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So, next week I will be leaving on a hiking trip, which was supposed to be in the middle of summer whilst it's at its hottest, but instead it will be raining all week. Luckily there are public use 'cottages' on the trail to spend the nights in, but as this is the first time that I will be backpacking for more than an afternoon in the rain I was wondering which different things I should take with me. Of course I get some of the obvious things, but I am especially interested in things you might not think about 'til it goes wrong or things that are relatively cheap to get beforehand and which will save me a great deal of worry later.

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What is the likely temperature range? –  WW. Aug 1 at 7:37
    
In the city where we will be starting from the range is 9 °C in the night, 11 to 13 °C during the day. Not sure how much worse it will be up higher, though the height difference isn't that much. –  David Mulder Aug 1 at 7:56
    
Out of interest which country are you / will you be in? –  Aravona Aug 1 at 8:08
    
@Aravona: Slovakia, it lies in the middle of Europe and is absolutely amazing for hiking, but it lies just a tad bit too far for most of western Europe so it doesn't get as many tourists as it deserves... which is kinda nice for us. –  David Mulder Aug 1 at 9:01
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@DavidMuller oh no nor did I but usually when someone in the US for example recommends something as you can get it cheap there it can be expensive comparatively in the UK. It's something to bear in mind with suggestions from outside your country / bloc. –  Aravona Aug 1 at 9:13

3 Answers 3

Other things to consider than just what to bring are what the rest of the weather will be beyond just raining. Will it be cold or still quite warm, what is the wind doing (especially if you're going up any big hills), etc.

Depending on how severe the rain is flash flooding may be a risk, especially when it has been very dry before. Similarly if some paths may not be useable due to high rivers/flooding. Probably check with locals before walking if it looks like this might be an issue.

As for actual equipment:

  • Raincoat that is actually waterproof. If its going to be raining all day you don't want a rubbish raincoat, especially if it is cold too. I'd recommend you just spend the money and and get a good one, but if you don't mind getting a bit damp, plastic poncho like things are not bad.

  • Waterproof trousers. Similarly getting wet is bad, waterproof trousers are good. Try and get ones with long zips that go at least up to the knees (preferably higher) This makes it much easier to put them on when it starts raining without taking your boots off.

  • Sensible walking trousers (quick dry). Most hiking type trousers are quick dry and dry in ~5mins. This is important when there is a short shower and you don't want to get your waterproofs out or you get wet anyways. Whatever you do not wear jeans hiking they are very heavy when wet and take ages to dry.

  • Dry bags/bin liners. These are to put the rest of your clothes/other kit in to keep dry while hiking. A few medium size dry bags are good as they allow you to divide your kit up easily. Black bin liners are definitely the cheaper option though. Another option or additionally you may want a bag cover (these often come with hiking rucksacks). I've found these to be less effective. Also make sure your bag cover is well attached to your rucksack. I've seen someone blow off in the wind resulting in them chasing it across a field. This was amusing for me at least.

  • Survival bag/blanket. You should probably carry one of these anyway. I've seen two main types - the silver space blanket type ones and the orange plastic bodybag type. The silver ones are significantly lighter and smaller but can degrade over time if not stored properly. The orange ones also have the advantage that you can cut a hole in the bottom and make an emergency poncho rather than just wrap it around you.

  • Survival shelter/tarp/tent. Something you can shelter in if needed. If your not camping you probably don't want a tent. A tarp is definitely the cheaper option. Make sure you know how to set it up though. Also not so good if its blowing a gale. Survival shelters (like this) are very good even if the weather is really bad and are an actual piece of emergency equipment I would recommend.

  • Washing line/string/thin rope. Basically you want something to make a washing line so you can dry any wet clothes easily. I prefer sisal/strong string as it is easy to cut and has lots of other uses.

  • Duck Tape. Generally useful. In particular, it's waterproof so it can be used for repairs when you make a hole in your waterproofs or something like that.

