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Pearls for backpacking in the rain
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todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/02/2013 11:00:18 MST Print View

Justin said:

"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"


There is something like this on this site, from years ago. Don't have time to search right now, but it is here! The guy made it from sil. Very light, IIRC.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/04/2013 19:50:23 MST Print View

Found it:

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Simple ponchos on 12/05/2013 14:20:45 MST Print View

BPL offered a hoodless poncho with a stand-up collar to keep the drips from running down the neck. I cloned that idea to make a multipurpose under cover for my poncho and an adaptation of the Hennessy SuperShelter insulation system. It is 1.1oz silnlyon and came out to 9oz with the shock cord added to the perimeter for the under cover function. The back panel is much longer to cover my pack and still protect the back of my legs.

The collar works great with a simple drawstring and toggle. That allows some ventilation when it isn't raining hard.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Dry sleepwear on 12/06/2013 12:55:57 MST Print View

Whatever I do, I fiercely guard one set of dry baselayers that are going to be my sleepwear. Sometimes it's really tempting to change into them as soon as I get to camp but I make myself wait until it's bedtime and, again, in the morning, I force myself to change into "outside" clothes even if slightly damp. After a few wet days, I'm always really grateful for those clean dry PJ's!

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/07/2013 09:22:41 MST Print View

Attitude makes a big difference. Accept the rain and dwell on the positives, not the negatives. The most challenging weather makes some of the best stories.

Keep your sleeping bag and sleeping clothes dry, including your nice dry, clean pair of sleeping socks. I usually have my sleeping bag in a turkey roasting bag which is inside a water-resistant stuff sack, which is inside my water-resistant pack.

If a hard rain seems to be looming, camp a little early, especially if you run across a nice site. If it's pouring rain, consider delaying setting up or taking down camp. (That said, thru-hikers will likely have to set up or take down many times while it's raining.)

Beware drying boots/shoes and clothing by a fire. You will almost certainly damage or destroy some gear drying it near flames until you learn your lesson. If you must use a fire to dry gear, keep checking it for overheating and don't leave it unattended.

It's easier to keep things dry than to get things dry. As others have said, don't be tempted to wear your nice dry sleeping clothes when you start hiking on a wet morning. Suck it up for a few minutes while you put on the cold, clammy, wet stuff.

Take advantage of good sun to air out your sleeping bag and to at least partially dry wet clothes. Pin wet socks to the back of your pack (in such a way that brush won't drag them off) to dry in the sun while you're hiking.

Again, attitude is key. The wet weather will make that warm sun all the more beautiful.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 12/07/2013 09:55:31 MST Print View

"Take advantage of good sun to air out your sleeping bag and to at least partially dry wet clothes. Pin wet socks to the back of your pack (in such a way that brush won't drag them off) to dry in the sun while you're hiking."

Nice if you get the chance. When I think of the challenges of rainy hiking, that means several days of gray and drizzle as opposed to a thunderstorm spaced with sunny days. Multiple days of cool, wet, high humidity condition means dealing with both precipitation and condensation and the prospect of saturated gear with no opportunity for sun drying.

The PNW trail guide writer Harvey Manning wrote of "blue holes" to describe the fair weather, meaning that sunshine is just holes in the otherwise solid overcast. Sunshine is just Mother Nature's perverse way of teasing hikers here :)

Attitude is indeed important. Embrace the wet or stay home!

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 01/04/2014 15:02:09 MST Print View

One of the biggest problems seems to be with people who hate the rain.
Trying to avoid getting wet is a psychological handicap that can be a big problem.

Best to assume there will be rain and that you are going to get wet.

Be prepared for rain.

Don't cancel day hikes because rain is in the forecast.

Do your shopping and run errands in the rain. The stores are less crowded.

Try to accept the rain as being unavoidable.

I have a friend that would always talk about how much he hates rain. He canceled a few hikes because of the chance of rain.

