Sun protection and keeping cool

A place to chat about gear and the philosphy of ultralight. Ultralight bushwalking or backpacking focuses on carrying the lightest and simplest kit. There is still a good focus on safety and skill.
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Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Kinetic » Wed 12 Dec, 2018 9:41 am

I'm interested in hearing what means everyone uses to protect themselves from head to toe from the harsh sun, particularly during the hot summer months.

Previously I have worn shorts, t-shirt, and hat, and then slathered on the sunscreen as best I could. That isn't much fun though, and in more recent years I have began to look more closely at wearing clothing with further skin coverage to reduce the need for sunscreen and offer better protection. This isn't necessarily light though and things can get hot fast if the materials and ventilation aren't right.

I have had a look on here and elsewhere for ideas, but thought I might make a discussion here to get some more up to date, ultralight and Australia specific responses.

The first area for consideration is the neck and head. As a bald guy this is pretty important, I burnt my scalp pretty bad once and the resulting itch was unpleasant to say the least. Currently I have a moderately brimmed hat (North Face) and a UV Buff. The buff is great for sun protection, but I do find it gets pretty warm when the weather is hot. The hat is okay, but the brim is too soft and bends if windy, and even with the ventilation it has I end up sweating quite a bit. Some sort of legionnaires style hat might be the answer. It is unfortunate that I have not seen anything so far that offers good sun protection, while not looking rather ridiculous (which isn't necessarily a deal breaker). Another option is a hooded top, which I hadn't even considered until I did a little research, but I will put that in the next section.

Next you have the upper body. Here I have been using a a long sleeve polyester shirt (the Tropic Comfort from Patagonia), I got this mainly for fishing originally. It is pretty good overall, it does still get warm though, this style I guess is more about sun protection and wicking, rather than going for ventilation. The other style I see recommend a bit is essentially the light weight button down style shirts, normally with some sort of ventilation system. My current interest is towards long sleeve polyester or merino with a collar for some neck protection and a front zip to use for ventilation, this seems like a good mix to me but haven't tried it yet.

Another option is a hooded light weight shirt, which I didn't know was a thing until recently. Seems like that would be really solid sun protection, especially if paired with a visor, but it is hard for me to believe you can keep cool wearing a hood while active, anyone tried one of these? Finally you have the option of wearing a short sleeve top and adding some sort of UV protective sleeve. I've never tried that either, it is interesting but I feel like you will need to get the overlap right or you will end up with a stripe of sunburn on your arm.

Finally you have the lower body. I am not really a fan of hiking in pants, but I am certainly considering it for sun protection. I guess the other option would be shorts (maybe long shorts), with either high socks or gaiters to cover the lower leg. I haven't done much research on pants yet, but haven't seen many with a lot of ventilation so far.

So in conclusion, what have you tried and what do you recommend? In addition to this where can I get it from. So much stuff I have seen recommend seems to be nearly impossible to find in Australia or it is all out of stock, it is also nice to try on clothes first.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Moondog55 » Wed 12 Dec, 2018 10:09 am

I've tried most of the options. The best of the synthetics I find is Coolmax but I have returned to linen for the real hot and sunny conditions. That I find getting long sleeved shirts to fit well is extremely hard, everything made in China is far too small, if you can find somebody who loves to sew DIY using silk and linen combined is perfect for me.
I still have a PaddyMade Coolmax Teksun shirt I still wear, naturally they stopped making them
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Zapruda » Wed 12 Dec, 2018 10:20 am

Hey Kinetic,

I am always trying to find the right balance between sun protection, comfort and weight. Its hard.

Ill speak to what I'm using at the moment. It is by no means perfect but is working for me currently.

For context, I do 99% of my walking in the alpine, so winds and sun are a big issue. I hate feeling hot.

Here we go...

Head - I use either this - http://www.bogong.com.au/or-sombriolet- ... and-1.html or this https://www.wildearth.com.au/buy/barmah ... gIGyfD_BwE
Although the Barmah's brim is a bit narrow I really like the breathability of the crown. It isn't very good in the wind, that's where the OR hats shines.

Neck - Sunscreen in combination with one of the hats above seems to work well. I also pop the collar on the shirt below. The collar is quite tall.

Torso - I use a Patagonia fishing shirt. I find the vents actually work and I like that I can have the sleeves down or up and be able to open the shirt to vent - https://www.tomsoutdoors.com.au/product ... 7137580111

Legs - I hate pants and only wear shorts, even in scrub. I just cover my legs in sunscreen. This works but if I encounter scrub I find I have to reapply sunscreen more frequently.

