Gear for rainy/moist hike

2:03 a.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi folks,

I finally got my act together this year and got permits for west coast trail. Everything I have read about it suggests it is wet, slippery, and even in August I should plan on getting rained on.  The problem is while I am experienced backpacker, almost all of my backpacking experience is in relatively dry conditions and I have very little experience in wet environments.

Any suggestion on gear, clothing, etc. would be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks.

8:14 a.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi soaringdude. I'm on a different coast but we get our fair share of rain, drizzle, fog, and 100% humidity, so I'm familiar with the weather conditions, at least.

The good news is that it'll be a warm rain, I'm guessing? Getting wet in the cold can be dangerous as well as uncomfortable, but if it never gets colder than room temperature, it's not so bad. True, on a long walk wet skin will be prone to chafing and blistering, so being drenched for days is not great. But sometimes it's okay to just embrace the wet and enjoy it.

Do you already have rain gear? Breathability and pitzips and pocket venting will help, but in steamy warm rain there's really no escaping sweatiness under rain gear. If it's warm enough, I often concentrate on keeping my feet (blister prevention) and packed gear dry, and say the hell with the rest. Passive showering.

Have you decided between waterproof and 'quick-dry' footwear? (Traction, of course, will be key.) The problem with going the quick-dry trail runner route is that in some weather the drying part can never happen. Waterproof boots only work in driving hard rain if you wear waterproof pants over the tops of them to keep water out (gaiters work to an extent, but they have tops too, and in a hard rain water will run down your body in rivers, right into your boots). With non-waterproof shoes you can make your feet more water-resistant with a heavy cream that helps prevent maceration and blistering. Plastic bags over dry socks in wet shoes if your feet are getting vulnerable. Have plenty of dry socks and let your feet recover at camp.

General tips: large garbage bags, the toughest you can find (shop hardware, not houseware), will be your new best friend. Pack liner, insurance for the sleeping bag, overnight stashing of stuff, survival liner for a drenched sleeping bag, etc. Take a bunch.

A small light umbrella is worth carrying, just to be able to walk sometimes without a face full of water.

A small tarp can be a sanity-saver if you have pre-knotted line on it and keep it handy, ready to deploy. Lunch breaks and rest stops under shelter. If your tent doesn't pitch fly-first, you can put up the tarp and pitch under it. Then it can be extra vestibule space, or a cooking shelter.

Have a small repair kit for things that might weaken in the wet and spring leaks. Tenacious Tape, seam sealer, dental floss and sewing needle, alcohol wipes. The Shamwow-type towels are the most absorbent for the weight. Bit bulky, but very light.

Oh, and pee bottles (pee tubs for women, ice cream containers work). This will save you having to decide whether to get drenched or to put on all the wet raingear when you have to pee in the middle of the night. :)

More experienced, smarter people than me hang out here, so hopefully they'll show up with what I forgot or got wrong. You've got a beautiful walk to look forward to, happy hiking!

10:23 a.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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BC can be cold even in summer surrounded by all that salt water.  I don't like Goretex raingear, but a rain suit would be the first item.  Then a tarp, extra fuel for cooking things like soup and hot beverages, a tide table, and a pack cover and bags to keep gear dry like Islandess suggested.  Maybe some gaiters.

11:17 a.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Hiking in the rain isn't about staying dry; it is about staying warm or cool.  Wear no rain gear and you'll eventually get chilled even when it isn't very cold.  While you'll stay much warmer in rain gear, you'll most likely be very sweaty.  So the choice is between cold and hot; you’ll be drenched with rain or sweat, either way.  In any case you will want full-on rain jacket and rain pants; ponchos are insufficient for your intended application.

As Islandess suggests, an umbrella is a good addition to any rain gear.  Not only will it afford getting your face out of the rain, it also affords removing rain head gear, and opening up the top of your jacket, allowing for a slightly cooler hike as heat can radiate from your head and torso more efficiently, as well as eliminating that closed-in feeling a hood often causes.   The suggestion to bring a tarp is also a good idea.  Hanging out under a tarp in the rain is much preferable to being tent bound.  With the tarp you can safely cook under it (cooking in tents is unsafe!).  The tarp set up will provide more headroom, a much better view, and save you from the claustrophobic experience of be trapped in a tent for prolonged periods.  The tarp also serves well as a structure where you can hang stuff under to dry out, though the word dry sometimes is a relative thing.

