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If it rains do you keep going?
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mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
If it rains do you keep going? on 07/23/2013 06:21:48 MDT Print View

We headed off in drizzling rain from the car park to ascent a 1300m peak.

We wore non breathable wet weather pants and top and a wrap over the back packs.

We were drenched from the inside due to the sweat. and could not cool off. So we turned around and headed back to the car.

It got me thinking, if you are out on a multi day walk how do you combat rain? Do you just keep going, get all soaked and set up camp as usual at the end of the day? Or do you just set up camp there and then and wait out the weather?

The other problem I found was that my water proofed shoes eventually let water in and I had soaked feet....not comfortable. And despite the fact I had my pack covered everything inside felt damp, all my sleeping gear, clothes, everything.

To me, rain just basically ruins the experience!

I am interested in what do you through hikers do?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: If it rains do you keep going? on 07/23/2013 07:08:51 MDT Print View

"I am interested in what do you through hikers do?"

Well, I am not a through hiker, really. I only head out for a couple weeks at a time. Rain is one of those times you sort of wish you were elswhere...out of it. Hiking is not a problem, usually. Wet trails, mud puddles (6" deep), slipery roots and rocks, skidding on duff...that is a problem. It will slow you down as you know.

I am usually hot and sweaty, so, getting wet with rain is two fold, it makes you wetter, it makes you cooler.

Your shoes eventually wet out. Less than good socks will saw away at the skin leaving sores...very close to blisters, but not quite the same. Like walking on after a deeper stream crossing, you should stop and drain your shoes and wring out your socks. Even if it continues to rain. Logging through a wet trail is about the same. Depending on how wet your shoes get, stop periodically and wring stuff out.

But, hiking in the rain can be enjoyable. Most hikers don't like it so the trails are usually free. Stopping under a good dry tree will help as you survey the area. Generally you just keep slogging. Often, the first trail shelter you find is a good place to stop and take a break. By now everything is wet, including your rain gear. You might get cold. If you do, you have two choices, Continue on or Stay put and set up your camp. If everything is wet except for your sleeping gear, you need a fire of some sort. Difficult at best. But it is possible to gather enough smaller stuff and birch bark for a small fire under a tarp. For the next couple hours you sit there tending the fire. It WILL go out if you do not tend it. Again you need to decide if it will get a bit dryer. Stay and cook supper? Move on? Stopping always means at least an hour of dryer time under a tarp with a fire. Pick the dryest spot and set up your bed, cook supper (even if it is after 1500.) Rain is not fun but it won't melt you. I usually reserve the "stay" option to after 1500 or when my fingers are wrinkled from the rain with no let-up in sight. There is always tomorrow to hike...

Always keep you sleeping gear dry. I make a set of sandals out of my liners to use around camp. Drying your feet will help. I use quick drying clothing, but "quick" is relative. Leaving it on will dry it much faster, but, it will also make you much colder. Down goods (jackets, bag) do not fare well in rain. Keep them dry and never put them on over wet clothing (they will get wet too.) Shoes, socks, etc will NOT dry. Get them as dry as possible by tieing the laces over the soles and hanging them over a cloths line, heels/scree collar down. Wet shoes will drain for about an hour even if they do not dry. Rinse and wring your socks. Hang them with the toes up for best draining.

On a weekend or three day hike, you *can* put damp cloths on top of your bag as you sleep. Not recommended for longer, though. After two nights the loss of loft/insulation may mean cold nights.

Your food should be in a dry bag. For a couple days it will not spoil, but if it gets wet, you need to eat/cook it. It may survive another couple days after cooking but this means carrying the extra water weight.

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
wet weather on 07/23/2013 07:11:04 MDT Print View

Since you asked about thru-hikers, I will say that a great many thru-hikers and other folks on long trips who have a schedule to meet (that is, a target daily mileage) will just keep walking through the rain. I guess it's a zen thing? I mean, it's not so different than sweating buckets. The east coast has seen humidity around 90% pretty regularly this summer. The air is wet whether it is actively raining or not. Some strategies:

1. Get to know the weather patterns. Often, thunderstorms occur with great regularity every afternoon. Plan on getting up early, putting in your miles during the cool morning hours, and setting up camp before the rain hits. Better to get rained on at camp than rained on while walking.