Fisherman seem to really have a good choice of clothing with sun protection. Looking outside of bushwalking centric clothing may be worthwhile.

Cheers
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby slparker » Wed 12 Dec, 2018 3:44 pm

Like Zapruda I wear the OR sombriolet but have been burnt under it from reflection off alpine rocks in tassy. I have also used a baseball cap with a buff under it as a legionnaire cap which is pretty good but I am not a massive fan of anything against my neck. A buff is too hot as a UV protector around the neck in summer in my opinion - i don't know how people tolerate them.

Shirt - Depends on the predicted weather I'll wear a merino t if it will be predictably cool/wet with a possibility of being hot. Merino and hot humid weather is it's own kind of hell so I generally used to wear a loose polyester base layer for when it was predictably hot; but have recently moved to a very lightweight nylon/lycra blend button up shirt. The shirt is the macpac travel lite which is the only nylon shirt that I can stand as most of them are too tight a weave to ventilate well. The shirt is so breezy I bought a sparey - lucky as they have stopped making them and there is now only a lonely medium on sale in their clearance.
This is good for hot and humid weather but (theoretically) isn't as good as a base in cold/wet weather.
Edit: htis might be the same thing - https://www.macpac.com.au/mens/tops/ecl ... =mens-tops

Trousers - I always hated wearing trousers and endured sunburn and scrub lacerations for years rather than endure wearing them but I have recently started wearing Outdoor Research ferrosi pants (lightweight nylon/lycra blend) which are very lightweight, breezy and are tolerable in hot weather. They are stretchy enough to roll up if I want to. As a bonus I don't feel the need for gaiters now unless it's off track and predictably scratchy...

so, to sum up - it's very air permeable nylon/lycra from top to toe for predictably hot weather. If you had told me 10 years ago that i would become a nylon long sleeve and trousers wearer I would have scoffed at you.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Mark F » Wed 12 Dec, 2018 4:05 pm

For hot weather I have found an over sized white long sleeved poly/cotton business shirt has worked well. A have a couple from my working days that are still going but new ones are very cheap. For pants I use either pale coloured Kathmandu Barga zip offs or similar in the Gondwana brand. Quite a lightweight nylon. With the Bargas I have taken off the leg pockets to improve weight and cooling. Hats, a pale Mont Bell soft brim with mesh band around the crown. I found an umbrella was quite useful on the Larapinta where shade is often at a premium.

I also wear my shoes (non-wp Salomons) very loose and with only very thin uncushioned socks.
"Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove".
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby highercountry » Wed 12 Dec, 2018 4:47 pm

Look to the Middle East for hot weather clothing inspiration.
You don't see many Arabs wearing skin tight lycra or synthetic tech blends.
Loose fitting, white or light coloured cotton.
Unfortunately cotton has a bad reputation among the western outdoor crowd. For good reason. Wet, windy and cold, cotton is deadly (and heavy and slow drying).
I happily wear large cotton T shirts or oversized business type shirts atop well worn and thin cotton Yakka Drill work pants or shorts. Sweat soaked cotton is very cooling. I do however carry a contingency clothing change of water and wind proof/resistant outers and warmer merino or synthetic inner layers, if there is any chance of bad weather.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Lamont » Wed 12 Dec, 2018 4:51 pm

