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Thread: Managing rain

  1. #1
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    Default Managing rain

    I have lots of experience with car camping and am great at managing wet conditions in that context.
    I have a few specific worries as I just did my first 2 day practice in the rain.
    I got pretty wet while hiking with a poncho. Not driving rain but heavy for 4 or 5 hours of hiking. I was able to get my tarp up and cook under it before getting my tent up and climbing in to get myself into dry clothes. I didnít go out again to pee and thankfully was ok. And it isnít raining this morning so I feel pretty comfortable packing up and continuing in damp hiking clothes that will dry as I walk. I can handle wet as long as Iím moving to stay warm.
    Here are some things I feel uncertain about:

    Number 1 or 2 in the rain. Currently the system is poncho over backpack so backpack stays dry but I canít get my pants down with my backpack on. I donít want to leave it out in the rain while I go and then have to put a wet bag on if Iím still dry.

    Taking breaks in the rain. Iím still green enough that I really need to sit down every couple miles to keep my body ok.

    Getting up in the morning rain if all my gear is soaked. I stand by keeping a set of dry clothes for sleep. How do I use the bathroom (#2 is usually first thing) and cook my food without getting chilled from my wet clothes? If I wait to put wet gear on how do I keep dry clothes dry when I use the bathroom?

    My poncho is wet on both sides and was from the start so it may be that I need to reevaluate my rain gear, but my impression is that thatís typical for just about any rain gear. My poncho is fully waterproof but the rain was able to get through neck and arm holes.

    Thanks for any ideas!

  2. #2

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    I’d probably separate the keeping the pack dry and keeping you dry functions.

    Keeping you “dry” is mostly about avoiding hypothermia. The unavoidable ventilation of the poncho kind of precludes that. I use a non-breathable, but big pit zip jacket from Lightheart. Does the trick for me. Also use some rain pants from Ultimate Direction that are supposed to breathe. I only use them when it is cool enough that the breathing function isn’t relevant, at least on the lower half.

    Keeping the pack dry is mostly about keeping a non-Dynemma fabric from getting soaked and heavy. To keep contents dry, use the trash compactor bag method on the inside method—whatever your bag is made of. And only store stuff in pockets that it’s okay to get wet.

    For morning bathroom, if you are somewhere with a privy, throw rain gear on over sleep clothes for the dash. If not, and you have rain pants, do the same, and maybe they get a little damp, but not worryingly so. If you skip rain pants, embrace the suck.

  3. #3

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    For a non-Dynemma pack, if you want to keep it dry, accept the known weight of the pack cover to be carried whether needed or not, vs the extra water weight of the wet pack when it rains.

  4. #4

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    If you are camped somewhere without a privy in heavy rain you have the option of doing your business under the shelter of your tarp and then transporting it for a proper burial. Some logistics to manage and of course not very social so best kept for when camping alone, but you don't have to go out there in the rain

    As for breaks on rainy days, you have to manage your body temp. Shorter more frequent breaks rather than stopping for any length of time so you don't get cold. Once you get cold you are asking for trouble if you are wet.

    I hike in wet, set up camp fast, get naked, get dry, get dressed and get warm before I cool off from the hike. I stay dry until the last minute the next morning, then make squeaking noises as I put the wet stuff on. Great motivator to get on trail and get going.
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    First thing is a pee bottle for the tent. I'll usually do number 2 in wet clothes then get dry again if it came to that but usually it's in the morning before I head out in my wet clothes. Breaks are the toughest when it's raining all day, usually that's a shorter day for me with less breaks throughout. Any chance I have to sit out of the rain for a minute I take but can't let yourself cool off too much in wet clothes.
    NoDoz
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  6. #6
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    If you can handle the stink, some people put their wet clothes in a bag and sleep with them - then you can put on wet, but warm, clothes in the morning.

