Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recommendation on EDC for rainy environment?‏

Hi Fernando,

I really enjoy your blog and have learned a lot from your book.  I am wondering if you have any special gear you would recommend for EDC in Seattle?  To give you some background, it rains in Seattle about 300 days per year and the sun is pretty much never out.  Everything is always soaked.  I have already added a compact raincoat and a wide-brimmed hat to my EDC bag, and in my truck I keep a waterproof tarp (but it is too large and heavy for my EDC bag).  In an environment where everything is constantly soaking wet, what recommendations do you have on EDC?

Hi Mike, glad you like the blog and book.
Your environment clearly dictates a few special considerations.
Base Camp Messenger Bag Backpacks - unisex TNF Red Black Large by The North Face

For an EDC bag, I’d go for something that is waterproof. Sometimes, materials that are supposed to be waterproof aren’t so. Cordura for example, it may not absorb water like cotton but its not waterproof either. The best “real” waterproof EDC bag I found so far is the North Face Bomber bag. This bag is made of a rubbery material that is 100% waterproof. Of course it zips down and isn’t watertight, but as long as the flap is down and rain just pours over it contents are kept dry.
Sometimes you can find rubberized cloth, occasionally in surplus store. Just keep this in mind, the material should be completely waterproof and that excludes any woven fiber, natural or synthetic.
Some of the contents I’d keep in this bag of yours:

Olive Drab - GI Style Poncho (Nylon Rip-Stop)

Poncho: Get one that is compact but still better than those disposable ones found for a couple bucks. This is something you’ll use often.
Umbrella: I knew it would be raining in Salt Lake City and still didn’t take my little umbrella. I wish I had! A small umbrella can be safely tucked under the flap of the North Face shoulder bag.
Space Blankets: Include a couple of these. They double as emergency blankets, can do as emergency ponchos or tarps if you need them. One can be used to put a “roof” over your head (include 10 yards of 550 paracord in your bag) and the other one as a blanket.
Signaling: Given the overall cloudy location, you may want to make yourself noticed with some reflective tape on your poncho or using a FuelBelt Reflective Snap Band.
  You don’t want to get run over while walking, so this is important. A red LED strobe would be ideal. 

SE 6 Way Flasher with Accessory Red with Bike Attachment

Ziplock bag with spare clothes: At least underwear and socks, you might want to include one of those thing running shorts and dryfit top. Takes almost no space once sealed in a ziplock bag with the air removed.
The general theme of your EDC should be keeping things try, watertight match case, storm lighter, the ziplock bags will help keep things dry and organized too.  As for firearm, go Glock and pick a quality stainless steel blade instead of just carbon steel which would rust easily. Ammo (premium defensive ammo) will be ok even if wet, but you want to replace it twice a year if its really damp, just in case.
Take care!


Anonymous said...

As part of my EDC I always have an over sized rain coat. Rain gear is important to me because I often carry my laptop with me, and as I found out the hard way once (before I owned a laptop!), my back pack isn't waterproof. To keep my laptop (and all my other goodies) dry when it rains, I put my raincoat on over my back pack (sorry FerFAL, but I can't stand messenger bags). If I had a normal sized raincoat, I couldn't do this, but with an over sized raincoat or poncho I can.

Another suggestion to consider is to line your bag/back pack with a plastic trash bag. If you roll it down, it will keep your stuff dry. It's not an optimal solution, but it's better than nothing, and you can't beat the price.

Anonymous said...

Being from premier wet area myself (Buffalo), I have to object to all of the rain recommendations. When it's wet, wet is everywhere. Not just your clothes, your socks, your boots, but everything you walk by, everything you sit on, everything you touch. When the air is wet, there's no evaporation--quite the reverse; and so even if you start dry, you'll sweat yourself wet from the inside.

If that weren't bad enough, unless you remain in an urban environment, there is literally NO dry, anywhere, ever. The ground is wet, the wood is wet, the tent is wet, even the smoke from your fire is wet.

What to do? One word: wool. Wool remains useable as well as warm when wet. You embrace the wet rather than attempt the impossible spacesuit conditions of actually remaining dry. So with wool socks, BDUs (half-poly) or wool pants, wool shirt, you may BE wet, but you don't feel wet the way you would in Levi's and flannel.

Other wet items: Kneepads or chaps if you're in the woods. You'll be kneeling a lot for the fire, tent, or any other work and can keep your knees from being a mud-block to the ankle. This is why the Scots wore socks, a kilt (not pants) and had bare knees. The natives wore leggings (chaps). Even impermeable plastic chaps "puff" with each step, keeping you dryer than rainpants and much dryer than without--important if you're humping it or on bicycle, which is likely in a BoB situation.