As for setting up a tent in the rain:
If you have a free standing tent you can often find natural relief from direct rain fall under dense trees, or an overhang.  I'll use such an area to assemble my tent, and then move it to its intended position.  I’ll also use such natural protection as a place to set my pack so I can retrieve/pack stuff without exposing the contents to rain fall.  You'll find the umbrella will also come in handy protecting the interior of your tent as you enter and exit.  As Islandess suggested, bring along something to mop up any water that may find its way into your tent.

As for dry boots:
My feet sweat a lot, so my foot wear gets pretty damp anyway.  My boots end up soggy in a sustained rain, no matter what I do to protect them.  Bring three pairs of socks in addition to the ones you currently wear.  This assures at least one pair is dry every morning.

Protecting pack contents:
Some folks like to use those waterproof pack covers.  The problem is they don't prevent water from infiltrating where the pack is against your back.  Anything you want to keep dry requires plastic bags or dry sacks.  In the case of stuff bag items like down jackets and sleeping bags I'll place these inside plastic bags inside dry sacks - as the Valley Girl said "to be for sure for sure!"  I would not try to stuff things in plastic bags alone, as they lack the strength to stand up to such forces.

You want to burn things?
You may need to take along the means to start wet fuel sources. This thread covers various approaches to getting a fire in trying conditions.

12:11 p.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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rain gear - jacket and pants, ideally made of something that is both waterproof and 'breathable' in that it allows moisture to escape.  gore tex, eVent, polartec neoshell are probably the most popular or newest choices.  armpit zips on jackets are nice because they can help keep you cooler.

consider hood vs. hat.  both will tend to cause you to overheat, but some people have a preference.  the outdoor research seattle sombrero is overpriced in my view, but i love that hat on rainy days. 

shoes/boots - something that either has a gore tex liner or is waterproofed on the outside.  i agree with the comments above about bringing multiple socks.  i also suggest bringing a newspaper with you, because crumpled newspaper absorbs a lot of moisture from inside your shoes, which will probably end up pretty wet inside regardless.

i favor wearing short gaiters to make sure i don't get a lot of water coming in over the tops of my boots.  rain pants alone leave a gap that can let in a lot of water if you step in a deep puddle or splash. 

just like any hike, base layers that wick moisture and dry quickly are important when you're hiking in the rain.

i roll the inside of my tent up within the rain fly.  when it's raining, i set up the poles first (if possible, depends on your tent), then put up the fly, then pitch the rest of the tent underneath the fly to help keep the inner part dry. 

12:15 p.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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When I know I am going to be camping in rainy conditions for an extended period of time I ALWAYS bring a nice lightweight tarp.  It is really nice to have a central place tarped off so you can hang out, cook and enjoy the outdoors with a roof over your head.  It beats being stuck in your tent the whole time trying to stay out of the elements.  Lightweight quality tarps can be expensive but well worth it in my opinion.  If you go the tarp route don't forget some nylon cord to go along with it.  

I personally would stay away from pack covers.  I use dry sacks inside my pack to keep my stuff dry.  Pack covers while they are on your back can be a pain as stated by whomeworry in the previous comment.  I am sure others have had better experiences with pack covers but I personally am not a fan.  You can guarantee to keep your stuff dry inside your pack with dry bags.

I also always carry a couple 30-50 gallon garbage bags in my gear.  They can come in handy on occasion and don't weigh much.   

Good luck and enjoy your trip soaringDude!

12:23 p.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Let me clarify: whenever I decide to just get wet, it's because I'm moving steadily, the temperature is 20 Celsius or above, I have a complete change of dry clothes, a tarp to get out of the rain and change into them, and a way to make a hot drink in ten minutes or less. Then and ONLY then.

