Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

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Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Snooze » Sat 05 Jan, 2019 2:00 pm

Hi all
I am getting ready with my partner for our OT trip in February, the peak season. We just completed a short overnight hike (camping only) to test the gear we plan on bringing. Unfortunately, there was massive downpour followed by showers just as we arrived at our site and then rain on and off all night. Our new 2p tent took a soaking but didn’t leak thankfully. My partner erected a little tarp (that I had thrown in the backpack at the last minute) and made a shelter for us to cook and eat in and protect/dry our gear a bit. (I also learned we should have brought two little seating pads or similar for the porches, so we didn’t have to scramble out the doors of the tent straight on the wet grass.)
We will have eight nights on the OT, last night being at Narcissus and waiting there for the ferry. I go at a pretty slow pace, and am planning to tent it every night (as bunks in the hut will be taken before we get there I don’t doubt, also I like camping anyway). I am also planning to break up the 17 km day, Windermere to Pelion, by camping somewhere before Pelion (Frog Flats? Will pack Bushman's in case of mozzies etc.) I’m allowing for one rest day too, not sure when or where. So it looks like we will probably be camping away from the huts at least one night, and maybe two or even three nights.
My partner now thinks that we should pack our bigger DD tarp (I think it’s 4 x 4m and 500g) so we can comfortably survive in rain if away from the huts, along with the one tent.
Here are my questions:
1. Is packing this tarp a good idea? We will have four hiking poles to use with it, as well as paracord for attaching to trees. OTOH I am very motivated to keep the weight down.
2. Would a tarp also be useful even when camping next to the huts?
3. Should we also then bring a ground sheet. What is the lightest one that could be obtained soon, in Sydney? Our tent did come with a footprint, which we will definitely bring, so there’s already that. (Tent inner floor seems super thin though.)
4. What happens if our hiking tent is drenched when we pack up. Should we keep the fly separately in a plastic bag? (Besides the floor, the inner is all bugnet.)
5. Are there any problems with building a wet tent in the rain we should anticipate? (We are kind of noobs at overnight hiking and have always been lucky with the weather on previous excursions close to Sydney.)
6. Re backpacks: the two of us physically took up most of the 2p tent, and there was not much room for our big backpacks in the two porches (tent has two doors—so one each--on the long side). I had this idea of putting the emptied backpacks in plastic bags and leaving them outside the tent under the weather for the night, maybe under a tree or tied to a tree. Things that can wet, eg cookware, can sit in the rain while our clothes and food etc stay dry in the tent. Interested in anyone’s suggestions of how to handle this scenario—camping in rain away from the huts with no room to spare inside the tent. AFAIK we can definitely leave our packs in the hut even if it’s crowded. So this would only be a problem the few nights camping away from the huts, and if we didn’t bring the tarp. (Another variable is that, now we have an idea of probable volume, we are planning on buying new backpacks this week.)
We have about a three-week window at the moment to gather last minute supplies.
Thanks to anyone who can help with advice
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Mark F » Sat 05 Jan, 2019 6:05 pm

Personally I would say that the drenching you experienced was a good thing in that you now know that your tent is waterproof and have thought about taking a tarp.
Many people sleep in tents but use the huts for cooking/socialising so the tarp is potentially only going to be used on the evening you camp away from a hut so the smaller one would be ample. It is usually possible to leave your packs in the hut over night but make sure they are well closed. Most sites are likely to have plenty of tall vegetation around so tent poles for the tarp are unlikely to be required but some extra cord would be useful as you note.
Handling the wet pack up is always a little unpleasant. If you can, then you pack up inside the tent and depending on the tent you have, you:
1. Fly pitches first - unclip the inner and pack it away, then drop the fly, shake and pack it separately, both parts of the tent should be separated from the rest of your gear and in the top of your pack with the fly possibly under main flap or in the back pocket, OR,
2. Integral tent - drop the tent, shake and roll it up, packing it under the top flap of the pack.
3.Inner pitches first - remove the fly, shake it and then drop the tent and roll up the inner, now damp/wet.
It becomes obvious in the rain why people prefer either integral tents (fly and inner together) or fly pitches first tents :roll:
When you pitch the tent the next evening use a jif cloth or similar to wipe off any water on the inside of the fly or on the inner.

With your packs camping away from the hut then I would hang them under the small fly to minimise the risk of furry nocturnal visitors.

