We are into our first week of fall, and as temperatures begin to drop (both at night as well as during the day), many places are also seeing tons of rain. I'm curious to see what the community has for personal tips/tricks when it comes to backpacking in wet and cold (still above freezing, aka not snow/ice) conditions. If you have any entertaining stories (bad experiences, good experiences, times you were grateful for having a piece of gear, times you wish you had a piece of gear that you didn't, etc.) around the theme of backpacking in a wet and cold environment, please share!
Hey @bryndsharp ! This post sounds like you are planning a trip to Maryland, because you describe our winters here to a tee! We occasionally get significant snowstorms, but are more likely to have what we refer to locally as "mixed mess"; Snow, sleet, freezing rain...
And the freezing rain is the worst. It comes down wet, but then freezes on every surface, making even flat, groomed trails slippery and dangerous.
I've had plenty of experiences day-hiking in cold, winter rain, and wet snow, but luckily, none that forced me into a stinky outhouse. My worst experience though, involved the trip home in the autumn. Not winter, and not the hike itself. I drive a Jeep Wrangler, and I drove to the trailhead in mild conditions with the top down and doors off. A cold-front came through, and I had to drive home, in 50-ish degree rain, with no top or doors. Rain puddling on my seat, and using my hand to wipe the inside of my windshield so I could see where I was going.
I've gotta agree with @Philreedshikes to avoid hiking in those conditions if you can, but if you can't, as everyone else mentioned, be prepared with rain gear, and keep your gear and spare clothes dry.
Oh, and if you are doing day-hikes in foul weather, keep a change of clothes, a towel, and a large trash bag in your car (and your soft-top) to protect your car's interior and help you to warm up on the drive home.
@Rob6that is a really great idea, "keep a change of clothes, a towel, and a large trash bag in your car".
And not just for day hikes, I'll add good for multi day backpacking.
Something I always forget, something to stand on while I change pants/socks outside my car.
some sort of plastic roll, yoga mat, something to lay on the ground, then shake out and throw in the car.
Yep, bathroom bomb shelter? Been there, done that (more than once). Yep, extra clothes (including what I wear):
1 BOOTS, ventilated (laces mod')
3 SOCKS ("wet" ankle high socks, "camp" wool knee-high socks, "sleep" wool knee-high socks with a conversion mod' for 'booties'),
3 UNDERWEAR (thong or bikini bottoms)
2 SPORTS BRAS (switch out for clean one)
2 LEGGINGS (switch out for clean one)
1 PANTS, convertible (drawstring and button mod's)
1 NECK GAITER (ponytail mod')
1 CAP, convertible (cam' mount mod') (1 MASK!!!)
COLD WEATHER, add
1 Fleece pants (extra layer mod' on butt)
1 Fleece hoodie (extra layer mod' in pockets)
1 Fleece gloves (work with smartphone)
VERY COLD WEATHER, add
1 Snow boots (waterproof)
2 Down hoodies (mod'ed to be used as a down "blanket")
1 Fleece balaclava (extra layer mod')
1 Snow "over-gloves"
1 snow gaiters
WET (COLDER) WEATHER, add
1 rain socks
1 rain pants
1 rain hoodie
1 rain hat
1 rain gloves
Longer treks, worse weather, diverse activities, etc. ALL add clothing, gear, and WEIGHT! Get used to it!!