Do NOT get hypothermia! Heavens no.

12:28 p.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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I personally would stay away from pack covers.  I use dry sacks inside my pack to keep my stuff dry.  Pack covers while they are on your back can be a pain as stated by whomeworry in the previous comment.p>

 

I disagree with staying away from pack covers for one simple reason.

They weigh a lot less than a soaked pack.

I personally use them with a packliner.

I am not even getting into getting caught in a freezing rain storm and my pack turning into an impenetrable fortress of frozen zippers, and fabric that was more like hard plastic..

That is a whole other batch of bad juju.

4:24 p.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Very good point Rick-Pittsburgh!  A frozen backpack would be a disaster.  Fortunately, I have never had to deal with that.  My MH pack is pretty water resistant so it typically sheds most of the moisture that falls on it rather than soaking it up.  I have never had much luck with backpack rain covers.  I know many packs now have built in rain covers.  I think Osprey integrates a raincover into most of their packs.  Those may work well.  I have no idea.  Just a thought.   

4:48 p.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Jason Ruff said:

I think Osprey integrates a raincover into most of their packs.  Those may work well.  I have no idea.  Just a thought.   

My Stratos 26 does have an included/integrated rain cover:

Stratos-Review-070.jpg

I had to purchase one for my Argon 85:

image.jpg


Feb-2012-LHHT-012.jpg

The way the Stratos is designed the issue with water going down the backpanel is minimized to an extent:

Stratos-Review-005.jpg

The wetting out thing can be an issue with the Argon being the backpanel is not "suspended" as it is on the Stratos:

Feb-2012-LHHT-014.jpg

Then again this is an apples to oranges comparison if you compare these packs and their intended purpose. 

Here is a previous convo we had here on the whole "dry bag/pack cover" subject:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/134612.html 

...and yet another where I actually posted a few pic of how the cover attaches to the Argon:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/130581.html

8:55 p.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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+1 on pack covers.  The 2-4oz for the pack cover is a hell of a lot less than the poundage you'd lug around with you if the pack gets soaked and/or freezes.

I'm not sure I agree with recommendations for goretex boots, but I don't seem to get alone with goretex.  I have some.  I use it.  I don't like it.  On a trip like that, I'd get all-leather mid-weight hiking boots.  I believe your feet will thank you the further you get into your trip.

And definitely a tarp for special occasions and emergencies.  Maybe try to rig it so it can double as your pack cover.

9:56 a.m. on April 25, 2013 (EDT)
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A tarp is very important in wet country so that you can have a fire and a place to cook out of the rain, without disappearing into your tent.  A lot times there will be frames set up already at common campsites and all you have to do is throw the tarp over it and secure the corners.

5:01 p.m. on April 25, 2013 (EDT)
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The trade offs between a wet pack and a wet rain cover is that significant.  As long as the interior contents are WP bagged, the pack is going to soak up perhaps a cup of liquid.  In any case the rain cover becomes weight in your pack - all the time, rain or shine -  and one more expense to budget.

As for frozen packs, I've been there.  If due to just rain, a good spanking will break up most of the ice and allow zippers to operate.  If you have the frozen zip problem, I suggest using a silicone lubricant on your zips.  As for packing in snow, I cover my pack at camp with a large trash bag to prevent it getting iced over with lots of snow.

Ed

6:17 p.m. on April 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Another rainy day!

 
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That's my wife hoofing it down the trail in a light rain -

Under many conditions an umbrella can do an OK job of sheltering things, making pack covers and rain gear unneeded. Who cares if yer legs get wet? OK, when you stop you can get chilled, so you have to be able to stop and set up shelter pretty efficiently. Or put on more clothes ( which you don't mind getting wet ).

But we always - Always - Take rain gear. Even if it isn't raining its great for blocking a cold wind. We're using twenty dollar Dry Duck suits which weigh a total of 10.1 ounces. It's flimsy stuff but so far so good, and it breathes well and the super light weight and low cost is very nice indeed.  They are also surprisingly warm.

