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Aaron Davis
(ardavis324) - F
Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 09:19:57 MDT Print View

Does anyone do ever do this on non-thru hikes?

Example: a 5 night hike in high sierra/ section of JMT, etc.. Lets just say a trip where covering a lot of miles to the next spot is not exactly crucial, but route/campsites can be easily adjusted.

My reasons for pondering this is I've worn my rain jacket for maybe 15 minutes in the last few years worth of summer high sierra trips. The last few trips it has never even left my pack.

The majority of mileage to the "next campsite" is covered during the morning/early afternoon before typical afternoon storm cells roll through (in my experience). So by the time the storm rolls through I have usually had my shelter set up.

My windshirt could handle a moderate rain for at least long enough to pick out a campsite. At that point the Hexamid can be set up fairly quickly to either camp for the night, or even just temporarily. If it remained light/moderate I wouldn't even need to stop at all, and I would stay pretty dry.


I am trying to create a scenario where it would be really foolish to not have a rain jacket. Injured, Intense storm, need to get back to trailhead 20 miles away to get help, etc. What else?

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 09:31:51 MDT Print View

you won't need it till you don't have it.
my rain shell weighs 6 oz. (North Face Triumph anorak).
I leave my wind shirt at home and let my UL rain shell serve double duty.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
I'd still bring rain protection on 07/23/2013 09:34:57 MDT Print View

I live in the dry side of Washington state and much of my hiking is rainless. For hikes where it looks like no rain, I still bring something like a Dri Ducks jacket or poncho. If it looks like it's going to dump on me then I bring a traditional hard shell.

HYOH etc etc

Aaron Davis
(ardavis324) - F
Re: Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 09:36:38 MDT Print View

"you won't need it till you don't have it."


Well of course, that is the conventional wisdom. And I don't necessarily disagree. I am trying to decide just how true that has proven to be.

Does anyone have a personal experience of actually suffering the consequences of not bringing a rain jacket?

Evan Chartier
(evanchartier) - M
Rain Jackets on 07/23/2013 09:42:16 MDT Print View

I have never had such an experience where I needed one and did not have one. What about just bringing a 2 ounce trash compactor bag? I do that on trips where it is unlikely that I will need a rain jacket. They are just as waterproof as anything, and if I really am in an emergency, I wont care about wetting it out from the inside since it means I am warm or, more likely, I wont be moving much and just need a waterproof covering. Tear a hole in the top to put over your head and it will protect your body, arms, pack, and lower body if you need it to.

Evan

Aaron Davis
(ardavis324) - F
Re: Rain Jackets on 07/23/2013 09:43:59 MDT Print View

Thats what I am leaning towards. Or a $1 emergency poncho from walmart maybe. More of a "first aid" item than a piece of worn gear.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:00:10 MDT Print View

" Does anyone have a personal experience of actually suffering the consequences of not bringing a rain jacket? "

No.
because I have never ever not taken mine.
there are best case and worst case planners,
guess which ones stay alive.

p.s.
my comments assume an alpine setting (+10,000ft) because that's where I usually am.
my concern is hypothermia, not simply getting wet. I use my "full" rain suit as a sort of survival vapor barrier. if you are a low lander then your concerns may be different.

Edited by asandh on 07/23/2013 10:50:32 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts" on 07/23/2013 10:02:11 MDT Print View

Earlier this year I went on a six day hike. No chance of rain according to two forecasts. I'd ripped the sleeve of my North Face Triumph anorak earlier still in the season and was 'forced' to bring an event hardshell. So of course it started pouring hard--for two days. It was sleeting/snowing over a pass. The Triumph would have crapped out I believe. My Rab Demand kept me from possibly getting hypothermic.

A once in ten year happening I think. Now I'm bringing the Rab. Until the memory fades and I go back to rolling the pretty predictable sierra weather dice.

Edited by book on 07/23/2013 10:02:57 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:07:22 MDT Print View

there have been a few trips I did the leave "real" rain gear at home, and either brought a $1 plastic emergency poncho or nothing (when the weather was reliability warm... which is not the case for the high sierras). On these trips when it did rain soemties the poncho came out, but mostly I just kicked up my speed to stay warm and got wet. I would recommend doing this only if you have gotten comfortable with being "warm enough but wet" and of course are wearing quick dry clothing.

--mark

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:10:00 MDT Print View

It's not dangerous because you can wait it out in your shelter.

But be prepared for the chance of missing work on Monday morning.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Rain Jackets on 07/23/2013 10:13:27 MDT Print View

Thinking of it as a first aid item is a great idea, since I am sure many of us carry rain jackets because “that’s something we should bring.” Here in the mid Atlantic, rain on a summer backpacking trip is usually greeted with celebration and the removal of as many clothes as possible. It seems that there are many items that I carry that I would prefer not get wet before myself (at least in the summer), so I have something for the pack.
If we pack clothing which is designed to dry quickly, then perhaps the “need” of a rain jacket is less important – especially since there are usually other things in our pack which can keep us dry in a pinch (tent fly, tarp, trash bag, etc.. )

Granted, this assumes that one has an assurance that they have anticipated all the possibilities in the five day weather outlook. But if there is no risk of hypothermia, then it’s really only a question of comfort. Choose what is comfortable for you, knowing that one person may prefer a windshirt because it is more comfortable to wear than a rainjacket for most of the trip, and is typically lighter. The other person is fine with the rainjacket only and no windshirt.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 07/23/2013 10:13:30 MDT Print View

I have a 1.5 ounce plastic poncho. It sits in my first aid kit and I never use it. I have a windshirt too.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:13:39 MDT Print View

"Does anyone have a personal experience of actually suffering the consequences of not bringing a rain jacket?"

Three years ago, Mother's Day at Henry Coe. No rain in the forecast ( California and we're not in the mountains.....safe to trust the forecast right??).
Four kids, three adults.
Five minutes after taking down camp we experienced torrential freezing cold rain, alternating with hale. In went on for our entire five miles back. None of us brought rain gear. We wore our down jackets and everything else we had just to stay warm ( it really got cold). We could not move very fast because of the little ones as well as a horse and a mule that were slipping down the steep hills.
By the time we made it back to the cars we were pretty miserable, but laughing.
If we were further in and in the middle of a longer trip we would have been a lot worse off, having drenched our insulation.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Rain Jackets on 07/23/2013 10:14:18 MDT Print View

Take a DriDucks or a poncho. It seems like a good idea until the Jet Stream hiccups and you get unexpected weather. A 7oz poncho won't kill you, but the weather might.

Those emergency ponchos are miserable things. They aren't long enough to cover your pack either.

An umbrella might be useful as you get some sun protection options too. I was looking at one of the Mont Bell umbrellas the other day. They are tiny when stowed. The UL model is 5.8oz and the sun block version is more like 9oz, so a poncho is lighter. The GoLite Chrome Dome is 8oz, but long when stowed. If your pack has side compression straps it is easier to live with.

I would (and do) carry a poncho for my fair weather CYA rain option.

