Top-Tier Rain Gear for Getting Outside, Even When the Weather Turns

Lean in to the rainy season. (But not too close to your friends.)

Socializing in the summertime isn’t too tough. The green spaces! The beaches! The patios! I have expanded my personal circle of preferred parks for sneaky happy hour canned cocktails with co-workers (Concorde Community Park is highly recommended) and eaten many a sandy meal with socially-distanced friends on the Jericho shores. Things have been weird, but the weather these past few months has at least allowed us to get out of the house and interact with other humans most days.

But as the clock struck September, a collective sense of dread swept the city. We’re no fools. We know Fall is coming. And we know it’s going to suck.

Our grey, wet post-summer city is depressing enough at the best of times (especially if you’re part of the 15 percent of Canadians suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder) but without public social spaces available, no arts events or community gatherings, it’s easy to fear the long and lonely winter ahead.

But what if… we just don’t let the rain boss us around?

I once visited Winnipeg in February (this was obviously not my idea) and was bundled up and sent out to skate the Red River, eat at an outdoor pop-up restaurant, and join in a parade in below-40 weather. It was a revelation for this West Coast weakling: in the rest of Canada, where it snows three-quarters of the year, people don’t let the cold stop them from living their lives. They toss on a down parka and some good boots and make the best of a bad situation. Why have we Vancouverites never really learned to adapt to our temperate-climate challenges?

Really, all we need is the right gear so we can weather the weather—and we need it now more than ever. At first I was suggesting we all get a government-subsidized wet suit but that idea, it turns out, was deeply stupid. Then I realized there are garment professionals who have been working on this problem all along, and making my new urban outdoor lifestyle dream a reality would just be a matter of some research and some investment. Think of it: with the right insulated waterproof jacket and pants, we could enjoy our parks year-round. I’m picturing pals sitting around at Mount Pleasant Park in a downpour, wearing their best Atlantic-fisherman-chic outfits as they sip from thermoses of hot coffee and swapping quarantine tales. Maybe it’ll be cold and wet out there (well, definitely it’ll be cold and wet) but at least with the right gear, we might be able to keep our hearts warm through it all.

Best Rain Gear for Actually Getting Outside and Seeing Other Humans This Fall

SMALL BUT MIGHTY The Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated hoody ($550) is lightweight but warm, and super packable… which means it’s easy to have in your backpack for when your picnic turns into a surprise shower.

LEG DAY When you move to Vancouver, you should just automatically get some rain pants with the keys to your place. While we wait for the city council to act on this great idea, consider investing in this ultra-breathable Flash Cloud Gore-tex ($120) pair.

HEAD GAMES The helmet-compatible hood on this Synergy HD Goretex jacket ($210) keeps the elements out. The day-glo colour allows your friends to spot you from a mile away.

FULLY COATED This extra-long Helly Hansen W Aspire raincoat ($250) is more of a rain gown. Do they have a floor-length model?

PONCH-OH Herschel’s lightweight Voyage Poncho ($54) is more for the mild drizzle than a thunderstorm spectacular, but as a quick and easy pullover that comes in a variety of colours and patterns, it makes for a stylish addition to your new raingear wardrobe.

HIGH-WAISTED WONDER Take the overall trend into the rainy season with these lightweight, watertight Arc’teryx Sabre LT Bib pants ($650). 

SUIT UP I like this outfit (yes, outfit) from Mark’s Work Warehouse ($25) because it looks like what a cartoon character would wear if it was raining—in other words, it’s classic

SEE THROUGH YOU You can stay dry and show off your cute fall sweater with Rains’ Transparent jacket ($200).

HONK IF YOU LOVE BEING DRY Canada Goose breaks out of its parka box with a streamlined, waterproof number: the Seaboard coat ($795) can withstand a downpour, and the reflective panel on the back increases visibility during low-light conditions.

A LITTLE DRIER Keep the little ones dry in the full-body Heritage Newt suit ($80), and then join me in petitioning MEC to make an adult size, please. 

HAT’S OFF If we’re going to make this hang-out-in-the-rain fantasy a reality, you’re going to need to up your brim game. This rubber hat from Pioneer ($85) is like wearing your very own personal awning.

HEY BIG SPENDER For those of you who are taking my dream of a new rain society seriously, there’s the winner of our 2019 Made in Vancouver Awards fitness category, the Mustang Survival suit ($1,300). This is the real deal: a heavy-duty, professional quality dry suit. I dare you to try to get wet in this.