November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Hiking In Cold Rain
Display Avatars Sort By:
Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Hiking In Cold Rain on 01/04/2008 16:10:31 MST Print View

Thinking through my gear list, one thing that I'm not really sure I have covered is hiking in extremely cold rain--such as in the low 30s. Depending on the type of trip, I either use my homemade poncho tarp and rain hat(about the same size as BMW's hoodless tarp), or Dryducks with the sections below the knees and below the elbows removed.

However, living in S Texas means that I never get temperatures that cold so that I can test my system. Any thoughts as to how I would fare??

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Hiking In Cold Rain on 01/04/2008 16:20:20 MST Print View

I use my wind shirt and pants as much as possible over lightweight wicking layers until a solid steady rain (or harder begins). I was in weather like this on a trip back at Thanksgiving as Savage Gulf here in Tennessee.Cold misty weather in middle TN

Besides providing wind and rain protection, the amount of orange helps during deer season, which was active at Thanksgiving.The Don't Shoot Special

Even if the windgear saturates through, good base layers allow for reasonable warmth and comfort while hiking.

In a truly heavy rain, I don my Paclite Jacket, also in a burnt orange. I never use true rain pants any more.

Edited by Bearpaw on 01/04/2008 16:22:00 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Hiking In Cold Rain on 01/05/2008 15:52:19 MST Print View

DriDucks are so breathable and everything else that I have just about stopped using my poncho/cape. I still use a rain hat just because I don't like to be in a hood unless it is very cold. I have used DriDucks extensively in wet-cold weather, cold-dry weather, snow, hot-humid, everything. They can't be beat - except for durability. But I have used the same set now for over 2400 trail miles. If I ever wear them out, I'm getting the brown color instead of ducky yellow.

Edited by vickrhines on 01/05/2008 15:54:46 MST.

Paul Luther
(eredluin) - M

Locale: Northeast
Re: Re: Hiking In Cold Rain on 01/05/2008 20:04:20 MST Print View

Hi Pete,
Hadn't thought of removing the driducks material below the knees and elbows. I did seam grip the crotch seam in the pants. Haven't blow it out yet:)

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
DryDucks on 01/05/2008 21:46:25 MST Print View

I guess maybe its just something I will need to try out...

My current plan of action had been the windshirt and base layers, but it just hadn't gotten cold enough to test out. Any special consideration for the hands in such weather? Or would the use of trekking poles remove the necessity of rainmitts(like the event gloves from MLD)???

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: DryDucks on 01/06/2008 00:31:36 MST Print View

In freezing rain or temps close too it, I would think you will want to wear something to cover your hands. Im thinking that if there was any wind along with that wet and cold you will be real uncomfortable. I think a glove liner and rain mitts would be ideal ( ULA's or MLD's mitts). But the liner may or may not be nessasary. I would personally carry at least a glove liner if I expected those temps myself.
I would also use full lenghth sleeves, or at least arm warmers or somthing, again for that cold wind/rain protection.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 01/06/2008 00:33:21 MST.

Paul Luther
(eredluin) - M

Locale: Northeast
Hiking in cold rain on 01/06/2008 09:30:25 MST Print View

I'll second Brian's remarks. I carry an older pair of MLD mitt shells and a pair of OR P100 glove liners. Sometimes I'll use a pair of hunter-style convertible fingerless gloves/mittens instead of the P100's. Also, my DriDucks sleeves are long enough to cover my hands. This gives me the ability to dispense with the mitt shells. BUT, I've never tried this and use ski poles at the same time.
Pete, forgive my earlier post. I have not experimented with modifications to rain gear sleeves and legs. Interesting notion though. I believe RJ had cut off his Montbell rain pants below the knees. He wore tall OR gaitors, and thought the extra pant layer was redundant.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Rain Mitts on 01/06/2008 10:54:44 MST Print View

Here's another lightweight option for rain mitts that I found at Performance Bike yesterday. Headsweats describes them as "highly water resistant". No experience in the field yet but they passed the shower test with flying colors. Weight is 1.4 oz. a pair. On sale now for $15.