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
Why not? on 07/23/2013 10:16:54 MDT Print View

I have hiked many trips with out a rain jacket(and been rained on). Have a plan though. For the most part with out wind during a rain storm the temps aren't that bad (55-70) depending on elevation could be worse).

but like I said have a plan. Maybe if the rain got bad you could figure out how to wrap you hexamid around you to keep most of you dry(practice at home). Make sure your route is not going to be all high elevation. You will want to get down lower if things get bad.

Having said all this I will be bringing my rain jacket on my 5 night trip next week to the JMW in the Inyo and doubt I will have to use it. The temps will likely be in the 100s.

I have been heading back the other direction having gone as light as I ever want to go. I now take a more conservative approach and opt for less weight saving and more security and leisure time activities. I still have a ton of ultralight stuff tarp, quilt, no extra cloths. but now use a big tarp (10*8 for one person, try to always bring my rain gear, ipad, dslr, and on this trip a big heavy tripod and two lenses. i also carry a real knife(fixed blade.

My advice is to go on a day hike in an afternoon storm and see how you like it.... Hint its not the rain that got to me its that the sun goes down shortly after it gets you wet.

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:19:44 MDT Print View

One word comes to mind...crazy. If the weight is the issue find something lighter.

And don't forget the pants! On a trip last year, I left my rain pants at camp for a peak ascent. A huge thunderstorm came out of nowhere and I'm sure I had borderline hypothermia because of a lack of rain pants.

Evan Chartier
(evanchartier) - M
Rain Pants on 07/23/2013 10:29:05 MDT Print View

Of course it really depends on where you are hiking and your situation. As someone who usually hikes alone, and has been in some severe weather/situations before, I have a pretty good sense of what I can handle and when it is time to high tail it 40 miles out of the backcountry, or if I need to hunker down and wait it out. Without that knowledge I would (and usually still do) bring the extra 7 ounces.

Just my 2 cents on rain pants though, I have never brought them on a 3 season trip (only winter camping). I dont find them very useful to me, although I am comfortable trail jogging to keep warm, and have used a trash compactor bag as a rain skirt.

Edited by evanchartier on 07/23/2013 10:30:03 MDT.

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
Re: Thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:39:57 MDT Print View

"One word comes to mind...crazy."

Slight over reaction for a 5 day JMT trip in the middle of summer. Plenty of people do it every year and for the most part type 2 fun is the worst case scenario. Hence all the examples on this page.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
leave the jacket on 07/23/2013 10:40:48 MDT Print View

Lots of ehiking going on today.

Leave the jacket at home. Is there a ~1% chance it might suck? Yes. Is there a ~10% chance within that 1% that it might be dangerous? Yep. Good enough odds in my book.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: leave the jacket on 07/23/2013 10:44:35 MDT Print View

+1 to David C's commentary!

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: leave the jacket on 07/23/2013 10:56:36 MDT Print View

-1 to the Daves comments. Bring the jacket or you will die a horrible death.

Yohei Aoyagi
(zzz_bear) - MLife

Locale: Tokyo
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 10:59:35 MDT Print View

I think better than getting hypothermia in emergency. According to murphy's law it will rain when you have no rainwear. LOL

Aaron Davis
(ardavis324) - F
Re: Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 11:15:25 MDT Print View

For fear of going "stupid light"...

Isn't the ultralight part of backpacking figuring out what we can leave at home without being dangerous/stupid?

Like the saying goes, "backpackers pack their fears". We pack rain gear because we fear hypothermia/death if you want to take it to the extreme. Some may fear just "getting wet".

What I am trying to explore is the question...how much should one fear having to hunker down in tent, or deal with the rain by some other means? Are we just packing something because we've imagined horror stories? I know people have died of exposure, and I am not minimizing that. But a mountain lion could kill you too...therefore must you pack a firearm?

Trying to calculate the actual risk here. Of course the reward is only saving maybe 6oz so maybe I am crazy.

Edited by ardavis324 on 07/23/2013 11:16:02 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 11:28:28 MDT Print View

" Are we just packing something because we've imagined horror stories? I know people have died of exposure, and I am not minimizing that. But a mountain lion could kill you too...therefore must you pack a firearm? "

I do not like firearms.
I wear chain mail around my neck with an angry face painted on the back of my head.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 11:34:01 MDT Print View

Aaron,

You've predictably received answers for the scenario ranging from "never leave home without it" to "carve open a marmot, crawl inside, and ride out the storm". I agree with you that often times rain gear is dead weight.

I don't mind being cold. I don't mind being wet. I absolutely loathe being wet and cold. For me personally, I don't mind or notice the extra six-fourteen ounces for the added insurance. It’s my personal choice and I don’t impose my pack weight on other people. If you want to leave your gear at home, then by all means leave your gear at home. You'll probably be fine and if not, misery is a great instructor.

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
Re: Re: Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 11:35:40 MDT Print View

Its like anything in the outdoors the more you know the less you need.... there are plenty of ways to try to stay dry in an emergency. build an emergency fire to keep warm... set up your shelter and hang out..... ration your food... use a ground sheet or your shelter to keep you dry while moving... your not going to die this time a year unless you have no survival skills or will to survive at all.

There are plenty of ways to die in the sierras but hypothermia in the middle of summer on a short trip should not be your biggest worry? shelter and insulation and your fine.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
rainwear and actual risk on 07/23/2013 11:37:17 MDT Print View

There are times when raingear is not necessary. The possibility of rain is either all but non existent, or conditions will make that rain benign. I'm thinking of April-September within the Grand Canyon, or August in the Sierras.

There are times when raingear is probably not necessary, but circumstances will make not having it a bit more serious. If you're on the JMT in August, it's pretty easy to assess impending storms and either bust over that pass and find some trees, or hang out below, maybe pitch your tarp, and wait for it to pass. No rain gear might require a minor alteration in daily routine, and enhanced situational awareness. Go in the same place and season, but do a technical ridge traverse and things might change. Less expedient egress might make it a good idea to have raingear. For example.

And then there are the situations where not having raingear would be stupid. The Alaska Range in July, the Smokies in September, etc.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: rainwear and actual risk on 07/23/2013 11:40:15 MDT Print View

"And then there are the situations where not having raingear would be stupid. The Alaska Range in July, the Smokies in September, etc."

Alberta / BC Rockies Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.

All other times you would be guaranteed fine without the jacket.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: rainwear and actual risk on 07/23/2013 11:42:34 MDT Print View

I have been snowed on in August in the High Sierra.
this is a friendly benign mountain range ... until its not.

Dave C. - I seem to believe in a bit more worst case preparation than you, but I've been a climber a long time and have a desire to avoid worst case.

Edited by asandh on 07/23/2013 13:10:44 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 11:57:21 MDT Print View

Like some others, I'm a big fan of trash-compactor bags. It isn't so much that I don't bring rain gear, but that the trash bag IS my rain gear.

I am NOT a fan of "$1 emergency poncho from walmart" those are vinyl (trash bags are HDPE) and vinyl isn't tear resistant and in a hail storm, can get brittle enough that hail stones will make holes in it (I've seen it happen - 30 holes from a 15-minutes Sierra afternoon thunderstorm. Sil-nylon? Great. But that's not $1.

Also, re-examine the rest of your clothing. Without solid rain gear, all your other layers have to dry while you wear them. In my mind, that means no down and of course no cotton.

