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A Lightweight Guide to Backpacking in Sustained, Cold Rain
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paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Backpacking in sustained, cold rain on 01/03/2007 03:02:41 MST Print View

I often wear a Wild Things Epic Windshirt under my poncho. It keeps both my forearms dry as well as upper body fr/that inevitable wind blown rain that enters through the sides of the poncho. Now, if i exert myself too much, i may get pretty sweat soaked, but that's an entirely diff. problem.

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Re: Re: Backpacking in sustained, cold rain on 01/04/2007 22:49:09 MST Print View

I think poncho in all conditions except miserably cold temperatures where the mercury doesnt rise above 30-35.

Then, I add a fleece jacket to underneath the poncho. Over that I will wear the windshirt, and I will stay completely dry.

Fleece is great to wear when you know that you will always have a long sleeved garment on--heavy it might be---but clothes worn on the body are much lighter than those carried in the pack.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking in sustained, cold rain on 01/05/2007 04:25:42 MST Print View

There you have it! Windshirts under ponchos = the preferred method of CP and pj. Isn't it amazing how sick minds think alike. [sorry, CP. don't mean to bring you down to my level; just leveraging off of your nom-de-plume and my obvious non-normality. hope you don't mind.]

Nicholas Couis
(nichoco) - MLife
Re: Re: when you can't rely on DWR on 01/05/2007 16:02:04 MST Print View

Richard,Do you know if anyone is making windshirts from Brookwood Ecology/Agility or if the material is available in non military colors.Could i use a Patagonia Houdini windshirt as a substitute.I have found that i need windshirts that don't rely on DWR treatments.
I will be in the USA soon and am looking for powerdry base layers and coudn't find much using google.Montbell sizes fit me well.Thanks.

shannon stoney
what about wool? on 01/06/2007 08:40:13 MST Print View

I am just thinking that if DWR fails often, and fabrics like goretex are prone to failure (I have experienced this), then maybe the solution is more wool. Maybe wool base layer, plus wool sweater, plus a wool hooded jacket, and/or a wool cloak. You could make them out of very fine, lightweight wool. They would get wet in a downpour, but you would stay warm.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: when you can't rely on DWR on 01/06/2007 09:15:03 MST Print View

Nicholas-Many manufacturers use their own brand names on fabrics they purchase OEM from Brookwood. I suggest you use the same approach that Bill F. has used in the past to get additional information, ask their sales rep.

Jeff Harris
Phone - (212) 551-0100
Fax - (646) 472-0294
Website -

I am sure BPL has people at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show that starts today. Brookwood is in booth [39150]. Hopefully one of the BPL staff will read this post, stop by, and get the information for you.

A Patagonia Houdini windshirt should be a viable lightweight substitute.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
What About Wool? on 01/06/2007 10:15:35 MST Print View

This company
"Filson"sells a lot of different and really nice products made with wool. They are a Mens store but when growing up I had 3 sisters who wore my stuff all the time. They have a few things with Merino in them and a lot of stuff that looks like it would be good to wear bushwacking.

They sell their products through a lot of different stores such as Sportsman's Warehouse.

Edited by bfornshell on 01/06/2007 10:16:20 MST.

shannon stoney
Re: What About Wool? on 01/08/2007 09:32:01 MST Print View

I like Ibex stuff too. But I'm a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to wool. I spin and weave and knit. So I'm wondering if it's possible to put a DWR finish on my handwovens. Lanolin is the original DWR of course, but it's hard to spin wool (for me) "in the grease" as they say, and fulling removes the lanolin. So I wonder if you could somehow spray lanolin back on the fulled fabric after fulling?

What is commercial DWR finish made out of anyway?

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: What About Wool? on 01/08/2007 10:20:17 MST Print View

I love my Ibex stuff as well. I've been wondering for some time about adding lanolin to wool to increase water repellence and have not heard anything definitive yet. I'm reluctant to experiment on my expensive Ibex stuff. I will contact Ibex directly. I did so in the past without getting the answer I was looking for but I think they recently did a simple test and may have more information.

shannon stoney
Re: Re: Re: What About Wool? on 01/08/2007 16:54:30 MST Print View

Their outerwear sometimes is a blend of wool and nylon, and supposedly the nylon adds some water-repellancy. What I would love is if you could buy fabric from them and make your own stuff.

