Gear for Wet Riding

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in October 2009, we did an extensive field trial of outerwear suitable for riding in the rain. We rode in a lot of rainstorms, trying gear designed to keep you and your saddle dry in a downpour. We found some good ones. But what if the weather forecast is just ?iffy?' Riding in a raincoat when it's warm can be uncomfortable if the downpour stays up there.

Outback Trading Company?s line of rain coats and jackets that roll up into a backpack might be the answer. These packable rain coats and jackets were easy to carry on our back while riding and simple to pop out and put on when needed. The coat that unfolded out of its own backpack was full-length with the back split to fit over the cantle and still cover our thighs. The shorter jacket provided just enough protection in a shower.

they're light and comfortable, as raincoats go, and fit easily over a jacket or vest. Being able to stow them on your back out of the way was a nice alternative if you don't ride with saddlebags. The company also makes a slick pair of rain pants to go with them, although we clearly couldn?t put them on while actually in the saddle (Packable Rain Coat/Duster $89.95; Packable Rain Jacket $79.95; Packable Rain Pants $39.95. Outback Trading Company 800-932-5141, www.outbacktrading.com).

Bottom Line.

For a long, wet trail ride, the gear we tried in 2009 from Muddy Creek (www.muddycreek.net, 734-428-8442) remains an excellent choice. The company?s long coat is waterproof and breathable and offers full coverage. For those who prefer a jacket, the Mountain Horse Arena Jacket (www.mountainhorseUSA.net, 866-569-1600) is incredibly comfortable and user-friendly, including a special spot for your iPod.

But if you want to have something on hand and out of the way ? but works when you need it ? consider the Outback Packable Rain Coat/Duster. It was big enough to cover our thighs, but still super lightweight.