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Leaving the rain jacket at home... thoughts
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(ardavis324) - F

Locale: High Sierra
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.

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

(ardavis324) - F

Locale: High Sierra
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
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.


(ardavis324) - F

Locale: High Sierra
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? "

because I have never ever not taken mine.
there are best case and worst case planners,
guess which ones stay alive.

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.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
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.

Kat ....
(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 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

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
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

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 -
(FamilyGuy) - F

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

+1 to David C's commentary!