2. Take advantage of mid-day sun. Walking in mid-day heat sucks anyway, so if the sun comes out and the clouds burn off, take a long break and spread out all of your gear to dry. A couple hours in direct sun should take care of tent, trail runners, clothes, etc.

3. Make sure your vital insulation pieces are protected at all times. A friend of mine refers to the dry bag that holds his sleeping bag, puffy, and sleep clothes as the "inner sanctum" of his pack. Double wrap that stuff! I like down, and use it even when it rains, taking care to keep it in a plastic bag inside a dry bag.

4. Pack covers are pretty worthless. Pack liners (e.g. a trash compactor bag) work better. Pack covers will keep the pack itself from absorbing some water, but the shoulder and hipbelt pads act like sponges anyway, and I find that water always manages to run down inside the pack cover during heavy rain.

5. Even in the summer, bring full rain gear. A lot of people here will disagree with me, but being stuck in an all-day deluge without insulation can suck. Up on ridges and balds, the wind can pick up and easily drop temps down into the 40s and 50s in mid-summer, and if you're sopping wet you can be facing hypothermia conditions. Some people are happy with ponchos and skirts/chaps; I find that most of the time I really need a full jacket and pants for the extra warmth.

6. Sleep clothes! I'd be miserable without a set of dry clothes to change into. In the summer, it's just a tank top and shorts, or a light dress, plus a warm hoody on top. Some camp shoes to get your feet dried out is a good idea, too, for the health of your feet.

7. As has been established time and again, waterproof-breathable shoes are never truly waterproof (or breathable). The only thing that will keep your feet dry is something like a full rubber muck boot. Great for farm work, terrible for hiking. Your feet will get wet--fact of the backcountry. A lot of people deal by wearing quick-drying shoes that hold less water: either trail runners with lots of mesh or sandals designed for water (i.e. Chacos or Tevas).

This is how I've gotten through this record-setting rain year, but I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting.

Joe A
(dirtbaghiker) - M
keep going on 07/23/2013 07:28:03 MDT Print View

I would keep going. I love the rain, personaly. My gear would all be dry and I would have dry clothes and socks to change into after I set camp for the night. Forget gortex shoes..once the water gets in..and it will, it will stay there and they take forever to dry. I learned this the hard way. Now I use trail runners..lightweight, breath awesome and when they do get wet, they dry fast. My feet love me for this. I am not a thru-hiker for any long distance trails, but I am a hiker.

Edited by dirtbaghiker on 07/23/2013 07:30:33 MDT.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
move on 07/23/2013 07:37:39 MDT Print View

Move to CA and hike the Sierra.


peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: If it rains do you keep going? on 07/23/2013 07:43:45 MDT Print View

" To me, rain just basically ruins the experience! "
it ruins it for a lot of other people too. and that's good. because now you have privacy.
non-breathing pants will do you dirt in almost all situations. you would have been better off without them probably. and yes, your gear is going to get damp.
feet will be wet. that is Ok. with good socks and attitude, feet can go many many miles nice and wet.

if you find yourself still fighting the rain, that needs to be worked on. you can't fight it (effectively at least).
of course rains is annoying. but if you don't stop and chill. or stop under a shelter and set up a long (very) lunch, you can keep happily going.

if it rains monsoon style for hours on end... yeah.. screw that.
set up a tent and make tea.

it can be hard to determine if the rain is going to continue or not. sometimes is just a roll of the dice.
knowing the weather patterns is very very helpful.

thru hikers are on occasion uncomfortable. so are parents. so are soldiers. so are construction workers. so are farm laborers.
discomfort at our levels never killed, or even maimed hardly anybody. so it's all good.
you will get where you want to go when the desire outweighs discomfort. commetment matters. a Lot.

granted .. wet feet are an "acquired taste".

tally Ho !

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: If it rains do you keep going? on 07/23/2013 07:58:03 MDT Print View

Make peace with the rain.

There are times when I hate the rain, but they inevitably coincide with the times when I hate Everything. Most of the time, though, it is pretty easy to enjoy. When I was a kid I used to take a garbage bag with me. If it rained, I poked head and arm holes, put it on, and kept walking.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Keep Going on 07/23/2013 08:10:14 MDT Print View

I keep going.