If you want to cut the Windermere - Pelion section in two, you can always continue on a bit from Windermere, as the Waterfall-Windermere section is very short, to the northern edge of Pine Forest Moor where you will find a site or two if you scout around.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Warin » Sat 05 Jan, 2019 6:36 pm

I too think the rain has done you a favour on your overnight trip.

Once your tent, sleeping bag and mat and the cooking gear are out of your backpacks .. there is not much in them other than food and some clothing. Food needs to be hung up out of reach of animals .. so not much left them .. Why not sleep on top of the backpack? The clothing can be used as a pillow.

Further testing in the backyard is indicated;
try your sleeping arrangements with backpack underneath.
try pitching while pretending it is raining - pitching both up and down.
Down - can you fold up the inner so the dry floor and netting keeps dry, while the wet side of the floor is cleaned and dried with a chux and folded again, clean + dry, fold etc until you have packed up .. then do the fly wet and pack the wet fly on the outside of the backpack so you can dry it during the day if you get the chance.
Up - fly first. Keep the inner 'dry'.

You get used to rain in Europe - plenty of practice with it develops methods that work for weeks :x
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Hermione » Sun 06 Jan, 2019 4:50 pm

You might find that the 17km between Windermere and Pelion isn't as bad as it sounds since it's actually relatively easy walking on a well maintained track and from memory I don't think there's much elevation gain on that day. Even if you don't want to sleep in the huts (understandable) you can still use them for cooking etc if the weather is rubbish.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby matagi » Mon 07 Jan, 2019 9:09 am

Hermione wrote:You might find that the 17km between Windermere and Pelion isn't as bad as it sounds since it's actually relatively easy walking on a well maintained track and from memory I don't think there's much elevation gain on that day. Even if you don't want to sleep in the huts (understandable) you can still use them for cooking etc if the weather is rubbish.


The Wndemere to Pelion section is basically down hill to the Forth River, then uphill to Pelion Hut. The lowest point that day is 730m at Frog Flats and Pelion Hut is at about 850m (if you believe the Parks track notes). If it has been raining, then this day is a slog - tree roots and mud for the descent to the Forth and climb up to Pelion. You basically stare at your feet the whole time and the roots are very slippery. As a result, this was my least favourite day on the OLT, we did it Nov3 to Nov8 2018 and had rain nearly every day and snow at Kia Ora and Windy Ridge.
This makes me the first man to climb Mount Everest backwards, without oxygen...or even a jumper.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 07 Jan, 2019 10:15 am

Snooze wrote:I am also planning to break up the 17 km day, Windermere to Pelion, by camping somewhere before Pelion (Frog Flats? Will pack Bushman's in case of mozzies etc.)


Frog Flats is quite a pretty spot. But I would not camp there during Summer. Even with good repellent. The place is swarming with mozzies AND crawling with leeches.

It's a great place to camp during winter though, when both are less active.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby emma_melbourne » Sat 19 Jan, 2019 5:43 pm

As mentioned on another post I made, there's actually not as many spots to camp along the Overland Track as you might imagine.

Day 1 for example, I don't know where you would camp other than the hut, as there's slope and thick plants everywhere. So I can't think where you could lay down a tent! You go up a steep climb to Marion's lookout, come down including along a very exposed section that people have actually died on historically and they've put a very small emergency shelter (as in for genuine emergencies not for camping) that looks like a spaceship, because there's really nowhere to erect a tent. Then down with reasonably dense bush and steps and roots down to Watervalley Hut. Nowhere as far as I know to camp anywhere along that day's walk.

Day 2 as another example, you're only doing a short walk to get to Lake Windermere which is about 3 hours walk from Waterfall Valley. And again, the place to camp is at the tent platforms at Lake Windermere. The only flat spots on the way near the lake have signs everywhere saying "don't camp here."

So I don't think you're necessarily going to be doing a bunch of camping casually along the track as you think in your head you're going to. It just makes sense to use the spots by the huts, which are set up for purpose and located where they are for good reason.

Frog Flats is an option and is listed in the guide and online and on the map, but it's full of mozzies in Summer, as noted. (I went past it on my hike over Christmas, and no-one camped there as it was swarming with insects who were loving the creek.)

If you're camping near the huts on the tent platforms and camping spots, then you cook in the huts or the covered verandah at Pelion Hut. So you wouldn't need a tarp to cook under.

However if you really want to take a tarp, sure - why not. If you're prepared to carry the weight, go for it.