  • Waterproof map case/laminate maps. Its quite hard to use a wet map, nuff said. I don't entirely trust laminate maps. Apparently they work but I would use a map case anyway.

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To go along with everything @nivag said, I would recommend bringing at least one extra pair of socks, and depending on your weight preferences, a light weight pair of minimalist shoes you could use as backup hiking shoes for a day if your primary boots get saturated with water. Being wet is unpleasant. Being wet with blisters is just a bad situation altogether. Body glide or a similar product could also help cut down on chafing due to moisture. –  pheidlauf Aug 1 at 12:45
    
In addition to what pheidlauf said, getting your feet wet makes the skin soft and therefore leads to blisters. That makes it even more crucial to have dry socks and shoes. –  Ben Crowell Aug 1 at 16:52
    
We followed a lot of advice from the forum here. Some of the tips really helped out a lot, although we were quite lucky as the rain wasn't as bad as expected (although we saw quite a number of bad storms in the 'distance') –  David Mulder Aug 11 at 13:54
  • Non-cheep correct-size raincoat. Mine is a decent quality (maybe 40 euro), but is too small for me and my trousers get soaked. Also, it should cover the backpack, as backpack-only rain-protection doesn't work in heavy rain - water finds it's way.
  • Gaiters and boots, obviously.
  • One more pair of socks than you think you will need. There are cheep wool socks for the equivalent of 2 euro in street shops here in Sofia.
  • Plastic bags. In addition to being useful for thousands of things, such as protecting your wallet and phone when the backpack gets soaked for some reason, they can be used between dry socks and wet boots. I doubt your boots will hold dry for a week in the rain.
  • Space/safety/whatever-they-call-it blanket.
  • I usually carry a 20 square meters plastic sheet. It costs the equivalent of less than an euro (from the hardware store) and can be used for: shelter, raincoat, other things. Always results in a fun story, though.
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I guess you mean 20 square meters, right? 20 cubic meters is a volume where you could fit a bus into... –  Benedikt Bauer Aug 1 at 10:53
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Putting a poncho style jacket over both you and your pack is a hassle and, I think, prone to various awkward failures. It's pouring and I have to take it off in order to access the pack? Don't opt for that. Use a bag cover plus dry bags inside the pack. –  goldilocks Aug 1 at 16:46
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@goldilocks: What is the point of the bag cover if you have dry bags inside the pack? –  Ben Crowell Aug 1 at 16:52
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It'll keep the bag drier. Water adds weight and is generally just a messy hassle, esp. if you want to put the pack in a tent for any period of time later. So IMO the ideal is dry bags + cover, but in order of priority I'd say: #1 Jacket for you; #2 Dry bags for stuff inside your pack -- you can use plastic ones, but those are imperfect, rip easily, and have a downside when fumbling around tired, in the dark and rain, to set up camp ("Oops, looks like this got wet..."); #3 A pack cover. I would not compromise #1 for #3! –  goldilocks Aug 1 at 17:16

Before, you leave treat your equipment with water-repellant spray, and consider taking a small bottle with you.

Some things that come to mind:

  • raincover for your backpack
  • breathable rain jacket/poncho. You don't want to use something that is not breathable because you end up sweating a lot
  • waterproof matches, lighter, and firestarter sticks that work when it's wet. the idea here is that it's easy to get the firestarters to light, they are slow-burning so they will help dry out and get a fire started with the wet firewood you have collected

The temperatures you mention are pretty chilly, so it's going to be damp and cold. This means you need proper clothing:

  • no cotton
  • wool cap
  • base layer top and bottom. this would be some kind of polyester blend that retains warmth while providing some moisture-wicking and breathability. For years I have owned a base layer made by Cloudveil and it's wonderful. Very warm, light, packable, and comfortable. Makes a big difference in your body warmth.
  • a thin or mid-weight fleece jacket. you wouldn't necessarily use this while hiking, but rather while sitting around camp and also for extra warmth in your sleeping bag
  • Silk socks. You'll be hiking a lot. you need these to help prevent blisters. also carry some moleskin with you.
  • -
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