Sierra Rain Gear? | High Sierra Topix  

Sierra Rain Gear?

Share your advice and personal experiences, post a gear review or ask any questions you may have pertaining to outdoor gear and equipment.
User avatar

Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby BSquared » Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:35 pm

When we did the JMT in 2004, we ran into a little light rain on the first three nights (very unusual for the Sierra, from my experiences last century), and one thunderstorm. We brought ponchos, which generated the usual hot, steamy atmoshere when trying to hike in them. We ran into a couple who had an interesting idea: it rains so little in the Sierra, they said, that they just bring waterproof pack covers (at a fraction of the weight of a poncho) and allow their bodies and the clothes they're wearing to get wet. They dry out in just a few minutes of hiking after the rain, so it's a good light-weight solution.

Is this really practical, even for the Sierra in summer?

-B2



User avatar
BSquared
Founding Member
 
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Jericho, VT
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby markskor » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:07 pm

B2 - Sounds like you got the Muir on the brain...getting ready, huh?

My opinion on gear and Sierra rains:
There are two types of Sierra storms. One, the kind that takes days to develop. One day its complete blue skies in the morning - maybe a few high cumulus pop out of nowhere at noon. The wind comes up a bit - always blows in -then a few dark clouds - maybe a little darker around 3 PM, then clearing. Next day more of the same but a little heavier...wind - clouds...darker -still clear at dusk. Finally on the third day it pops up even quicker, by noon...darker still, wind gusts, then buckets for an hour or so. It usually rains between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. Lightning usually accompanies this type...violent but short lived.

In these type of storms I usually sit under a tree, or under an overhanging granite slab for an hour or so...or maybe set up my tent quick and wait it out...just hunker down for a spell. It is this type of rain that you described as "you can put a pack cover on and walk it out". If you have to be somewhere, who cares if if you get a little wet, as it will all usually quickly blow over by sunset, and then you can change into your dry clothes. I like this type of Sierra storm...most common...lots of lightning and thunder though; expect clear skies, (and great fishing) by dusk. The old axiom of 5 seconds between lightning and thunder equals 1 mile comes into play here. FYI, If lightning is close...stay put. You can see this type of storm in the distance often - see isolated spots where the rain is coming down...dark streaks.

Then there is the trip breaker...the summer storm that lasts for days on end. This type of storm comes in without wind...total gray skies in the morning - no blue all around and soon steady rain ahead for 24 -36 hours. There is usually no lightning/thunder, everything just gets soaked, and the only thing to do is to tent out somewhere - not in a gully- not up high - and sleep...just wait patiently..you are not going anywhere. This is the type of storm that lasts all night - maybe all the next day too. You are not going to stay dry here outside no matter what you do...and your gear, if exposed at all, pack cover or not, will just soak it up; so do not try and hike it out - just not worth it.

Learn to read the sky and the wind my friend and learn what is what, I know you have seen it all too many times already... just part of the fun of backpacking.
When on the Muir...expect both and act accordingly.
Hike safe...
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2048
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby hikerduane » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:16 pm

Well described. I use a Anorak Gram Wienie, 4 oz. I may let my legs get wet, but my torso would kill me off if I stayed wet too long and the cold temps that can follow would be miserable. A few folks I know got snowed on about three years ago, temps got into the twenties at least I believe.

I'm gearing up for a trip further north, so I am checking stuff too.
Piece of cake.
User avatar
hikerduane
Founding Member
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 9:58 am
Location: Meadow Valley, CA, Carson City, NV
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby copeg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:28 pm

Personally, this isn't a solution I'd try...for all of the above and then some. The first seven days or so of my JMT hike were the second type of Mark's storm description...rain, and little no sun. We're talking day after day, sometimes all day rain. I'd have been pretty miserable without my rain gear and tarp (which doubled as poncho). Even for those short afternoon thunderstorms I've ridden through, my rain gear has made me that much happier. Also, as on many other occasions, the last few days of my jmt trip consisted lots of cold wind - blowing harder and getting colder the higher up I went. If it weren't for my rain gear (which were great to block the wind from stripping my body heat), I'd have been pretty miserable no matter how many layers I put on.
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby markskor » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:05 pm

