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RE: [pct-l] Rain
Now this a question I really love. I've already read two very good
answers and nothing I'll say will contradict them, but I cant help
First a little about my experience. I've used down bags for over 20
years on a lot of trips including the AT and quite a few all rain week
long trips. Never got my bag wet, but you have to put some effort into
it. The closest I've gotten to a wet sleeping bag was in the Smokies.
Because you'll have to stay in shelters it's difficult to avoid damp
A tarp has some of the same problems. It's hard to avoid fog making your
bag damp. A bag cover of some kind (bivy sack) or a dry loft bag
(haven't tried that) helps. The advantage of tarp/shelter is that you
can pack out of the rain. It's hard to avoid bringing some water inside
if pack in rain/snow.
Using a tent makes thing easier in some ways, more difficult in other.
It will help you stay drier, but ventilation is a problem. You'll avoid
fog/driving rain but with 100% humidity inside the tent your bag will
still get damp. It's also more difficult to pack because you have the
option of packing outside or taking a wet backpack inside the vestibule
or even the tent. I don't have the answer for that one.
So to the techniques that's not recommended by any book I've ever seen!
Using the stove inside will dry up a tent very fast - and it's hard to
avoid getting the tent wet when you pack it. It's dangerous. You can
burn the tent down (very difficult) or die from lack of oxygen. I've
used a lot of stoves inside the vestibule, including MSR Wisperlite and
Coleman Peak one, Optimus (kerosene), Optimus (alcohol) and several
Buthane/Propane stoves. The one I haven't used is a MSR XGK - mine
always make a huge flame when starting.
The favorite is Buthane/Propane stoves though. They can be used fairly
safely even inside the tent (but don't put it directly on the tent floor
if it gets warm). Tried to use a Camping Gaz on the AT, but couldn't
find fuel for it in the south, so it's not too practical on a thru hike.
Probably even more so on the PCT. Fuel expenses are also much higher (a
factor of 10 maybe compared to white gas).
I've also used a non-light weight technique on canoeing trips where
weight isn't a problem. It looks a bit funny but works great! Use a
large tarp over your tent. Keeps the tent (almost) dry, lets you pack
out of the rain and gives you much more space for cooking etc than a
vestibule. You can even leave the rain fly at home. Weight penalty is
about 2 pounds. Disadvantage except for that is only with high winds.
Use it only in a fairly sheltered area.
The most important though - also mentioned in previous answers - is a
waterproof bag. Cant stress that enough. Really waterproof. Room for
your bag and your spare (dry) clothes. And you should be able to go
swimming with it without getting the content wet!
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