Aaron prefaced this by saying he could just wait out a storm in his tent.

Justin wisely pointed out that you need to be ready to miss work on Monday.

Get-there-itis is dangerous and can sneak up on you. You start leaving the rain parka at home. You rarely miss it. You get feeling comfortable going without and you start to forget that you had predicated that decision with plans to hunker down. You start going without on trips where you DON'T have the schedule or campsite flexibility Aaron describes. Some day, you hike in a downpour to make your schedule. . . .

People get reminded of this all the time up here. Hopefully only a boat or plane was lost or bent and the people made it out cold but alive. But not always.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts" on 07/23/2013 14:30:02 MDT Print View

Had I brought my Triumph anorak on the trip which ended up raining/sleeting for two days, I WOULD have continued on over a pass the first day. I didn't have rain pants--it's June in the Sierra--and the anorak would have wetted/sweated out. I probably would have been o.k. but it was really cold and it took hours to traverse the pass and even then it was cold and raining heavily at lower altitude. In short: I won't always make the right decision to hunker down, especially since in this instance it would take another day and night for the heavy rain to end. I'd get antsy and go. Maybe better to just have dependable rain gear--11 oz.s. Know thyself.

Edited by book on 07/23/2013 15:25:40 MDT.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 14:44:50 MDT Print View

As with anything else, we assess our needs, our plans, and pack accordingly. What you pack and what you carry is a judgement call that every experienced backpacker can and should make for themselves.

I, for one, would always pack a rain jacket for anything beyond a brief day trip.

Many of my trips are in places with fickle weather and can get pretty cold even on hot days, additionally there is often no chance for "rescheduling" a campsite due to bad weather -- I have to make it to my intended campsite every night. I have had trips where we did not expect rain at all, but ended up being rained on the entire week. Even with a hard shell and synthetic insulation, the weather was cold and wet and often times trying. When we stopped for breaks, we couldn't stop long before beginning to shiver, with the rain taking away much of our hard-won warmth. I would not want to be in a situation where I hadn't packed one.

In cases where you do not pack a hard shell, it is prudent to consider whether the other clothing you plan to carry would offer enough protection and warmth if the weather goes outside your expected bounds, as well.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
wet on 07/23/2013 15:20:20 MDT Print View

I think its rediculous to say that there is some real danger to not bringing a rain jacket for occasional rain. We all bring shelters and warm sleeping bags, a storm would be inconvenient but not dangerous.

It is actually possible to be warm while wet. I learned this when doing canyon bushwacking adventures in the middle of winter where i was sometimes wading through chest high water while it was 40 degrees out. Good tight fitting fleece, polyester, or wool clothing will keep you warm enough in some surprisingly cold rain if you keep active and moving. You just need to up your insulation. I wear running tights and even when wet they are much warmer than bare legs. I have worn a light wool sweater or a fleece under a windshirt in the rain many times and have been warm.
My friend wore a 3 lb wool coat (wet) in a 45 degree rainstorm and he was overheating.
When you stop moving and generating heat the clothing doesent do much for you. You need to change into dry clothing around camp. Those who arent warm hikers, especially women, might freeze when wet regardless of what their wearing.


Of course most backpackers wear light clothing for hiking and have down for insulation at rest, so what i posted above isnt all that relevant but i wanted to make a point.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 16:10:37 MDT Print View

No experience in the Sierra, but my strategy in the Rockies when there's not much chance of rain is to leave both the rain jacket and the shelter at home and replace them with a 7 oz. poncho/tarp. If the forecast and/or my judgment was wrong, I can still keep moving in the rain and set up an adequate roof to sleep under.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts" on 07/23/2013 16:18:04 MDT Print View

I think this is an area where one must apply common sense. Where I hike, I carry a raincoat, but that's because when it does rain in my area of Alaska it also often is in the 40's/50's for temps which is the perfect storm for hypothermia. I don't carry rainpants, typically, because I've found that having cold and wet legs doesn't pull my core temperate down the way having a cold and wet torso does. I wear quick drying nylon pants, which generally dry from my body heat in 5-10 minutes after it stops precipitating.

But if I were in an area that was warmer- say 70 degrees plus, and I had a shelter with me? I probably wouldn't bother with rain gear. I'd be as soaked by wearing rain gear and sweating under those circumstances as I would be by the rain.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 16:54:29 MDT Print View

Always take raingear esp if hiking alone.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 20:43:35 MDT Print View

Yes, I too had an actual experience though not in the Sierra since I would always bring some form of rain gear there no matter what.

About 10 years ago, late April, on the Sunol Wilderness Trail (not so aptly named, but that is another story). Everyone had told me it would be dam hot, prepare for it to be damn hot, and so on. I want to say there was a bad forecast, but I'm pretty sure I didn't look. The Mediterranean weather was just kicking in in the bay area, and we had not had rain in weeks. I was just gong UL at the time so I figured here is a good chance to go SUL. No rain gear. Had a windshirt as my primary insulation layer. Shelter only a light tarp. Started raining on day 2 and the temperature was only in the 50's. But all day wet, with it blowing, as soon as I stopped I was very cold. I was not just uncomfortable, but by the end of the day (I felt) really starting to function badly, with some anxiety about this as well. Alone and too far to just walk out. My designated camp spot was at the top of a bare airfoil with 30 mph winds and couldn't get warmed. Eventually found a big downed tree with two trunks to camp between with the tarp over top. I proudly wore my garbage bag (a real lifesaver) the next day on the way out. Anyway, a real eye-opener experience. Not saying I was in mortal danger, but I can say that even in such mild conditions you can get to a place of advanced misery. LOL Also was a bit of a noob and probably did not handle it optimally. For instance, didn't wear the garbage bag right away, and so on.

Anyway, I never had another story like that, because that taught me (like some others here) to always bring one in the future. The combo of cool but mild temperatures + wet + windy + plus a lot of time with the accumulated heat loss over say 10 hours was quite a bit more devastating than I had imagined in the abstract. My observation is that most/all people who advocate it will be alright without rain gear have not actually experienced this. My advice is if you want to leave the jacket behind then go out reach that point first (under controlled conditions), so you will know what you are actually risking and not what you just think you are risking. Then you can make an educated choice.

But of course you want the kind of rain jacket for those conditions you expect NOT to wear. You can get it down to about 6 oz for almost no money (Driducks) or fancy (Marmot Essence). You can make a poncho out groundsheet material and duct tape for less weight. If not any of those then the cheap plastic poncho in you emergency kit, but always bring a garbage bag! At least that is my 2 cents.

Edited by millonas on 07/23/2013 21:13:43 MDT.

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 21:14:00 MDT Print View

I always take my rain gear with me even though I hike in the Sierras and even if the forecast is for good weather. I use DriDucks which are pretty light weight. Even if it doesn't rain, it often cools down a lot in the evening and they work great as a second layer or as windgear. If it does rain or the thunder gods do their thing then I have rain gear.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 21:47:31 MDT Print View

Shoot, I take a rain jacket with me on my half-mile walk to work. There's better places to save weight. At least promise us you'll take an extra garbage bag!

