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HOW IS IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET A BREATHABLE GORETEX TYPE OF A RAINCOAT, INSTEAD OF THE LESS EXPENSIVE PVC OR VINYL RAINCOAT? THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE IN PRICE. ALSO, THE VINYL/PVC COATED RAINCOATS ARE A FEW INCHES LONGER.
If you will only use it for the cruise, get something inexpensive. If the weather is nice (it can happen!) you may not need one at all, so it would be a shame to waste money on a good one. Some people here swear by the cheap rain ponchos from the dollar store or Walmart.
OTOH, I live in the Seattle area and was looking for a good excuse to buy a new rain jacket, so I bought a really nice one before our Alaska trip. I use it all the time. :-)
Go to Cabelas on the net. They have cheap to great coats and their service is tops. I just bought my wife a goretex parka with a zip out liner. It did cost me $150 (due to the goretex) but she will get a lot of local use of it as well.
If shopping at WalMart make sure to check in the sporting goods department. I got some nice waterproof rain jackets there for my two sons who are going to Alaska with us this summer and they were $25.00 each. They have been wearing them to school all spring on rainy days and they work great.
I saw some yesterday at a local dollar store for $1.00 each. I may get some of these for my trip to Alaska on Zaandam in July. At that price I can put a few in the backpack and take to shore and if it rains and stops I can throw out the wet one and have a dry one for later!
Living in Tampa Bay it's hard to justify spending money on any kind of a coat/jacket including one that repels rain. It's just too hot here during the rainy season to wear rainwear. So for my last cruises to Alaska in 2003 I headed to Target and found a wind jacket and pants (that can be unzipped for shorts) on sale. Women's department had nothing so I took a chance and went over into the Menâ€™s wear, and what I found was the best 15 bucks I've ever spent. Then in first port of call, Ketchikan, I purchased a rain hat that served me well. I was warm and dry and hadn't spent a bundle.
Only problem I can see with the 'cheapo' rain ponchos is they aren't weighted at the bottom so when the strong winds of Alaska kick in (I've experienced gale force winds while docked in Skagway and in Ketchikan) the poncho will be up over your head. Otherwise, they're workable for the drizzles.
We went to a baseball game in Chicago several years ago and as we were getting ready to leave it really started to pour. So since we had about 3-4 blocks to walk to get back to the subway and we did not have any umbrellas with us we bought White Sox ponchos that worked well in keeping us dry for our walk. I wonder if these would work in Alaska? They are just thin plastic and certainly could not be used to keep warm but could be put over sweat shirts or almost anything else! I guess the other problem would be since the ponchos say White Sox in big letters people might think we were White Sox fans which we most certainly are not. We are from St. Louis and are big CARDINAL fans. There may be some serious questions to ponder here??!!
We just got back 5/05-5/17..I brought a stadium jacket, light windbreaker, several 1$ ponchos, heavier 5$ walmart poncho's, knit gloves,knit hat and instant hand warmers...Well it turns out that we had unusually beautiful weather.It did sprinkle in Ketechican when we first got there, but stopped by the time we left the ship, it was clear the rest of the day until we boarded back on the ship.At all the ports I only wore my windbreaker and had to take it off many times because I got too hot..My children asked if I was sure we didn't go to the Mexico, because both me and my husband were tanned.I did end up using the stadium jacket,gloves,hat and hand warmers while viewing Hubbard Glacier and we were only able to view from 4 miles away as there was still too much ice in the water surrounding it..I would still take everything I took on my next trip, because everyone says you just can't predict the weather in Alaska..
It seems like I'm always the odd person out,but I think if you can afford it and will likely use it again, I sure did appreciate the Gortex. We would walk for hours in Ketchikan, step into a shop after shaking the coat out, and within 5 minutes it's dry again and you can put it on without worrying about getting your inner layers soggy. Just my humble opinion.
We cruised in July. I don't think August is that much cooler. I don't think you'll use ski jackets much except next to the glaciers, always a dilemma deciding whether all that extra bulk is worth carrying. (I thought it was, but my husband calls me a "weather wimp".) I really thought the weather in Alaska the time we went was mostly like San Francisco in the winter. Hope that helps and have a great time! P.S. The day we were in Glacier Bay 6 years ago, those who didn't have jackets were issued blankets by the staff and they were passing out hot cocoa. You'll survive no matter what!
Another helpful hint is to take a visor or baseball cap (if you have glasses) for those rain times, and get some of those thin liner gloves that people wear under ski gloves so that you can still take pictures when it gets cold(hands warm and dry).
Raining cats and dogs when we got off train to go to bus to go to Denali, we pulled out ponchos out of back pack and we were one of the few people not drenched. Used those ponchos from Sea World almost everyday of a two week trip (land/sea tour).