Edited by Dondo on 01/06/2008 15:19:20 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: DryDucks on 01/06/2008 15:31:22 MST Print View

After using OR GTx lobster claw rain mits, I put extensions on my DriDucks sleeves - out of the same material I got from an O2 poncho. I also extended the jacket to knee length - with a sort of skirt or cagoul. Both additions work well, and are increase the walking comfort. But in very cold weather, I still like the lobster claws - which are a lot like those biking mits someone mentioned.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
hiking in cold rain on 01/08/2008 19:17:28 MST Print View

this is a subject dear to my heart, since I spent so much time doing this each spring in Europe. Unfortunately, there is little cold rain here in Nevada. But just last week, we were lucky to have an arctic storm move in and I finally got to test my new armless poncho design. Pouring rain all day turning to snow by the evening, strong winds from the west, temperatures about 35°F initially and then dropping into the 20's by evening. The poncho worked like a charm! I was wearing it over 2 of my supplex shirts zipped to the neck, and with the hood tucked under my fur felt wide brim hat, no gloves or mittens, supplex pants and running shoes. I felt warm the whole time. The poncho keeps everything dry down to mid-thighs (though the taslan wicks above that level) and also fully protects the hands, so no need for rain mitts. The hood stops all air movement at the neck, which is probably the reason I was warm with just the supplex shirts.

The problem with armholes on a poncho is that these inevitably leak both water and wind. And to what end? To allow free use of the arms? But a poncho is already such a cumbersome thing that the armholes don't really help that much. I figured this out on my last trip when I sewed up the armholes I was using then. But that left two flaps at the shoulders (because the poncho is squarish rather than semicircular) that flapped annoyingly. Also, my poncho this last trip was silnylon and so wasn't too comfortable in warmer drizzly conditions, especially going uphill. So I decided to use Goretex instead. This increases the weight significantly, but also greatly increases the range of conditions in which the poncho can be used comfortably. In particular, it allows the poncho to be used for protection from wind as well as from rain.

Like I said, I tested the armless design my last trip with the sewed up silnylon poncho, and I found it quite easy to move about while wearing it, other than while rock climbing. In particular, I was still able to use my walking stick, but with my hands protected from wind and rain, and reach my other hand out from under the poncho to grap at things. There were times when I needed both arms free or I wanted to avoid the poncho flopping around in front of me when I bent over. So on this new design, I added a feature to allow me to gather up the front of the poncho and snap it in place. This way, I can work with both hands in front of me and bend over without the poncho getting in the way.

The design couldn't be simpler, though sewing the flat-felled seams might be tricky for a beginner (sorry I don't have pictures but I can't justify buying a digital camera at this point, however it is easy to visualize from the diagrams):

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
Hiking In Cold Rain on 03/13/2008 14:11:24 MDT Print View

You could also look into Paramo Directional waterproofs. I use the Aspira Jacket (and sometimes the Cascada Pants) extensively in colder weather. It is heavy and expensive, but breathability (while remaining waterproof) is unmatched, and the weight counts for hard shell, soft shell, and insulation, plus layering is simplified since the one jacket does it all. And the Brits have a lot of experience with cold, wet, weather, and they love Paramo.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Hiking In Cold Rain on 03/13/2008 16:19:48 MDT Print View

Hi Pete,

In my books, a kit for sustained cold+damp+rainy conditions should be evaluated according to this question:

If my kit starts getting damp the minute I step out of my car, and keeps getting wetter every 24 hours until I get back to the car, will I be okay?

i.e. Does your kit depend on a "drying phase" every day? If it does, i.e. if you use a lot of down, you are sunk. You're in a race against the clock to get back to your car.

In truly cold, wet, humid conditions, nothing can dry. You can't start a fire. And you can't *keep* your kit dry by being careful.