Being warm and keeping my gear dry is the key.

My gear is packed so it stays dry. Down to about 10C I just hike in an ultralight shirt and shorts and get wet. When colder I wear breathable pants and jacket.

Non breathable gear is sure to beget an unpleasant experience. Letting yourself get wet is not as terrible as you imagine it would be.

I have learned from experience that as long as I am warm I am indifferent to being wet.


Nathan Coleman
Rain, Rain.... on 07/23/2013 08:19:58 MDT Print View

Rain is unpleasant, unless it's a cooling drizzle on a hot summer afternoon.

A poncho is nice while hiking in rain. It is not breathable, but you do get some air circulation underneath.

A dry bag will keep your gear dry better than a raincover. Raincovers work ok in light rains, but in downpours water will run down your back and wet the pack from the back into the compartment. A dry bag solves this.

Footwear, well if it's warm enough then I prefer to wear non-waterproof trail runners and just take a couple pairs of dry wool socks. Let the shoes dry out as much as possible overnight, and let your feet dry out.

I did have one case of nasty foot once after hiking in a two day rain though. Several weeks after that all the skin on the bottoms of my feet peeled off. I'd rather not repeat that if I can help it.

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: "If it rains do you keep going?" on 07/23/2013 09:07:57 MDT Print View

Check it out.

Edited by meld on 07/23/2013 09:26:05 MDT.

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:26:46 MDT Print View

I didn't read all of the replies so I apologize if I've repeated something already said.

Personally, I love to hike in the rain, assuming it isn't a deluge where the rain is coming down at an angle.

The #1 reason I have been able to enjoy rain hiking is carrying a lightweight umbrella! I've never regretted the extra ounces, especially since the area where we backpack is notorious for unexpected rain.

The second thing I do is make sure to vent my jacket continuously and periodically. This means that you want a jacket with vents. Vents come in many varieties, but the two that I've had in my latest shell are armpit vents and pocket vents. I just leave them open when hiking in the rain. Periodically, since we use umbrellas, we will unzip our jackets to dry out the inside of our jackets.This doesn't require that we stop.

I find hiking in the rain to be enjoyable because of my brolly!

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
if you dont hike in the rain... on 07/23/2013 11:09:24 MDT Print View

... you'll never get to Maine.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: if you dont hike in the rain... on 07/23/2013 11:17:32 MDT Print View

most definitely keep going.

Edited by stephenm on 07/23/2013 11:28:13 MDT.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
Keep hiking if at all possible. on 07/23/2013 11:49:34 MDT Print View

I just finished my through hike of the AT yesterday. We started March 5 and hiked through every type of precipitation. We did take a break while the snow melted off Big Bald and waited out an electrical storm on Madison. Otherwise on we went.

We were wet a lot. Our feet were never dry from Mass to somewhere in Northern Vermont. It became a chore at times but we finished like this.
Zippy and Diddo

Perfect Weather!

Edited by zippymorocco on 07/23/2013 11:51:19 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: If it rains do you keep going? on 07/23/2013 11:53:40 MDT Print View

At times there may not be a choice! Light rain and moderate temperatures with high humidity are demanding for any rain gear. It can come down to a choice of getting wet from the precipitation or your own perspiration.

A hour or two of light rain is one thing, but several days of drizzle, no direct sun for drying gear, cool temps and high humidity will get everything wet. Not only are you getting the precip from above, you may be up to your elbows in wet brush, which is like walking through a car wash. Add a generous helping of mud and wet fir needles and you have PNW hiking in a nutshell. Spring hiking means walking trails with snowmelt running down the middle in some places-- like walking in a small waterfall. Delicious!

*Ventilation features are needed with any rain gear fabric, whether is is solid coated or the latest and greatest breathable stuff. Having options like pit zips, mesh-lined venting pockets and front closures with snaps or Velcro tabs (so the zipper can be left open) will help

*Wearing a rain shell that has enough room will allow some "bellows effect" and help to move moist air out.