Aaron Davis
(ardavis324) - F
Re: Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/23/2013 22:17:17 MDT Print View

Lots of good thoughts and experiences here. Thank you all for your input. I still plan on bringing my driducks with me. I like the idea of making polycryo groundsheet into a poncho.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/23/2013 22:46:03 MDT Print View

It can snow and rain and get below freezing in the high mountains any month of the year.

My rain jacket weighs 7 oz. I use it for rain, but also as a wind shell and for warmth. In my opinion it is one of the best values in comfort and safety per oz. that I carry.

As usual, HYOH.

Kate Magill
(lapedestrienne) - F
Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/24/2013 07:50:17 MDT Print View

I'm not into fear-mongering, but... dozens of people have died of hypothermia on Mt. Washington since folks started keeping track; I don't have stats for the rest of the Presidentials. Plenty of those deaths occurred during summer months when valley temps were most likely in the 80s. In the northeast, forecasts don't mean a thing. It can be cold and wet anytime of year. Conditions can go from sunny, humid, and mid-80s to horizontal rain and 50 degrees plus windchill in the course of an afternoon. I've had some miserable day hikes where I thought I'd be okay leaving the rain shell at home, only to be totally drenched and shivering by the end. Hopping in the car and cranking the heat? A day hiker's luxury.

For a long time, I never bothered with rain pants, but I finally succumbed last year. I was just tired of getting caught in downpours and seeing my performance decrease as my muscles got chilled. Even moving at a steady 2.5-3 mph, I find that with exposed wet skin I often can't keep myself warm. Blame it on my girl metabolism and low BMI. I don't *always* bring the pants, and have already had a couple of long, wet slogs where I regretted that decision.

As many have mentioned, a full set of Frogg Toggs costs $20 and weighs 12 oz. Montbell makes some pretty sweet rain pants that weight less than 4 oz, and there are lots of 6 oz rain shells out there. For me, those ounces are hard to justify leaving at home. As a long-time bike commuter and pedestrian (in both the Northeast and the PNW), my rain shell is basically part of my everyday carry. Why wouldn't I put it in my backpack? Just yesterday, after weeks of nearly 90-degree days, it rained all afternoon and the temp barely broke 60 degrees--in town. In this case, it's more a question of comfort, but I would have been miserable doing my errands if I hadn't had my jacket. Plus, how do you justify spending $$$ if you never use the thing? ;)

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/24/2013 10:50:18 MDT Print View

I will often leave my rain gear at home if its a summer hike and the chances of rain are low(30% or less). Summer in the southern Appalachians is typically low 80s during the day and low 60s at night. So walking while wet isnt a big deal. If it does rain, I just walk in it and then change clothes after I am set up for the night. I always take a change of clothes for summer sleeping anyway. (Sleeping in sweaty clothes isn't for me). As always, what works in my area may not work in yours.

Ryan

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/24/2013 17:04:48 MDT Print View

Leave at home if you feel confident in your ability to maintain warmth while wet (either retreating to your shelter for hours on end, no NEVER stop moving).

I've definitely experienced unpredictable weather in the mountains and been caught unawares. My worst experience was on San Francisco peaks in AZ in October. Forecast called for a dry weekend and my overnighter turned into any but. Got caught in snow, sleet, hail, and rain for several hours on end (highly unusual even in October out here). Not the usual brief afternoon thunderstorm. I only had a bivy bag since the forecast was so benign, a softshell (early days of my UL hiking) and no rain gear. Well I learned on that trip that I can keep moving at a steady pace with a sorely inflamed knee for hours on end all in an effort to stave off hypothermia.

I promptly bought the best and lightest goretex winter jacket I could afford as soon as I warmed up enough to type properly (about 24 hours). I've calmed down these days and carry a 6oz summer oriented jacket if anything. Still those 1% statistics fail me routinely. I don't get out often enough but living in a state that has 330 days of sunshine, virtually every single one of my solo trips receives enough rain to worry about.

Look at the ACTUAL risks. In most cases "death" via hypothermia is not a real risk (especially in the summer and with a flexible mindset). The true risks are more like "will I have to bail on me trip?" or "will I be more uncomfortable than I desire?" or as others said "Will my trip run longer than I have time allotted?"

I hate bailing on trips, I have limited flexibility, and 6oz isn't enough to break my back, so I tend to carry a rain jacket more frequently than necessary. The trash compacter bag though is a perfectly valid alternative and serves as multipurpose survival gear (emergency water carrier, shelter, etc).

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/24/2013 18:20:24 MDT Print View

Look at the ACTUAL risks. In most cases "death" via hypothermia is not a real risk

it absolutely is ... shall we start quoting recent accidents, rescues and deaths from the great outdoors from hypothermia? .. i can think of a whole bunch off the top of my head

what many dont realize is that hypothermia is VERY REAL ... if twist and ankle, break a leg, take a fall,etc ... and you have to wait it out ... or you simply got lost at night

i suggest people read the nice article on BPL about close encounters with it

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/ihike_hypothermia.html

ive said it over and over again ... go out and practice you SKILLS in the rain so you dont panic ... and bring something waterproof with you whether it be a jacket, poncho, etc ...

;)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Whut Buck sed... on 07/24/2013 18:37:42 MDT Print View

A rain parka is an "essential" for protection from rain, wind, snow, sleet, and (for your down jacket) briars and sharp branches.

Leave it home at your own risk.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
rain jacket on 07/24/2013 19:05:38 MDT Print View

No.

If you want to leave it home to shave weight, you need to shave weight somewhere else until the 6 oz of a rainjacket doesnt matter.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/24/2013 19:10:28 MDT Print View

." if twist and ankle, break a leg, take a fall,etc ... and you have to wait it out ... or you simply got lost at night"

I guess a lot of people are pretty confident that will never happen to them. I do think about that possibility and don't mind a few extra ounces.

Tanner M
(Tan68)
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/25/2013 08:31:37 MDT Print View

> ...if twist and ankle, break a leg, take a fall,etc ... and you have to wait it out ... or you simply got lost at night

Many of the posts here propose planning for one thing gone wrong. 'It rains'

Your post is a reminder more than one wrong thing can happen.

Planning to walk as fast as possible and/or continuously is a little shallow. What is the plan if you couldn't move fast.

zorobabel frankenstein
(zorobabel) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/25/2013 09:17:03 MDT Print View

"what many dont realize is that hypothermia is VERY REAL ... if twist and ankle, break a leg, take a fall,etc ... and you have to wait it out ... or you simply got lost at night"

Conveniently, rain makes all things slippery and brings fog a lot of times, pretty much setting you up for falling or getting lost.
With that said, I don't always bring rainwear in the Sierras.

Rich J
(PNWhiker) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Zpacks Poncho/Groundsheet on 07/25/2013 09:52:44 MDT Print View

In the summer I use the Zpacks poncho/groundsheet with my hexamid. It's only 2.4 ounces more than the standard Zpacks groundsheet; and it is good rain gear if needed. If rain is more likely I carry a full rain suit (Marmot Super Mica and Mt. Hardware pants).

Edited by PNWhiker on 07/25/2013 09:53:25 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Essentials and UL on 07/25/2013 09:58:38 MDT Print View

I think the core issue centers on UL principles and essentials, with rain gear being just one item on the list.