I eventually did an eight day trip in the Catskills with him. The forecast was for no rain and it was dry the whole time.
I found out near the end of the hike that my partner didn't bring any rain-gear of any kind. He doesn't hike in the rain and so didn't need to carry any rain-gear:-(

Anyway, in addition to hanging gear in the sun, if you get sun, building a fire(or using extra fuel) to heat water to:

1) Make a hot drink to keep from getting chilled.

2) To fill water bottles to be placed inside you sleeping bag/quilt to help get the loft back up.

3) These same hot water bottles can be placed in your shoes and socks when you go to bed so you have dry footwear at the start of the day.

I have often gone many days without cooking food, but always carry a stove, pot and fuel for these kinds of situations.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 01/04/2014 15:43:23 MST Print View

For me the important part is to get out of the rain quickly when I stop at the end of the day.
That is why I like shelters that set up quick and easy and dry inside (fly first)
Once I have the shelter up and well before I start cooling down, I am inside getting out of the wet gear into my night stuff and then I make a hot cup of tea/coffee or soup .
Not unusual for me to be having my hot drink looking out at others still setting up their shelter.
I always have plastic "bread " bags so that I can put those over my dry night socks to walk around camp, in my wet shoes, when I have to.
As pointed out by many, the trick is to walk with as few layers as possible (definitely NOT down...) so that you don't arrive at camp with a pile of sweat soaked stuff.
My packs have a liner built in and I have my SB and night stuff inside LW stuff sacks.

"how to manage a wet rainjacket upon entering a tent"
Again tent design makes a big difference here.
Some tents have a protected floor so that you can sit on it strip off and shove the wet stuff in the vestibule having the door open, others will have the inner already wet from set up and need to have the fly done up to stop the rain coming in.
Setting up when it does not rain does not work for me...
Here is an example of what I am talking about :
It's dry inside
it's mid afternoon , it is raining and it rained till the next morning. I was warm and dry inside and so was my mate but I had a lot more room ..

Edited by Franco on 01/04/2014 15:55:36 MST.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Backpacking in the rain on 01/04/2014 19:00:35 MST Print View

Don't know how many peals there are here..but I wrote this just yesterday about backpacking in what I consider to be among the hardest of hiking: Cold and wet

Fluffy snow in Colorado? No problem.
Staying warm and comfortable in say the southern Appalachians in Feb or March? I honestly think that is among the most difficult hiking to manage in general (in terms of layers, etc)

Edited by PaulMags on 01/04/2014 19:06:40 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Backpacking in the rain on 01/04/2014 20:25:16 MST Print View

Great article Paul, the conditions you mention remind me fondly of an average mountain day back home in Ireland :-)

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
You won't melt on 01/04/2014 20:35:12 MST Print View

My high school track coach, after listening to a bunch of kids raised in Southern California complain about running in the rain:

What? Are you made of sugar? You won't melt! Get out there and run!

And we did run, and we didn't melt.

As many others said, attitude is important.

-- Rex

Rick Sutton
(rickcsutton) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re Backpacking in the rain on 01/04/2014 20:57:58 MST Print View

My first 1000+ miles of backpacking were done solely in the Sierra's (JMT and surrounding areas) in late Aug and early Sept. I only had a total of 20 min of light rain for all those miles. As I ventured to new places like the Winds, Uintas, Colorado, etc, I encountered a lot more rain and really struggled with it originally as in my never rains when I go out - smile. Not only was I a somewhat unhappy hiker, I was also unprepared for wet weather as I never had a chance to deal with it and learn.

This last fall I spent 8 straight days in the Uintas during the week that Colorado got all that rain. It rained EVERY day for the entire trip. This was the first trip where we weren't able to dry things off at any time as it was always wet. Here are the main things I learned either on this trip or things that I got to enjoy on this trip from some previous learning opportunities (rain).

1) My attitude won't keep me dry, however, it really helps me "enjoy" a wet week.

2) With good rain gear I personally never get wet so hiking in the rain all day, every day wasn't really all that bad. I almost started to enjoy it.

3) I have to pay much more attention to my feet when they are always wet as I found out under these conditions I tend to get blisters (typically I don't w/ drier feet).

