Stay Dry in a Storm - Backpacker

How to Stay Dry

Yes, spring weather can be wet. No, you shouldn’t stay indoors. Hit the trail with tips from Matt Schonwald, a rainy-day pro at Washington’s Back Country Adventure Guides.

1) Line your pack. “I use a heavy-duty compactor bag to keep my gear dry, rather than a bunch of fancy stuffsacks,” Schonwald says. “It’s lighter and cheaper.”

2) Wear a skirt. Actually, it’s called a WeatherWrap ($142;, but let’s be honest, it’s a waterproof skirt and there’s no reason to be ashamed. “Just having a layer that protects your thighs and crotch is really useful.” (Use rain pants to stay dry in extended wet weather.)

3) Pack an extra tarp and string it up over your tent. Even the best tents get soggy in the worst weather.

4) Carry an umbrella. They’re easy to pack, improve visibility and hearing (compared to a hood), and provide a dry refuge for eating a snack or shooting photos.

5) Walk, don’t run. Simply put, the harder you run to avoid the rain, the wetter you’re likely to get.

6) If you need grip more than warmth, wear gardening gloves. “They have a rubberized palm,” Schonwald says, “so unlike leather-palmed gloves, they stay grippy when wet. I use gloves made with a quick-drying polyester knit.” Schonwald’s picks: Atlas 300 Non Thermal or, for colder conditions, 451 Gray Winter Therma Fit (check a gardening store).

7) Keep layers dry. Bring extra socks and gloves, and then dry out damp ones in your sleeping bag at night.

8) Bring a bivy sack. “If things get really wet, I use my bivy to add insulation to a lighter summer bag and prevent tent walls and other wet gear from soaking my bag.”

9) Waterproof your boots. Apply a conditioner like Nikwax Nubuck & Suede.