I detest umbrellas. I get that they are generally pretty handy and allow you to head out the door in any outfit you please without need for a rain jacket (at least theoretically). But to be honest they only ever do an OK job of keeping you dry. Unless you opt for an enormous golf umbrella—which gets in the way pretty much immediately if you’re walking down a busy city street—you’ll need to practice some very precise angling techniques to keep you top half dry at all. And your poor legs are always left unprotected, meaning you inevitably show up to work or dinner with sopping jeans or soggy trousers. So what’s a gal to do? Simple: Wear rain pants.
“What are rain pants?” you wonder? Well, dear reader, they are exactly what you think they are—pants made from the same waterproof material as your favorite raincoats. They’re an ingenious invention originally made for use on hiking or backpacking excursions, but I’ve found they’re just as handy for regular everyday living, too. They’ll keep your legs comfortable and dry no matter how far you have to travel in the rain, and no matter how bad the downpour. Walking the dog, taking the stroller out for a spin, hurriedly sprinting from the subway to your apartment building or from the back of the parking lot to the grocery store—all experiences made infinitely better by the inclusion of rain pants.
This outdoor adventure staple can be found at stores like Backcountry, REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods, and while most pairs cost between $85 and $130, you can often find last year’s styles on sale for $60 or less. They come with an elastic waistband for comfort and zippers down the length of both legs so they can be easily slipped on or off without removing your shoes, even super-clunky, heavy-duty rain boots. Many even have zippered pockets so you can keep your wallet or keys handy and ready to get at without digging through a bag or internal pocket. Rain pants are also generously cut so you can layer them over just about anything. I’ve worn mine over leggings, jeans, sweatpants, a tailored suit and even a dress on at least one occasion.
I first purchased a pair for a springtime hiking trip through Iceland where the weather can change on a dot and you experience something between a drizzle and torrential rainfall at least once every single day (or so it seemed). But they’ve since become a regular part of my inclement weather wardrobe. I even use them as snow pants layered over fleece-lined leggings and cozy sweats to trudge through Central Park in winter. Because rain pants are intended to be used as a layering piece, they have the added benefit of allowing me to better control the level of insulation needed depending on the temperature.
They’re not necessarily the first thing anyone might think of as a “must-have” or a “great gift for mom” but I’m here to tell you they’re more essential than you realize. So if you too are tired of accepting your umbrella’s subpar performance, consider switching to a better option and reveling in the hands-free weather-protection of rain pants instead.