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Pearls for backpacking in the rain
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Dennis Park
(dpark) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/01/2013 14:15:06 MST Print View

I'm sure most have had to deal with inclement weather at some point in time. I was thinking it would be nice to hear some of the tricks that people have learned to just make it a little more pleasant, ie how to manage a wet rainjacket upon entering a tent. Please share your pearls!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/01/2013 14:20:37 MST Print View

have no floor on tent, then just set wet jacket down and any water will drip onto ground

no floor maybe makes it easier to run stove

have enough headroom in tent so you can sit upright, move around a little

Anthony Huhn
(anthonyjhuhn) - F - MLife

Locale: Mid West
Re: Pearls on 12/01/2013 15:48:17 MST Print View

I'm not sure how pearls would help ;)

Seriously though, I've had really good luck with the full body frogg toggs. The liner makes them pretty comfortable against the skin, they are super light, and cheap. They are at least worth checking out for ~$25.

Wear as little as possible, you will get wet eventually, but there is less to get wet that ways. I find myself backpacking without a shirt under the froggs.

Don't bother with waterproof shoes, they take forever to dry, and get wet eventually. Just make sure you have a pair of socks that will keep your feet warm enough in cold rain.

For the most part I just remind myself that getting a little wet wont kill me and keep an eye on my temperature. I make a point of jumping in the first puddle I see, it makes me feel like a little kid and is worth a laugh.


Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Couple points on 12/01/2013 15:53:37 MST Print View

1) Beware of chafing.
2) minimize the amount of clothes you get wet, wear lightest possible layers.
3) laugh at the rain, literally, it will make you feel better.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pearls on 12/01/2013 16:02:24 MST Print View

Rain and down insulation do not mix very nicely. You have to constantly keep track of your down and make sure that nothing wet is leaking toward it.


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Pearls on 12/01/2013 16:12:38 MST Print View

I use Gore-Tex boots in rain and they stay pretty dry. Wet brush and melting snow are bad. Gotta use gaiters.

They do take longer to dry, but any shoe takes a while to dry so if you can avoid that, it's best.

+1 on wearing as little as possible - just base layer and jacket. Take jacket off when you set up tent. Thin base layer will dry out in an hour.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Pearls on 12/01/2013 16:16:54 MST Print View

Walk between the rain drops and you will always stay dry... unless you fall in a lake or river...


Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - MLife

Locale: New Zealand
BPL article on 12/01/2013 16:23:44 MST Print View

I agree with Malto in minimising the clothing getting wet and preventing chafing. I normally tramp in one next-to-skin thermal layer (polyester), mid thigh length raincoat, and wear nylon lycra (bike) shorts to prevent chafing.
Take car of your feet, allow them to dry out as much as possible, see Andrew Skurka's website for tips.
Having a dry layer of thermals next to the skin to change into after being wet all day makes a huge difference in warmth, you can then layer over the top with damp fleece/synthetic if need be. Don't wear your down puffy in the rain )although water resistant down may change my viewpoint on this at some point).
A fire can be lifesaving (for morale as well as warmth).
Have a large tent/tarp to separate wet stuff from dry, have a large vestibule or use a two man tent for one person.
Live in New Zealand where a thousand public huts in the wilderness make for a pleasant and dry night's sleep in the worst weather (largely).

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/01/2013 16:38:40 MST Print View

Others have good thoughts.

It is typically said that if the rain is prolonged, you will get wet either from sweat or rain. It is best to be warm if wet.

While hiking, you:
1. Minimize number of layers that get wet
2. Always have dry clothing in pack to change into in camp if you are wet
3. Some sort of towel/bandana to dry body off in camp
4. Don't worry much about wet feet; have dry socks for camp

While hiking, your gear:

Edited by jshann on 12/01/2013 20:11:30 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pearls on 12/01/2013 16:39:41 MST Print View

Let a smile be your umbrella, and you will always have wet teeth.


Edited by --B.G.-- on 12/01/2013 16:44:41 MST.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Pearls on 12/01/2013 16:49:08 MST Print View

I'm glad I'm not the only one who jumps in a puddle to get the wet feet over with!

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Pearls on 12/01/2013 18:19:37 MST Print View

Hiking in the rain is the easy part:

If it's getting close to time to camp and there is a break in the weather it is a good time to stop and set up camp. It's MUCH better to set up camp when it's not raining. Ditto for breaking down camp.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Rain Pearls on 12/01/2013 19:24:31 MST Print View

* Wear your rain pants with a silk weight base layer, or heavier as needed.

* +1 on gaiters to keep your cuffs out of the mud

* Rig a tarp for a cooking and camp shelter, as well as your sleeping shelter

* Shelters with vestibule space simplify dealing with wet gear.

* Hammocks are great, providing large overhead coverage, hanging space for gear, and you sleep high and dry.

