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Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/09/2008 20:28:00 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 08:31:44 MST Print View

Great article. Makes me Sure I don't want to go trekking in Scotland… But I do appreciate the tips, especially the footware comments.

I have questions about the "weather station" in the last picture, looking out of the green tent.

Who makes it? How reliable has it been? I had a Brunton that died on the first trip out and wonder if that was just bad luck or typical. (Snap broke, lanyard buckle wouldn't hold, and the alarm froze.)


Neil Johnstone
(nsjohnstone) - MLife
Re: Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 08:35:37 MST Print View

Or really about the Silva ADC weather station....

I had three before I gave up on them - the original purchase, then 2 replacements from Silva, both of which failed for no observable reason.

I'm now using a Kestrel, which has been far more reliable (no problems in a year of use).

Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
Re Silva ADC weather station on 12/10/2008 10:01:02 MST Print View

I have had one of these (the Silva that is) for about five years and it has survived hot Lake District summers and very cold and wet Scottish winters without issue.

Anyway, good article Chris. It nicely captures the 'pleasures' of UK backpacking!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 10:26:18 MST Print View

And Chris, I must add that you and your mates are a set of hardy souls.

"Sitting in a tent with a hot drink and a good book, listening to the rain on the flysheet and watching showers race by is one of the pleasures of cold, wet weather backpacking."

I think that may be the ONLY pleasure.

You guys are tough.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 12:04:12 MST Print View

Great report Chris, I look forward to going Pt. Reyes and The Lost Coast this Winter knowing that I can handle just about any weather Mother Nature can throw at me.

Robin Evans
( - MLife
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 12:23:48 MST Print View

Greg, it depends what you're used to. I find heat worse than rain (or cold). I love being in a tent listening to the rain thrash the tent. One of the beauties of the UK is that the weather is always changing so there's usually some clear (maybe not sunny) spells every so often. The changeability generally means that we have to carry a bit more gear, perhaps making our pack weights look a bit heavy to you. Personally I always carry a spare set of dry clothes. My base weight tends to be around 9kg, which copes with most conditions.

Edited by on 12/10/2008 12:25:11 MST.

Patrick Megowan
(pmegowan) - M

Locale: Western Oregon
Perhaps a gear list? on 12/10/2008 12:39:48 MST Print View

Thanks for the article Chris, the Pacific NW runs a bit wet too. I'd love to see your gear list including the Akto - a shelter like that usually puts me well outside a 10lb base weight. Thanks!

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 14:33:44 MST Print View

Greg, the weather station is the Silva ADC Pro, which is identical to the Brunton ADC Pro. I've had it four and a half years and it's been fine though recently the wind vane housing has become a little loose.

Pat, my base weight on any trip where I take the Akto is usually well over 10lbs.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wet, Cold Weather gear list on 12/10/2008 15:47:18 MST Print View

Great article. I too would appreciate a gear list with weights.

Also, what is the name of the green tent in the last photo? Looks like a nice entry/awning setup.

Lastly, I'm a little unclear about your rain pants setup. Are you saying that above 40 deg F you wear trail pants without rain pants, or trail pants under rain pants (as opposed to baselayer/softshell under rain pants)?

Edited by jcarter1 on 12/10/2008 15:56:07 MST.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Tarptent? on 12/10/2008 15:50:54 MST Print View

Is the tent to the far left in the third to last picture a Gossamer Gear Squall Classic?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 15:57:58 MST Print View

Excellent article! Thank you!

The one thing that bothered me about both this article and the earlier "Lightweight Backpacking in Sustained Cold Rain" is that both were written about places (Scotland, New Zealand) that don't have bears! In bear country, cooking in the tent vestibule risks having a bear think your tent is a burrito shell, and for that reason is not recommended. I would have thought that with BPL based in the heart of grizzly bear country, this issue would have been addressed, at least by the editor.

I have managed to overcome this issue in similar conditions by using the following routine after finding a camp site: (1) Fetch and treat water. (2) Pitch the tent. (3) Go inside, shedding rain gear and shoes in the vestibule. (4) Remove shirt and pants. (5) Change into dry baselayer. Add insulating jacket and fleece balaclava. (6) Unpack pack, blow up air mattress, fold sleeping bag on top. (7) Put rain gear back on over all. (8) Cook and eat dinner--well away from the tent, either scrunched under a thick evergreen or pitching a small tarp just big enough to keep rain off the cooking area and stove. (9) Post-meal tasks (feed my dog, bury his post-prandial leavings, take care of my own potty breaks and teeth cleaning, and secure my food). (10) A 15-20 minute brisk walk with the dog to explore the camp area and get our circulation revved up. (11) Retire to the tent, first stripping my rain gear and then toweling the mud and as much water as I can off the dog in the vestibule. (12) Put sweater on dog (to keep his wet coat from rubbing on my sleeping bag) and settle him on his piece of GG Thinlight pad. (13) Remove wet socks (finally!) and put on my 200-wt. fleece sleeping socks. Sigh with gratitude. Insert bottom half of body into sleeping bag, again sighing with gratitude. Remove insulating jacket (gotta have a pillow) and finish getting into sleeping bag. Zip up. Sigh once again with gratitude. Read for 20-30 minutes, if I can stay awake that long, and go to sleep.