viewtopic.php?f=63&t=27240
link there and you can try it on at BCF.
I have two now about to buy a third when the price drops.. They will abrade slightly from swinging arms against shoulder straps, but like Zapruda, I reckon fishing shirts (collar up and sleeves always down) work. They abraded slightly but still work haven't holed at all. Like wearing a cloud around your chesty bits. So soft. A side note--wearing it over a Long Sleeve Capilene LW shirt-walking down to about 3-4 degrees, works a treat. It can be part of your cooler weather "go gear" as well.
I have never been burned through this fabric, ever. I even do the top button up when walking into the sun on a 30 or so degree day. Really stunning shirt, but ultralight so maybe not for bush bashing. Since I linked it I bought the second, it is that good. Amazon now sells them to us, find your size and shop carefully you can get one for 40 AUD posted sometimes.
I am not sure, but the one linked by Zapruda may be more robust?
I wouldn't mind trying that one on myself. But the Patagonia shop near me never has them in stock!
Running shorts -Under Armour LAUNCH (Rebel Sport) 5 inch inseam, just the bees knees, unreal, air is flowing to all the places you want/need it/-they do offer a 7 inch-(rotten inches!-that is how they label them not me) if you want some more privacy, cut out the jock, or you could be in a world of PAAIINNN after 50 hours use I cut that bugger out, ultralight again but seem tough enough so far. Clouds for your crutch.
Sunscreen on legs -pretty much no other way. Extreme UV is from about 10.30 to 2.30 and the sun is mostly overhead, so your legs can be quite shaded by the torso above.
Uniqlo Airism MESH undies, cant try them on, but they are true to size--stunning breathability -again like wearing clouds around your crutch.
The hat of hats-
https://www.vigilante.com.au/store/accessories/hats-and-caps/hat/tollwest-hat/
if you can get this it is tops. Wore it through wind and rain. Highly breathable and poly so some rain won't bother it, hot and cold weather-the brim is shapeable (soft wire in there like some rain coats) and you can scrunch/fold it up like a big hanky and store it. The best hot weather hat I have used.
Robust brim in the wind. Stole it from my daughter. Monster brim, tilt any which way and you will have shade.
It will block heat much, much better than a fabric hat. It really is remarkable.
When she steals it back. I have one like the one OR linked above, but the brim drives me crazy in the wind-always flicking up.
Want to look like a Bedouin?
The very hat our own Cam Honan (when you talk Ultralight you have to talk Cam Honan don't you -S?) wears- check out the brim!
I do know he wears an older model but this looks the goods!
https://sunprotection.com.au/product/ad ... -ultimate/
Cheers.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Zapruda » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 6:43 am

Lamont wrote: The very hat our own Cam Honan (when you talk Ultralight you have to talk Cam Honan don't you -S?) wears- check out the brim!


If Cam wears it you know its going to be good. I wonder how far that hat has travelled... :)
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Moondog55 » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 6:51 am

Not crushable but check out the straw hats from Bunnings
Plus when they wear out they compost down quickly
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Lamont » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 6:59 am

I believe I read on his site he has had the original one repaired and still using it after what a 100,000 ks? Or far more probably.Insert BIG smile here!
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 9:06 am

I do an underarmour tee with a long-sleeve light weight vented shirt, and long,light synth pants. I find that keeping the sun off my skin helps me temp regulate better, and I find that I can cool better than when I did shorts and sunblock. Yes I'm warmer overall, but as soon as I'm in shade I can vent and cool off, where as once the sunblock is on, there is no changing it. I do a buff around my neck sometimes for UV, but always wet, I find it helps a lot, even a few ml of water helps with that. But I've not been walking much, mostly I'm in "wilderness" but have access to water all the time. Hats are a must, I have a heap, being another chrome-dome, I live and die by my hats.

I also do long sleeves for bug protection, I treat my work clothes, and have nosilife craghoppers for "play" and I find it really makes a difference. I don't mind using insect repellent, but its not great every day. I have quite a few older relatives who have developed chemical sensitives over their lives, and they think its due to their lack of care with what they were exposed to. We are talking 50%+ DEET every day above freezing for decades, as well as ag chems and vehicle fluids. In the short term there is probably no danger, but I would need to be wearing DEET even more than they did (Canadian winters being pretty bug free) so I'd rather use clothing than direct chemicals.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Kinetic » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 10:30 am

Great responses so far, a lot to think about.

The Adapt-A-Cap style of hat was definitely one I was considering as was the OR mentioned earlier, the OR being similar to my current hat with some more wind resistance. It would be hard to beat the Adapt-A-Cap style in terms of sun protection though, and it would hopefully have a bit more air flow than a buff + hat combo that would achieve a similar result.

I had been looking at fishing shirts recently, although no BCF near me has the shirt previously mentioned, and I have seen that Patagonia one mentioned elsewhere, but again nowhere to try on locally. My main concern with that style was that a lot of the venting seemed to be either on the shoulders or back, which I figured wouldn't do much with a pack on. I guess if the material is breathable enough it isn't too much of an issue though. I will definitely keep in mind that 'Darth Vader' test though Lamont, as it is normally difficult to predict how well something is going to hold up to direct sun on a 30+ degree day when you are trying it on in an air conditioned shop.

Something I didn't mention previously is how not all hot weather is the same. As I understand things if you were in a rain forest in Queensland in hot and humid weather and not in direct sunlight, you would be better off leaving as much skin exposed as possible in terms of temperature regulation and keeping cool, this is of course ignoring insects and the like. While if you are in direct sunlight which I have mainly been focused on, it is more beneficial to keep your skin covered to prevent the radiant heat of the sun being transferred to your skin, and also preventing skin cancer. I mention this as the heavy cotton robes seen in the Middle East are probably pretty bad in hot and humid weather, but work well in dry and direct heat. They also look like they rely a lot on airflow, which I imagine is significantly better in a robe than pants and shirt, and also without a pack on.