A primary principle of UL hiking is to take only what you will actually use. That concept can lighten base weights quickly and nothing is cheaper, but it should not be applied blindly. The essentials list was born from experience and a long history of personal disasters in wilderness travel and should be taken seriously. There are a few items that you may never use, but I think the weight is well justified.

You can find items that fulfill the classic essentials list and still follow UL principles like multiple use and using high performance UL materials. Rain gear is one of the heaviest items on the essentials list and an immediate target for cutting weight. I never go without rain gear and include a 7oz poncho as both rain gear and emergency shelter. In the worst case scenario, I can simply put on the poncho and sit uner a tree. That will protect me from wind and rain and can be deployed even if I am injured.

IMHO, it is foolish to travel off pavement without any of the classic essentials:

Rain gear
Emergency shelter
Insulation layer
Food
Water and purification system
Fire starter
Knife
Sunglasses
Sunscreen
Insect repellent
First aid kit
Lighting
Signaling
Navigation

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
10 essentials on 07/25/2013 10:09:48 MDT Print View

The 10 essentials were not born of field experience. They were born out of arm chair paranoia, selling books, and catering to the lowest common demoninator.

I have not done a single trip in recent memory where I've had all 10.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: 10 essentials on 07/25/2013 10:13:20 MDT Print View

"The 10 essentials were not born of field experience. They were born out of arm chair paranoia, selling books, and catering to the lowest common demoninator.

I have not done a single trip in recent memory where I've had all 10."



Hear! Hear!

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: 10 essentials on 07/25/2013 11:04:21 MDT Print View

"The 10 essentials were not born of field experience. They were born out of arm chair paranoia, selling books, and catering to the lowest common demoninator. "

Hubris.

The Seattle Mountaineers are arm chair paranoids?

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: 10 essentials on 07/25/2013 11:04:59 MDT Print View

There are a few perspectives on this issue.

One perspective is that of the emt, cop, firefighter, sar dude, etc who routinely meet people who are experiencing one of the worst days of their lives. Most of these people would agree that this list is a great go-by for the general public and a wide range of skill sets.

Another perspective is that of someone who truly has the experience, knowledge, and the skill set to discern what they need and what they don't.

Yet another perspective is that of someone who has adopted an "I've been doing it this way for the past 20 years so it must be right" attitude but hasn't truly been tested. Some of these people have limited experience to 200 miles from their front door. They figure that since their advice is good for (let’s say) the Adirondacks, then it must be good for Costa Rica, Alaska, Death Valley etc.

Bring the stuff. Don't bring the stuff. You'll probably be fine. If you're wrong, well buzzards need to eat too. Just don't get a SAR person killed trying to recover you or your cadaver.

My experience from the Cascades is that in a single weekend, I can see temperatures from 40 to 90. I've also learned that if the forecast is calling for rain, I wear my rain gear; if the forecast isn't calling for rain, I carry my rain gear. It seems that some areas within the Cascades are more predictable than others but I don’t trust them. I have zero experience in the Sierras and don't pretend to.

I’ve spent enough time shivering that I’d rather carry the gear than frat-boy high five myself in the mirror (followed by kissing both biceps) because I shaved 8 oz out of my ruck.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 07/25/2013 12:08:24 MDT.

Rich J
(PNWhiker) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
A thought on 07/25/2013 11:30:36 MDT Print View

As you are reading these comments and forming your own opinion consider the 'survivorship bias' (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias). Those that had very negative experiences may not have necessarily died, but may have given up the sport and not be present on the forum to contribute their opinion. IMHO you need to be prepared for relatively rare, but very high consequence events.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Old OR bold on 07/25/2013 11:38:02 MDT Print View

I'm 70. That's old in my book. I didn't get here by being bold with Mother nature. (Bold with women other than Ma Nature, yes, but that's another story.)

I agree with Dale W. on the essentials.

It could be true that "There are old hikers and bold hikers but no old bold hikers."

Take yer essentials, esp. rain gear.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts on 07/25/2013 11:42:55 MDT Print View

I think the take home from all of these posts is that:
a. You have to evaluate your own skills, comfort levels, experience, etc.; and
b. You need to evaluate the particulars of your trip: climate, forecast, exposure, tree cover, back-up plans, duration, etc.
Based on your conclusions from these factors, you can then decide whether to bring a rain jacket or not, or any other particular piece of gear for that matter.

For me personally, yes, there are plenty of trips that I do without a rain jacket when I'm confident about the particulars of my trip. If I'm feeling unsure about myself or my trip, I bring it or something that could fulfill the same role.

I always bring at least my windshirt. On 90% of my trips, this is all I end up needing or wanting.
I probably bring actual rain protection on something like 40-50% of my trips (I do about 12-15 trips per year ranging typically from 1 night to about a week out). More often than not anymore, it's just my Zpacks Groundsheet Poncho, sometimes though, if I'm in more wintery conditions or doing a lot of bushwhacking or ridgeline traverses, I'll bring a real jacket.
I don't bother with rain pants. Wind pants or just hiking in my running shorts is sufficient for me.

Have I ever been caught by surprise by unexpected weather? You bet. But I made do with what I had and used skills/experience to stay safe and comfortable. Sometimes that's meant waiting out the worst of the weather under heavy tree cover or setting up my shelter for a bit. Sometimes it's meant having to call a trip off early and retreating, or conversely, staying out a little longer than initially planned to work around weather delays. Sometimes it's meant taking advantage of what gear I have and just continuing on, perhaps a little wetter than planned for but making do.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: raincoats and dogma on 07/25/2013 12:01:07 MDT Print View

Is it unsafe to do the 1.5 mile hike on a summer afternoon in August to Delicate Arch in Arches NP without a raincoat? Of course not.

Is it unsafe to go on a 10-day expedition to Gates of the Arctic NP in northern Alaska in August without a raincoat? Most definitely.

Anything in between requires a critical evaluation of likelihood of precip, forecasted and average temperatures, ability to pitch your shelter, distance from help if something goes wrong, et cetera; commonly known as judgement and experience. Simply stating "You should always bring a raincoat" as many have done in this thread demonstrates an unwillingness to critically evaluate those variables. It's perhaps good advice for someone who is unable to do so due to lack of experience, but as an absolute statement without qualifiers based on expected conditions it's as ridiculous as saying "You always have to bring a 4-season tent."

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: raincoats and dogma on 07/25/2013 13:04:40 MDT Print View

"Simply stating "You should always bring a raincoat" as many have done in this thread demonstrates an unwillingness to critically evaluate those variables."

I can't speak for anyone but me but I don't think what you wrote here is accurate. Several people have provided acceptable alternatives to traditional rain shells including dri ducks, garbage bags, and cuben groundsheet/poncho hybrids. It also seems that most of the people on this thread are speaking to their personal preference and from their experiences.

I've personally been hypothermic in Panama in 70* weather (soaked through, wind was blowing, and lying low on an LZ).

The only narrow-mindedness or dogma I'm observing here is any assertion that UL trumps all.

And as stated before, HYOH. I’m not asking anyone to carry my gear.

