While I am a great fan of Paramo Waterproofs I have to admit that they are quite heavy and very warm. In fact, I find them too warm for use from late Spring through to Late Autumn. About 3 years ago, I found a set of waterproofs which are ideal for warmer weather walking, extremely lightweight, waterproof, breathable and, equally important, cheap. They are called Frogg Toggs. The downside is that there is no British distributor so buyers have to import them from sellers in America. I use Ebay to find vendors but, no doubt, there are other sites.
There are a number of Frogg Togg products in the range, all of which rely on laminate technology. In addition to the gear described below, it is also possible to buy baseball hats, bibbed trousers and ponchos. The products I have experience of are: Frogg Toggs Pro-Action suits and Dri-Ducks.
Pro-Action suits: These are the heaviest jacket and trouser waterproofs in the range and tip the scales at 1lb (circa 450g) total. They are made out of tri-laminate polypropylene and are available in a number of colours and camo. The jacket has a hood with a drawcord to tighten it up while a front zipper (and stormflap with popper fastenings) seal the jacket from the elements, the wrist cuffs are elasticated. The trousers have an elasticated waist with a drawcord to ensure a secure fit. I understand that the latest Pro-Action has zippered legs to make it easier to put them on over boots. That is it – no pockets, meshes or the like. Just an extremely functional shell. In practice, I find the Pro-Action to do exactly what it promises to do. It is extremely waterproof, totally windproof and very breathable. My partner walked the Cumbria Way using a set of Pro Action and she remained totally dry despite it tipping it down all week with really heavy rain. Mine are still going strong after three years despite the fabric feeling quite flimsy. The only drawback I noticed is that the wristcuffs let in a very small amount of water in a deluge but it is very minor. I also own a baseball cap in the same material which performs equally well.
Because of currency fluctuations and vendor’s postage charges I can’t give a firm price but expect to pay circa £40 for the jacket and trousers. I don’t think that is bad for a good outer shell.
Dri-Ducks Frogg Toggs also make the Dri-Ducks range. The main difference is that Dri-Ducks are a bi-laminate construction and, as a consequence, are very much lighter. As I was going ultralight and was very pleased with my Frogg Toggs Pro-Action I decided to buy a set of Dri-Ducks. They weigh in at approximately half a pound (circa 225g) for the complete suit which is really light. The design is the same as the Pro-Action i.e. a basic hooded zip-up jacket and trousers with same closure & tightening mechanisms. The material has a slightly rubbery and softer feel to it compared to the Pro-Action. It does feel quite flimsy too. However, I’ve used mine a lot over the two years I have owned them and they are still going strong. In use I find them to perform equally well; totally windproof, waterproof and very breathable. In fact, the cuffs are better than the Pro-Action! Again, its difficult to give an exact price as stated above but expect to pay around £30 for a suit.
My experience of Frogg Togg rainwear is very positive and I can recommend them for warmer weather walking. They keep me dry, breathe really well and are windproof. I wouldn’t recommend them if you do a lot of bushwacking or scrambling simply because the material feels flimsy although I have no evidence to support this other than ”gut” feeling. For the same reason I would not say they would be suitable for rock climbers. I should mention that both suits have very little “rustle” unlike Goretex waterproofs which I think is a plus. To conclude, if readers are looking for lightweight, waterproof, windproof, breathable low-cost shells for walking / backpacking then I believe Frogg Toggs are worth serious consideration. If you decide to buy make sure you look at the sizing chart – the Toggs are made for Americans and are, shall we say, generously sized.