It rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest and we can't stop working just because it is wet. I don't mind working in the rain, but I do mind being uncomfortable – so for me, good rain gear is an important part of my tool kit.
I have found that lighter weight "stretchy" type rain jackets and pants keep me dry, but without feeling like I'm encased in PVC. Most of the guys I have worked with use Grundens rain gear. They're a quality product – my previous pair of Grundens bibs lasted 8 years.
The specific rain gear I wear are the Petrus bibs and Petrus waterproof shirt– they are light, comfortable, and easy to repair (buy the repair kit when you order the gear). Both of these items are expensive. I did a Google search for online pricing and found the shirt for $90 and the bibs for $70. This may sound like a lot of money, but I look at it this way: if I'm too soaked to work – then I'm not making anything. Good rain gear allows me to work in weather that makes other carpenters go home.
Periodically I'll spray the rain shirt with Nikwax TX Direct. Once dry, it acts like wax and causes water to bead up and roll off the surface. This is just one more layer of protection and is cheap and easy to get ($23 at Amazon).
On our crew we like to wear the Seattle Sombrero by OR because it's waterproof and very comfortable. It has a wide enough brim to keep water off my neck. I lost mine after some foundation work last winter and was miserable wearing a hard hat until my new Sombrero came from Amazon (I used my phone to order it online from the jobsite – and paid for one-day shipping).
This winter I have been testing Duluth Trading's "Bang for Your Buck" rain suit. It is similar to the Grundens gear, in that it is light and stretchy. The jacket is very comfortable and except for the fact that it's not a pullover – I like it as much as the Petrus. I'm not as keen on the pants; they're too long for me (I'm short) and are not available in bibs. Bibs come in handy even when it is not raining. If the jobsite is wet I'll wear them to keep my chest and lower half dry – with a fleece jacket to keep me warm.
The last item on my list is waterproof boots. I have worn these Redwing Gore-Tex boots the last three winters and it looks like I'll get another three winters out of them. They're expensive ($230) but they are holding up well and have been keeping my feet try – even though I spend a lot of time in the mud.
This is a lot to spend on gear. Rather than doing it all at once, I recommend adding pieces here and there. It's worth it to me to pay more up front for good long-lasting gear. After all – I can't avoid framing in the rain but at least I can be comfortable.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
Tim Uhler is a lead framer for Pioneer Builders in Port Orchard, Washington, and a Tools of the Trade contributing editor. He has been framing since his teens and has authored numerous technical articles and tool reviews for JLC and Tools of the Trade.
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