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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Stay Comfortable in Any Weather: Rain

In the wettest conditions, learn to create and maintain a personal bubble of dry space.

by: Molly Loomis

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Pick Your Conditions

On the Trail | In Camp | Key Gear


Organize gear. Segregate snacks, shell, map, camera, filter–anything you'll need while hiking. Use your pockets, pack compartments, or lash on a waterproof stuffsack for this stuff; never expose other gear to rain.

Stay cool. Even the best waterproof/breathable shells can cause overheating if you're working hard, making you wet from sweat on the inside. Moderate your pace, keep the hood off, and even wear the jacket like a vest: Stick your arms through the pit zips and tuck the sleeves into pockets. Wear just a baselayer in mild temps and a light drizzle; your body heat will keep you comfortable.

Avoid raising your arms. In a downpour, water will enter at your cuffs and seep up your sleeves. Use trekking poles? Shorten the length to minimize wrist exposure. Rest when the rain stops. Forget your schedule; in extended bad weather, take advantage of dry spells to eat.

Wear wet stuff. If your inner layers get soaked, don't risk getting dry clothes wet. Hiking will keep you warm.

Tap body heat. Dry wet socks and gloves while you hike. Stow them between your layers, not balled up in a pocket.

Wait it out. If the shower is likely to be temporary–like a passing mountain storm–30 minutes of patience can prevent a day of soggy clothes. Hunker down under a rock overhang or trees.

Beware of wet brush. Even after the storm, wet vegetation can soak you. Keep your raingear on while bushwhacking or if the trail is overgrown.

Make the last hour count. When you have about 30 to 60 minutes of hiking left for the day, assess your comfort and the conditons. Chilled? Increase your pace so you warm up before stopping (otherwise you'll get cold fast in camp). Overheated? Slow down, so you start drying on the trail and don't reach camp with sweaty (read: cold) inner layers.

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Reader Rating: -


Feb 12, 2010

umbrellas are fabulous! used a trekking -specific (Go-Lite) but added a top loop so that I could hang it while getting lunch out of my backpack during a downpour. Vastly superior in moderate and warm climates, but also used mine even in a Sierra snowstorm-allowed me to hike with a vastly more breathable water resistant shell. a big one catches too much wind, a telescopic shaft will break, as do jointed rib struts...simpler is stronger and lighter.

Nov 14, 2009

Drying things in your sleeping bag (over night), when you are in it, will make you cold. Yes, your things will dry, but you will not be comfortable at all. I speak from personal experience.

Oct 25, 2009

I find that using an umbrella is more comfortable than using a poncho when it's raining.

bob alou
Oct 22, 2009

A hat,gloves,and a bandana around the neck can make a wet day a great deal more bearable.

Dave Y
Oct 22, 2009

Since my wife and I seem to draw rain whenever we go camping, we've found that disassembling the tent and stuffing it in its bag while the rainfly is still up (think footprint shelter), the main tent body stays drier and you won't have to stuff the tent nearly as quickly. It tends to be a cramped affair, but nothing beats a warm, dry sleep:) Once the main tent is safely stowed, take apart the fly according to the authors recommendations. Just our personal experience ;)


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