 

Fleece Anorak and Dry Ducks -

SAM_1786.jpg

That goofy picture of me wasn't taken on a rainy day, it was blowing squalls of snow on that canoe trip! Dry Ducks to block the wind and wet, fleece to insulate and a hot cuppa tea! That's how I manage cold and wet. 

The Banana is Optional.

I also prefer a hat. Even with an umbrella, I always like a broad brimmed and reasonably waterproof hat to keep the rain offa my glasses. I despise ball caps in all forms. Give me a Stetson instead!

A garbage bag or similar, like a trash compactor bag, to keep yer sleeping bag bone dry no matter what is essential. Even if it doesn't look like rain that morning, use it! I may also use another to back up my coated nylon clothing stuff bag.

Having messed with both, I prefer pack liners to covers.

We've operated for many days in a row in hard rain, especially on canoe trips in Canada. You get used to it! On a canoe trip I'll bring a tarp and use it over my tent for extra protection and a dry entry -

 

Snow on the picnic table, just plain wet everywhere else! 


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It's nice to be able to pack up a dry tent in the morning. But we only do the tarp-and-tent thing on canoe trips. Backpacking, I'll have a tent - Or tarp - with a decent covered dry entry! Many tents truly fail in this point. I had a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight that was truly miserable in any kind of rainy weather. No thanks.

The tent needs a sheltered doorway to cook in, and sufficient room for you and a wet backpack - Without also soaking your sleeping bag when you pull it out! A clothesline along the top for wet socks is also a bonus!  

Now, just a big tarp is fantastic in wet weather and contrary to popular opinion is better shelter.  You pull the tarp out of the top of the pack, tie a corner to a tree, stretch it out and stake the opposite corner. Then pull out the sides and stake them, maybe add a handy stick inside for more headroom. Done!

Now get under it and while under shelter you get to preen the site, pull out your ground cloth, spread it out, unroll your sleeping pad and sit down in comfort. Beak out the stove and cook up a hot meal.  When you leave, you get to pack everything away while still under shelter - The tarp comes down last, and much of the wet can simply be shaken off it. 

Now this is very important - Whatever you figure on for shelter, figure out how you'll pack it away when it is soaked, and how you'll stuff it in yer pack without soaking everything else in there! Your tent may need a bigger stuff sack when wet and unruly, and squeezing it tightly into a just-big-enough backpack may squeeze all the water oput of the tent and into your sleeping bag.

The Ultralight standby of just stuffing the tarp loosely into a big mesh pocket on the outside of yer backpack actually works pretty good, its what the big mesh pocket on UL packs was designed for in the first place.  It also makes pulling it out during any handy break to spread it out and dry it a bit quite easy, as opposed to removing a pack rain cover, opening a backpack, pulling out a stuff sack, removing the clingingly wet tent, and reversing the miserable procedure ten minutes later when you wish to get going again!   

I'm sure your trip will be great, and it will probably only rain part of the time. But do figure out ahead of time how you'll setup camp in the rain and manage to cook dinner and keep you and your gear warm and at least reasonably dry, and how you'll make breakfast the next morning in the rain, break camp in the rain, pack all that wet gear away on your back and hike on off. In the rain.

On one fun trip I've had to do this three days running. It cleared up now and then, but rain hammered all night, every night, and for three days I cooked all meals in the rain and pitched and broke camp in the rain.  With just a simple tarp shelter this is actually pretty easy. With just a tent, it's pretty miserable. With both tent and tarp it's fine, but heavy.   

 

9:23 p.m. on April 25, 2013 (EDT)
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EtdBob said:

 as opposed to removing a pack rain cover, opening a backpack, pulling out a stuff sack, removing the clingingly wet tent, and reversing the miserable procedure ten minutes later when you wish to get going again!

I have a big question here in regards to the above...

Why in the world would someone store a wet tent in their pack(with their dry gear) when they could actually store the tent on the outside of their pack away from their other gear in an area such as where one would maybe attach a ccf pad?

