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January 2005field test

Foul-Weather Gear

A multi-layered approach to surviving Texas weather

By Gibbs Milliken

In Texas, the weather is so variable that the best solution for comfort outdoors in the winter is a waterproof, windproof outer shell combined with multiple layers inside. Proper layering is started with undergarments of light silk or wick-away synthetics. Then, depending on the conditions, add mid-layers of goose down or synthetic fleece for insulation, and top it off with loose-fitting jacket and pants.

Gore-Tex is still the standard in outerwear for windy, cold, wet weather protection. An improved version of this material is used in the new Simms G3 Guide Jacket. All the components of this lightweight shell are designed for extreme conditions. The highly breathable, 3-layer XCR fabric is combined with a self-sealing RiRi center front zipper, making it tops in quality construction. The cut is generous and unrestrictive for active sports, plus stretch cuffs keep water out under most conditions and large hand-warmer pockets are soft-lined for comfort. Combine this with the durable Hodgman Storm Bib, and you are completely weather-proofed from head to toe. This suspender-type over-suit is light nylon with zippers, velcro and snaps at the front and lower legs that allow easy on/off maneuvers over boots and layered clothing. This is an expensive outfit, but, if amortized over the years of expected service, this jacket and bib are an investment in durable protection. ($399, G-3 Guide Jacket, Simms Fishing Products, (406) 585-3557, www.simmsfishing.com) ($79.95, Hodgman Storm Bib, #4016, Hodgman, (800) 323-5965, www.hodgman.com).

A good choice in inexpensive foul weather gear is Frogg Toggs. These consist of a hooded jacket and either pants or bib overalls with built-in suspenders. Used as an uninsulated outer layer, they are made entirely of synthetic fabric that is ultra-light, windproof, waterproof and breathable. Sets are available in various colors and styles in both men’s and women’s sizes. They pack into a small pouch and can be easily stowed in a car, boat or backpack. Best of all they are serviceable for year-round protection. ($99.95 Pro Angler Camo Jacket and Bib, #PA109, Frogg Toggs, (800) 349-1835, www.froggtoggs.com)

For traditionalists, the High Country Jacket is a “drover” design with a rain-cape, leather collar and patches at wear points. The waterproofing is a special microwax that makes the 12-ounce all-cotton fabric shed rain and block the wind. This style ages nicely, has some breathability and, in time, will require a reapplication of microwax. ($155, High Country Jacket, color: Tan, #3JO5, Kakadu Traders USA, (800) 852-5288, www.kakaduaustralia.com).

Mid-layer garments are designed to help retain body heat. For this purpose, the Browning Down Vest is hard to beat for soft, pure comfort. The insulation and high-loft of real goose down housed in quilted nylon makes it an excellent wind blocker. The vest allows freedom of arm movement for active sports and the chest is kept warm and well protected with or without an outer shell. ($68, Goose Down Vest #3057544204, color: Olive, Browning, (800) 333-3504, and www.browning.com).

Synthetic stretch fleece like the Columbia Omni-Therm pullover shirt and long underpants provide another type of mid-layer insulation. They are less bulky than down, easily washed when soiled, and stretch four ways for comfort. ($70, Omni-Therm Stretch Fleece, Zip-neck Pullover, # SM6382. $55, Omni-Therm Stretch Fleece Bottom, #SM8002, Columbia Sportswear, (800) 547-8066, www.columbia.com ).

It’s always a good idea to carry a small rucksack with a few field essentials and stowed garments at the ready. Texas weather can be bitter cold in the morning, raining by noon, and warm sunshine the rest of the day. And don’t forget the standard necessities for foul-weather protection — your favorite boots, hat and gloves.

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