The ideal lanolin thing would be a spray of some sort. I wonder if you could sort of dissolve lanolin in some kind of solvent like alcohol and spray it on wool? You could experiment with inexpensive wool from the fabric store.

Or, I suppose you could use one of the products mentioned above for rejuvenating DWR fabrics.

In thinking about this article, I realized that traditional Scottish wear is very well-suited to "cold, sustained rain." You wear knee socks, which get wet but don't wick up to your waist, and a wool skirt that comes to just above your knees and so doesn't touch the knee socks. Under that you wear a linen shirt. Your Ibex wool t shirt could go under the linen "wind shirt."

The original great kilt was big enough that you had a sort of shawl that went over your head too when necessary. I am thinking of adapting that "costume" to hiking in cold, wet conditions.

Or you could make some wool shorts that come to just above the knee. My brother had to wear that costume when he was a school boy in Yorkshire: short pants, knee socks, blazer and wool cap. It was cute but also pretty practical.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: What About Wool? on 01/08/2007 17:14:54 MST Print View

There is a lanolin wash for wool diapers I was thinking about, rather than traditional DWR treatments.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
A Lightweight Guide to Backpacking in Sustained, Cold Rain on 01/09/2007 13:13:40 MST Print View

What a superb article! The follow up discussion is also interesting.

I agree with the advice to wear as little as you can get away with under a waterproof but would caution that this is a little risky above the tree line. Dumping the sack at the foot of an ascent is probably not a good idea if you are minimally clad. You might need emergency warm gear.

As far as DWRs are concerned, my waterproofs have invariably lost theirs on longer trips. eVent seems to lose its DWR particularly quickly (but I've only owned one eVent jacket, so this isn't a definitive comment). Breathable waterproofs are still worth having after the DWR has gone. I sweat heavily when ascending. If the rain relents for half an hour, I can dry out on the descent without removing my waterproof, and that is important when the wind chill is high.

I too like the Akto. In wet conditions it is worth unhooking the inner for separate storage, even though 14 attachments are involved. Then the water from the fly doesn't wet the inner and you won't need to mop it out after pitching.

Finally, when crossing New Zealand rivers, look to see where the local livestock is crossing. They usually know best, and leave obvious tracks.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: What About Wool? on 01/12/2007 10:06:07 MST Print View

I received a answer from Ibex about adding lanolin to wool. I will quote the relevant portion below.

With regard to your question on lanolin, I don’t have any scientific research that directly deals with such an issue, but having said that, the following factors would need to be considered:

The physical ability of adding lanolin to improve water resistance and decrease absorption: Yes it could potentially improve water resistance and absorption. With regard to absorption though it would need to be an even coating over the entire garment – would need to be soaked in lanolin, and then I wouldn’t guarantee its effectiveness.

The ‘stickability’ of the lanolin to the fibre: In the Chlorine Hercosett shrink resist process the chemical and physical properties of the fibre are altered. This is likely to affect the ability of lanolin to stick to the fibre. This includes at the time of application and during wear and laundering – it is likely that common laundering detergents would remove the lanolin quite quickly as the initial chemical bond between lanolin and the fiber has been removed.

The smell: When wet, an ibex garment coated in lanolin is likely to smell like a wet sheep!

Jeffery Ludwig
(JeffLudwig) - F
The bear bag routine in rain on 04/11/2007 19:10:59 MDT Print View

I'd like to revive this somewhat older thread for a moment. Here's the scene, you're in a warm bag, eat dinner which was cooked in the vestibule of the tarptent, but you are in critter country, now its time to hang the bear bag... put the raingear back on? Go naked and dry off with a sock back under the tarp? Either way you're losing a ton of warm, no? Eat before setting up bed?

Also, I'm very interested in moving to a poncho tarp/bivy combo. Could someone explain how a typical dinner with this setup is prepared in bear country? Just cook under the poncho tarp without setting up bed? Or if temps dip into the low 30s just bring a better shelter?

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: The bear bag routine in rain on 04/12/2007 06:05:54 MDT Print View


We all have different styles, but I always eat first.

