a 12-inch package.
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Almost any bag can stand up to an occasional shower, but the Urban Shoulder Bag will keep its contents bone-dry in the most torrential of downpours. Made from bomber 600D urethane-coated polyester with Quick-Clip closures, it's as close to a dry bag as you'll get without a roll-top closure. Access the insides via a central zipper, with an internal divider and corner pockets. It comes in 16- and 23-liter models and marries nicely with other SealLine products like their waterproof Zip Pockets and Mobile Electronic Cases.
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It may not win any fashion awards (unless, say, you pair it with one those waterproof ponchos that are so hot right now), but if want more than a hooded jacket to protect you from the wet, the Seattle Sombrero can't be beat. The waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex hat comes with a brushed tricot lining, an internal band adjustment, and stiff foam at the edge of the brim to keep the water off your face even in monsoon-like conditions.
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Yes, this pair of socks cost more than some shoes, but they're also more waterproof than most casual kicks. The outer layer is made mostly of nylon, along with a touch of stretchy elastane, while the inside is a heady mixture of merino wool, acrylic, polyester, elastodiene, and elastane, which translates into a solid moisture control and comfort. They'd run pretty hot in the heat of the summer, but they're ideal for cooler, wet forays into spring. Even if your shoes aren't weatherproof, your feet won't get wet when you're wearing these.