When planning trips in advance, the weather cannot be anticipated. As your trip gets closer every day, you probably find yourself doing what I do: looking at all the different websites for weather forecasts. No matter how many websites you look at, they all say something similar: 80% chance of rain for the next 3 days. Now what? So you refresh your browser and check out another weather website hoping a different forecast will miraculously show up with sunshine for the next 3 days. Sadly, that is not the case!

Many times plans change due to dismal weather forecasts and fears of nasty storms. Having grown up in Washington and having spent the last decade working as an AMGA mountain guide in the Cascades, I’ve grown accustomed to dealing with wet weather. I have actually learned to thrive in the wetness and cannot quite imagine a mountaineering trip without some mandatory wet weather days. After many failed attempts at trying to keep gear dry, I have finally created a system that works quite well.

The following are some of the strategies I use to help stay dry during the wetness!

stay dry in the mountains image -1


1. Use garbage bags

Garbage bags are a great way to keep things dry. I recommend 3 heavy-duty trash compactor bags. First, I line the inside of my backpack with garbage bag #1, placing all items in that garbage bag that I’m not going to need until I get to camp. Second, I take garbage bag #2 and use it in the top part of my pack, putting in clothing layers and other important items that I want to stay dry. Garbage bag #3 stays near the top of my pack.  When I get to camp I put items in the garbage bag #3 as set up my tent. This system will help keep all of your clothes and important items dry.


2. Gloves and quick dry clothes

Gloves with removable liners are a great way to keep your hands warm and dry. Being able to pull out the liner part of your gloves will allow them to dry much faster. Having clothes that dry quickly will also help set you up for success. I recommend wool tops and other synthetic blended materials that dry quickly. I bring several lighter weight layers, which tend to dry out faster than “heavy thick” layers.


3. Your personal heater

stay dry in the mountains image -2 Your body is your personal drying system. At night, I take my wet socks off and place them in between my clothing layers either up by shoulders or down at my thighs. The heat that your body produces helps dry out wet socks and gloves. Your sleeping bag turns into your personal nighttime heater. I will put all my damp clothes in my sleeping bag that I want to dry out over night. I even take the insole’s out of my boots and liners (if using a double boot system) and place them in my sleeping bag. Clothes that are very wet, like my Gore-Tex shell and pants, I place in between my two sleeping pads over night and the heat will slowly dry them.


4. Extra socks

It’s always nice to have an extra pair for dry socks. On overnight trips for only a couple days, I bring two pairs of socks and use my “personal heater” to dry one pair out as I wear the other pair. If the trip is longer than 5 days, I recommend bringing three pairs of socks. Changing into a dry pair can help keep your feet happy and morale high!


Related: 4 Steps for How to Transition to Alpinism


5. Warmth at nighttime

Nothing helps keep you warm like a nice big meal in your stomach. Eating a big dinner will help you stay warm all night. As your body digests that large pasta and sausage meal you ate, it releases energy, helping to create more body heat. Another tip is to make a “hot water bottle”. Bring some water to a boil and put it in your water bottle then put that bottle in your sleeping bag or in between your layers. And remember a cold body results in a cold sleeping bag. So before you hop into that bag for the night, move around and get warm. A warm body will heat up a cold sleeping bag quickly, resulting in a better night sleep. stay dry in the mountains image -1

So get out there and experience the mountains. Even when they are wet, they are still beautiful! And sometimes the forecast is wrong!

stay dry in the mountains image -4

Jonathon grew up in the Northwest learning to hike, climb and ski in the Cascades Mountains of Washington State. With his strong passion for the outdoors, Jonathon made his way to Western State College of Colorado where he received a B.A. in Recreation and Business Administration.

These days Jonathon has turned his hobby into his profession, splitting his time guiding between Washington, Alaska, Utah, Nevada, and Europe. After spending four years completing the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA/IFMGA) training program, Jonathon passed his final exam in fall 2009.

With guided trips to the Ecuador volcanoes; Denali, Alaska; Mt. Waddington, British Columbia; the French and Swiss Alps, along with various other places in North and South America, Jonathon has had significant expedition climbing experience. He is also a technically experienced climber completing two ascents of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, various desert towers in Moab, Utah, as well as challenging alpine routes in Alaska. During the winter months Jonathon works as a Heli-ski guide in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada.