Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

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jeremiahkim
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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by jeremiahkim » Sat Aug 29, 2020 2:31 pm

giantbrookie wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:24 pm
Most tents nowadays have a mesh ceiling, so you have to pitch really fast so that a relatively small amount of water gets in before the rainfly is up.
Some tents have the option of pitching just fly but usually requires a factory made footprint with grommets for the poles. Earlier this year, I borrowed a Sierra Designs High Route, which allows for setting up the fly and clipping in the inner tent without a footprint (since it uses trekking poles) and found it to be very convenient in keeping everything dry over 3+ days of afternoon thunderstorms.








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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by SSSdave » Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:40 pm

Yeah setting up the new era ultralight tents quickly in storms is a problem. In years past when I used to drag the heavy 4x5 camera gear everywhere, I tended to just bring an OR Gortex bivy and that made setting up quick and could do so anywhere even if not on level surfaces. That and my sleeping bags were always in the lower pack compartment along with the pack cover while the ground sheet would be at the top of the main bag. So would open that up, pull out that gear, toss my bag inside, slap it down atop the ground sheet some place, and after pushing any wet clothes into the pack that then had the rain cover secured that would also be my head pillow, would just get inside and zip it up. Several times ended up in clumps of dense mountain hemlock.

Last year a bro and I were caught just after we had frantically raced to our found camp spot within tall whitebarks with thick duff below in a fast moving blustery t-storm. Note we had left our packs out to look for a spot under trees so after finding a spot we then had to fetch that gear. Before the strong gusts arrived with the first bout of hail due to downdrafts, we saw it moving towards us across big Duck Lake. I had my Copper Spur HV UL1 pulled out laying atop the Tyvek ground sheet as first drops began. Quickly pushed together all the shock cord tent pole sections that has an all together as one fine design with 4 sections, so is fast. I've black marker marked the 4 tent stake to tent fly quick release buckles points on the tent and fly so I don't have to waste time trying to figure out what I'm looking at in a windy panic or which end of the tent is up down left or right. Once the 4 pole ends are in the tent grommet holes, pushing the 10 tent clips onto the poles is fast. The 4 fly quick release buckles just needs to be stuck down at the buckles next to the same 4 grommet holes. I always pack the tent up with the zippers zipped so then just need to unzip and toss in the sleeping bag and pad that was also out atop my pack. This is the first 3 season tent I've ever owned in decades that has such good zippers. If zippers get stuck in usual ways with rain falling, it can be a disaster.

At Duck Lake, the downdrafts and heavy hail hit before I had all 4 fly buckles in and as that hit, out flew my Tyvek sheet and the whole tent tried to fly away. That is when I tossed in the weighty sleeping bag, pad, my whole pack that was also at my feet, fetched the ground sheet that was hung up on a nearby log, secured the last buckles, and dove in with my dirty sandy boots left hanging out the door. Although nothing was staked down and the tent was not exactly atop the ground sheet, at that point I was good. When the heavy hail slowed, I jumped outside briefly to straighten that out. After the storm passed to sprinkles with more storms queued up over the next few hours, I set up the 5 stakes that is necessary to keep windy rain out, have the vestibule area, and increase the inside volume. With my whole pack inside, I was able to get at my food, start cooking hot soup under the vestibule, use a spare t-shirt to soak up water and grit, and toss out pine needles and whatever. Yes he was then fine as I removed my clothes and got into the warm Marmot Pinnacle. Isn't backpacking so much fun and a real adventure as it is no game!

There is almost always benefit to knowing ahead of time where one might set up gear in case of thunderstorms. Now I usually survey via topo and Google Earth what is possible on my routes as a normal camping option and then also where to set up in case of storms. With my physics background and lightning studies, I'm very careful about where might be safest. At timberline, large boulders with overhangs that often provide protection can often be found at the base of steeps and cliffs on topos. Protective tree zones via satellite or GE. Safe topography from lightning via topos.

