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Rain boots and rain coats for the Scottish summer?

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    Rain boots and rain coats for the Scottish summer?

    Hi everyone, I'm hoping for some guidance on some proper outdoor gear for a trip to Scotland-- specifically the Shetland Islands-- this June.

    I've got the bag situation (mostly) figured out-- I'll be carrying either an A45 or A30. Now I need to figure out what kind of weather-appropriate stuff to put in it. I am not an outdoorsy person, but this trip is all about reconnecting with nature, going on some (gentle!) walks, and just experiencing a very different environment. (I also kind of want to see some otters.) The average temperatures at the end of June appear to be in the 50s-mid 60s. It tends to rain; it can be windy. That sounds perfect to me (I hate hot weather), as long as I've got the right stuff.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on good footwear or outerwear for this scenario? I don't want to spend tons of money-- see the I'm-not-outdoorsy comment--, and I'd love to use stuff I already own, but I also don't want wet feet, mud, or rain to get in the way of enjoying this trip. Ideally, I want the Tom Bihn of shoes and coats (i.e., things that just work and make traveling better.)

    I own a pair of the classic LL Bean Bean boots: would those be appropriate? I'm not sure how I'd get my knee-high wellies into the A30 or A45, so those are pretty much out. I have waterproof ankle boots, too, but they might not have enough grip for walking around. On the coat front, I also have a waxed Barbour coat, which I think would be a good weight at those temperatures. Would I need a more technical kind of rain jacket instead? Uniqlo has some on sale now (under $30) that have hoods, but I've had awful nylon raincoats in the past that just made me sweaty. That's what I'm trying to avoid.

    Any advice from this well-traveled group of people, either on outfitting or Shetland travel tips in general?

    I've never been hiking in the Shetland Islands, but off the top of my head, I'd say go with the shoes that are most comfortable for long, possibly tricky hikes. (e.g. wet slippery rocks or mud. How do you like the tread on your LL Bean boots?) Then you could wear some good wool socks, and bring along rain pants or gaiters or both, to keep the water out of your footwear.

    And on top I'd prefer to bring a light, waterproof/breathable rain jacket vs. the Barbour. Have a look at Outdoor Gear Lab's reviews of rain jackets. Once you have a sense of which jacket you're interested in, often you can get a previous year's model at places like Sierra Trading Post or Campmor for very reasonable prices, plus you can use it for subsequent trips where you aren't sure of the weather.

    Have a great trip - I totally have Scotland on my own trip wish list!!!!

    ETA: I want to walk at least some of this trail some day!

    What to wear - West Highland Way
    Last edited by haraya; 04-19-2016, 02:09 PM.


      Thank you, Haraya! Those links are very helpful (apparently breatheability versus waterproofiness is a major distinguishing factor in rain jackets. So I'm not just an overly sweaty person. Hooray!) I would have never found Outdoor Gear Labs on my own.

      The West Highland Way sounds amazing (minus the midges)-- I hope you can get there soon. This will be my first trip to Scotland and I'm already thinking about the next one.


        Originally posted by turnleftbrighteyes View Post
        The West Highland Way sounds amazing (minus the midges)-- I hope you can get there soon. This will be my first trip to Scotland and I'm already thinking about the next one.
        Haha, midges - that makes me think of Lord of the Rings (Merry in the marshes: "What do they eat, when they can't get hobbit??")!

        We want to see pictures, when you finally get to Scotland!! I'm sure it's stunning!


          50s-60s, rainy, windy - sounds like Oregon 9 months of the year! especially the coast. I'm outdoorsy but a lightweight hiker camper type. personally I'd wear some waterproof (Gore tex or whatever) sneakers or maybe short lightweight waterproof hiking boots, def. a technical rain jacket with armpit zips for cooling off and a hood - maybe $100 pre-sale - or a higher end more breathable rain jacket for another $50-100, and synthetic hiking pants. maybe rain pants if it's pouring, though I hide indoors at that point. and some merino wool smartwool type athletic socks. I'd link to REI examples but their site seems half broken at the moment, odd.
          P.S. maybe stuff a thin fleece beanie in there too, and thin gloves, for any below-50s wind chill times.
          Last edited by svea; 04-19-2016, 09:22 PM.


            I was in Scotland for three weeks in August 2014. We didn't do trekking, but had a car and did a round trip with some day trips and light hiking. I wore lightweight waterproof trekking shoes (Meindl Laredo Lady Gtx) with wool socks and those were perfect. I also had a pair of trekking pants that were quick to dry but weren't too technical (70% polyester, 30% cotton). And I wore a lightweight rain jacket over a tee or (wool) pullover. My jacket isn't super technical either because I wanted it to look good for urban travel (so not ultralight, not super thin, no underarm zippers...). But it was definitely a life saver, we had so much rain!