Just to add a bit more on those 7 day, rain all day, storms...they suck. I myself do not carry good rain pants...just some cheap lightweight, 1-day throw-aways...just for emergencies like described above. If I have to, these precautions will last me 3 days if careful...just long enough to get back to somewhere safe.
I do carry a Gortex rain jacket with hood - but no pack cover per se...just an extra large large trash bag. When it rains like that, and I have seen a few of those week long drenchers, I usually wait it out a day or so, and decide then what is my best option. I also carry good tent and a WM sleeping bag...somewhere to hide where its warm and dry always.
FYI, I have been learned over the years to abandon summer trip plans and retreat when snow hits or conditions like described above ensue. Winter camping is something entirely different - totally different gear required. There will always be other hiking days ...maybe I am getting soft, but discretion beats valor any day...even on the Muir.
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2048
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby BSquared » Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:35 am

Excellent replies, all; thank you! I think I'll take my poncho instead of a pack cover (it does cover the pack), and I do pack a TarpTent (which I recommend, by the way). I have pretty effective wind pants and windbreaker (home brew pants and GoLite windbreaker), which were both absolutely necessary on the Whitney ascent in 2004. After flying all the way out there it'd be pretty hard to bail because of weather, but I'm ready to do it. On the other hand, I should have a cushion of a few days, and I can think of worse places to lie in a tent.... ;)

-B2
User avatar
BSquared
Founding Member
 
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Jericho, VT
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby Allyn » Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:25 am

I'll second what others have said. We took Dri-Ducks which lasted well and I still have them after a couple of years of use. The Dri-Ducks are very light weight and we only took the jackets. We ran into several days of rain with one day heading down from Guitar Lake towards Timberline where the skies opened up and the trail turned into a creek. Wading through the trail without a rain coat would not have been fun as I was still soaked with the jacket. One thing to also consider is an umbrella. My brother brought one (short variety) and it worked out really nice to stand under even when we were under the trees in some of the downpours. I think he had a Go-lite variey or something to that effect.
User avatar
Allyn
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Las Vegas
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby paul » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:48 pm

I go halfway to that solution - I put on the rain parka, but almost never the pants. In fact I don't usually carry rain pants anymore, just wind pants. I find if I wear the full suit while hiking I can't stay dry anyway because it's too hot and I'm wet from sweat. With the jacket on - usually halfway open - my legs will get wet but If it stops raining while I'm still on the go I will be dry soon after, and I can dry them right off once I stop if it doesn't stop raining before I stop. I like the umbrella idea, excpet that rain in the Sierra is mostly thunderstorms, and I just don't like the idea of holding an umbrella in a thunderstorm, unless someone knows of a non-metallic umbrella, in which case I want one!
Some folks I know take another tack - they refuse to hike in the rain. If it rains, they set up shelter and wait it out.
User avatar
paul
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:35 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sierra Rain Gear?

Postby freestone » Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:56 am

Of all the times I have been in the Sierra, I have never been seriously rained on, but I attribute that to shear luck. I believe that California weather is all about patterns. Day to day and out about four days the National Weather Service does an excellent job. Their website posts an "area discussion" that can clue you into pattern changes up to eight days out by their interpretation of several differing global models. Read these daily, starting two months before your trip and you may be able to see what pattern your trip might fall into. Of course, beyond eight days, go to Palm Reader.com.
http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/lox/scripts/get ... d&back=yes
Another excellent Sierra weather discussion is The Dweeb report out of Mammoth Lakes
http://izotz.com/dweebreport/
I like the umbrella idea, just use common sense. For me the enemy is the sun, not the rain, especially above treeline, so the umbrella would be duel purpose. The back of my neck is starting to look like beef jerky!
All my pack weight is with a good four season tent (Akto) and 10 degree bag (WM Versilite) so I skimp on the rain gear knowing I can stay warm and dry should a surprise come rolling in and I have to wait it out.
User avatar
freestone
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 571
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:42 pm
Location: Santa Barbara
Experience: Level 1 Hiker


Return to Outdoor Gear Topix



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests