I should say rarely, not never. And some I do see, I just don’t see them pointed out often in articles – or shared verbally. Since we’re in times when so many people are learning, are planning their first “roughing it” camping or packing trips, and so many seem to plan for either an extended bug-out or an I’m Never Coming Home trip to the woods, I figured I’d hit a few of those. Some oddball stuff is up front, and then we hit rain gear.
#1 Mostest-Importantest: Pack like it will be raining.
That means a fly cover, tarp, or ginormous poncho that can be quick rigged for a dry spot to change socks and to overlap the entry of a bivy or small tent as a “mudroom” for changing. It also means planning on there not being anywhere dry to sit, having to work for tinder, and being super-duper aware that some areas may require a detour due to water height, speed or just slick approaches.
Depending on why you’re out, if you carry, and what kind of gun you have, that, too, merits some precautions.
Squat/Crouch vs. Sit-Kneel-Bend
I kind of feel silly pointing this one out, but it’s for-sure something I just don’t see listed often/ever. I don’t remember learning it. I know people who do it, see others who do it … and yet, there’s a lot of wet butts and knees, too.
To avoid those, there’s two handy poses. One I have heard described as the “cowboy crouch”. The other has a slew names – kimchi squat and dragon/gargoyle squat among the least colorful.
The main point is, as you hunker down to poke a fire, spit a squirrel, de-hook a fish, fetch the coffee kettle, pull a stubborn weed, study footprints, take advantage of cover and concealment, or wait for a shot, instead of making contact with the ground, you hover above it.
Dusty butt is fine (until you get in my truck). Wet butt, especially in cool or cold weather, is kind of uncomfortable. Plus, if wet butt sits in dust or leaves next, now there’s muddy butt.
Wet/muddy knee(s) aren’t as bad, but moisture wicks away warmth (even with wool). Too, while “clean” maybe isn’t a priority in a survival situation – out in the woods or working the homestead – we can make more mess to be scrubbed and-or carried all over the house and our blankets, or less.
Now, for many totally understandable, legitimate reasons, some people can’t hover like this at all, or hover like this for long without developing the walking ability of a newborn moose. If you can, though, it’s a good habit to at least try out.
Wet-Pack … Always
Wet sucks in the woods and when working. If you’re packing or walking around, wet usually also means some chaffing and blisters. Damp, humid summer afternoons are their own kind of suck, but the suckage from dampness greatly increases when there’s some chill to the air. There is equal suckage to getting to a way point or digging for a sock change, and discovering everything is either soaked or juuuust a little damp.
It doesn’t actually take that much “chill” to feel chilly when you’re damp, when you’re sunburned, when you’re tired, or when temperatures are swinging 25-40 degrees noon to 3 a.m.
Rain pants and coats help prevent that. They also work wonders as a combo with thermals or fleece sweat suits to keep you roasty-toasty even when it’s cold but dry. They create a nice insulating buffer of warm air, see. Which means, you can possibly cut down on the bulk and weight of your autumn-winter-spring or high-el packs.
There are whole-pack covers we can get, or we can rig it with a poncho. That works against most rain, but if you’re crossing any creeks or kayaking, it’s not a bad idea to go a couple steps further.
Double-bagging bedrolls and clothing in plastic grocery or trash bags or springing for 2.5 and 1-gallon Ziplocs can be enormous for a comfortable night.
Don’t forget to wrap your foamie, ground cloth, or air pad in something, too – bivy sack, the dry side of your tarp, some salvaged boat/auto/shipping pallet shrink wrap, something – or have something to lay between it and your bedroll so wetness doesn’t soak up to you.
Specifically pack socks in individual bags. That way, you don’t inadvertently expose all pairs of socks to dampness or wet ground/gear that can be present when you change them under cover.
Some extra bags can help keep feet dry and warm layered between socks if it’s chilly and boots aren’t wicking away or spring a leak. In some swampy and cold areas (to include spring melt), it’s worth thinking about Mickey boots to go over top, not “just” gaiters.
Picking Out Rain Suits
The fit of a rain coat is one I don’t see mentioned much. Features of a good set are another. Durability also gets skipped.
Packing, canoeing-kayaking, or hunting, you don’t have to spend a fortune, but you should be aware of what you’re getting. When you’re picking out a motorcycle, boating, or packing rain set for your gear, test it out.
Wear a bulky sweater and gloves and your hat of preference, zip it, lift the hood, and stick your arms out – like hiking with a stick or shooting a rifle. Then do the same, in your slimmest summer sets.
We’re checking to see if it’s too constraining in the body or arms, or super loose (which can be annoying donning and carrying a pack). Gaps between coat and gloves let in wetness, cold, and can snag and catch annoyingly on each other and our gear.
*Fix-It Tip: Keep a pair of long kitchen gloves or similar that come up the forearms and some rubber bands or condoms with your raincoat. If a gap does prove annoying, they can regularly bridge it. Rubber bands or condoms can go around gloves worn on the outside of sleeves (with an inch folded over) or around loose sleeves/hems. They can also help keep sidearms and long guns a little protected.
Pro-cons weigh differently for each of us. Be aware of them, think about any coats that have issues you hate, and try to dodge them on this purchase.
Another I don’t regularly see mentioned: Even if you cheap-out on the pants (or make/get chaps instead) get a good raincoat.
There are features to consider, but the biggie is, this thing is taking wear and tear from straps from a gun and-or bag, from whatever frame or cord might be on your bag, from straps or rope to a sled. There are ways to don a pack “evenly” but at some point, most of us have the majority of weigh slinging (dragging) on one shoulder and sleeve. If the coat can’t hold up to that, it’s wasted money.
Try to get rain suits with Velcro or press-clip seals at the wrists and ankles, and to get the type with snaps or zippers that can be opened to vent when we’re warm.
For a summer bag, throw in some running or biking shorts (or boxer briefs) and a tank top for underneath to cut some heat, or if you’re not hiking brush, grab some yoga or bike pants that are slim, lightweight, fast drying, and unlikely to chafe even if it’s too hot for the rain pants.
Oddball Stuff We See
There’s also little oddball stuff, depending on location, why we’re out and about in the world, what we carry out in the world, and where we’ve been. Some folks wear ‘80s grunge and rocker style shirts or keep a doubled-up bandanna in front of their hips. Among the identifying/alerting, convenience, peeling off layers, and nose-brow reasons, they can help keep a trigger finger, butts, or a gun out of rain and-or cold, or let us wipe our hands underneath like a quarterback. Some wear essentially a loincloth or birding or kayaking skirts for the same reasons.
Once you get wet, it’s hard to get dry again. It also starts getting miserable, hot or cold, especially if rubbing sets in. Avoiding wetness in the first place and being mindful of ways to limit the spread of dampness, especially in mud or cold conditions, can have big impacts on a stroll, work, bug-out, hunt, or camp out.
Some of it we just may have never been exposed to. Some of it we might have seen and not really noticed, or didn’t necessarily apply as an intentional act. Some of it seems to be linked to childhood (to include fear of death and bodily harm for tracking in more mud and wet), and some of it very much seems absent from some fields (the military) or super specific in application, with few and far between ever even practicing it.
However they came about, these are just a few things to consider as you head offroad, things that – from rain gear to not exposing yourself to mud and dampness – may come in handy. Or, at least give you an idea what’s going on when you see somebody. Because, sure, oddball folks abound. But some of the oddities have a purpose.