(as seen in the photo below:)

image.jpg

...or even any other outside area of the pack that has compression straps, or side pockets? It makes absolutely no sense to me to stick a wet tent inside my pack when there are available options on the outside of my pack. It almost seems illogical in a sense. 

The Ultralight standby of just stuffing the tarp loosely into a big mesh pocket on the outside of yer backpack actually works pretty good, its what the big mesh pocket on UL packs was designed for in the first place.

^^This works pretty well with a tent fly/outer as well.^^ 

Ya know, something that is a quite an "irritation" to me at times is that sometimes people are quick to point out the inherent "flaws" of another item they don't regularly utilize but are not so quick to point out the cons of an item they do use and only talk about the pros so here is a big one in regards to tarps. 

Weather in the ridges can change quick and I have seen clear blue skies turn into near night with wind(tree uprooting) that will make you seek cover quick. 

Ever sit on a vista and see a storm with "sheeting rain" or been in a storm where the rain seems like it is coming down horizontally?

There is noway in Hades I would want to be in a tarp in a complete washout. 

Especially if ya have your tarp pitched in a manner where you have no side protection and even if ya do ya better hope it is in correlation with the rain that is pounding your head in. 

Then there is the rain that is so heavy that when it hits the ground it splashes up to the point of where it seems as though the storm clouds are beneath you and it is raining upwards.  

If the pin-balling water doesn't get you and your gear the misting will.

I have had this happen in a tent(read this review for clarification.) 

Mother Nature can be an unrelenting entity and every shelter has it's pros and cons but regardless of what shelter it is ALL shelters have cons whether it be a design flaw, not performing admirably, grenading on you...

...heck even price can be a con(I know all to well about that one and am getting more acquainted with that con as time goes on.) 

2:30 a.m. on April 26, 2013 (EDT)
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EtBob:

In general I like your approach.  The description of your system suggests a certain environment and your system is adapted accordingly.  I too find Stetsons excellent rain hats, and use one on rainy day hikes, but find the brim interferes with my pack when on overnighters.  The only advise I take strong exception to is the notion of cooking from a tent.  I know of too many stove fire incidents to consider that a good practice, but otherwise I like your rain management strategies.

While Rick points out some aspects of Bob’s system that could be problematic, I assume these differences have more to do with environmental situations.  I do quite a bit of camping above tree line, and like Rick, I often deal with storms accompanied by strong winds blowing horizontal rain.  An open sided tarp - no matter how large – would be insufficient to keep gear dry in these conditions unless additional sheltering means like a tent were utilized.  But then I think ETBob camps in an environment where such conditions are unlikely.  The point is a good solution to any problem will involve a system that works for the scenarios under consideration.  It helps, too, if the camper is wise enough to assess what the parameters of these scenarios are, so they don’t end up standing out in the rain.

Ed

11:59 a.m. on April 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi everyone. I live on Canada's third coast and it is rather cold and snowy at the moment with temperatures around -16C, still falling to -25C at night. I have, however, spent some time along the B.C.'s west coast and may be able to give some pointers.

You can count on rain probably every day, even in August, and when it is not raining the vegetation will still be wet and dripping. I don't care for Goretex and its kind; it just doesn't breathe enough for me and I always feel chilled with it on, especially while hiking. I prefer a poncho for periods of heavy rain. It is low tec, cheap but effective means of keeping dry while allowing plenty of ventilation; a necessity if you are anything like me. A poncho also has the advantage of allowing you to change or alter your clothing without removing your primary water protection. It can also double as a tarp.

Most times in rainy seasons I prefer to just wear a wool shirt while hiking hard for long periods. I also keep a dry spare in my pack; there is nothing finer than pulling on a dry wool shirt or sweater at the end of the day!

What ever boots you choose, it is essential that they grip well on wet rocks and trees. This is more important than having a goretex lining. Everything will be wet and slippery and falling with a heavy pack is never pleasent.

Along the shore you may encounter windy conditions but it may also be sunny and a good oportunity to dry out your gear. The temperature can be cool at night and early morning but not freezing. At any rate, be sure to check the weather before you leave.

