Tech Tip – Staying Dry when Backpacking, Part I

hikers on glacierWe’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 over the years of working outdoors in Alaska, we sure have found some ways to be better prepared for it.

Here are a few tips, tricks, and suggestions for the next time your Alaska 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 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 I make sure to put my 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 compactor bags work best!)

Like what you see? Check out our other Tech Tips!

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