In modern gear, run, don't walk, to sil-nylon. A coat, a tent, a poncho will weigh ounces and crush to the size of a pack of cigarettes. is a premier if expensive provider of sil-nylon tents, with an enormous 2-man tent with living-size atrium at 11oz and the size of a nalgene bottle.

The ultra-light packing movement has your other needs--tarps, ponchos, sil-bags that are 100% watertight/zero weight, and full-size week-trip packs weighing 2-1/2lbs...and waterproof. It also allows you to get the fire inside the tent for--gasp--an actual dry, which to wet denziens what water is to the drylands. Or if you're smart and poor, use construction Tyvek and a wool blanket instead.

The key to all this is the secret of kayakers or rafters: get wet. Embrace the wet. Don't fear it. The Suquamish Indians were no doubt wet all the time and never did them any harm. Just learn what they were doing and follow it.

Anonymous said...

For a heavy duty rain resistant rucksack, I'd take a look at the old school Swiss military (military issued) surplus RUBBERIZED ruck, its an amazingly tough piece of equipment. And can be found for very reasonable prices, I've seen Sportsmans Guide sell them 2 for $10 in recent years. Not light by any means, but very well made. The color is a dark 'pine green' color, making it a natural for evergreen covered areas. Iirc, about 1800 c.i. capacity. The exterior pocket fits a pair of U.S. G.I. 2 quart canteens (the rectangular body) like it was made for it. Anyway, nice piece of gear - look and see if might be useful to you. We use the non rubberized down here (heavy canvas / leather) - its resisted tears from our thorny vegetation very well.

For some uses, the 2 1/2 gallon waterproof bags (sandwich bag thick construction) are good, I've used those to protect my bedding from windborne sand down in our locale. They are extremely tough, but would definitely be a help, and they are available in many places. Having a few boxes of those would be nice.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Look into stashing gear in a Food Saver type sealer as well. This keeps items dry and really compacts them. I do socks and other clothing, and my fire kit.

Mr. Read said...

I also live in Seattle and have given this all a great deal of thought as well. What do I do when I'm at work and need to get home when things go really bad?!?

I keep a complete change of clothes in my office. These are clothes that would look much less "business" like for my trek home.

I still use a backpack for daily carry if I'm driving to and from work. I also have a waterproof cover for my backpack should I need it. It does not take up much space at all. Alternatively, if necessary, I will put one of the black garbage bags to use to cover up the pack. They are light and pretty durable and won't attract attention. I have adopted the "gray man" idea as well. Blend in as much as possible with the crowd. It has saved me a couple of times, for example the WTO riots in Seattle.

When I ride my motorcycle, which is most of the year around, I use a messenger bag, as it is what will fit into my panniers. Then, my kit goes into the heavy trash bag and into the messenger bag. It's just what is realistically practical for me. As for keeping myself dry, my motorcycle gear works great, and I always have the rainproof jacket at work as well.

Traveling on a motorcycle gives you a little different perspective of packing light, being prepared for everything from mechanical problems to personal safety to weather.

I agree with the recommendation on the LED flasher and reflective bands. I keep a couple of each in my kit. I want to blend in, but I also don't want to be hit by a car because I'm careless, or someone else is.

It all comes down to what works best for you!

Anonymous said...

I live in Seattle too and I can tell you that one of the best things you can do is to put things in ziploc polybags. You can get the extra thick ones (without logos) from REI in various sizes. They're great because you can visually see your gear while keeping it organized. Also, you can use any sort of cotton or canvas bag and treat it with Oil Finish Wax from Filson. It provides maximum water-repellency!

Anonymous said...

I have seen western hunters vacuum-seal their bullets in packs of 10 for dry storage "loose" in a pocket, and easy measure.

Anonymous said...

'Dry Bags' are now somewhat popular and afforable. One of three sizes will fit into any pack and keep the contents dry. They are heavy, but tough. These can also be used to haul water. I store a sleeping bag in one and the remainer of the pack in a smaller Dry Bag including Food Saver bags that reduce the bulkiness of spare clothing significantly. Periodically spraying the pack with a water repellent improves the water resistant nature of some packs, and second poncho can quickly be thrown over the pack if necessary. With a pair mil-spec ponchos with snaps, the two can be joined and make a decent shelter.