Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where have all the raincoats gone?

Last fall, before our canoe trip, I did my best to scrounge around and find everyone a rain jacket. I came up short. It was early September and we were heading into the cold wet months in our area, but there was nothing on the racks in the stores. They had windbreakers/warmup jackets and polyester fleece and cotton fleece. And in the high-end stores for $250 you could find parka shells made of waterproof-breathable fabrics, with taped seams, designed mostly for layering over fleece for waterproofness in the snow ... though there was nothing in kids' sizes in our neck of the woods. I didn't have time to mail-order; I'd just assumed that rain jackets were everywhere during the back-to-school season.

It was much to Sophie's detriment that we failed to find appropriate rain gear in the stores before our trip. I had given Erin an old waterproof jacket of mine, and Fiona was fine in a slightly-too-small yellow rainslicker that I had sewn up several years earlier for an older sister. Noah had a lovely Wetskins jacket that I'd managed to scoop up at a thrift store the previous spring. But when we got caught in a day of cool fall rain out on the lake, poor Sophie suffered. Upon our return I was determined to find her a good-quality waterproof jacket no matter the cost.

When I was young every kid had a rain jacket. You would have a winter jacket and snow pants, and winter boots for the coldest months, and the remainder of your core outdoors-wear wardrobe would consist of a rain coat, rain boots and maybe an umbrella too. Plus sweaters for warmth underneath. So why could I not find a single waterproof jacket for Sophie in any store in the area? (I must admit that we have very few shopping options. There are three thrift stores, a WalMart, a high-end outdoors store and a baby boutique that carries a few items for children as well. But still ... why was no one selling raincoats in September? I had expected to find two or three racks of choices, at least, at the WalMart, but there was nothing.)

I have a feeling it's because children aren't expected to spend time outside in the rain any more. Most don't walk to school on nice-weather days any more, but even those that do certainly wouldn't be expected to do so if it's pouring rain. Outside play is much less common in these days of wii's and million-channel TV, but would certainly not be expected if the weather is at all inclement. Children just do not spend the kind of time outdoors that they once did.

At any rate, I finally found a source for lovely Oko-tex standard imported Swedish rainwear right under my nose; some Scandinavian homeschooling acquaintances in Nelson were importing them, having been unable to find anything comparable in North America. I bought Sophie one right away. Last week they e-mailed to let me know that they were liquidating their remaining stock to make room in their lives for other things so I took the opportunity to grab Fiona one of their lovely jackets too at half price.

I now know how rare and precious a good child's rain jacket is. We're thrilled to have these two jackets in the family now, and will cherish them.

16 comments:

  1. I always buy raincoats for my girls. There's a little thrift shop where my mom lives in the States that has a whole rack of them.

    I love those coats Sophie and Fiona got!

    The Swedes have such lovely raingear. My Swedish friend here in Kyiv told me that all kids have those suspender rainpants that are so cute. She also said that kids in Swedish preschools spend 90% of their time outdoors -- rain, snow or shine.

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  2. Yarrow11:16 am

    I agree that one of the reasons that you can't find good outdoor gear for kids, is the fact that they do not spend as much time outdoors. That is ashame, I think. My three year old, Sophie, would play out in any weather, and usually does. Good luck, and I enjoy your blog daily.

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  3. Funny, I just had this same conversation with someone last weekend. That someone is going to start manufacturing Inverness Capes for all ages and sizes and in lots of colors. What's an Inverness cape? Well pipe bands wear them when it's raining. They prevent our wool kilts from smelling like, well, wet sheep. If you want to see what one looks like you can check out the Edmonton Girls Pipe Band Facebook page and click on pictures. I Capes are nice and warm and big and you can even throw a backpack under them.

    Now I just wish the snow would go away and it would rain!

    Lisa in Edmonton

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  4. How strange.

    When I was a kid growing up in the midwest it was similar to your childhood experience. You had a spring coat, a slicker, galoshes (for rain), a fall coat, snow boots, a winter jacket, a winter coat, a windbreaker, and a fleece. The hall closet had the proper seasonal stuff, and the rest was handed down in the family.

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  5. Great coats, Miranda.

    Can you share the name of the manufacturer?

    Thanks. :)

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  6. How often I have been through the stores looking for rain jackets? Never can I find them. It's one of my pet peeves! The only place in the past few years I have found real raincoats are at sporting goods stores like Cabela's and we don't have anything of the sort nearby. Closest is a 5 hour drive. So when I buy them, they're bought big enough to last a few years. A kid simply must have a rain coat.

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  7. The manufacturer is Abeko. Unfortunately the only Canada/US supplier listed is our friends in Nelson, who have just gone out of business. Well ... I think they said tomorrow. If you're really interested, you might be able to snag something if you move fast.

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  8. Anonymous12:50 am

    You want rain jackets for children. Come to Scotland - we've got it all - rain jackets and rain to go with it.

    Linda

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  9. MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) at www.mec.ca is another good source. They're based across Canada and do online orders too.

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  10. Point taken, Linda. :-)

    Lisa, we've been Co-op members since the mid-1980's. When I needed to get Sophie a jacket, we didn't have time to mail-order, otherwise that's where I would have turned. I'd just assumed (a mistaken assumption, it seems) that thrift and consignment stores would be full of them. But as it turns out I like the Swedish stuff far better than the Co-op's gear. We feel fortunate to have snagged a couple of these.

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  11. Thanks, Miranda.

    I was able to snag a rain coat and rain pants for the kid... and a wonderful rain cape for the momma. :)

    We've had Abeko before and really really loved it. It's much more pliable than the MEC stuff, although that's where I would have looked next.

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  12. Great Jackets! We keep getting ours from Hand me downs. So far we have been lucky!-K

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  13. Anonymous2:51 am

    Some UK companies that seem to do international shipping - might be worth clubbing together for a multi-family order:

    http://www.muddypuddles.com/waterproofs

    http://www.togz.uk.com/index.php?category=16

    http://www.raindrops.co.uk/

    Linda

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  14. I looked and looked for rain jackets last fall too, and couldn't find a single one, never mind a reasonable one. There seem to be a few on the racks now as people look towards spring. We go to MEC for rain pants. Love them.

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  15. Regarding the Abeko raingear, looks like there is a company in North Vancouver that supplies this particular brand, check out www.puddlegear.com - they have a few retailers around the Lower Mainland too. I haven't ordered from them so can't vouch for service etc, but others might be interested in knowing about them.

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  16. Hello Hello!
    Puddlegear lives! When Sylvain and his family retired my little family decided to take over!

    We are puddlegear.com and can be reached at
    1-866-586-0660
    sales@puddlegear.com

    We have great rainpants and mitts as well!
    Happy playing in the rain - three cheers for rain puddles!

    sincerely,
    Alexandra
    puddlegear.com

    ReplyDelete

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