Tanner M
(Tan68)
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I carry a rain jacket in the mountains, even in summer on 07/25/2013 13:10:26 MDT Print View

I don't think it is always necessary to stay bone dry. This is another thing where the importance varies by climate, time of year, duration, and comfort.

Some people may not want rain water on them at all. Some are okay with a little rain. If whatever you have reduces the amount of new water reaching your body to a level you can tolerate, then that is not bad.

I think this might be why some people have success with wind shirts or whatever similar thing. There may be leaks and they may not stay completely dry but their body isn't constantly flushed with rain water.

This rain protection could be adequate sometimes. I see this plan different from the 'I keep moving and if I aint moving I am cold plan'. Don't think I would like Plan B. Sometimes the rain is too cold to tolerate leaks.

Tanner M
(Tan68)
Re: Re: Re: raincoats and dogma on 07/25/2013 13:12:47 MDT Print View

> I've personally been hypothermic in Panama in 70* weather (soaked through, wind was blowing, and lying low on an LZ).

Rain can be cold in the summer.
Water draws a lot of heat.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
rule on 07/25/2013 13:29:44 MDT Print View

there is one rule ill repeat again and again ...

you can usually survive being cold OR wet ...

both and you might be very dead ... add in wind and being immobile, and yr just dead, or darn close to it

conditions can change even in the summer as the story below shoes ...


A Summer Hiking Trip Turns Deadly


Even as they lay huddled, tucked together in a fetal position under a thatch of scrub brush in a raging blizzard at 11,000 feet, brothers Bob Paré and Greg Davison thought they would survive.

But in the morning, Paré, 20, realized his 16-year-old brother was dead, or close to it, and that he might not make it either.

He waited another hour for daybreak, clutching his brother's motionless body, before he could go for help.

Paré's harrowing trek down St. Mary's Glacier through arctic conditions in light clothing started as a half-day outing with his brother Saturday morning.

Native Coloradans, the young men knew conditions in the mountains can change quickly, but they expected no worse than a rain shower.

"Three days to June, we really didn't expect a blizzard," Paré said Thursday.

The two left the trailhead for St. Mary's Glacier on a loop that would lead them around the top of the mountain and then straight down the glacier, he said.

They each were wearing an undershirt, T-shirt and jeans. They brought along windbreakers and sweat shirts. Their dog Nikki, a red, brindle boxer, joined them.

About an hour into the trip, an arctic storm slammed into the mountain, battering the brothers with 60 mph winds and plunging them into whiteout conditions. Visibility dropped to about 20 feet.

"We thought it was fairly temporary," Paré said. "We were already on our way down, so we thought we would keep going down."

But they quickly became disoriented.

About 5 p.m. the brothers decided to build a makeshift shelter on the side of a curved rock wall.

Paré broke down nearby shrubs and tiny trees, piling them up to form two walls. He lay his younger brother down against the wall and partially covered him with his body to shield him from the brunt of the storm.

Then Nikki lay on top of the two brothers and Paré pulled the makeshift walls down on top of them, he said.

The two brothers lay like that in 13-degree temperatures for about 12 hours, shivering, talking and trying to stay awake.

Neither brother ever thought that death was a possibility.

"We weren't really thinking something like that was going to happen. There were no negative thoughts," Paré said. "We talked all night and there never was any sort of tone like that."

But as morning came, Paré realized his brother wasn't doing well.

"Around 5 in the morning or so he started mumbling like he was dreaming and I tried waking him up and stuff, but he wouldn't wake up," Paré said. "I realized he was getting severe hypothermia."

But it was still dark, so Paré was forced to wait another hour or so before leaving for help.

Paré checked on his brother a final time before leaving at 6:20 a.m.

"I couldn't find a pulse, his eyes were dilated and there was no response at all out of him," he said. "He was gone or damn close."

Paré tried to get Nikki to lead him to safety, but the dog ignored him and crawled back on top of Davison, refusing to leave.

Although the weather was still pretty bad, Paré thought his trip down the mountain would be easy. It wasn't.

Suffering from hypothermia and with his clothes frozen to his body, Paré stumbled down the mountain as if he were drunk.

"I was walking all over the place and the wind kept pushing me over," he said. "I would just sort of sit down for a minute and then get up and start down again."

After about a mile, Paré fell down one last time.

"I was done, that was it," he said. "I have never ever been so spent, exhausted in my life."

A rescuer, searching for the brothers with the Alpine Rescue Team, heard Paré's shouts for help and found him.

The team rushed Paré back to the parking lot, two miles away, where medical personnel had to cut the frozen jeans from his legs and shoes from his feet to get to his severely frostbitten toes.

It took rescuers using directions from Paré another two hours to find Davison's body.

They were able to find it only because Nikki, who was wearing a bright yellow slicker, was still lying on top of him.

Davison was pronounced dead at the base of the mountain.

Paré suffered frostbite on his arms, legs and feet. He says all but his feet have already healed. He doesn't think he will lose any toes.

Nikki, the dog, survived the ordeal with no injuries.

Edited by bearbreeder on 07/25/2013 13:34:48 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
From my local SAR on 07/25/2013 13:53:43 MDT Print View

btw ... i think they are up to their 7th rescue of people from this urban trail in the past few months, < 1000m elevation, a short walk away from the suburbs

this was in JUNE ...



Hypothermia

Three hikers go for a short hike on a sunny day in July. There’s no snow in sight, and they’re only planning on a few hours out in the daylight. Temperature forecasts tell them that it will reach a high of 30°C, so they wear shorts, and bring lots of water. Why should they worry about being cold?

Several events can happen that would make the above scenario involve hypothermia.

What the weather forecast did not tell them is this: the high predicted was for sea level in Vancouver, and they were hiking on the north side of a mountain. The north side is shady, and the higher you go up the mountain, the lower the temperature. More exposure to wind also cools the air. The cooler air causes warm air from lower altitudes to condense, and fog or drizzle can happen.

The hike goes on longer than planned, and it gets dark. A since the hikers have not brought a flashlight they continue in the dark, and one of them sprains her ankle. As the evening gets cooler it begins to drizzle. Dressed in t-shirts and shorts, and moving slowly, all three quickly begin to shiver. In the dark, and feeling desperate, they call for help.

Two hours later when SAR members arrive on scene, they find three slightly hypothermic subjects. What started as a simple sprained ankle is now three people, none of whom can walk out on their own. SAR members spend the evening rewarming the patients, and walk them out the next day.

Things to remember about Hypothermia:

Rain, wind, elevation and terrain have a significant effect on the temperature. Dress for the current conditions but remember the forecast is for the urban areas, and the wilderness can be very different, even very close to town.
The amount of food or water you’ve eaten affects your body’s ability to maintain its temperature.
A person can become hypothermic in very mild temperatures, even just 1 or 2 degrees below room temperature. Wind and rain magnify the effects of colder air.


http://www.coquitlam-sar.bc.ca/wilderness-education/hypothermia/

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: From my local SAR on 07/25/2013 14:09:24 MDT Print View

Eric, we are talking about backpacking, when we have a shelter and warm sleeping bag with us, not day hiking. There is a huge difference.