Having the extra base layer allows me to do all this in relative comfort. It's not absolute comfort, because my feet are still wet. This routine does, of course, add extra weight, and means I can't use my sleeping bag for in-camp insulation.

I've often been tempted to cook in the vestibule in wet weather in areas where bears aren't a problem, but am concerned about residual food odors on the tent (or, worse yet, my sleeping bag) when I do go into bear country.

I'm wondering what the rest of you who often or occasionally camp in bear country do about the cooking/eating routine in nasty weather.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/10/2008 16:07:37 MST.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 16:29:18 MST Print View

John, the tent in the last photo is a Lightwave t0 Ultra, a lightweight tunnel tent. The awning is useful as it means that with the rear of the tent pitched into the wind you can cook in the vestibule with the door open without rain entering the inner tent.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking in bear country on 12/10/2008 16:34:14 MST Print View

Mary, that's a good point about bears. Your method sounds similar to mine in bear country when I've carried a small tarp to pitch as a cooking shelter. I used one many times on long walks in the Canadian Rockies and the Yukon Territory and it was well worth the extra weight.

I have cooked in the vestibule in grizzly bear country just once. That was in a blizzard in the northern Yukon far from any trees when I really, really didn't want to get out of the tent and I was cold and hungry.

Edited by Christownsend on 12/10/2008 16:37:19 MST.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 16:34:42 MST Print View

I'll take the occasional bear encounter here in the Pacific NW over that lousy Highland weather any day!

Come to think of it, we get our fair share of that stuff too. I remember (non too fondly) being chased off the PCT at Harts Pass in the North Cascades one year by a 100-year storm.....not fun sleeping in a cloudbank and continuous rain. Fortunately, I had my old North Face Tadpole tent. Even with a good Gortex rainsuit over a 300 weight polartec fleece jacket, I couldn't stay warm even hiking uphill. The storm lasted 4 days.

Edited by wandering_bob on 12/10/2008 16:38:46 MST.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 16:40:12 MST Print View

James, the tent is an original Henry Shires Squall.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 17:01:12 MST Print View

Bob, when I hiked the PCT through Washington State it rained most of the time! I had a Gore-Tex tent, which had been fine in the much drier weather further south, but which gave big condensation problems in the wet weather.

I have been back since in much better weather, especially one glorious circuit of Glacier Peak in a week of perfect autumn sunshine.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 17:21:06 MST Print View

For those who wanted one here's a gear list. Note that this doesn't include my camera gear, which usually weighs from 4-8lbs on its own!

All the weights are my own.

Pack GoLite Pinnacle 24.7oz
Tent Terra Nova Laser Competition 35.2
Sleeping Bag PHD Minimus 23.6
Insulating Mat 3/4 RidgeRest 9.5
Stove Primus Micron Ti 2.5 2.5
Pot ACG 3 Cup with foil lid 4.8
Spoon Lexan 0.5
Fire Lighter FireSteel 0.9
Water bottles Platypus x3 3.2
Mug Plastic 0.8
Knife Victorinox Classic SAK 0.7
Fleece Jack Wolfskin Gecko 7.9
Insulated top Mont Bell U.L.Thermawrap 9.0
Rain Pants GoLite Reed 3.8
Hat Paramo Cap 2.8
Mitts Extremities Tuff Bags 3.3
Socks SealSkinz Mid 3.0
Headlamp Petzl e-Lite 1.0
First Aid 2.0
Repair kit 2.0
Toothbrush/paste 0.7
T/P 1.9
Hand sanitiser 1.0
Reading glasses 1.0
Paperback 6.0

Total 149.8oz/9.4lbs

Of course if the weather is drier than expected I'll be carrying my rain jacket. And in colder weather I'll be wearing the fleece. In summer in Scotland I don't carry an insulated jacket or the second hat and mitts and I use a lighter sleeping bag. In winter I'll have a warmer insulated jacket and a warmer sleeping bag if temeperatures are likely to be well below freezing. So sometimes the base weight is more than this, sometimes less.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 17:22:23 MST Print View

Mary and Chris,

I too carry a small "kitchen" tarp if weather looks wet. I set up and cook about 1/2 hour before looking for a camp spot. That way, there is no cooking near my campsite.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 17:25:19 MST Print View

the scottish highlands are one of my favorite backpacking visits and I always wondered how can you avoid being miserable in those so often inhospitable conditions. Every time I thought I'd had it dialled in there came this oppressive, dark, windy and wet spell and I was happy to spare the camping and cut my day short to stay at some bothy after hours of soggy tread.

Being comfortable in the wet and cold is one of my favorite subjects, it's a challenge. I loved the article and confirmed I got the theory quite right. Now, I just need a positive attitude.