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Dealing with an all-day spring deluge
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Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Dealing with an all-day spring deluge on 04/19/2011 12:53:40 MDT Print View

Most of use windshirts anyways and accept the consequences, but a recent all-day rain experience which left everyone (except the umbrella users) completely soaked and wet all day long had me thinking again. Can even the best rain shell actually keep you dry? Is it even worth it?

Since it was also a little cold (40s and 50s), I was wondering what the best mid-layer would be assuming you knew it would get wet and have to keep you somewhat warm until you finally ended the hike and set up camp.

I was in an Icebreaker 150 long-sleeve and an eVent shell. I didn't get too too cold but I really wished I had something else for moving.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
All day rain on 04/19/2011 13:04:10 MDT Print View

I'm used to dealing with all day rain at any time of the year. Not too fashionable on here, but i wouldn't go hiking without a 100 weight fleece. It doesn't soak up water, and can be worn as a base layer. My go-to set up is a merino base-layer, 100 weight fleece, windshell, waterproof. I'll choose the weight of merino to suit the temps, and wear whatever combo keeps me comfy.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: All day rain on 04/19/2011 13:09:55 MDT Print View

Not too much experience with all day rain, but if you wear light wool or a fleece like Mike said, any condensation that builds up on the inside of your jacket will dry relatively quickly once you're in your shelter or the rain stops. Not ideal to be walking sweaty, but there are times when you have to weigh the pros and cons of each situation. Sometimes you're just gonna be wet (or at the least, damp.)

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Dealing with an all-day spring deluge on 04/19/2011 13:11:44 MDT Print View

"Can even the best rain shell actually keep you dry?"

I'd say that because of the speeds at which you normally hike, you're going to sweat regardless, so you're going to be wet. At least the rain jacket will help keep you warm. If you felt the 150 wasn't quite enough, bump it up to a 200 under the same conditions next time.

I don't know if y'all took a mid-day break for lunch, but on such a day I'd skip the break, as you'll just cool down quickly and you won't really want to drag out an insulating layer in the pouring rain. Keep moving until you decide to set up camp. At least then you'll maintain temperature throughout the day. Then get into dry clothes for the evening!

A day like you must have had last Saturday would have been a perfect day for my eVent Packa, I think....

Also, make sure your feet and hands are staying warm/not cold. Get your feet and hands cold and the rest of you is going to feel cold (but you know that already!).

In short, at your speeds/exertion level you're gonna be wet no matter what - either from rain or from sweat. It's the staying warm part that's important, as you know. I think the Icebreaker 200 might have worked a bit better, along with, perhaps, a waterproof shell on your hands and feet.


Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Dealing with an all-day spring deluge on 04/19/2011 13:21:26 MDT Print View

We kept moving all day -- there wasn't much choice. We all got uncomfortably cold every time we stopped. The rain wasn't just constant, it was also storming, horizontal, and relentless.

The next time I go out in such conditions I'll use heavier merino or a light fleece. Good recommendations.

I had GTX socks on but we were up to our mid-calves in water on the trail (even the Appalachian Trail on the ridge turned into a stream). Every inch was wet.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Dealing with an all-day spring deluge on 04/19/2011 13:28:38 MDT Print View

"we were up to our mid-calves in water on the trail"

Gosh, sorry I didn't join you....... ;-)

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Dealing with an all-day spring deluge on 04/19/2011 13:39:09 MDT Print View

> a recent all-day rain experience which left everyone (except the umbrella users) completely soaked and wet all day long

This is why I prefer an umbrella. It doesn't always work perfectly -- I have gotten pretty darn wet on some really rainy days -- but I'm never as uncomfortable and wet as when I'm sweating inside a plastic jacket.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Umbrellas on 04/19/2011 14:00:29 MDT Print View

I was actually impressed that the umbrellas successfully kept the upper bodies dry for the two folks who used them last weekend. That being said, I'm not sure I would have wanted to hold the umbrella all day while slipping and hopping on wet rocks and raging streams.

In other news, the kilt worked perfectly in the rain.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Umbrellas on 04/19/2011 14:10:12 MDT Print View

"In other news, the kilt worked perfectly in the rain."

A Packa and a kilt, the perfect combination!

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Umbrellas on 04/19/2011 14:10:45 MDT Print View

With some way to tie it, you can rig the umbrella to your pack. I've used two points of contact on my left shoulder strap using shock-cord and cord-locks, plus a third point of contact tying the umbrella handle strap to my waist strap. Hands-free.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
icebreakers suck on 04/19/2011 15:33:30 MDT Print View

for backpacking i would not use icebreakers merino wool SWEATERS, instead, go for a skin tight smartwool. Icebreakers are loose fitting, if you want maximum warmth you want a tight fitting baselayer.

Secondyly, i've been in plenty of extended downpours and remained dry . On eof hte essentals is a baseball cap with a visor that fits your head perfectly and your rain gear has a cinchable hood that you can tighten around it. This will keep water from getting down your rainjacket through the neck area. I dont care how good your hood is, a good cap is essential in staying dry. BTW i use frogg toggs trail pak $15 rain suit, i like them because they breathe as good as event and cost next to nothing. Repairs are easy with ductape and a tad of superglue around the edges if needed.