Sometimes I stop on the trail and eat then walk some more before sleeping. Long term you will benefit from separating eating and sleeping.

When using the poncho/tarp bivy combination I also carry a DriDucks jacket. I can go UL, but mostly opt for lightweight.

I rig my bear bag quickly after selecting a site, but leave the cord hanging. The quilt is lofting in the bivy pushed to the side of the poncho while cooking. After dinner the kitchen is bagged and hoisted.

Edited by food on 04/12/2007 06:24:35 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Mysterioso/Under Armor combo on 03/30/2008 09:42:15 MDT Print View

Richard, I know this combo isn't a wetsuit, but it sure is skin tight. I have a marmot top and bottom made of polartec powerstretch very similar to mysterioso. Over that, I had an unused top and bottom from athletic works that is like the skin tight stuff from Under Armor. Combining the two makes a tight fitting but very stretchy outfit. How do you think it would compare to a neoprene-like effect in close fitting insulation and prevention of water flushing for shoulder season paddling?

Edited by jshann on 03/30/2008 10:11:49 MDT.

David Long

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Umbrellas, DriClime on 02/07/2009 23:55:49 MST Print View

Living in Seattle and hiking in the Washington Cascades and Olympics, I get a lot of rainy days. Two things to add to this thread:

1. After reading Ray Jardine's Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook, I started experimenting with an umbrella in the backcountry. One of the biggest joys of the umbrella is using it in camp to keep dry while cooking, bear bagging, middle-of-the-night toilet runs, etc. I also found it useful as an adjunct to a tarp to block off windblown rain at the foot or head of the tarp. Would really complement a bivy sack to keep rain from hitting your face. I think this addresses some of the questions presented in the comments.

On the trail, when rain is falling vertically rather than horizontally, I much prefer an umbrella plus a windshirt to any poncho or WB jacket. With brush or wind, though, it gets dicey.

2. I often cross-country ski in the rain (sick, I know, but I have a great time, really!). Snoqualmie Pass is only 1 hour from Seattle but it's only 3,000' elevation so it gets as much rain as snow. But here's the thing: although it's raining, the temperature is usually right around freezing, and you're surrounded by snow which chills the air, so it's about the worst possible conditions for hypothermia.

I used to wear GoreTex jacket and pants but it never worked well (too hot then too cold from perspiration). I finally settled on winter bicycling tights with a windproof WR front and stretchy super-breathable back of the legs.

The shocking breakthrough was just how incredible my Marmot DriClime windbreaker is! I can ski in the rain all day in that thing and be totally comfortable. Due to my ignorance and/or negligence, I have never re-treated its DWR, and it STILL works fantastically even though it totally wets out on the outside. I am just blown away. All I wear under it is a thin mid-weight merino wool shirt, with a sweater in my fanny pack for rest breaks. Somehow the DriClime moves moisture out so fast that it doesn't matter that the outside is barely even WR. Truly astounding.

BUT –and this is a big one– I would absolutely NOT be comfortable sitting around in camp with that thing on after hiking in it all day in the rain. Its exceptional performance XC skiing in rain seems to depend on my body heat from aerobic activity. So for rainy backpacking, while I would be happy to hike in the DriClime, I'd want to put on something waterPROOF and dry for sitting around in camp. Sometimes I think a non-breathable ultra-ultralight something-or-other for camp, such as a garbage bag with sleeves? 1oz? The next morning, put on the wet DriClime again and start hiking.

...David Longwalker

Jeremy Gaddis
(j3r3my) - F - MLife
Tent on 09/25/2011 21:32:57 MDT Print View

Great Article, I have one sorta unrelated question, what tent is that shown in the middle of the article.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Tent on 09/26/2011 04:00:36 MDT Print View

Hi Jeremy

The blue tent is my 3-pole single-skin summer tunnel tent. The 'yellow tent' is the inside of my (3 or 4)-pole double-skin winter tunnel tent, with my wife drinking soup.
(Possibly my older 3-pole winter tent, now I think about it. That was superceded by my newer 4-pole version.)
I must have given the pictures to the author when he was writing the article.


Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
changes? on 11/02/2011 12:02:41 MDT Print View

What changes would people make to the points talked about in here?