    I use a pack liner (Sea to Summit dry bag, but a trash compactor bag works just as well),and a pack cover (homemade from a trash compactor bag), and an umbrella. If it's cool enough, I'll wear a fleece. I rarely have to put on a rain jacket.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    If you can handle the stink, some people put their wet clothes in a bag and sleep with them - then you can put on wet, but warm, clothes in the morning.

    I use a pack liner (Sea to Summit dry bag, but a trash compactor bag works just as well),and a pack cover (homemade from a trash compactor bag), and an umbrella. If it's cool enough, I'll wear a fleece. I rarely have to put on a rain jacket.
    Doesnít that cause problems with leaving you with wet sleeping gear?
    Iím looking into umbrella. I use a trash compactor bag in my pack but not a cover.
    I donít mind the stink but donít feel like sleeping with wet clothes will keep me at a comfortable temp. I get cold while I sleep.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spring.Bear View Post
    . . . Getting up in the morning rain if all my gear is soaked. I stand by keeping a set of dry clothes for sleep. How do I use the bathroom (#2 is usually first thing) and cook my food without getting chilled from my wet clothes? If I wait to put wet gear on how do I keep dry clothes dry when I use the bathroom? . . .
    What I've done depends on what's happening on this new second rainy day. If I'm going into town then I'd stay in my "dry" clothes because it no longer matters to me if they also get wet. Probably depends a little on the weather forecast too and how long the rain is supposed to last. But if I'm putting back on wet clothes and it's raining then I'll get to walking right away and warm myself up before stopping for business or breakfast.

    This thread reminds me of a thru-hiker I met in NH on a very rainy summer morning. My brother-in-law and I were in the middle of a 5 day/4 night backpacking trip and one morning it was raining so we quickly packed up our tents and rushed to get on our rain gear and started moving right away and we very shortly thereafter ran into this thru-hiker who was calmly standing just outside of his tent without a rain jacket or poncho on and flossing his teeth as we chatted with him. He was so zen as the rain was just pouring down on him. We don't remember his trail name but his demeanor made him a legend to me and my brother-in-law. I try to recall his calm attitude whenever it rains on me. (of course while also taking hypothermia risk mitigation into account).

    Hope this thread helps you find some strategies to try out while backpacking in the rain!
    LT End-to-Ender 2017; NH 48/48 2015-2021; 17 of 159usForests.com
    "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." - John Muir

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spring.Bear View Post
    Doesn’t that cause problems with leaving you with wet sleeping gear?
    I’m looking into umbrella. I use a trash compactor bag in my pack but not a cover.
    I don’t mind the stink but don’t feel like sleeping with wet clothes will keep me at a comfortable temp. I get cold while I sleep.
    I'll let Deadeye answer but I would wring out the wet clothes and then I put them between my sleeping bag and sleeping pad when I go to sleep and I find that's a good middle ground in drying them out a little and keeping them slightly warm and since I try to avoid having my damp dirty clothes actually inside my sleeping bag. Sometimes though if I wake up a 1/2 hour or so before its time to get up I'll find they are dry enough now to move into my sleeping bag with me and let them warm up further making them more pleasant to put on when it's time to get up. Again all dependent on the temperature and weather conditions. Hope this helps!
    LT End-to-Ender 2017; NH 48/48 2015-2021; 17 of 159usForests.com
    "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." - John Muir

  10. #10
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    If you use the "wet clothes in a bag" method - it has to be a waterproof bag, otherwise you will indeed get your sleeping gear wet.

    I personally don't use that method, but I know people that do. I just hang my clothes up to dry as much as possible, whether in a tent or shelter. I find that with the options created by carrying an umbrella, fleece, and frogg toggs, I just don't get that wet above the waist.

  11. #11

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    FWIW - I am not sure what the OP is looking for and figured it was to see what gear people carried with them to endure rain events on a backpacking trip. If it's going to rain for a few days, you are going to get wet. There is really no good way around that, the best you can do is set up for it as best as possible. For example:

    Having tried a lot of different rain gear and strategies, I have found a decent rain jacket and pants with multiple vents work well for me. It's less about keeping the rain out than it is in keeping the layer of warm air next to the body in and reducing the risk of hypothermia, which can be the silent enemy on most any hike in wet weather.

