Our first year in Chiang Mai, Thailand was terrific. Awesome, in fact. But, we dreaded those days during the ‘rainy’ season because we had inadequate ponchos. You know the $.99 Walmart ones, that are so thin they tear apart after one ride in a windy rainstorm? We don’t own a car here, and our little motorbike is our primary transportation. So, we needed an upgrade to keep us dry this go around.
While we were back in Texas this past summer, we decided to take on this upcoming rainy season with new rain gear. So, we went to our local (regional) outdoors shop, Academy, and found some surprisingly well-made and affordable gear for the three of us, for $10 (or less) each.
Since I am our family driver (aka “rain blocker”), I got a 2 piece set that covers me from head to toe. It comes with a jacket and pants! They seem durable so far, and compact, I can roll them up and stow them under the bike seat compartment. After taking on 2 large rain storms, I can say that I was completely dry, save for my feet (no worries, I wear water proof sports sandals), and a little bit of water on my lower face that my helmet shield does not cover. The jacket has a nice thick zipper (hate the scrawny ones), which seem durable, along with some velcro tabs, which provide some ventilation instead of using the zipper. It also has a hood, and the cuffs have adjustable velcro straps as well. The jacket can double as a wind breaker on the bike, too. The pants were elastic waist, very easy to put on and take off, and there were velcro ankle cuffs, too.
For M, our 8 year old, and my wife (hey I’m not revealing her age!), we bought rugged ponchos, again, for less than $10, and they were long enough to cover their legs when on the bike. M’s yellow poncho had reflective strips, which is great when visibility is poor, and my brown suit did not, which is my only gripe. During school commutes, I just pack M’s Crocs, and we’re good to go! Oh, all three suits have hoodies, which makes them practical when walking around as well.
After a ride in the rain, we bring them into our apt., hang them up (hose them off if dirty), and they dry fairly quickly, definitely ready for the morning commute.
Of course we could have bought rain gear from the local markets, but our gear seem to be working out well. I particularly like that my rain jacket doubles as a wind breaker. Hopefully they will last more than one season, which makes them a good investment.
For you backpacker types, invest in a good poncho, because you want your hands free as you’re exploring in the rain, not having to hang on to an umbrella, and ponchos are arguably easier to store away.
Now, we don’t dread the rain during our school commutes, we look forward to them! When I see dark clouds forming, I’m praying for a big storm so I can take on the monsoon in my new gear. Yeah, I’m crazy like that.