*Ponchos allow a lot of ventilation and keep your pack dry at the same time. A waist belt of light cord can help keep a poncho under control in wind and help keep it away from snagging branches and brush.

*In warm conditions with little or no wind, an umbrella may be a better option, paired with your windshirt.

*Wicking base layers under your rain gear will aid the moisture transfer process. Don't over dress with your rain shell on. If I'm walking uphill with a rain shell in 45F-50F temps and high humidity, I don't need anything more than the lightest base layers. In fact I could go much lower than that temperature range with no wind.

*If I know I am going to be in all-day rain conditions, I wear silkweight bottoms with rain pants-- I don't try to layer in my usual zip-off nylon hiking pants.

*Having spare dry base layers is a good thing in conditions like this. It is heretical to the usual UL gear list, but having dry stuff to change into can be life saving, let alone more comfortable. I typically use a fleecy mid layer as part of my clothing system, which I can wear in camp while I attempt to dry my base layers. You can get pretty soggy and stay warm if you are moving, but you want something dry to wear when you stop--- you're going to get cold and miserable and that is where hypothermia will getcha.

Bottom line: you will get wet, just be prepared with the right rain gear and layers.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: If it rains do you keep going on 07/23/2013 11:55:49 MDT Print View

I have to agree with Sara. I too disliked rain until I got a Golite umbrella, to me it is worth the extra 8 oz.

In the warmer weather I usually don't need to wear a rain jacket or rain pants, I just wear my normal clothing and stay quite comfortable, relatively dry and not feeling like I'm in a steam bath under the umbrella.

Not having rain falling on your head and shoulders for hours on end really makes a difference.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Keep hiking if at all possible. on 07/23/2013 12:05:35 MDT Print View

Congrats James!

I only thru hiked the Long Trail and it was a very dry summer last year but we did have some rain. Normal sprinkling rain we would just keep walking normal shirt and shorts. as you found out, you get just as wet from being sweaty as you do being rained on so you might as well keep those other things dry in the pack.

We did have one thunderstorm pop up and have a major downpour. I ran 2mi with 6" river for a trail to the next shelter. I then hung my normal clothes up and switched into my wool long sleeve shirt, rain pants and rain/wind jacket. Nothing in my pack was wet, even the stuff not wrapped up (osprey exos pack)

Definitely use a bag liner to keep your sleeping stuff and extra clothes dry. I pack everything else on top of that.

waterproof shoes are not waterproof. they have a giant hole where your ankles go. Mine are goretex and they do work for puddles and splashes but not continuous rain.(the non goretex version doesn't fit me.. go figure)

brent driggers
(cadyak) - MLife

Locale: southwest georgia
If it rains do you keep going? on 07/23/2013 12:17:15 MDT Print View


Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Re: Re: Keep hiking if at all possible. on 07/23/2013 13:52:16 MDT Print View

In regards to James comment about shoes, personally I like to steer clear of Gortex shoes. Invariably, water will get if your shoes which means that you'll have a pool inside your shoe. You want a good trail runner with good water weeping. I personally use the Brooks Cascadia which weeps water like there is no tomorrow. Combine that with a good wool sock and your feet will thank you later. Probably off topic but another opinion none the less.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
everyone should do it on 07/23/2013 14:49:02 MDT Print View

practice it on a quick go around the park for a day and a short weekend or two

because one of these days youll be in the rain on something more serious with no real way out ... and you may well panic

develop the SKILLS to get you through safely

- wear as little as possible when moving ... which often means the thinnest layer under yr rain jacket
- use synth base layers
- DONT zip up your jacket all the way when moving ... keep the pit zips open ... as well as the front zip ... the sternum strap will hold the jacket together fine
- you WILL get damp no matter what ... deal with it ... your body heat when moving should keep you warm
- when stopped ZIP up ... when stopped for a long period put on that fleece or synth you brought
- mud? wet shoes? ... deal with it ... keep moving and your feet warm ... have a spare set of socks or two when youve stopped for the day

theres enough stories out there of people who rarely go in the rain ... and when it happens they panic ... and SAR gets called

dont be one of those ... rain is just an EXCUSE to test your gear, systems and skills ... i mean whats the point of spending $$$$ on fancy gear if you dont use it in the rain