Not sure how many ladies are on the forum, but I would think a dress or skirt would be pretty good to hike in with some good airflow. I have actually seen that some men hike in kilts/skirts for those airflow reasons. Seems like that would be pretty effective, although I am not sure I have the confidence for that. Then again while it would be cooler than shorts for similar sun protection, it wouldn't have much bug protection or as much sun protection as pants.

Speaking of pants I might check out those OR climbing pants, the lack of freedom of movement in most pants is one of my main annoyances.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby slparker » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 12:13 pm

I think that you make a good point IRT the type of heat. Humans have evolved to cool down by mainly evaporation and you find that people who live in the tropics and work hard metabolically (i.e. hunter gatherers etc) traditionally wore little or no clothes so to maximise evaporation. The Bedouin are an aberration here but they are in a uniquely shade free, low humidity and radiant heat intensive environment and herding goats, sheep and camels is predominately a low-metabolic cost activity so robe wearing makes more sense - trading off poorer evaporative heat loss for less radiant heat gain. BTW their traditional robes were made of wool, not cotton.

Modern bushwalkers have to balance heat gain from metabolic activity and radiant heat gain with a sometimes humid environment and the need (for those with european ancestry at least) to protect from UV burn.

i have never seen a study that looks at radiant heat gain vs convective and evaporative heat loss but it is telling that everyone from marathon runners to traditional people actually wear as little as possible in hot and hot/humid environments when engaging in high metabolic cost activity - even when exposed to the sun.

Using the Bedouin to guide your clothing choices when bushwalking in Australia is of limited applicability, I think.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Orion » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 12:20 pm

Kinetic wrote:Not sure how many ladies are on the forum, but I would think a dress or skirt would be pretty good to hike in with some good airflow. I have actually seen that some men hike in kilts/skirts for those airflow reasons. Seems like that would be pretty effective, although I am not sure I have the confidence for that. Then again while it would be cooler than shorts for similar sun protection, it wouldn't have much bug protection or as much sun protection as pants.


Don't be shy. If you want to wear a sun dress in the bush it's okay. This is 2018.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 7:15 pm

As stated, the type of heat really does matter. On the aspect of marathoners, the tights do add to the evaporative cooling as the sweat can evaporate instead of run off, I've found that to help, hence why I dual layer shirts even though it seems insane. I don't know how much research has been actually done, and how much is just "common knowledge" that is so often wrong. Also I can see for runners that weight and wind may be a worthwhile compromise over cooling.

I've found walking shirts to be an odd thing, I've got two old wild country shirts that have good shoulder movement, one MacPac shirt that is more cut like a dress shirt and so pulls up a lot when I raise my arms, two craghopper "casual" longsleeves that are my go-to casual sun shirts, and they rely far more on the fabric than venting, and a craghopper technical shirt that is more a safari shirt design that also has a large chest vent. I've also tried fishing shirts, but many seem short in the arms for my fit but I'm 5'10 with a small chest, so I torso fit most small mens, but sleeve fit for a medium. I also have an exoficcio that is really vented and airy but the fit is bonkers, their stuff is really weirdly shaped, so their size small stuff fits me like a large would anywhere else. Its bad enough that my wife won't let me wear it outside the house unless I'm fishing, and she normally doesn't care what I wear. (well, she's given up on most things regarding my fashion)
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby crollsurf » Thu 13 Dec, 2018 7:54 pm

Not a fan of walking in the heat but one item that is great when I break into a sweat is my Tilly Airflo hat, good size brim, good protection from branches and keeps the sweat out of your eyes. In fact normally you don't even know your sweating until you lean over and the sweat starts dripping off the brim. This hat can take a lot of abuse and still hold it's shape. Not cheap but my favourite bit of clothing. https://www.tilley.com/us_en/ltm6-airflo-hat.html

For a top I'll wear a merino t-shirt but if its scrubby I like my Kuhl Airspeed. Plenty of venting down the arms and has some nice features. Way better than my old Columbia Silver Ridge https://www.kuhl.com/kuhl/mens/long-sleeve/airspeed-ls/
Tried a few fishermen shirts but never liked the feel of them.

I used to walk in pants with the zip-offs half unzipped around the knee but find zipping off the legs and a pair of gaiters (if needed) work better for protection and staying cool. Not so great for knee protection though.

