But still light,
Since this article is part of the section Ultralight Backpacking.
I hate rain capes and other ponchos: you sweat in them like in a hammam, they are not always as waterproof as you think, they drip down your legs, you can’t see your feet well and you always run the risk of getting them tangled up on the way down. The only gear of this type that I used was a heavy Plastex cape bought at the Vieux Campeur in the 80s, for my first Irish trip. Never used again.
You may say, but when it rains, how do you stay dry?
If it’s raining really hard, I take shelter and wait for it to pass. This is the most efficient technique I have found, even if it means staying an extra night in a refuge or hotel, or even two hours under a rocky overhang.
But if it rains a lot and I can’t take shelter right away, my objective is to protect the contents of my bag, my body temperature, my sight and my mobility as much as possible. I’ll tell you how in the rest of this article.
Protecting the contents of the backpack
For this, I couldn’t think of anything better than packing everything in a nylofume bag which I then place inside the bag.
“Nylofume” refers to both the material and the bag itself. It is a large, transparent, ultra-light and strong plastic package that comes from North America. This material was originally used to pack the contents of houses, especially foodstuffs, which were fumigated to remove pests. Much more effective than garbage bags. You can easily find them on the Internet, for not too much money – 2 euros each, not counting the shipping costs which are worth the same. I’m not fooled: sold in packs of ten in every drugstore in Flagstaff, they must be worth a few cents. But hey. Well rolled up inside the backpack, everything stays rainproof (not waterproof, let’s not exaggerate) and the stuff stays dry. What if the backpack itself gets wet? Frankly, who cares as long as what’s inside doesn’t get wet?
Protecting my body temperature
As rain is usually accompanied by a sudden drop in temperature, especially in the mountains, as soon as the sky becomes really threatening, I put on my merino sweater, my sleeveless down jacket and I put on my light waterproof windbreaker. For details, see the following article. As I’m walking in shorts, my legs get soaked quickly but I don’t mind as my skin is made of natural goretex, waterproof and breathable, and I’m not cold in the legs, especially when they accelerate to carry me.
It’s my upper body that I need to protect. In order to be able to do this in an optimal way, head included, I have a great trick, the famous secret announced in the title, watch out, drum roll: I do like the shepherds and I use
Against the rain, we haven’t done better yet. Even the french word says it: para-pluie (i.e against-rain). And yes.
Mine is a small ultra-light model from the German brand Euroshirm. 175 grams of efficiency. A little expensive but really surprising. All the friends I had to weigh it opened round eyes. I deliberately chose it in a colour that could be seen from a distance to signal me in hunting areas or in case of accidental immobilisation.
In the ultralight logic of double or triple use, my umbrella also serves to :
Protecting my eyesight
Sight, especially when venturing out on your own, is one of the first tools of survival. If you can’t see properly, you’re on the verge of disaster. I wear corrective glasses, like all astigmatic-myopic people. In case of drizzle or light rain, the visor of my cap is enough to protect my glasses. But in case of heavy rain, only the umbrella is effective. Let’s not even mention the poncho, I think I’ve made that clear.
Protecting my mobility
Simply to gallop to the nearest shelter. The umbrella certainly takes up one hand, but the other can continue to lean on a stick. The most important thing, in order to remain mobile, is to have good shoes: really waterproof, breathable if necessary, with a good rubber sole.
If my legs take the rain without worrying about it, it is also important for me to protect the upper part of my shoes from getting wet. And for that I have my stop-all gaiters. So that the water runs down my legs but does not turn my feet into sponges. That’s why, among other things, I haven’t yet decided to adopt the low-cut trail shoes that the MUL purists love. In the mountains, at least.
One last thing:
Sometimes the rain only falls at night. You’re warm, in the duvet, listening to the drops pounding on the canvas – it’s one of my favourite sounds – and then, as insidiously as irrevocably, you realise that you have to get out of the tent. The needs of the body. Well, here again, the umbrella is an invaluable ally. I defy anyone who has been driven out of their tent by a furious urge to pee at night in a downpour, not to have regretted this precious utensil.
Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.