4) I really like my sleeping bag and clothes in waterproof bags so i don't need a pack cover. With these items protected, I don't care if my pack get wet and i am not fighting with that "pack cover on, pack cover off" ritual.

5) It's not good to let both pairs of my hiking socks get wet as there is never a guarantee that I will get a dry and sunny day to dry either pair out.

6) Experience now tells me that throwing wet wool socks into the foot area of the sleeping bag either DOESN"T really work or I still haven't mastered that skill yet.

7) If I end up going to bed early and w/o dinner due to a heavy rain storm that doesn't stop, I will not die from starvation. rather, my same old breakfast tastes incredible the next morning.

All in all, I have found that rain is "JUST PART OF MY ADVENTURE" and the more i keep reminding myself of this and the more i try to learn how to deal with it better, the less chance it has to negatively effect my outing.

Edited by rickcsutton on 01/04/2014 21:01:05 MST.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 01/05/2014 05:10:55 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/06/2015 11:38:51 MDT.

Dale South
(dsouth) - M

Locale: Southeast
RE: Hiking in the rain on 01/08/2014 05:27:00 MST Print View

When a friend asked if I hiked in the rain, I replied "not on purpose".

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 01/08/2014 06:53:55 MST Print View

Re: "As I ventured to new places like the Winds, Uintas, Colorado, etc, I encountered a lot more rain and really struggled..."

I grew up near the Uintas and my early hikes almost always included a lot of rain.
I got to where I was always prepared for it and never let it bother me.

Another issue about rain(and snow) is that weather forecasts are usually for the lower elevations and don't take into consideration that fact that weather can be much different at higher elevations.

You can't take a weather forecast for Denver, SLC or Idaho Falls and apply it to the nearby mountains.
You can get a forecast of 0% rain and still get non-stop torrential rain in the mountains.

Too many hikers, especially day hikers, do not prepare for this fact and get themselves into trouble.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 01/08/2014 07:34:58 MST Print View

I suck at backpacking in the rain. But here's what I've got for when things go wrong:

- Rain in So Cal is not the benign type. It's cold, it's usually heavy, and where I hike (the Los Padres National Forest) the encroaching plants may destroy ill-made rain gear. The emergency poncho will last 5 minutes.

- Just keep moving. If your clothes got too wet to dry out, your down will keep you warm if you have to sleep nude.

- Zip-off legs are great for rain. You can stay cooler under your rain pants if you zip off the leg bottoms and if you keep them dry, you have something dry to wear in bed to separate your clammy, sweaty-sticky legs from each other. (I don't use long underwear.) And if you get too hot, you can roll or pull up your rain pants to your knees and just let your legs get wet.

- Set up your shelter under a tree. There's less rain there.

- If it's raining too hard to cook, eat whatever cold meal you have for dinner instead of the hot one. Heck, eat all your chocolate for dinner. There's got to be some reward for all this misery.

- In a pinch, if you forgot your rain gear, a polycro ground sheet can be worn as a shawl and your z-rest can be worn wrapped around your body for warmth. Not perfect but better than nothing.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Pearls for backpacking in the rain on 01/08/2014 08:07:59 MST Print View

Sometimes I set up tent under tree, sometimes not

After it stops raining, water can continue to drip off tree for hours.

Bas Hommes

Locale: Europe
monk pace on 01/08/2014 09:50:12 MST Print View

In prolonged rain I slow down my pace and keep walking all day with no pause.

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: Pearls for wet weather backpacking on 01/08/2014 11:15:35 MST Print View

It's also possible to get wet after a rain (or heavy morning dew) from contacting the wet vegetation along a trail. One of the easiest (and lightest) ways to reduce this is with rain chaps such as these:


Chaps allow for better ventilation (vs. rain pants) and work pretty well when combined with thin/light/fast drying clothing.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Pearls for wet weather backpacking on 01/08/2014 11:27:09 MST Print View

Also, a ground cloth makes a great rain skirt.
The combination of my Polycryo skirt and a short cape has kept me fairly well protected on many all day rainstorms.