I personally have a tent which has an awning. (A Lightheart Gear SoLong 6 tent. Judy of Lightheart Gear does make a Duo tent for 2 people too. Weighs around 1.1 kg and uses trekking poles.)

But another option, just to throw a spanner in the works, is a Euroschirm Lightflex swing umbrella. I think you could use it to cook under, and you could use it on trail in sections where the wind wasn't too strong. It weighs 207 grams. https://www.trekandtravel.com.au/produc ... x-umbrella

I kept my base weight under 8 kg, and my total pack weight under 12 kg. And loved being so lightweight, and was the envy of every hiker going through on the same days. Many of whom were far too heavy.

For rain I had Outdoor Research Helium rain pants, and Outdoor Research Helium Traveller jacket (which is a longer length) in an oversize to give room for layers, and that worked great for keeping out the rain and as a windbreaker. And my tent held up great to the rain.

Best wishes for however you do it and whatever you decide to take.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Warin » Sat 19 Jan, 2019 6:28 pm

emma_melbourne wrote:As mentioned on another post I made, there's actually not as many spots to camp along the Overland Track as you might imagine.

Day 1 for example,


Don't think your supposed to camp on this section anywhere but near the waterfall valley hut. One option would be to go off on the Barn Buff track and camp out of sight some where there.

emma_melbourne wrote:Day 2 as another example, you're only doing a short walk to get to Lake Windermere .


Side trip off to Lake Will(IIRC) - camp on the sand beach there.

emma_melbourne wrote:So I don't think you're necessarily going to be doing a bunch of camping casually along the track as you think in your head you're going to. It just makes sense to use the spots by the huts, which are set up for purpose and located where they are for good reason.

Frog Flats is an option and is listed in the guide and online and on the map, but it's full of mozzies in Summer, as noted. (I went past it on my hike over Christmas, and no-one camped there as it was swarming with insects who were loving the creek.)


There are other places - maybe 500 metres off track, behind some trees. You can find them with satellite views. Be prepared to fine one unacceptable so have at least two options. Mark them on your maps before you go. Some places you'll be hunting for spaces in the trees.

emma_melbourne wrote:I kept my base weight under 8 kg, and my total pack weight under 12 kg. And loved being so lightweight, and was the envy of every hiker going through on the same days. Many of whom were far too heavy.


Way to go Emma - light as you can within reason= enjoyable trip. Did you take the chair? May be do a rip report, if not for us then for your youngun, a scrap book might be good for her latter. I look back at my parents photo books, nice to have some recent family history to look back on.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 19 Jan, 2019 7:13 pm

Warin wrote:
emma_melbourne wrote:I kept my base weight under 8 kg, and my total pack weight under 12 kg. And loved being so lightweight, and was the envy of every hiker going through on the same days. Many of whom were far too heavy.


Way to go Emma - light as you can within reason= enjoyable trip. Did you take the chair? May be do a rip report, if not for us then for your youngun, a scrap book might be good for her latter. I look back at my parents photo books, nice to have some recent family history to look back on.


+1 Keen to hear how your gear and trip went Emma.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby emma_melbourne » Sat 19 Jan, 2019 8:02 pm

Ah sure - I'm happy to write up a trip report at some point.

My FINAL gear that I actually took on the Overland Track is here: https://www.lighterpack.com/r/bz0cqf

But in brief, the set-up was very comfortable and I had everything I needed. And there's very little I'd change for a future hike in terms of equipment.

You'll see it Included a very heavy luxury camping mat that's really more designed for car camping / festival camping at 1.2 kg and 8 cm thick when inflated. I had wanted to take the Thermarest NeoAir XLite but I just couldn't get to sleep on it. I took both mats down with me to try at the hotel before I transferred to Cradle Mountain. But I found that the NeoAir XLite when fully-inflated was too firm for me with my big waist to hip ratio curves. And if I partially deflated it, it was more comfortable but too rustle-y / crinkly like a chippy packet. Hence in the end I decided it was so important for me to get a good night's sleep that I rather take my heavy mat which I was guaranteed a good night's sleep on. And to that end - it worked - I slept very well every night of the trail. Albeit lugging an extra 700 grams more than I needed on mat weight. For a future trip I'm thinking a different mat and high up on my list to try is the Nemo Tensor 25R insulated. To anyone reading this, there is nothing wrong with the NeoAir XLite, and lots of hikers love that mat, it's just not for me personally. I'm a sensitive wee thing.

