Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
Rain system for backpacking
With the frequency of rain the west coast gets, I am always looking for a better way to handle rain.
My current setup involves a home made pack cover based on the (now discontinued) OR Pack Hoody. This is a pack cover with a hood attached to it, so that you don't get water between your back and your pack. My version has a bit more of a cape at the front, so that I generally stay dry from the elbows up.
Based on my experience with my hybrid pack cover, I still boggle why OR discontinued their pack hoody. My problem with a full poncho is that it has too much fabric. In brushy area it gets snagged a lot, rough trails it can be a tripping hazard and I find I overheat with it quite easily even wearing minimal layers underneath. Taking the pack on or off you also have a lot of fabric to manage. While I don't have a Packa, here likewise I can see overheating as a problem, though I see it as a little more managable as a wearable layer than a poncho.
The other benefit of the hooded pack cover is that you keep a significant part of your rain jacket dry (assuming it is cool enough that you need it). This keeps your jacket from wetting out completely, and it keeps breathing. You can also leave your jacket partially unzipped for direct venting. It is also quite easy to deploy the hood and cape without removing the pack, and to stash them (tuck them under the main part of the pack cover) without removing your pack. A side benefit is that when I remove my pack, the cape hangs over the front of the pack and I can leave the pack sitting outside in the open without getting soaked.
I would love to hear about how other systems compare for hiking in wet conditions.