Edited by justin_baker on 07/25/2013 14:09:55 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: From my local SAR on 07/25/2013 14:21:32 MDT Print View

sometimes a tent cannot be pitched due to location.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Re: Re: From my local SAR on 07/25/2013 14:26:57 MDT Print View

theres plenty of people "day hiking" here ... as some posters have indicated going out for a stroll

regardless in the PNW, being soaked and cold in the shoulder seasons without a rain gear isnt the brightest idea ... even if you do have a shelter ... it can rain for days on end here, without the right gear AND skills, the moisture will transfer to your nice down bag ... and you do have to hike out, unless you call SAR

;)

Brian Johns
(bcutlerj) - M

Locale: NorCal
Re: Re: Re: From my local SAR on 07/25/2013 14:49:38 MDT Print View

This thread is like the energizer bunny ... going and going. Anyway, I know you can't always pitch a tent, but you can always wrap one around you and your gear to stay dry, if you can't shelter in place or want to keep moving. As for wet, cold and hypothermia, water draws heat out of your body 26 times faster than air and, from my understanding and fortunately not experience, hypothermia, as Ian B. has noted, occurs in a wide range of temps. All that said, if I've got thermals to sleep in, I might just take a good set of wind pants and top into the Sierra for short summer trips. More than two nights, you bet I'll bring rain gear, but if some freak storm gets me, between an R1 top and bottom, DWR nylon outer shell, and my tarp or ground sheet, I'm going to be fine - and probably plenty warm. Emergency blanket, cheapo poncho - they're just another way of protecting yourself from the rain. A waterproof shell isn't always necessary, but it's never a bad idea either.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Eric on 07/25/2013 14:50:02 MDT Print View

Going without a raincoat and proper insulation in the shoulder season in a rainy climate would be an example of poor judgement. (And to be wearing a T-shirt and jeans, as quoted in your story above.) But not everywhere is shoulder season in the PNW. I don't think being prepared for the expected conditions means you have to live in constant fear of dying of hypothermia, either.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: From my local SAR on 07/25/2013 15:10:27 MDT Print View

Yes indeed, threads on the "10-essentials, yes or no?", or "do I really need a rain jacket? Knife? Map?" and so on this site are like my favorite invention, the Cat Distractor. This invention entertains your cat while you are away by automatically launching ping pong balls into the house at a certain intervals of time. As every one knows, a cat will frantically bat the ping pong ball around the house for a few minutes, and then get board. However, if you then pick up that same ping pong ball at throw it again a few minutes later the cat will go to it for several more minutes. The cat gets a lot of exercise, but never fully resolves its ping pong ball "issue" definitively.

Same thing. Except with multiple cats!

Edited by millonas on 07/25/2013 15:12:57 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Re: Re: Eric on 07/25/2013 15:16:16 MDT Print View

But not everywhere is shoulder season in the PNW

i forgot youre all in sunny california =P

use your own judgement and SKILLS ... there are many forms of raingear, pick one which works

hypothermia or exposure is a very serious issue anywhere theres rain and low overnight temps ... the only reason why you dont see more death these days is because of communications and the rapidity of SAR rescues ...

be AWARE of it ... and dont discount it ... it can happen to ANYONE in the wrong circumstances

what a lot of people forget is that even mild hypothermia leads to loss of dexterity and panic ...

from our very own BPL ...

Ten years ago, I was asked by some Boy Scout leaders to join them on a backpacking trip into the High Uinta Wilderness area of Utah. They were taking a group of fourteen- to sixteen-year-old boys into the Chain Lakes basin, a trip of nine miles with 3,400 feet in elevation gain. We left the trailhead on a warm sunny day with most of us wearing shorts. As it is apt to do in the Uintas, by mile five the weather turned cold and stormy. Many of us thought the rain would soon pass and decided not to put on our rain gear. However, when the rain turned to hail, everyone donned rain gear - with the exception of one headstrong young man who thought he was tough enough to hike through the rain and hail with just a t-shirt and shorts. He would not be coerced into covering up until he was already soaked and shivering.

The trail, covered with hail and runoff from the rain, became indistinguishable from the rest of the terrain, and we found ourselves searching for the right route as the cold sapped our energy.

Alarmed by the deteriorating physical and mental condition of the group, the leaders decided to stop and make camp near a small lake a mile and a half from our destination. As we set up our tents, filtered water, and started the stoves, I observed with fascination the effect the cold had on even the stronger members of our group.

One leader was confused about how to set up his tent; he could not figure out which poles went where. He asked for help from another leader who said he needed to focus on getting his own tent up and getting inside. The wet, headstrong teenager was unable to perform any meaningful tasks - in essence, he was unable to help himself. Another leader set up the young man's tent, got the him into dry clothes, put him inside his down bag, and began making him warm food and drinks. After a number of hours, the "tough guy" improved and warmed up, as had the rest of our group.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hypothermia.html



how about the PNW in the middle of summer ... again from our very own BPL

I hiked out in the downpour. My wind pants were soaked within ten minutes. They clung to my damp skin like a sandwich wrapper to a soggy BLT. I had to wipe my sunglasses every three minutes just to see where I was going. It was ludicrous I even had them on in the first place, but I had surmised they would deflect some of the blowing rain. My liner gloves absorbed water like a dish sponge. I stuck my soaking wet hands into the soaking wet pockets of my soaking wet pants and started to shiver a bit as I hiked on. I had only been on the trail for thirty minutes. This was not good.

I started to shiver and decided that I needed more clothes on my upper body ASAP. I could have gone for an Eskimo’s parka with hood and waterproof shell but my thinly insulated jacket would have to work. I dug down in my pack as water poured off the bill of my hat. I grabbed the insulated jacket and put it on as swiftly as possible and slapped my rain jacket back on over it without delay. I reached down to zip up my insulated jacket and simply couldn’t. My fingers wouldn’t work. My brain was telling my hands to zip my jacket, but they simply could not grasp the zipper. I had lost all dexterity in my fingers. I couldn’t zip my jacket and I was in a pouring cold rain. My hiking partners were up ahead so they had no clue as to what was happening to me. I was utterly alone in a torrential downpour and I couldn’t zip my stupid jacket. A bolt of panic ran up from my stomach to my throat and for about 10 long seconds I thought about dying.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/ihike_hypothermia.html

Edited by bearbreeder on 07/25/2013 15:17:29 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Eric on 07/25/2013 16:36:18 MDT Print View

The scenarios I worry about are like these. It is a bit ingenuous to say "oh, if it really gets bad I will just get in my shelter". Usually we have some place we want to go, or maybe we are with people. Tons of reasons to tough it out just a bit further not using or not having the proper gear for a situation. Generally the weather may not be super threatening. It can take a very long time to get to the edge of hypothermia, but you can go over the edge rather quickly into diminished functionality. Usually might not matter, but depending on the situation a fairly simple situation become life threatening.

The story right at the beginning here: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/DryGear/index.html
has always struck me as a good example of such a case. The guy in question would no doubt have died if he hadn't been with people.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
be prepared on 07/25/2013 16:45:31 MDT Print View

A good reason to practice your fire skills in wet weather.
I have casually prevented a night of borderline hypothermia by having the skills to make a fire and maintain in wet weather.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: be prepared on 07/25/2013 16:51:00 MDT Print View

Sure, and the more experience you have, depending on the situation, you are more likely to do the right proactive thing far before you get into trouble, regardless of the gear situation. Only trouble is that the experience comes mainly from doing it kinda wrong a few times.