And I ended up taking more tech than I expected - about 500 grams on the Garmin InReach, iphone 6 to take photos and video on, the Anker Powercore to recharge the technology.

Of everything I took, I particularly recommend the sun gloves. Everyone was jealous of my sun gloves. So many people got sunburnt hands, because of the harsh UV, and even applying sunscreen it was that their trekking pole handles were abrasive of the sunscreen, rubbing it off, and they got sunburnt on their upper hand.

I also loved my Kupilka cup. A luxury, not needed as I had a titanium pot, but so lovely to have a coffee out of it in the morning while cooking porridge, or a hot soup in the evening while cooking dinner. At 83 grams, it was totally worth it for me.

Regards the Helinox chair, no I didn't take it in the end. I had my sit pad. If I was going as a couple, I think actually I would take it and buy my partner one, and have more social scenic stops / mini alcohol bottles and choc fudge treats etc. But hiking alone, I pushed on and didn't do a lot of stopping, and when I did my sit pad was fine, and huts had seating.

I'll post a proper / longer gear review / trip report when I get time. And put it in a proper place on the site. But just to temporarily sate your curiosity.
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Tommy888 » Tue 05 Mar, 2019 9:37 am

Hey Emma, I just came back from the overland in February too. it was great eh?!

These are my thoughts on packing, which I think a lot of people read this forums for?

For anyone stumbling across this thread here are my first timer tips/experiences.

* get great rain gear. I heeded this warning and BOY so glad I did. My goretex rain jacket was an absolute lifesaver and made my hike pleasant. Without it and honestly, may not have finished. We had really trying conditions. A great tip I also had was to pack a peak cap/sun visor. it provides great rain protection. raincoat hoods dont really cut it.

* get good boots - you want comfy feet and they must have fantastic support. the terrain on the OL is rough in a lot of places. saved my ankles many times.
DO NOT ATTEMPT IN JOGGERS.

* hiring gear is a good way to get the right gear for the right conditions and not blow all your money. For example Tassie and maybe the alpine areas in Australia are the only real places I can think of that you need a -10C sleeping bag(IMO) - so I hired one, would do again.

* if eating the freeze dry food from camping stores. Just buy the asian/spicy meal options. the rest are horrible.

* pack plenty of trail mix for snacking on the trail, tea and chocolate to enjoy at the end of the days hiking :). A book is also good(or kindle).

* i enjoy using a water bladder when hiking, you may too. its really nice to keep hydrated without having to stop/fiddle with a bottle.

I didnt pack hiking poles, but in retrospect I wish I had of. My knees were quite sore by day 4. you are walking in mountains/down streams/across windy ranges covered in boulders. You certainly don't need to have them and if young and short on money, you can save some here.

We got rain(lots of it), sunshine and snow. The snow was beautiful and a great experience.

Because it rained every night, I chose to sleep in the huts. You can always choose to sleep in the huts despite the warnings by the rangers before you start - you might just need to sleep on the floor if you come in late in the day.

However If doing again, I would still pack a small tent because its really pleasurable to stay in a tent in comparison IF THE WEATHER IS GOOD, but if its always wet like it was for me - happy to use the huts. I think in the unlikely event you get caught between huts(hard to do as the distance is not huge) you have to have one. So if SOLO trekker, a cheap Bivvy is totally acceptable, simply as an emergency shelter.

The people in tents were always last to leave each day packing up their tent/trying to get it dry, and IMO the best hiking is first thing in the morning.

Earplugs are not an optional thing on the gear list. Pack them and you can get some sleep over the rustling of sleeping mats and loud snorers in the huts.

That was my reading on the hike, it was great and will definitely do it again if the opportunity presents in my lifetime.

:D
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Re: Departing early Feb. Need advice about camping in rain.

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 05 Mar, 2019 12:22 pm

emma_melbourne wrote:As mentioned on another post I made, there's actually not as many spots to camp along the Overland Track as you might imagine.


I think its a matter of learning how to find them. There are plenty of spots to camp, but many of them are far from obvious (which is one of the reasons I like them!). I rarely stay at or near the huts, and never have any trouble finding a camping spot. There are plenty of spots just between Waterfall Valley and Windermere, for example. But I ain't going to provide details in public. It's safer for most people to stay at/near the huts and better for the environment too. If any of my favourite spots were to become over-used, I would stop using them and start looking elsewhere. Not that I walk the OT very often anymore. Too expensive!
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