* Fleece and other synthetics rule

* Use rain gear with good vents or a poncho (keeps your pack dry.

* Have spare base layer and socks

* Carry a sit pad and a square of Tyvek to stand on to dress and use for a doormat.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
When entering a tent while it's raining on 12/01/2013 19:40:45 MST Print View

I push all my stuff to the back of the tent so it's nowhere near the entry. I then sit just in side the tent with my feet out under the vestibule and take off my shoes. Before I take off my rain jacket, I wipe it down with a bandana. Same with rain pants if I wore them. Then dry the area you were sitting in. Works for me in light rain.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/01/2013 19:50:26 MST Print View

Be grateful for your waterproof epidermis.

As long as you're warm, wet doesn't matter.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/01/2013 19:55:09 MST Print View

I like wearing shorts in the rain, unless it's real cold. I find saggy wet nylon pants to be less comfortable.
Carry a warm, non-puffy layer so you can put it on over wet clothing for a rest stop without worrying about the moisture. This layer should also help you dry out your base layer.
Thick wool socks keep your feet warm and prevent blisters when your feet get pruned up.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
no "one size fits all" on 12/02/2013 09:41:55 MST Print View

It's great to get various ideas from others on this, but it would be easy to make the mistake of assuming that all of the ideas will be equally valid for you personally, in the specific conditions you find yourself in. Your overall backpacking "style" and expectations factor in, as does the type of rain conditions and overall climate.

For an example of that latter, a brief but intense rain shower is different from endless days of drizzle. Of course temperature makes a difference too; sometimes it's warm enough that I might want a pack cover but no rain jacket. Sometimes (and in some places) after rain stops it can be days with no rain but the vegetation never dries out, continually re-wetting you. That happens a lot in the Pacific NW. OTOH, we don't typically get gully washer type of rain, or an almost predictable daily afternoon thundershower. Hiking in the PNW, I would never consider washing my wool socks on the trail; they might never dry. Hiking in SoCal or New Mexico, I would happily wash them along the way.

Your metabolism is a factor; I think that some people can hike at a modest pace and generate minimal perspiration; not an option for me, so some approaches to clothing/layering are different depending on that.

Your physical condition and experience can factor in, as well as the related hiking "style" of those you're hiking with. For example, if you want or need to take extensive breaks, maybe you want to carry an overhead tarp to put up for such breaks. If you're strong, then you "just keep hiking", making even the mid-day meal limited so that you don't chill out while eating it.

Footwear too. For me, it's based somewhat on the type of trip. If it's a weekend trip, I think that goretex light hiking boots are a fine option. If it's much longer than that, I agree that non-waterproof (quick drying) trail runners are best (for me anyway) --- better to accept getting wet and then having a chance to dry out again. Specific locale can be a factor there too.

So, IMO a lot of "how to deal with rain" wisdom is situational, as well as (of course) based on a variety of personal preferences.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/02/2013 10:21:53 MST Print View

I can't recommend it yet, as i've haven't tried it at all, but recently i was thinking about how to keep one's pack dry if one isn't using a full on poncho. Pack covers don't seem to work well (least not the ones i've tried), and besides even with a lot of WPB jackets and systems, the shoulder strap areas is a common place for water egress into a garment because of the extra pressure (especially for paramo type systems, probably not applicable to goretex type stuff?--don't know, don't use goretex).

So, i thought of making a super simple, and super light, silnylon cape. Nothing more than a rectangular piece of silnylon with a slit cut in towards the top to put ones head through, some loops on the side and some shock cord with cord locks to keep it stabilized. Then it could double as a mini (cook?) tarp/vestibule or the like once camped.

Plan to make one soon, and when i test it, will update if anyone shows any prior interest.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/02/2013 10:38:46 MST Print View

Justin, what cape dimensions would you go with? I guess the old ID Silcoat cape probably was not made flat to have use as a mini tarp.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: poncho variations on 12/02/2013 10:56:33 MST Print View

Check out the Integral Designs Silcoat Cape. It's about as small as you would want to get and have practical rain protection. You might as well get the hood and the coverage. It will excel as a pack cover as the shoulder straps and back panel are covered, which is where pack covers fail. Not only will a pack cover leak via the back panel, you end up with soggy straps and back pad, which aren't very pleasant once you take your rain jacket off.

A full sized poncho gives protection to your knees or more and can be used as an emergency shelter, or a cook shelter in camp. A simple belt made from a peice of light line and a toggle will tame the loose fabric and can be used as part of the shelter guy lines. See

I carry one for summer day hiking with a space blanket style bivy. That gives me fully effective rain gear and emergency shelter for less weight than most 2.5 layer rain jackets.

I think a poncho needs a bivy to be an effective primary shelter.