I tested the two rain suits pictured above from Rain Shield, Inc.
over a three week period, during moderately rainy weather, with and without a backpack.
The following are the results of the tests as well as some descriptive information provided by the manufacturer.
The Propore garments are the lightest raingear that I've tested, to date. Both of these rainsuits are even lighter than comparable Frogg Toggs.
- Propore Jacket (size XXLarge) = 5.7 oz
- Propore Pants (size XLarge) = 4.15 oz
- Propore Stuff Sack = .5 oz
- Microporous Film Jacket (size XLarge)= 6.75 oz
- Microporous Film Pants (size XLarge) = 5.95 oz
- Microporous Film Stuff Sack = .65 oz
In marketing copy provided by Rain Shield, Inc., they describe the materials of these two products as follows:
3M Microporous Film is breathable and resistant to liquid transmission as well as being a barrier to very small particles. This patented polypropylene film is soft, quiet, hypoallergenic, and can be pigmented, all beneficial for many applications.
Both the materials feel comfortable next to the skin. The inner material on both has a soft "papery" feel as does the outside of the Microporous Film garments. The outside of the Propore garments feels sort of "rubbery" but comfortable.
3M Propore Fabric is a laminate of 3M Microporous Film to a polypropylene nonwoven. This construction adds strength and durability. When used in garment applications, it allows for perspiration to evaporate.
As I expected, the material used in both garments (as well as the garments, themselves) tested windproof, waterproof (moreso than Gore Activent per my tests) and "breathable" (insofar as any garment can be without leaking).
In addition to wearing the garments in rainy conditions, I also conducted a "laboratory experiment" of sorts. I created a "bowl" in both jackets and filled it with water; tied it off and hung it up for 24 hours. The material did not leak nor did condensation occur. In additional tests, I squeezed on the water ball to attempt to force the water thru the material and could not do so.
For comparison purposes, I tried the same test with the Gore Activent material. It very quickly had a clammy feel to it (the inside lining) and became damp even before I touched it. However, at this point, it was not yet leaking. I let it sit for only a few hours and noticed several beads of water forming on it. As I had done to the Rain Shield garments, I squeezed on the water ball to attempt to force water thru the material and I proceeded to get wet as water squirted out at me from several places. Some places seemed weaker than others but the bottom line is that the material is not water proof and it doesn't take very long for the water to work through.
Bottom Line: the Rain Shield garments are clearly more wind/water proof than Gore's Activent.
Subsequent to highly aerobic activity resulting in sweat, I was able to dry off with the garments on - which is an indication that the material does "breathe". Probably comparable to the Frogg Togg and Activent garments which I have previously tested.
The hood design on both jackets is large enough to cover a baseball cap and still offer adequate protection of the face. Both jackets have a very small YKK zipper which requires a zipper pull in order to be used with gloves. The jackets have a small (approximately one-inch-wide) zipper track storm cover. The zipper cover doesn't secure with buttons or velcro so its effectiveness is minimized, accordingly. As you can see in the pictures above, both jackets are of adequate length, such that they cover your lower back when you bend over. The jackets do not have batwing construction so it is wise to get an oversized jacket in order to avoid putting undue stress on the armpit seams. Also, I should mention that the jackets have no pockets nor underarm zips (but, hey, they ARE ultralight :-) .
Although the pants have no ankle zip, the bottom openings are basically straight (non tapered) and large enough to pull over a pair of hiking boots. The pants have an elastic waist band but no pull string so it's important to get the proper size (more on sizing later).
The stuff sacks are nice -- the ones made of Microporous Film are more durable.
Whereas the material itself is waterproof, windproof and breathable, the garments have structural and durability limitations which should preclude their usage in backcountry situations which require strength and abrasion resistance.
The Propore fabric is of the consistency of paper and tears easily. The Microporous Film has more give (is more stretchy) and is, consequently, a little more tear resistant than the Propore fabric.
I grabbed the material in both fists and tugged on it. With just moderate force, the material of both garments ripped open -- the Microporous Film being the stronger of the two. It does not withstand abrasion well. I dug into the materials with a back and forth movement of the tip of my finger several times until my finger poked thru the material. Again, the Microporous Film stretches a little so it didn't tear as quickly as the Propore material. Not very strong, but strong enough for some applications and for some folks who are very careful with their gear (see recommendations, below).
In all fairness, I also tried these same durability tests on the Gore Activent garment. I could not rip the activent material by tugging on it nor could I break through the activent material with a back and forth movement of the tip of my finger. So although Activent is less waterproof/windproof it is more durable.
It is important to note that getting the appropriate size garments is very important. I made the mistake of testing a jacket of both types (Propore & Microporous Film) which was too small (even though it was size Large). I had on a fleece jacket underneath and the fit was too tight. Consequently, while putting on my pack, I reached up with both arms to tighten the load lifter straps and blew out the seams in the underarms of both jackets. In addition, while wearing the Propore jacket, I hoisted my pack onto my shoulder which tore the hood seam by pulling the shoulder material away from the hood. However, if you get an adequately large size, you shouldn't encounter these problems. I tried these same actions again while wearing larger sized jackets (XLarge & XXLarge) and didn't have the same problem.
NOTE: For you familiar with Frogg Toggs, as a point of comparison, I wear a size SM-MED Frogg Togg jacket.
Both materials melt when in close proximity to flame. Both will catch fire and burn at a normal pace, upon contact with flame.
WARRANTY & PRICING
Rain Shield, Inc. will replace any Rain Shield garment if garment does not remain waterproof or windproof with non-abusive activity and handling for the period of one year from date of purchase. Rain Shield is not responsible of any type of punctures from object penetration. Proof of purchase is required along with $6.95 for shipping and handling.
For a yellow bilaminate suit, it ranges from $42 - $44 depending on size.
For a blue trilaminate suit, it ranges from $45 - $47 depending on size.
UPSIDE: waterproof, windproof, breathable, nice hood, good jacket length, ultralightweight, superb stuff sack, garment packs small, material comfortable to the touch, garments overall comfortable if sized properly.
DOWNSIDE: weak seams - prone to tearing, small zipper, paper-like strength of Propore material, lack of substantial zipper cover which secures with button or velcro, no venting options, no pants waist-cinching cord.
MATERIAL DIFFERENCES: mainly the Propore is more brittle and will easily tear whereas the Microporous Film stretches, is a little more forgiving and abrasion resistant.
SIZING OBSERVATION: Based upon many years of testing garments of this type, I would say the sizing of both jackets tends to be small. I mentioned earlier that I wear a size SM-MED Frogg Togg jacket and I normally wear a size Large from most other manufacturers. With the Microporous Film and Propore garments, I feel that the XLarge Jacket is appropriate for me along with the size Large pants.
These garments are truly ultralight. A size X-Large Propore rainsuit (jacket & pants) has a total weight of under 10 ounces!! There are tradeoffs, however. They are waterproof/windproof/breathable but are not very durable from a backcountry usage perspective.
APPROPRIATE USAGE: emergency rain/wind gear for day hiking, fastpacking, snowshoeing, canoeing, camping or other outdoor adventure where durability is not an issue -- e.g., not appropriate for bush whacking, rock climbing, prolonged backcountry travel in inclement weather, expeditions. Properly fitted garments made of Microporous Film would be suitable for "lightweight" backpacking.
For backpacking or high-aerobic activities which engage the upper torso, a larger size jacket is recommended to lessen the tension on jacket seams. Rule of Thumb: get a size larger than you would normally wear.
For sizing & other information, contact Rain Shield, Inc.