In the true wet, sealing up your tent will leave it feeling like you are living in a cloud and your gear will obviously get damp. But in those same conditions, opening your shelter vents and allowing fresh air to come through will allow fog/mist/a cloud to come into and pass through your shelter, wetting your gear. It's a lose-lose situation, and you can't get around it. You basically have to be wearing and sleeping in stuff that won't collapse into a soggy mess.

I once watched a nice Nunatak quilt literally collapse on me over the course of a couple of hours while I laid in my shelter. I had put on dry clothes for bed and I wasn't perspiring; the down became saturated and lost loft due solely to the atmospheric conditions. I don't think I have to mention that it didn't dry until I got back to my house.

On that trip I had all my insulation and sleep wear carefully squirreled away in a drybag. On the way to the trail the bag was bulging, and on the way home it was less than half-filled despite containing all the same items!

That's my 2cents.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Hiking In Cold Rain on 03/13/2008 20:11:37 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/25/2015 20:51:13 MDT.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: Hiking In Cold Rain on 03/13/2008 20:42:04 MDT Print View


If I understand you correctly, you were only referring to the hiking part of the trip and not the potential wet weather and down stuff, but mainly what to wear while moving.

If that is correct, my answer will be relevant.

My favorite hiking weather is rain with temps mid/lower thirties. Where I live I get about two months of that each year and have tested a few setups.

Largely it depends on your OVERALL pace. If one hikes relatively slow 1.5-2 miles per hour, then the clothing worn would be much different than someone who goes 2.5-4. Richard N could talk about this in scientific terms, but I can only say you either produce a little or a lot of heat depending on the speed. You obviously know all this, but I am just clarifying it.

So, my pace is faster and I produce enough body heat such that I can hike all day 5-8 hours in the following (head down):

Mesh baseball style cap
Bandana or earband for ear warmth under cap
Patagonia Wool2 Crew shirt
Hooded windshirt or Waterproof polypro aka dri ducks/o2 etc jacket
Glove liners with waterproof shell
Running shorts
Fox River sock liners
Thick wool socks
Goretex socks
Mesh trailrunners
Gaiters. (basically Will Rs footwear system for sustained cold/wet)

Shorts and wool wet out rather quick, but body heat keeps them warm, or they dry during rain lull and then wet out again.

I just did a trip with this basic system and posted it here recently with some notes:

So if your pace is 2.5-4, then I feel your setup with the Dri-Ducks would work great depending on what you wear underneath them such as a warmer baselayer top and knickers or shorts. I highly recommend the goretex sock option because warm toasty feet really allow you to skimp elsewhere as do warm hands IMHO.

Hope I didn't waste mine or your time by misunderstanding your question!

Edited by jhaura on 03/13/2008 20:45:45 MDT.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Bag loft issues in cold rain on 03/14/2008 02:35:46 MDT Print View

"I once watched a nice Nunatak quilt literally collapse on me over the course of a couple of hours while I laid in my shelter."

I've been giving this considerable thought, as I just bought a GoLite Ultra 20 down quilt for use in the Pacific Northwest, and I also recall the story Ray Jardine writes in Beyond Backpacking of getting stuck in an Oregon snowstorm in July and watching his down collapse.

But I've also been thinking about my very positive experiences with my eVent Jacket, and its ability to dry me out in wet conditions. Specifically, I find I am drier wearing my eVent jacket when hiking in fog/clouds than with just my baselayer. I believe that without the jacket, the moisture in the air is able to enter my clothing system and dampen me, whereas the eVent jacket prevents this from happening while venting my body moisture.

I've been wondering if this same fabric property would apply to an eVent bivy. On the one hand, an eVent bivy would be great for foggy, wet weather; it would prevent the dampness of the environment from entering into the down, thereby minimizing loss of loft. On the other hand, the eVent fabric in a bivy is considerably father away from my skin than my jacket, so there is a smaller temperature gradient between the bivy surfaces than my jacket. So maybe the effect wouldn't apply to eVent bivies?

I'm specifically thinking of using an eVent bivy under a tarp, so that the bivy stays drier and warmer than if used alone. Anybody with experience care to comment on this?