Steven Davis
(StevenDavisPhoto) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
poncho on 07/25/2013 23:11:39 MDT Print View

take a poncho. leave the rain jacket at home.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 10 essentials on 07/26/2013 08:40:30 MDT Print View

"The 10 essentials were not born of field experience. They were born out of arm chair paranoia, selling books, and catering to the lowest common denominator."

That's why every outdoor organization and SAR unit recommends something like a 10 essentials list. These things come from a long history of people heading into the back country unprepared and getting themselves in serious trouble or just plain dead.

The idea that an "experienced" hiker doesn't need these things is hubris indeed. An experienced hiker knows better. The problem is that you get into a situation, don't show up or call for help and the resources are taken that could go for someone who has a real medical emergency or accident, not to mention the costs and risks to the SAR folk. All in the name of saving a few ounces? Shame on you.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: 10 essentials on 07/26/2013 09:39:00 MDT Print View

Also, as Dale has pointed out in many times, it is as much the ideas behind the list as the items themselves. Just bringing them does not insure anything. Hopefully if people see such list many of them will reason out the special condition where the items could make a material contributions (if not a mortal one) to their safety.

Even though a lot of us are experienced, I think in addition to backpacking newbs some people here, because of the sometime emphasis on weight as the ultimate metric of utility, could use the review as a chance to think more clearly about how they would deal with the rare but potentially life-threatening events.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: 10 essentials on 07/26/2013 09:41:59 MDT Print View

This recurrent debate over hiking essentials is exactly why I felt like writing about it back in 2007. It seemed everybodies numbered essentials list was different and listed 10 items or more. I decided it was better for me to list groups of items that needed to be covered in order to be safe. No two essentials lists may be the same based on experience, length of trip, location, etc.

http://texas.sierraclub.org/dallas/page.asp?10essentialgroups

Of course the original list was based on field experience. The original 10 essentials was probably geared for mountaineering in groups, and that may be why it did not include a whistle (or maybe the types of whistles available in the 1930's were not good for use in the cold), an item some would think today is essential for any outing. I think even their "systems" approach does not include a whistle. Other items in that original list could be used for signaling such (fire or a flashlight).

For what it's worth, I have hardly ever taken all of the orginal list of 10 essentials, leaving out sunglasses on most 3 season trips. I use a brimmed hat that keeps the sun out of my eyes and realize the need for sunglasses when on water or snow for extended periods.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Essentials" on 07/26/2013 11:16:19 MDT Print View

"The 10 essentials were not born of field experience. They were born out of arm chair paranoia, selling books, and catering to the lowest common denominator."
-
I could not disagree more. I carry the essentials with me on every hike. My survival kit fits in one ziploc sandwich bag, my med kit in another. They take virtually no room in my pack, and I could even drop them into the cargo pockets in my pants. I've had hypothermia. I've had a bad sprain 3 hours from the trailhead (which incidentally was also only 3 miles- a bad sprain really slows you down). I've had a companion break their leg in the back country, I've seen people who blew out both knees on a descent and were still 10 miles from the trailhead. Even if I don't need my kit, someone else might. And even if no one needs the kit, the weight is so negligible that I can't imagine how stupid I would feel to need something in those kits and to have left them at home to save weight.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
eVent jacket on 07/26/2013 11:23:39 MDT Print View

I carry eVent or Gore-Tex jacket on every trip - versitile.

Keeps me warm down to 40 F or even 30 F. I almost never go on a trip where it won't get down into 40s. Also good if windy. Here in PNW even in summer.

Occasionally I'll go on a trip where 0% chance of rain, but I can think of one such trip where it rained so good I had jacket.

Tanner M
(Tan68)
Re: "Essentials" on 07/26/2013 11:28:46 MDT Print View

Although everyone thought Anthony Hopkins was a bit eccentric in The Edge, he was prepared. The others that had chuckled were left feeling foolish.

Orr practiced his skills in Catch-22. They all thought he was a bit nuts. His practice paid off.

Sounds like you have a trim kit and have put thought into it.

In general and not to you, no one should ever be made to feel self conscious for taking things they believe will help them. There are ways to provide additional information or help them develop experience without making them feel foolish.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
10 essentials and other dogma on 07/26/2013 11:41:31 MDT Print View

In mountains I almost always have some sort of rain protection. In deserts I usually have rain gear.

I think the emphasis needs to be on injury prevention, as most injuries I read about are sprains and injuries from slips and falls. So, IMO the smart hiker is:

- Not overweight.
- In good physical condition for the trip.
- Analyzes routes and aligns them with their skill/equipment

I never bring all of the "10 essentials." I bring what is appropriate for the trip. There are a few things I bring on every trip in my first aid kit. Most trips I bring a compass, but not always a map.

Solo hiking is the safest, because you will tend to be more focused on what you are doing and not chit-chatting with others.

Mountaineering and rock climbing have a different set of requirements.

Further thoughts on the subject and probably highly controversial for this thread.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: 10 essentials and other dogma on 07/26/2013 11:58:31 MDT Print View

As a higher BMI hiker, there are pros and cons.

Pros: If my party were to get stuck in Donners Pass in November, I'd probably survive longer than most.

Cons: I'd probably look like a bigger meal to my cannibal companions than some of you scrawny athletic types

Pros: I can throw someone over my shoulder and carry them a short distance to an LZ

Cons: Very few people can throw me over their shoulder and carry me to an LZ

Pros: I'm more likely to intimidate a mountain lion

Cons: I'm more likely to receive unwanted attention from amorous bears

Edited by IDBLOOM on 07/26/2013 11:59:03 MDT.

Tanner M
(Tan68)
Re: Re: 10 essentials and other dogma on 07/26/2013 12:05:25 MDT Print View

Fozzie, Papa, or Huggy... ?!

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: Essentials on 07/26/2013 15:29:32 MDT Print View

I always carry the essentials. These items do not have to be heavy, but they are essential. Do I use them on every trip? No, but I also have not used my fire extinguisher in a very long time either. There are so many lightweight options available, that it is stupid to not be prepared.

Good Luck reinforces bad habits.

The high Sierra is my stomping ground. It is mostly a very forgiving place, but it also kills. As Search and Rescue, we routinely meet those who have stacked the deck against themselves.

I encourage everyone I know to critically examine the weight of all there gear. A lighter pack is more enjoyable and will prevent some injuries. However, if you find yourself tempted to leave essential safety items behind, you have lost sight of the purpose. The summit is optional, returning home is mandatory!

"Solo hiking is the safest" is a myth. Ask a SAR member.

wiiawiwb wiiawiwb
(wiiawiwb) - F
Dpends on where you'e hiking on 07/26/2013 20:51:18 MDT Print View

Where I hike, storms seem to come from no where and then get trapped in the mountains. My area has a lot of rain.

I would likely never go without my goretex jacket. Having said that, if you live in a drier environment with predictable weather patterns, I might carry just a trash bag.