    I use a pack cover (approximately 3-ounces) to keep pack contents reasonably dry in long rain events. You just have to be very aware of brush snags in narrow stretches of trail and to keep the pack cover up (straps down) when answering natures call to help shed water as best as possible and keep contents as dry as possible.

    I also use non-scented trash compaction bags to keep pack gear separated and as dry as possible. Sleep clothing goes in one, dry change of clothes and socks in a second, sleeping bag in a third, and I keep a few spares rolled up and tucked away in a safe spot in case they tear.

    I sometimes carry a small all purpose tarp with some guy lines to provide some cover for a cooking area (I don't like to cook in the tent vestibule) that can double as a changing area to suffer the uncomfortable cold, wet clothing that does not cooperate well to put on in a tent. I can also use the "rain fly" to hang wet gear under that can help dry it overnight. I keep my rain gear in the tent for the inevitable trip to visit nature that never seems to happen at a reasonable hour.

    Much as the OP, I too tire and like to find a place to sit for a while to rest. I use a Therm a Rest Z-Seat (2-ounces), which is perfect in all seasons to use as a seat and provide a little warmth as I rest.

    Strategies abound for dealing with rain over long periods of time, however I tend to keep things pretty basic. I try not to wear the dry change of clothing until the rain ends or camp is set up for the night. If wet weather is still around the next day I will wear the wet clothing that warms up quickly and get me moving a little faster than I otherwise would. I typically will roll up the tent as best I can to keep the inside reasonably dry and use a trash compactor bag to separate it from the rest of the pack contents or hang it off the back of the pack depending on available space.

    When the sun finally breaks through, drying out as soon as possible should be in the "immediately" list. This will take a bit of time but drying out helps keep mildew away from critical gear and will help lift optimism. I will usually try to find a fairly open place off the trail where I can get the tent, sleeping bag, and clothing spread out for the sun. This can take time depending on the sun's authority, location of the dry-out area, water volume in the materials, and any breeze that wicks moisture off fabric.

    Perhaps the most important strategy is to keep the wet weather from dissolving the enjoyment of the hike. I carry a camera with me and will look for "small views" along the way. Flowers, interesting trees, branches holding drops of water, waterfalls over rock shapes, the sun gleaming through the breakup of a frontal system, and other things one may walk past unnoticed on a sunny, breezy day.

  12. #12

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    Ive experimented with the UL umbrellas. I got caught in a thunderstorm on my last trip. I can’t say it’s 100% the answer but it kept me dry from the shoulders up. I think it did a lot for my moral to know have rain hitting me in the head and face. I still need to tweak my strapping system.

    I still got wet but mostly from rain on wet plants brushing on me.

    I also try to rig up some kind of clothesline in my tent. Preferably in the vestibule in case it’s dripping.

    Other than that i guess just embarrassing the suck is the only thing you can do. Wearing quick drying materials helps too.

    As far as potty breaks…. I can’t imagine having to poo during a heavy rain happening a lot. There should at least be a short lull in the weather long enough for you to do your business. It’s going to take creativity on your part for that.

  13. #13

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    Over time (50+ years hiking) I've developed a method of dealing with rain, based on keeping clothes dry as long as possible. As first drops appear, umbrella (Gossamer Gear) comes out (assuming no or light winds) and pack cover goes on. Often that is all you have to do, and the rain stops and you put the brolly away. But if it increases, rain suit (we use Frogg Toggs) comes out, first the pants. Often you can keep going with just brolly and pants, while upper body stays dry. If it gets worse, deploy the rain jacket, and then you're hiking in a full rain suit with an umbrella (this is to be avoided because you're going to have condensation inside the rain suit, regardless of what type).