Been looking to find a pair of hot-weather gloves. Found some but never in XXL. That would solve the problem of wearing sun screen most of the time.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby slparker » Fri 14 Dec, 2018 11:00 am

Gadgetgeek wrote:As stated, the type of heat really does matter. On the aspect of marathoners, the tights do add to the evaporative cooling as the sweat can evaporate instead of run off, I've found that to help, hence why I dual layer shirts even though it seems insane. I don't know how much research has been actually done, and how much is just "common knowledge" that is so often wrong. Also I can see for runners that weight and wind may be a worthwhile compromise over cooling.


interesting - i have been ruminating about that - It is hard to imagine that evaporative cooling could be greater from a layer over the skin rather than from the skin boundary. The sweat that 'runs off' the skin is sweat that does not contribute to evaporative cooling but it does not mean that evaporative cooling is not occurring from water on the skin boundary - in fact it is occurring, it is just that the excess sweat exceeds the surface tension and runs off - wasted evaporative water, as it were.

Tights, or a cotton layer or any layer, traps absorbed sweat from the skin that is there to provide evaporative cooling. Evaporative cooling from the tights then cools the tights, i suppose, and then heat is conducted away away from the skin by the wet tights that are now cooler than the skin surface - so it is a once removed evaporative cooling rather than a direct evaporative cooling.

But, there is no reason to suppose that this evaporation + conduction has a greater effect than evaporative cooling from the skin boundary alone. All the tights would do is maintain the cooling effect once the skin surface is no longer producing sweat -the dreaded 'flash off' effect in cold weather. This is not a greater amount of cooling - just prolongs the effect beyond the period of metabolic activity ; not something we always want in bushwalking clothing.

It could even be that any layer of air trapping in the clothing/skin interface actually conducts against heat loss rather than contributes to heat conduction away from the skin. the clothing must then be completely saturatable to have this cooling effect. Which, i suppose, is why cotton and nylon are the preferred textiles fo r this effect, I suppose.

perhaps the tights (or cotton clothes or whatever) provides more surface area for evaporative cooling to occur from than the skin alone (like the radiator fins on your car) but again that would require a fuzzy surface like fleece not a smooth surface like tights... food for thought. at some stage I will see if anything reliably sciency is written about it. there is plenty of research on cold weather clothing but I have never seen much on hot weather clothing.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 1:21 pm

slparker wrote:
Gadgetgeek wrote:As stated, the type of heat really does matter. On the aspect of marathoners, the tights do add to the evaporative cooling as the sweat can evaporate instead of run off, I've found that to help, hence why I dual layer shirts even though it seems insane. I don't know how much research has been actually done, and how much is just "common knowledge" that is so often wrong. Also I can see for runners that weight and wind may be a worthwhile compromise over cooling.


interesting - i have been ruminating about that - It is hard to imagine that evaporative cooling could be greater from a layer over the skin rather than from the skin boundary. The sweat that 'runs off' the skin is sweat that does not contribute to evaporative cooling but it does not mean that evaporative cooling is not occurring from water on the skin boundary - in fact it is occurring, it is just that the excess sweat exceeds the surface tension and runs off - wasted evaporative water, as it were..... (edited for space)


You have a point there. There are certainly a lot of aspects to think about, and I could very well be wrong. The method I use seems to work best for me overall, but is hard to do real empirical testing on just myself. also, I'm of the genetics where a full moon requires UV protection so no matter what I have to keep that in mind, and I find sleeves far more comfortable than the slimy mess I end up with using sunblock. I'm certain that this comfort level plays a part, so even if I would be slightly cooler without sleeves, I would not be more comfortable.

I'm unfamiliar with the concept of the "flash off effect" can you describe it a bit? I'm guessing its a thing I know about, just under a different name.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby slparker » Sat 15 Dec, 2018 6:53 pm

'Flash off' is the vernacular term for the sudden chilling when you stop walking in wet clothes. A combination of decreased metabolic rate, continued evaporative cooling and conduction from wet clothes.
That thing that makes you quickly erect your tent, climb into dry clothes and put on a brew.
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Re: Sun protection and keeping cool

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 16 Dec, 2018 5:56 pm

slparker wrote:'Flash off' is the vernacular term for the sudden chilling when you stop walking in wet clothes. A combination of decreased metabolic rate, continued evaporative cooling and conduction from wet clothes.
That thing that makes you quickly erect your tent, climb into dry clothes and put on a brew.

Ah, gottcha. Makes sense, and something I have had to avoid.
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