Ask LH: How Can I Stay Dry Without An Umbrella?

Ask LH: How Can I Stay Dry Without An Umbrella?

Hi Lifehacker, I recently started working in an office building quite close to where I live. It’s a half hour walk through some lovely suburban streets, across a freeway overpass and into an industrial area. This is the first time in my life I haven’t been driving or public transporting to work and I enjoy it. However, the recent inclement weather, while a boon to struggling farmers, is causing me problems.

I have tried an umbrella, but as I’m quite tall, everything below my knees gets wet. I’ve tried a raincoat, but I end up with the same result. I can’t quite bring myself to get a full length coat, in case I’m mistaken for a horror movie villain. What is the most efficient and practical way to keep completely dry when you walk in the rain? Thanks, Crying In The Rain

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Dear CITR,

The simplest solution is to run. This might sound criminally obvious, but there are plenty of people who claim they stay drier when walking due to less of their body being exposed to the raindrops. In fact, Mythbusters once put this theory to the test and actually gave walking the thumbs up.

However, science has since disproved this theory, as the below MinutePhysics video demonstrates:

The “total wetness = (wetness per second X time spent in rain) + (wetness per meter X meters travelled)” formula is also supported by MIT professor Walter Lewin. As Lewin explains, the angle of your body has an effect as well because of the direction of the rain. Apparently, leaning forward while running can improve your chances of staying dry. (Just be sure to look where you’re going!)

If you’d prefer not to run, another possible solution is to invest in some water-repelling apparel from Threadsmiths. This is a Melbourne-based clothing company that recently patented a hydrophobic nano-tech application that causes water to bead up and roll off fabric. The result is that your clothes remain completely dry even in a torrential downpour. The technology can even ward off sticky liquids such as Coke:

Unfortunately, Threadsmiths currently only sells T-shirts, but there are plans afoot to expand the range to include other clothing items. With any luck, you’ll soon be able to deck yourself out in an entire water-proof ensemble. In the meantime, we’re afraid you’re stuck with the brolly — here’s an etiquette guide to make life a bit simpler.

Do readers have any additional rain avoidance tips? If so, let CITR know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • You can buy a spray that when applied to any item, repels water – so can spray on all of your clothes. I haven’t tested the spray to see how it works, only seen their promotional videos, which obviously will be biased. Have to buy from overseas, as to my knowledge no stores in Australia sell it.

  • Scotchguard spray is what it is called in America. And I don’t think you’d want it on all your clothes. But I did spray it on my non-waterproof raincoats, and it did the job.

    • NeverWet advertise a water repellant spray and use clothes in their advertising for consumers. Their current main video is taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – 1 guy without the spray, 1 with. Guy without the spray soaking wet suit, pants, shirt. Guy with the sprayed clothes – completely dry suit, shirt, pants.

    • +1

      A poncho essentially makes you a walking tent – if it doesn’t cover your lower legs, some gaiters will cover those.
      Both items would fold up to little more than the size of your first so you can carry them with you in case of unexpected downpours.

  • sou wester hat, goretex long rain coat (or with hood and no sou wester, but sou wester safer as it doesn’t restrict your visibility so much as a hood can), goretex overpants, industrial boots (dirt cheap at a disposal store). Done!

  • Get a broad brimmed hat and learn how to walk in the rain. Unless the rain is blowing at an excessive angle you can learn to keep dry with just a hat.

  • Fellow tall-person opinion: I feel you may be using one of the $5 to $10 fold-up umbrellas. Those things don’t cover much area, and it’s much harder to stop your lower legs get wet.

    Fork out for a good umbrella, a non-folding one with a good wingspan that feels like you could knock somebody down with it if the mood took you. They’re less convenient to carry, but seriously reduce the amount your legs get wet. I’m using a bunnings branded one at the moment, and you can easily hide a couple of people under the thing.

    Alternate suggestion: Pants can usually be folded after ironing without ill effects. Chuck them in a bag, wear whatever you like on the walk, and quickly change once you get there. Your walking pants can dry during the day.

  • Try a Wander Wrap rain skirt from It wraps around whatever you are already wearing to keep your lower have dry. With a hooded jacket and a Wander Wrap, you won’t need an umbrella! They come in rain boot length or shoe length. Enjoy!

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