I've watched and thoroughly enjoyed the HPG longhouse tutotial on Clothing Systems and have been rethinking my own 'system' a bit. In particular, I've been trying to identify my ideal position on that continuum from 100% waterproof and unbreathable to very breathable with minimal rain protection. In most discussions I've read, it seems that folks are either in the high western desert, or the rainy pacific northwest. I live in Pennslyvania, and spend much of my outdoor time in or around the Appalachian trail corridor - rainy and sleety conditions are not uncommon, but certainly not a constant.
For the past several years, I've just taken along an REI rainjacket (with their REI Element coating) - but I've recently retired it, as it doesn't really keep me dry in the rain, vents poorly, and has that uncomfrtable crinkly feel. As my next move, I'm thinking of getting a good softshell (i.e. WIndcheater) and pairing it with a MilSurp ponch as a contingency garment. My thinking is I'd use the WC 90% of the time, then bring out the ponch for the other 10%.
For all you guys and gals that roam in temperate climes with moderate amounts of precip - what do you run in terms of rain protection? Is a poncho viable protection when a soft-shell would wet out? Or is it worthwhile to add on a rain shell? (budget limitations preclude getting BOTH the WC and a fancy hardshell).
Thanks in advance for the wisdom!