Im a really skinny dude so i dont get much sweat on the inside, but driducks definatley helps. I used to be super soaked in other rain jackets/pants.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/19/2011 15:37:13 MDT.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
icebreaker fit on 04/19/2011 18:00:53 MDT Print View

Ike, I think that's a pretty broad statement. Fit is garment by garment with icebreakers. I have an icebreaker 150wt "mondo" zip that was so skin tight that I had to size up 1. I also have a 260wt icebreaker that fits looser. They def make athletically cut just have to look

Also, I think OP was referring to getting soaked because of condensation from exertion, not leaks through openings etc. I hear ya on the baseball hat..I think thats a great addition to any rainwear. But a wire-peaked hood is also sufficient in heavy rains. You won't find many American companies that incorporate the wire-peak though...more of a Euro thing.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 04/19/2011 18:03:44 MDT.

Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - MLife

Locale: New Zealand
New Zealand Techniques on 04/19/2011 18:10:29 MDT Print View

Here in New Zealand it is practically given that you will be rained upon while hiking, regardless of the weather forecast. Usually with the rain comes wind and cooler temperatures that create a potent combination for hypothermia, the second biggest killer in the New Zealand bush, behind river crossings. With the wind, rain tends to come more horizontally and swirly than vertically so you get wet from all directions. Umbrellas are a hazard in this weather.

So you are going to get wet either from the rain or from sweat. The most important thing to do is to maintain a comfortable body temperature and the best way to do that is use layers of clothing. The next-to-skin layer is some sort of polyester of polypro thermal followed by a 100 weight fleece. Both these layers absorb very little water so they can be wrung out and re-worn, and your body isn't losing as much heat trying to dry them out. Wool (merino) keeps you warm as well but absorbs a lot of water (c.40% of its weight) so it takes a long time to dry out. Down is useless in this environment and I haven't tried other synthetic insulations but I imagine they would be ok.

The outer layer is the raincoat, its job is to stop the wind and rain from entering into the inner insulation layers. In my experience WPB's don't breathe very well in these sort of conditions, so I use a PVC coated nylon coat - totally waterproof, much cheaper and very robust for bushbashing.

The next step is when you stop and camp for the night is to change into a DRY layer of thermals for the next-to-skin layer. This makes an immense difference to retaining body warmth once you stop hiking. You can still layer the damp 100 weight fleece over the top or another thermal layer (even down) but the bottom layer needs to be dry.

The next day brings the torture test of removing those warm dry layers and wearing those cold damp layers again, especially if it is still raining. With a fast start to the day's hiking the layers will be warmed up again in about 15 minutes.

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
"Dealing with an all-day spring deluge" on 04/20/2011 00:55:32 MDT Print View

Plenty of good advice here. I've used various methods of keeping warm in similar conditions out here on the very wet and windy west coast of Norway.

One way layering has worked for me, simply donning your rain jacket over your windshirt when the rain really picks up and removing it when conditions allow. I know Chris Townsend uses this method. The windshirt will get damp under the rain shell but will dry again really fast (much faster than a fleece) and reduce convective heat loss too in windy conditions.

I've used the fleece mid-layer method too. I picked the lightest fleece vest I could find (Haglofs Treble which weighs 177g) and that has helped keep me warm in shoulder season weather.

But yes, you're gonna get damp whatever you do. A change of clothes, synthetic insulation, high pace, plenty of snacks, etc, etc. It's techniques not equipment that will keep you smiling.

One of the best BPL articles ever written has plenty of good advice on this subject:

Edited by holdfast on 04/20/2011 01:25:55 MDT.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Thanks All! on 04/20/2011 05:06:46 MDT Print View

Great advice and insight.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
synthetic on 04/20/2011 12:20:12 MDT Print View

synthetic fleece ... 100 wt usually works ...merino absorbs water

one thing to make sure of is that you arent running TOO WARM when moving in the rain ... simply put the cooler your temp the less you perspire ... i find i sweat quite little the less i wear when im moving ... if you are too warm when moving youll end up perspiring in yr shell ... and that sweat will stay there and cool you when you stop

the other thing is to use yr zippers ti ventilate if you get hawt ... pit zips and yr main zips ... if you are wearing synth (not wool), the minor splash that hits you from an open zip is nothing to worry about ... i see people all the time clam up in their rain jackets without ventilation, start moving and sweating, and then whine about their jackets not working

at the end of the day though, in serious rain you WILL get damp ... make sure your gear and technique can handle it

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
tips on 04/20/2011 14:01:50 MDT Print View

i also second wearing a windshirt under your rain shell if needed. To clarify, all my icebreaker TOPS i would not consider baselayers. The BOTTOMS are different and definately can be considered base layers. However, i have yet to find an icebreaker TOP that could be considered a baselayer, because they are all too saggy.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/20/2011 14:02:41 MDT.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Skin-tight Icebreaker 150 on 04/20/2011 14:23:46 MDT Print View

I'm on the left in the long-sleeve Icebreaker. As you can see, it's not loose.

Icebreaker 150

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Dealing with an all-day spring deluge on 04/20/2011 17:42:20 MDT Print View

+2 on the article Joe Newton cited! I'll cite it again:

Corey Downing
(hardcorey) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Re: tips on 04/21/2011 14:26:44 MDT Print View

I'm not sure what Icebreaker items you have tried on. Most of the items I have tried on from them that weren't heavy-weight sweaters had a very athletic fit.