    The umbrella solves most of your problems because it keep the rain off you. Nine times out of ten you get through it with dry clothes. If it's a day-long raging downpour (I remember days like that in Penn AT), it's a no-win situation, nothing will keep you dry, and you're going to get soaked. Best to hold up under shelter, or even sit down under the brolly through the worst of it. In 2005 I was in a windy rain/ice storm in Iceland where everybody (8 people; some with top goretex gear) got soaked. Under those rare conditions you're going to get it, and you should avoid hypothermia (keep walking) and plan where you're going to go to dry out your clothes (keep dry sleeping clothes in plastic bags). Yes, sometimes you have to strike camp, get into your dry sleeping clothes in your bag, and then put the wet clothes back on the next day... hopefully this doesn't happen very often.

    The fabulous northern English hikers have a different system where they allow themselves to just get drenched, relying on wool and other fabrics to keep warm. I haven't had success with that method..

  14. #14
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    All good advice above. Yeah, those poops in the rain, though few, have been memorable. Just call it Type 2 fun.

    Ever notice a dry spot under your tent when you strike camp, after you've set up on damp ground? I use a closed-cell foam pad (Z rest), in a Tarptent, and I see that often. I started using that body heat to dry damp clothes by laying them out under my pad, inside the tent. You must ventilate your tent, of course, to keep your sleeping bag as dry as possible. But it's a good way to be a little less uncomfortable in the morning.

    I'll bring a small items of clothing to dry out inside the bag, like hat and gloves, socks and underwear, a bandanna. If there's a chance of freezing, I'll put my shoes in a plastic bag under my knees to keep them thawed.

    I use the compactor bag, only for insulation and maps (and/or electronics, a newer concern). Everything else gets wet.

    Any brief break in the rain during the day, and everything comes out to dry. Stop and eat, rest, do chores. If there are no breaks, type 2 fun again. Load plenty of snacks into your pockets, keep your energy and hydration up.

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    I tried that method of just letting myself get soaked, in the middle of the summer on a hot and humid day, ended up having to put my dry rain gear on over all my soaking wet clothes for warmth. Big mistake.
    NoDoz
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  16. #16

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    Just to be clear, there you will not manage the rain. It will manage you.

    One of the more enjoyable days I had was hiking about 20 miles thru the remnants of Hurricane Ida in 2021 in PA. I had taken a couple zeroes when my wife visited the week before and just didn’t want or need another. Temps and wind kept me from sweating too much. Rain gear kept me from getting hypothermia. Had fun stomping thru puddles, and enjoyed the damn gnats getting knocked down.

  17. #17
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    If it's warm (> 70F), especially if I've got a bunch of uphill coming up, I'll leave my rain jacket off and get soaked. Getting rained on is more comfortable than sweating.

    I always bring a second pair of t-shirt and shorts and 3 pairs of socks. They weigh less than a pound dry and no more than 2 lbs. wet. It doesn't get me through every situation, but pretty much every trip there comes a point where I'm thankful to have a pair of clean, dry clothes waiting for me. While you're wearing the 2nd set of clothes, the first dries out a little bit or sometimes even completely. The dry socks are essential for avoiding blisters.

    And of course, keeping camp clothes and sleeping bag dry should be #1 priority.

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    Just want to add that this is good content and discussion that can help keep people involved and safe. Good stuff!

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    Definitely one of the best threads going

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Over time (50+ years hiking) I've developed a method of dealing with rain, based on keeping clothes dry as long as possible. As first drops appear, umbrella (Gossamer Gear) comes out (assuming no or light winds) and pack cover goes on. Often that is all you have to do, and the rain stops and you put the brolly away. But if it increases, rain suit (we use Frogg Toggs) comes out, first the pants. Often you can keep going with just brolly and pants, while upper body stays dry. If it gets worse, deploy the rain jacket, and then you're hiking in a full rain suit with an umbrella (this is to be avoided because you're going to have condensation inside the rain suit, regardless of what type)...
    My method is pretty much the same as RockDoc's, I just didn't have the patience to type it out! Main difference is that I use a rain kilt instead of rain pants if I'm going to try to protect lower extremities. Anything below the knee is just sacrificed to the rain. I have some very nice rain pants that I've never used.

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