Any coastal hike in the Pacific Northwest requires a bit of care for staying dry, and consequently, warm. The Olympic Coastal Strip in Olympic National Park in Washington is a prime example, as well as the West Coast Trail and North Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Getting through one of these challenging hikes most often means managing the wetness that comes with the west coast. Inexperienced coastal hikers often have a less than stellar experience because they are wet and cold. This just does not have to happen. A few simple things can help, chief among these is managing the tent or shelter.
First, the right gear and clothing are absolutely essential. Face it, if you are hiking, you want the least weight possible. Lightweight equipment is not difficult to come by anymore. Get the right gear instead of leaving the heavy stuff behind. You need the gear. A lightweight tent, with a groundsheet and a good fly, makes staying dry a lot easier. Although it is possible to work with a tarp and bivvy sack, let’s deal with the majority of people by looking at tenting.
1. Pack your tent and its parts into plastic bags to keep everything else dry in your backpack.
2. Carry a lightweight tarp. These are available for between about $ 35 and $ 350. Set the tarp up before the tent, over the tent pad. If it is raining, or threatening, you have a sheltered place to set up your tent, keeping it dry.
3. Use your groundsheet properly under the tent to keep moisture away from the tent surface.
4. Set up on a spot that is slightly above the surrounding ground. If there is not water pooled in the low spots already, then there can be more pools later on. Make sure you are setting up in a drainable position.
5. Make sure your tent is set up properly. The fly needs to be tight and not touching the actual tent. Proper staking helps make sure the fly is tight, increasing its effectiveness against rain and wind. The fly also needs to follow the lines of the tent and poles. One problem with some tastes is splash. In heavier rains, water hitting the wet ground or tent platforms can splash up under the edge of the fly and right into the tent through the mesh fabric. By staking fly lines so that the fly follows the contour of the tent, you can minimize this problem.
6. Set up your tarp / tent before you change into your dry clothes. Once you have the shelter set up, you can change into the dry stuff in a dry space. This is part of protecting the dry clothing to make sure it is effectively warm for you.
7. Keep all your dry clothes in a separate dry bag. Keep any wet clothes in a different bag. If you are hiking in the rain, you are going to be wet. Even with excellent rain gear, if you are not wet from the rain, you are probably going to be wet from sweat. Diligence with keeping a warm, dry set of clothes helps make the trip comfortable in the campsite.
8. After you have set up the tent, move the tarp or tent to have a decent sized sheltered area to enter and exit the tent. In other words, at least one doorway is well covered by the tarp. If there are two or more of you with a tent that has two doors on opposite sides, use the unsheltered side and its vestibule for backpack and gear storage and the sheltered side for entry / exit. With a good sized sheltered entry, you can shake off any water, or remove rain gear before entering the tent, helping to keep the inside dry.
9. Wait until just before getting into your sleeping bag to pull it out of its protective bag. The sea air is very wet and sleeping bags can pull moisture out of the air if left out in the tent. To prevent moisture absorption, leave the sleeping bag protected in its bag inside the dry tent until ready for use.
10. Open some vent areas in the fly to help reduce condensation inside the fly. We breathe out a large amount of moisture in the night which can condense and collect on the inside of the fly. By increasing the ventilation, you can minimize this moisture build up.
11. Take your tent down under the shelf just like you put it up. You are still trying to keep everything as dry as possible. Wet gear is heavier gear. You may have to move the tent or tarp again to cover the whole tent for this, but it is worth it to keep the tent dry.
12. Change back into wet clothing and gear under the shelter the next day, before leaving. Your tarp is last to go. It provides shelter for entering / exiting the tent. It can also be a shelter for breakfast. But, you may need an additional tarp for a kitchen area to minimize food bits around your tent. In these wild areas, it is best not to cook and eat around your shelter (or anyone else’s).
13. And the last tip is to pack in small bits. Small bags, either dry bags or small stuff sacks lined with plastic bags, are best for managing dryness and for efficient packing. Larger bags make packing difficult and increase the possibility of getting wet things mixed with dry things, making them wet in return.
Your warmth and comfort make a huge impact on how you enjoy and how you remember a trip. If you are warm and dry when you are hanging around camp, then your experience will be much better than if you are wet and cold. Managing your dry things becomes all important for this, and having dry Shelter is the best way to give yourself a dry place and to keep dry clothes for camp. With this information about how to keep a dry tent space, you should be better prepared to get out there and enjoy hiking and coast trail camping on the west coast.