Monday Tip - Stay Drier For Longer

When it proper rains there are good reasons why you get wet eventually, but there are ways of staying drier.

Posted: 15 April 2013
by Jon

Using your hood makes it much harder for rain to run down your neck. Result.
A short-sleeved baselayer top prevents water from wicking up from your cuffs and damping your lower arms.
Using Buff around your neck makes a surprising difference over a full day. Carry a spare or two for a mid-mission swap.
On days like this it's almost impossible to avoid getting wet, but you can definitely stay drier for longer with some simple basics.

This weeks's tip is all about staying dry, which is easy right? You just put on a waterproof jacket and there are lots of those around. But given that waterproofs are meticulously tested for being well, waterproof, how is it that in some situations you seem to get wet whatever you wear? 

You know the drill. Torrential rain. Paths look like rivers. Sheep being blown past you at head level by the wind. No matter how good your waterproofs, you still get wet. So what's going on? 

Unfortunately human beings are badly designed with an awkward, irregular shape, which has to be accommodated by your clothing. And that means your cleverly designed waterproof jacket made from the latest, greatest high tec fabric has bloody great holes in it to allow for your head and hands and, to a less extent, your lower body. 

Eventually they will all let in water. That said, there are a few ways of making things works better, though the sad truth is, eventually if it rains hard enough, you will get wet even wearing a waterproof.

Use Your Hood

Even with your hood up, rain can still run down your face and neck into your underlayers, but if, like many people, you choose not to use your hood until the rain gets really heavy, you're effectively leaving a big, upwards-facing hole that water can run down. Yes, a bare head is more comfortable and is also an easy way of staying cool, but look at alternative ways of venting that face downwards if that's an issue for you. 

Do your hood up properly as well, pull the zip right up to minimise the neck opening, cover some of your face and if you have a decent stiffened hood, make sure it's deplpyed to maximum effect - with wired peaks you can often bend them to give close, more effective fit. It all helps. 

Wear A Buff Or Similar Neck Gaiter

Even with your hood cinched down and carefully adjusted, water will still run down your face and eventually, your neck, in heavy rain. Over the course of the day that''ll be enough to dampen your baselayers nicely. We all know that familiar damp strip down the middle of the chest, a simple Buff-type neck gaiter makes a surprising difference here - it won't stop all the rain, but it will present a barrier. Carry a spare in your pack and swap them over at lunch time for added comfort.

Wicking Clothing Works Both Ways

Those high-wicking base-layers are great for moving moisture away from your body, but they can also wick rain inwards particularly from the wrists leaving to damp lower arms - another feeling we all know and love. The simple answer on wet days is to either roll up the sleeves of your base-layer top - just the bottom few inches can be enough -  or simply to wear a short-sleever baselayer on wet days. Sorted. You can also improve things by cinching up cuffs and making a concerted effort to keep your arms pointing downwards.

The Glove Dilemma

Last but not least, there's gloves and the great inside/outside the cuff dilemma. Sadly there is no correct answer. If you're walking and your arms point mostly down, we'd say stick the cuffs over the gloves so water doesn't run into them. On the other hand, if you're scrambling and your hands are moslty pointed up, it may make theoretical sense to wear gloves over cuffs. 

As a compromise, cuffs over gloves generally works best, but if you do have to scramble, make sure those cuff adjusters are snugged up good and close to make it as hard as possible for water to run up your sleeves.

The Hem 

Last but not least, if you hav a longish mid or base-layer close to the hem of your jacket, water can be wicked up by it in really heavy rain or if you get splashed. Easy answer, tuck baselayers into trousers, wear a shorter mid-layer.

None of these will absolutely stop you getting damp eventually, it's part of the human condition, but they will slow the rate of water ingress and generally keep you more comfortable.

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Discuss this story

Good stuff, though the "use the hood" should take account of the usefullness of a wide-brimmed hat (at least if it isn't too windy). Keeps rain off the face better, the big neck hole is covered and it also vents the jacket meaning less clammy inside from stewing in your own juices. And less of that "shut in" feeling a cinched down hood gives.


Posted: 15/04/2013 at 14:27

I tend to use a Tilley hat in all but the worst conditions, if it is a warm but wet day it helps to control my temperature as well.

Steve D

Posted: 15/04/2013 at 14:49

"Unfortunately human beings are badly designed with an awkward, irregular shape, which has to be accommodated by your clothing"

Maybe but they are made out of the perfect waterproof - skin.

Posted: 15/04/2013 at 16:09

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