I could of course get a good synthetic quilt for the weight of a down bag + bivy, but I feel wp/b bivies add substantial warmth, and the added bulk of the synthetic would mean I'd need to take a bigger, heavier backpack, thereby increasing the total weight. I figure my 21oz down quilt has a good inch or more of loft than the equivalent weight quilt (Cocoon 180), so I've got a significant margin of error. Plus, I will always use my down quilt with Cocoon Pants and Pullover, so I've always got that minimum amount if insulating insurance. Still, if I started losing more than that inch of margin error in my down while in a hunker-down-until rescued situation, I'd start getting worried...

Edited by jcarter1 on 03/14/2008 02:41:02 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Bag loft issues in cold rain on 03/14/2008 15:27:39 MDT Print View

What drives a lot of this is actually the temperature gradient. This is why a double skin tent or a bivy bag can be of real value.

If you are cool inside your sleeping bag and the outside is cold and damp, then moisture will penetrate into the down OR the synthetic fill. However, if you can keep warm inside your bag, the temperature gradient will help to stop moisture from coming in. I don't mean you need to be sweating, just nice and warm. And the surface fabric of the SB may still be a little damper than you would like.

So an eVent bivy bag over an adequate sleeping bag will work a lot better than an inadequate sleeping bag and no bivy bag. You want to keep as much of the SB warm as possible. It's a case where having the right gear for the conditions is a bit more important than normal - and a bit more important than blindly following some set of UL rules.


Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Bag loft issues in cold rain on 03/14/2008 16:05:49 MDT Print View

In my (non-physicist) opinion, the air is simply so incredibly saturated that it's impossible for water to evaporate.

Have you ever had those days in the mountains when you are actually in a cloud? Not fog, because fog feels heavier and doesn't rain. I mean *in* a cloud, where you can never tell if it's spitting or raining lightly or that's just the cloud condensing on the outside of your clothing...

It's hard to describe, but in these conditions I believe that the air is super- or hyper-saturated with water; so saturated that it seems to be condensing into drops all around you. When that happens, the air cannot accept any more evaporated moisture regardless of what bivy or membrane you're using.

PNWers know that that type of atmospheric condition is quite common out here.


PS when I read that Oregon story on Jardine's website, I knew exactly what he was talking about. Whenever I'm tempted to look a down product, I think back to my sack of collapsed down (while soloing on snowshoes no less!) and shudder at the thought of having been 2 days from the car.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Hiking In Cold Rain on 03/14/2008 16:34:37 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/25/2015 20:51:47 MDT.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Bag loft issues in cold rain on 03/14/2008 19:13:28 MDT Print View

>>If you are cool inside your sleeping bag and the outside is cold and damp, then moisture will penetrate into the down OR the synthetic fill.

This may be true but I've experienced the loss of down loft due to ambient moisture reported by Brian and Ray Jardine. Since switching to synthetic fills a few years ago I haven't experienced this, despite being in similar situations.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Hiking in Cold Rain on 03/14/2008 19:20:25 MDT Print View

I think Jhaura is right about overall pace.

Most aussies and NZ walkers (the more experienced, traditional ones anyway-this may be broad sweeping generalization) wear a jacket that goes to about mid thigh, short shorts, and gaiters. This is really typical bushwalking gear, and is commonly seen worn by experienced walkers in Tasmania and NZ, where walking in cold rain is very common place.

I think it works for us because once you reach that level of experience to go or contemplate walking in such areas, you are probably walking at a fair clip (ie if it was dead flat on road or nice trail you would maintain 5-6.5kph, or equivalent amount of effort), and you also become a bit tougher. You also know, as you guys do, when you are getting too cold and when its time to apply other measures, ie set up a tent and camp and get in other gear you carry.

I've always found it suprising that chaps or rain pants seem to be the go with ponchos "up top" (as opposed to down under). Ive hardly used ponchos here (scrub issues), but when I have, I reckon they can function with just as much protection, if not more than our traditional mid-thigh length bushwalking jackets (as long as rain isnt horizontal of course).