You can do whatever you want to try to predict conditions or travel at the right time, but you can never tell what nature will throw at you.  You might end up taking a trip on a lovely sunny weekend, or you may end up having to meet the elements head-on.  In the latter case, you’ll have more success if you’ve already prepared for the worst. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to do just that, and if you have the right gear, mindset, and plan, you’ll be able to have the time of your life no matter the weather. Here are a few tips for backpacking in tough weather conditions.

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Make sure you have your layers down

The way you layer your clothes should be with rain in mind, meaning that your rainproof layers should always be on top. The layers close to your body should hug you tight while offering you the comfort and movement that you need. The goal is to have a good waterproof shell on top, but something underneath like mid-weight long johns and a long sleeve shirt to separate the jacket and pants from your body.

Waterproof hiking pants are especially useful for backpackers. They never go out of season and they’re also very flexible and lightweight, so they will allow you to stay nimble and comfortable while protecting you from rain and the elements. It’s a good idea to pick a model that has vents as water can make them heavy and reduce their breathability. The same goes for jackets.

Choose the right type of insulation

The type of insulation you pick will make a big difference in how comfortable you’ll be. You can’t go with something like down here, because it will lose some of its properties as it gets damp. Instead, you want to look for something made from Prima-Loft or mid-layer fleece. These will stay warm and puffy no matter how wet it gets.

Make sure your pack is rain proof

Keeping your stuff dry is a priority, so you could consider investing in a waterproof backpack. While keeping all your wet-sensitive stuff in trash bags and Ziplocs can help, it’s also important that the outside shell doesn’t get damp. A damp bag will also be heavier, which will complicate everything. Know, however, that waterproof bags can get expensive, so you could opt for a backpack cover instead.

Also, if you’re going to be picking up maps, make sure they’re waterproof. If you can’t find a waterproof one, make sure that you double seal it in a Ziploc bag instead.

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Be strategic with how you use your pack

You might want to keep all of your essentials in your backpack, but that’s a bad idea. You want to have to reach as little as possible into it. So, pack the most important things at the top or in the side pockets. This is another reason to look for clothing that has a lot of storage as it will make things easier.

Get the right footwear

If you’re going on a long trek, you’re going to have to accept that your feet will get wet no matter what. Either the rain or the sweat will get you. The only solution here is to invest in a good pair of breathable trail runners. These will be much softer and more comfortable on your feet than big rigid hiking boots. They will dry quicker and enable you to move better as well.

These are just a few essential tips to make sure that you stay dry on your next backpacking trip.

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