We've all felt it. That moment when you look toward the horizon, only to see some dark, ominous clouds heading your way. Rain!
As much as you don't want it to dampen your plans (pun intended), you've mentally prepared yourself for a soggy hike into camp, putting up a wet tent, and wishing you were back in the comfort of your own home. We can't stop the rain, but we sure have found a few ways to be better prepared for it.
Here are a few tried and true tips, tricks, and suggestions for the next time your backpacking trip becomes soggy. Enjoy!
Tips for Staying Dry on the Trail:
Always bring your rain gear! You’ve never regretted having it, so why leave it back at the car? A good GoreTex jacket and rain pants get you 90% of the way there, but don’t forget your feet and head! We recommend a broad-brimmed rain hat to keep the rain out of your face (and off the back of your neck). For your feet, waterproof boots combined with gaiters can keep your piggies dry during even the dampest of slogs. (Pro tip from St. Elias Guide Sarah: put your gaiters over your hiking pants, but under your rain pants. That way, the rain rolls off your rain pants to the OUTSIDE of your gaiters.)
Choose synthetic layers! Have you ever heard the phrase “cotton is rotten?” It’s true in wet conditions. Cotton lacks the insulating capabilities of synthetic fibers when wet, so make sure your socks and long underwear are synthetic. Your feet will thank you.
Waterproof everything in your backpack, even if you’re using a pack cover. Pack covers are great, but not 100% waterproof, so it's a good idea to put your sleeping bag, extra clothes, first aid kit, repair kit, and any other water-intolerant supplies in waterproof sacks inside my backpack. Large Ziploc bags work fine, but waterproof stuffsacks are well worth the investment. Another great option is to line the inside of your backpack with a trash bag (thick contractor grade bags work best!)
Tips for Staying Dry in Camp:
Once in camp, choose a location that drains well (you don't want to wake up in a puddle!), and set up your tent quickly. As soon as it's up, toss your rain fly over the tent to keep it protected, before staking it down and guying out all the lines. Guy out your tent well! A taught tent repels water better than one that is loose, keeping you drier throughout the night. (NAC Tip: If you have a tarp and a few friends to help, have your friends hold the tarp up while you set up your tent underneath!)
If you're camping in a rainy area bring along a lightweight, floorless cook tent or a tarp where you can cook your dinner in the dry. (NAC Tip: Hang your wet gear under the tarp to catch some of the heat off your stove and help it dry)
If you've got a few smaller items that are damp (gloves, socks, etc.), sleep with them in your sleeping bag! Your body heat will dry them out by morning. Just be careful not to "overload the dryer." (Pro trip from St. Elias Guide Ryan: if your socks are damp when you get to camp, store them in your pockets (unzipped). That's the ideal combination of heat and ventilation to dry out soggy socks!)
If you're packing up a wet tent, try to be as quick and efficient as possible! Shake off the rain fly well (find a partner and give it a few good shakes), and roll it up on itself (you can even pack it up in a trash bag) to try and contain the moisture. When you get into camp the next night, set it up to dry out! (NAC Tip: Again, use the tarp to cover the mesh inner tent when you take the rain fly off to shake it out. Keeping the mesh inner of the tent dry will always make for a much more pleasant trip.)
This article is a derivative of two articles origionally posted on St. Elias Alpine Guide Edited - Lenny Burch (Niagara Adventure Club)
(Sunday, September 20, 2020)
It's Sunday and time for Adventure Weekly Volume 16. Did you know Niagara Adventure Club has a Forum? Have an outdoor question, and looking for advice, pick a heading and leave a post! Check out others questions, maybe you can help! We also have a Gear Swap area where you can post second hand gear for sale or maybe find something you were looking for! Have a piece of gear you love, leave a review in the Gear Reviews section. Looking for an activity partner, we have you covered there too! Check out the Niagara Adventure Club Forum! I have a Halloween Hike planned for the evening of Saturday, October 31st. A Short (approx.7km) out and back, from the Screaming Tunnel, following the Bruce Trail to Mewborn Rd, and then hop over to the Warner Methodist Cemetary and back. Visiting the Screaming Tunnel, not once but twice in the dark, and a wartime cemetary will be quite scary and fun. If you think you have a better idea for a Halloween Evening hike, Click here and tell me where you want to hike! That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club