2:54 p.m. on May 24, 2013 (EDT)
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RAIN SUIT:

REI's Kimtah eVent parka and pants - on a 20% off sale if possible.

Next choice would be an eVent suit from RAB. Nearly the same price.

11:12 a.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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leadbelly2550 said:

I roll the inside of my tent up within the rain fly.  When it's raining, i set up the poles first (if possible, depends on your tent), then put up the fly, then pitch the rest of the tent underneath the fly to help keep the inner part dry. 

This is a great trick if your fly clips to the poles, rather than being attached using sleeves. You can do the same when taking it down - just drop the body while the fly is still up and roll it up under cover of the fly. Hang the wet fly on the outside of your pack and pack the dry tent body inside. Then when you set it up again at least it won't be soaking your sleeping bag  and the other gear you need for a good night's rest. 

12:28 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Anyone that thinks their pack will resist water has not hiked in coastal BC or  Alaska before.  Since weight is the enemy, a wet pack and dry bags is inferior to the use of a pack cover.

An umbrella would be unwieldy in slippery country with stairs, handrails, and steep acents.  You need your hands free for climbing.

Bring a lot of different fire starters, extra stove fuel and a tarp.

 

 

 

12:59 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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The West Coast Trail you're talking about, is, I assume, the old shipwreck trail.  Although umbrellas are a great idea for some hikes, I would not bring one on this. Personal preference as it is often windy and brushy. As well, the trail climbs  many headlands. Obviously a tide table is imperative to avoid being caught. I also would bring a small whisk broom to sweep sand out of the tent. It can be quite cold with the wind coming off the Pacific. Goretex rain gear and a pack cover. A small tarp. It is a beautiful hike. Fog is quite common in August. You may have some sun, but be prepared for days of rain. Rain fall is over 100 inches a year. Bring water socks for wading the rivers. Be very careful when fording the rivers. The environment you will be in, is temperate rain forest. Even if it is not raining, the damp marine air will be depositing drops on the trees. One of my favorite hikes. Great history and very beautiful. As you probably know, no cotton. I often do the beach hikes out here(Lake Ozette, La Push, etc.) in lightweight long underwear and my gortex rain pants over. Make sure your rain gear is high quality. I use lighter weight rain gear as it is easier to hike in. Dry wood for a fire is not available. I prefer a brimmed rain hat, such as a Filson Tin hat, to a hood. If you have not done a West Coast beach hike, be careful walking on the logs, as many are loose. As well the headlands are steep and muddy. Be prepared to stay put for a day or two if a storm happens and the rivers swell. If evac is needed it may not happen for several days, so be careful if you are alone. Evac is by sea. BTW, the rain will not be warm, unless you consider 50-60 degrees warm. North mentioned a poncho, which has advantages, but my first beach hike, with wind, cured me of that. North also mentioned goretex as not breathable enough, which I agree with. You will be damp on the inside. I would avoid down unless you have a fool proof way of keeping it dry. North's idea of wool is good, as it will keep you warm when wet. Basically, be prepared to be wet for days at a stretch.

7:13 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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The West Coast Trail you're talking about, is, I assume, the old shipwreck trail.

Hi, Erich.

The West Coast Trail is a famous hiking trail in British Columbia that runs through Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island. While it was originally built to help rescue shipwreck survivors like many coastal trails, it was never referred to as a 'Shipwreck Trail' but rather the Dominion Lifesaving Trail. It's a 75 km long trek through a rainforest, and is one of those that many Western Canadians (and Americans) make a point of tackling. It has been mentioned before here.

The Pesuta Shipwreck Trail is  in Northern BC in Naikoon Provincial Park, and of course there's a 'Shipwreck Trail' in Ranchos Palos Verdes CA and yet another in Florida. Which shipwreck trail are you referring to?