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robow8
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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by robow8 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:53 pm

I know it was mentioned already, but a tarp. Last year, my wife , grandson, and me had afternoon thundershowers 4 out of the 6 days we were out. A tarp let us not be cooped up in our tents and able to watch the storms outside while keeping dry.

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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by sambieni » Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:28 am

This thread is VERY helpful!

Fortunately, I have not been in very many storms when hiking. The lone time in the Sierra was hour-long storm that hit right after my buddy and I had already arrived at Roaring River CG on our Deadman Canyon trip. Tents were already in place; pulled out our warm gear and just waited it out in our tents for the hour. I did have to spend some time outside organizing things while in my rain gear before hunkering. And again once the peak storm passed, I went back out again as well. I will admit, I got a bit cocky, will be honest, to think even my rain gear was sufficient. For one, my rain jacket wasn't all cracked up to be - a manufacturing issue. My buddy had Patagonia jacket like me, different models. And some reason, mine just soaked/wet out completely leaving interior clammy. Standing too long in the rain organizing camp setup, etc in the rain and thinking I was protected was a problem.

Once the storm passed, it was more than 10+ degrees colder now as we ate dinner. I was not really even wet at all, but regardless, I was noticeably colder and the jacket was wet. It was nerve inducing and as lesser experienced backpacker, definitely a wakeup call of what could be. We were headed over Elizabeth Pass the next day and I was fearful the jacket may not hold up if rained again. Thankfully, was ok, but I replaced my rain jacket after that trip w/ Patagonia. Not all gear is as advertised. They were surprised by my bad experience, but it was not user error.

Any rate, since then I am touch more careful w my gear. I never use a rain cover when backpacking due to added few ounces, but I do have my clothes and down sleep bag stored in sea-to-summit dry sacks in my backpack. Most everything else in my bag (except for my tent and bear can) get stored in ziploc bags (day-time food items, maps, notes, book, electronics) in my pack. Just hope my rain gear, etc going forward never an issue. That is scariest part. I now use Nikwax treatments more frequently to clean/prep my rain gear before every so many trips.

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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by creekfeet » Mon Aug 31, 2020 4:27 pm

For those that don't use pack covers, I used to not believe in them, but then I found one in a completely random spot in the drainage above Lake of the Fallen Moon, and it's been a game changer.

All I really have to add is that unless it's a safety issue, I always think it's preferable to just keep hiking through a storm. Nothing makes the miles go by quicker, and you no longer have to worry at all about getting your boots in the water on creek crossings.

Probably my favorite time riding out a storm was having lunch in a talus cave underneath Pyra Queen Col during a crazy hail storm. Managed to stay completely dry in what may have been the wildest storm I've experienced in the Sierra. The hail eventually gave way to rain that refused to let up for the next several days. So instead of exploring Kaweah Basin after a hard-fought trek to get there, I spent only one quick night and lit out for Kern Hot Springs. If there's a better place to be in a storm than hot springs, I've yet to find it.

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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by SSSdave » Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:31 pm

While hiking during storms for hours may be fine with some hiking styles in some weather conditions at some times of season, that is not universal. I've done so a few times escaping from the high country to lower areas or a trailhead, especially late season in September when it can easily start snowing above 10k resulting in exposure issues.

There are certainly many proponents of the new generation of light hiking boots with synthetic materials where getting them wet is a minor issue. It does allow them more flexibility both being out in storms and fording streams, especially those out during early season conditions. Good numbers of other backpackers wear traditional medium to heavier duty boots, especially those with leather elements, that may not dry out quickly and have learned hiking in wet boots is unpleasant. Such boots may take days to dry out that results in continuous cold clammy feet that in chillier conditions may stay so. I find trying to sleep with cold feet unpleasant. Wearing Zambelain VIOZ GT's currently, I avoid soaking boots and will avoid fording streams so even if that means being barefoot. Some might chime in then "Why don't you use newer designs?" Because I do much off trail travel carrying weight over terrain where a heavy duty boot has advantages.

