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.
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 usable 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 anyway. Whatever you do, 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's 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 you're 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 it's 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/laminated 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.
- 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.
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. -
Bring one change of dry clothes to change into when you are in your overnight cabin, all the way from top to toes and from the skin out, and make sure you have enough layers to be warm when there is no heating/fire in the cabin. Include slippers or other indoor shoes, so you can leave your wet boots near/outside the door where they belong. (And keep these clothes dry, even more than the clothes you intend for out of doors use, so you can be dry and warm once the hiking for the day is done.)
Keep that set of clothes for the evenings/nights and do use your day clothing even when still damp/wet from the day before. That way you will have warm, clean clothing when you arrive for the next night.
Bring twice the socks you expect to need, so you can change into clean socks when you feel like it. Socks do not take much space and dry socks in reasonably dry shoes are so much more comfy than soaked socks.
I agree with the other answers, proper waterproofs, maybe even a rain jacket and a poncho over the top (and your pack) to keep the rain off the coat and the top of your waterproof trousers. Keep the water off your backpack but also keep everything in it within plastic or waterproof bags.
Do bring more to eat than you would usually do, specially if you are going into an area where you can not easily buy more. Snacks and emergency food supplies you would usually eat while hiking, but also something you do not really fancy but that holds a lot of calories. For me it is a Kendal mint cake - way too sweet to snack on, but it will be there when I get in trouble and need it. (And I will not eat it 'because it is nice'.)
As I was told on guided hikes, if you arrive with an empty pack, you did not bring enough to eat. Take more 'tomorrow'. (Except that you may not be able to stock up every day and need to bring more for the whole week.)
Being outside in cold weather you need more energy, and being active you need more energy than at home, so bring lots.