7:51 p.m. on May 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi Peter, I was assuming the West Coast Trail. Sometimes when you learn the name of something, and later it gets some official title, you still use the name out of habit. Growing up in the sixties, I had Victoria friends who hiked some of it and who referred to it as the old shipwreck trail for the many wrecks that had occurred there. No doubt a local term and that's how I learned it, rather than by any official title, and the name stuck. They had hiked it before it became known as the West Coast Trail in 1970. My friends had a cabin at Bamfield in the sixties and seventies and I spent quite a bit of time there. The locals there also called it the old shipwreck trail. As you say there are shipwreck trails all over the world where the coast is particularly treacherous.

I first hiked the upper section of the trail from Bamfield in the sixties. It was quite overgrown in spots, but still passable. The last time I hiked in was in the late seventies. I assume that it is lot more user friendly now.

4:17 p.m. on May 29, 2013 (EDT)
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The best gear for a wet day: A positive attitude. As Islandess said, this applies when getting wet won't kill you.  Once you accept the idea of getting wet, its not the big deal that you feared beforehand. 

If you fear wetness more than anything else, getting wet will ruin your day.  Keeping a good attitude when wet will keep you making good choices that will limit the bad effects that getting drenched and cold can cause.  

7:38 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I have been absent for a while, but I wanted to thank everyone with all great suggestions.  I really appreciate all the help.  We just got back from hiking the WCT and the wet weather started with us hitting the trail!  We starting hiking in the rain and really didn't see sun until the afternoon of 7th day when we were getting off the trail!  The good news is that with advise we got here it wasn't actually too bad (though we were all very tired of being wet or at least damp for 7 days)!  We had everything from fog, to slight mist, to full on rain.

Thanks again to everyone.  Overall the best advise by far was the tarp as that provided shelter for unpacking/packing/cooking/etc. followed by accepting the fact that we will get wet and to use gear to control temperature rather than false hope of trying to stay dry...

9:04 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Good job!

That's a long time out in the rain. Weird, isn't it, how a long spell of weather just becomes normal life after a while. It has rained, it is raining, it will rain. Raining is what it does. You may have a dim recollection of some other condition, but it seems like something you read somewhere, or saw in a movie...this is your life now, the only life you know, and it rains.

:) Glad you had a successful hike, soaringdude!

11:49 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks :)

Technically speaking it only rained on us for about 3 days out of 7 but the other days we had mist and fog which still got everything wet.  It was real strange, even on days that fog/mist was real thick and you could actually see droplets of water in headlight, by midnight or so it would clear up and you could see the moon and even some stars just to give you hopes and then when we woke up, we were in the soup again or it was raining!  I think weather gods were just messing with us ;-)

We had a blast though, but our packs stunk so bad they are still sitting outside in the yard!

3:37 a.m. on September 13, 2013 (EDT)
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We shouldn't forget that a flat tarp can be pitched in many ways...not all of which are open to the weather on one or more sides. I use a 10 x 10 tarp anytime I expect a lot of wet conditions and no serious wind...as I find the added dry-space a larger tarp provides is worth the extra weight...and I'm simply not going to carry two shelters when backpacking.

I have been caught in storms above the tree line on more than one occassion with only a tarp...and pitched in a low-tetra (three-sided pyramid)with a bivy I had complete protection from wind and rain as good as any tent. I'm not saying that tarps are superior to tents...but in the worst storm I've been in (a tornado below the tree-line)...tents were blown away like kites...while tarps acted like flags and immediately tangled on nearby trees and vegetation. After waiting out the worst part of the storm under one of the 11 newly fallen trees within 100 feet of our location...we later collected the torn and mangled tarps and using them like a giant tortilla made a big human burrito...which we stayed surprisingly warm (though soaked) through the night of rain in. The tents as far as I know were never heard from again...nice tents too...expensive...gobbled right up.

If I spent most of my time camping on ridges I'd likely choose a tent over a flat tarp (flat tarps really come into their own in wet and wooded areas)...because persistent windy condition make it unlikely that I will use the tarp in more than one pitch. In such a case carrying a small single-walled tent that uses trekking poles to pitch would probably save weight...but then again I'd probably do away with the floor of the tent and just use a bivy to save even more weight...and at that point we have to ask if it is still a tent (shaped tarp)?

September 18, 2014
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