Additionally not everyone hikes in light clothing that is most appropriate mid to late summer, but rather may do so during transition seasons, or during mosquito season.

I've also seen many hike about during thunderstorms in which those doing so obviously have little understanding of the electrical phenomenon involved as ignorance is bliss. Thus as some like this person are moving off ridge lines, peaks, and open exposed areas, some of those others are continuing on in the opposite direction probably wondering why.

For thru hikers, I can understand why many consider a necessity to get miles in important as they might otherwise if having to hole up for storms end up running low on food, especially since fair numbers IMO have such minimal and spartan supplies. But for others, especially the many out and back backpackers that are a majority, having to bivouac or hole up and wait storms out or adjust itineraries some is usual an easy choice.

So indeed hiking during foul weather may be fine for some, some of the time, but is not something to generalize across all situations.

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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by sambieni » Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:46 am

SSSdave wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:31 pm

I've also seen many hike about during thunderstorms in which those doing so obviously have little understanding of the electrical phenomenon involved as ignorance is bliss. Thus as some like this person are moving off ridge lines, peaks, and open exposed areas, some of those others are continuing on in the opposite direction probably wondering why.

Fairly certain I know what you mean, but can you clarify? You just highlighting folks ignorance of becoming their very own lightning rod w on an open ridge? Or am I missing something here?

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Matthew
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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by Matthew » Tue Sep 01, 2020 11:33 am

Someone mentioned trash bags. I carry two trash bags that would make a difference in a storm.
Firstly, I use a trash compactor bag (~2-3 mil thickness) for keeping the inside of my pack dry. A normal garbage bag won't substitute for the durability of a trash compactor bag. If rainsplash or a leak developed in my tent, I would put the bottom of my sleeping bag in the trash compactor bag to keep it dry.
The other trash bag is a normal one that is tightly compressed in my medical kit and only used in emergencies. I wear it like marathon runners do at the start of a race - make a hole for my head and two for my arms. It helps with a leaking raincoat, a splash guard, or just to keep warm.
There is a terrible story of a family that died day hiking when a chilly storm caught them unprepared without raincoats. I now carry enough garbage bags in my day pack for my family. Compressed in a ziplock, they take up no space and in an emergency my kids could sit in them, wearing raincoats on top.
Finally, raincoats go on ALL my hikes, including summer California day hikes. A raincoat would make the difference as a wind break and keeping out wet during an unexpected night out, a chilly wind, fog on the coast, an unexpected storm.

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TurboHike
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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by TurboHike » Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:51 pm

sambieni wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:46 am
Or am I missing something here?
sambieni,

Have you seen this?

https://www.cmc.org/Portals/0/Governing ... elines.pdf

It's a good read, gets into a lot of detail about what to do and why.

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sambieni
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Re: Managing a storm / staying dry at camp

Post by sambieni » Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:11 am

TurboHike wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:51 pm
sambieni wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:46 am
Or am I missing something here?
sambieni,

Have you seen this?

https://www.cmc.org/Portals/0/Governing ... elines.pdf

It's a good read, gets into a lot of detail about what to do and why.
Thank you for this. I have seen years back so good reminder. I just re-read quickly. I actually did not find it super helpful from mitigation strategies. Feels like - avoid being near a big tree (makes sense) or hiking near trees (?!?!?), but also avoid being in open space or flat ledge that conduct lightning - also good sense. My sense was number of mixed messages and often impossible choices that leaves a lot of :-k unknowns while hiking and setting up tent in the Sierras as to what makes good sense.
Tent for instance - we often set up on ledges/ open space in Sierras, often best and only place to do so for variety of reasons. Would I exit tent at night during a storm? Not likely. Risk getting soaking wet, cold, hypothermic because of the tent poles as conductors? I don't know. Seems a no-win situation on this one. Just feels the strategies are really no-win to a degree.

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