            Click image for larger version

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            (I carried the umbrella to keep my camera dry when I took pictures.)
            Last edited by b1gsky; 04-19-2016, 11:27 PM.


              Thanks, svea and b1gsky! I'm really very clueless when it comes to dressing for the outdoors, so both of your comments were super helpful. (Special socks? Huh. And armpit zippers! What a world.)

              I really, really, REALLY want these shoes, but I'm guessing I need to save my money for some sort of waterproof hiking boot thingie. Sigh.

              (And, for a moment, can I just dream of a really tacky, yet really awesome, halcyon Aeronaut with a pizza print? Just for a moment?)


                Lol. they are very cute. but soggy shoeville. maybe a pizza print PCBP.
                this is the sort of rain jacket I mean.
                and hiking pants - not terribly cute, but very functional. I have not been able to find as yet the "Tom Bihn" of travel/hiking pants. Or at least reasonably priced ones.


                  I think you should invest in some good shoes once - you can use them for a long time and you're feet will be happy. And you'll be more relaxed when you're out and about in bad weather!

                  And I would definitely recommend to try on rain jackets in a store if you can! I don't know how many I tried before I finally found mine... I think I tried the one @svea linked to too and it wouldn't work on me, I'm not straight enough. And I wanted a jacket that wasn't so "loud", that's why I went with something a bit heavier in the end. So if you have the option, just try on as many as you can in person!
                  Last edited by b1gsky; 04-21-2016, 01:59 AM.


                    The trade-off with wind resistance is breathability so I second (third?) a jacket with pit zips. Being able to dump heat without compromising your overall dryness is essential to wet weather happiness. Over the years I have had good success with Patagonia and Marmot's basic rain jackets (the Torrentshell and Precip); you can often find them on deep discount, too, which is another bonus. Definitely try them on—lately I feel like Patagonia is designing clothes for people whose knuckles drag on the ground.

                    I also second (or third?) a good Gore-Tex low or mid hiker with a grippy Vibram sole. If you don't want waterproof hiking pants then maybe gaiters might be a good compromise because they'll afford you some protection over your normal pants but not take up too much space in your bag.

                    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


                      Hi, It’s been about 10 years since I went to Shetland but I’m up on the West Coast of Scotland or out on the Islands for at least 3 or 4 weeks every year and otter watching is one of my favourite things to do up there. I’m actually off to the Outer Hebrides for 3 weeks in a fortnights time (I can’t wait).

                      The weather near the coast and on the islands can sometimes be variable and often changes with the tide. You can go out in one type of weather, come back in another and it may not be the same as the weather a mile inland. So I wear light layers as I’ve known it quite warm and sunny sometimes but carry a packable fleece for warmth as it can get quite cool too (thinnish for the summer) and a breathable rain shell unless we’re in the middle of a heat wave.

                      I’m only a light hiker but I wear gaiters sometimes because they are excellent for moving through wet heather and grass after it’s rained and if it looks like it might be bad then I may carry waterproof trousers, although if it starts getting that way I tend to head back indoors for warmth and whisky! I second (fourth?) the grippy soled shoes for wet rocks and peaty mud. I sometimes like a bit of ankle support so I wear a really old pair of Berghaus Storms but mainly I wear a Merrell walking shoe.

                      My information may be a bit out of date here but if you want a bit of a break from the outdoorsy stuff and would like to check out a bit more of the really early history of the Islands then I enjoyed visiting Jarlshof. It’s almost as impressive but less well known and with fewer visitors than Skara Brae (Orkney Islands): Jarlshof | Shetland Heritage

                      And if it really is a miserable day and you have 20 minutes this museum gave me a good glimpse into the fire festivals that are held in the late winter/early spring. Up Helly Aa Exhibition | Up Helly Aa
                      If you’re into looking for wildlife (and especially birds) it’s worth keeping an eye on the RSPB website for events in Shetland. This is one of the RSPB sites that often has organised trips: The RSPB: Mousa All the guided walks I’ve been on with the RSPB have been interesting and I’ve learnt so many things.

                      As for otters, I’m not an expert but I’ve been incredibly lucky to see a number of them over the years and I did see otters in Shetland. I expect others have much better advice than I can give but I’m happy to share the basic (and probably obvious) things I’ve learnt by trial and error if you want me to.

                      One thing though, everyone talks about the Scottish midges but hardly anyone warns you about the ticks. There seems to have been a real increase in the tick population in the last few years and other people I’ve spoken to have noticed the same thing. I carry removers like these: Amazon.com : Tick Twister Tick Remover Set with Small and Large (Pack of 2 Sets) : Pet Supplies I got mine in the UK so I can’t tell if the sort in the link will deal with small ticks but they are the same shape as mine. The ticks we get are anywhere between a large pin head and a small freckle. I don’t pull them straight off without a remover because they tend not to come out cleanly. I check for ticks at least every other day (there is a very, very slight risk of Lymes disease which is marginally increased if the tick has been attached for more than 48hrs) and especially if I’ve been sitting down on a rock to eat my sandwiches or crouching down for some reason. Oh and the blighters cling to your clothing and crawl so I don’t just find them on my arms and legs.

                      I hope that helps a bit. I’ve been lurking for about a year but I was so pleased that someone was visiting Shetland I decided to sign up. I have very happy memories of Shetland and I remember doing things like sitting outside and reading a newspaper at midnight, it was so light and so unlike anywhere else I’d been in the UK. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I enjoyed mine.



                        I am headed to the UK, France, Switzerland, and Iceland for a mix of urban and active adventures this June and I think I've decided on my waterproof footwear and rain jacket. I have a pair of waterproof Vivobarefoot Gobi Hi-Top ankle boots with vibram soles that are going to double as urban boots and an REI Motility rain jacket (in black) with pit zips (not terribly small but breathable fabric and waterproof). I am still debating devoting space to a pair of technical water-resistant pants (I have a pair of Mammut Traleika Soft-Shell pants)--also not the prettiest, but functional. Neither is probably totally ideal for all situations, but I've tried the whole kit out hiking in the Appalachians on slippery rocks on a rainy December day so I think they'll be OK for all but the worst terrain and conditions. The boots also fold up small but I am planning to wear them during most of the transit days to save space in my A30.

                        @Silver Now I totally wish Scotland and the Shetlands in particular were on our itinerary. Maybe next time!
                        A30 Black Dyneema/Wasabi, PCSB Iberian, S19 Black Dyneema/Wasabi, SE Forest/UV, SCB Orange 152/Navy , A30 End Pocket PC Steel Dyneema, TSS in various sizes: Solar, Iberian, Wasabi, Steel, and Zest. 3D COC Orange 152, COP Cayenne, Small OP Solar, COW Wasabi, LSB Wasabi, SSB Zest, PCBP Steel, TT Zest,


                          We visited to the Highlands of Scotland last July, and I went through the same packing questions as you. We were not super outdoors-focused (we were there for a family reunion) but we did hike on Skye a couple of times and took a lot of walks around the muddy roads of the village where we stayed. The main garment I wore nearly every day was a thin heat tech fleece hoodie from Uniqlo, worn over a short or long sleeved wool shirt. I wore my scottevest trench coat when it rained. The weather was consistently variable and unpredictable, and we were adding removing layers all day long as it went from cold to sunny to rainy and back again, over and over.

                          I brought some vivo evo 2 barefoot running shoes, which I wore hiking and walking. They are water resistant and look like regular shoes, so I didn't look like a hiker when I wore them around the village. I also wore some crocs cap toe flats as my "nice" shoes for walking. You can hose them off when they get muddy, and they were warm and comfortable for extended wear. I decided they were the best travel shoes I own, since you can walk in them like sneakers, wear them with any outfit, wash off mud easily, and they are super light and pretty compact. Plus, they are cheap enough that you wouldn't feel guilty leaving them behind if you had to make room in a suitcase for something else.

                          There were swarms of midges as promised. I brought cutter wipes which did the trick.

                          I hope you enjoy Scotland! I can't wait to go back. I was really surprised how good the food was. Cullen Skink, a smoky fish chowder like a chicken pot pie, was awesome and I ordered it every time I saw it. I also really liked the haggis! It has the flavor of pate with a lot of black pepper, and the addition of oats gives it a good crumbly texture.
                          Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful. — Shaker Philosophy


                            Silver, thank you for taking the time to register to respond to me! I think I registered to comment on an itinerary thread, so it seems a way the Tom Bihn community lures people in... That link to RSPB is very helpful. And I hope my luck in seeing otters is as good as yours.

                            Cullen Skink sounds amazing: I love a pot pie.

                            Trailblazer, those shoes look intriguing. They look like something I might actually otherwise wear, and if they fold up to be packable that would be a major plus. Hmmm.

                            I'm planning a trip to REI tomororw to try on jackets and boots. I popped into a store quickly another yesterday and saw boots with Vibram soles, and I thought-- thanks to Badger's comment--hey,that's what I'm looking for. I'm feeling less lost navigating this wild world of outdoor gear thanks to you all, and I am really very grateful. I will wear layers, I will wear practical footwear (I also like the idea of shoes that can be hosed off, so thanks for that idea, Amy), and I will go prepared for midges and (ugh) ticks.


                              @trailrunner I love the look of those - I already love five fingers shoes and tried the leather boots of those. An expensive mistake as they were too loose and my toes were too cold, but luckily someone else loves them now.

                              Do you know of any like the ones you mentioned but with a zip rather than laces?