I have planned a three day trip for next weekend and it is calling for it to rain. Since the trail is in southwestern PA it will also be chill ( a high of 55), so we will be dressing for that and I have good rain gear for myself but the other two guys are lacking a bit. we are using one of thier tents. I guess what ! am wandering is what are some things to do to get ready for the rain, hiking and camping.
Since you're indicating that "the other two guys are lacking a bit" in rain gear, and since you're using one of their tents (which may also be lacking a bit?), one suggestion that comes to mind is try to design a bailout point into your trip (including spotting a second car there, or being sure that you have a way back to your car from there.) It's good to have an option if gear may be "lacking a bit."
Also, be sure to watch each other for signs of hypothermia. Though you may think it's just a cold-weather threat, it's also a cool-weather-plus-wet issue. I've seen hiking companions (and myself) start to show signs of this during a day in the rain. Even with good rain gear, a continuous rain is going to get you wet. In moderately cool temperatures (55 would do), or just a light, cool breeze, you'll chill quickly.
You need to read up on it. I've never had experience with more than the early signs (slightly slurred speech, slowed or clumsy walking, dulled thought processes, shivering while walking); we always watched each other, and someone said "We're done for today" when one of us starting acting as though the edge was no longer there. We'd get the victim's tent up first, get him into dry clothes and into his sleeping bag, and start some hot water for cocoa or bouillion. Fortunately, the victim was still with it enough to know he needed to cooperate, and the problem was always quickly resolved; an hour or so later, and all was well. I'm sure we occasionally stopped before hypothermia had begun, but we all preferred, by mutual agreement, that safe was better than sorry.
Be sure to take a set of dry clothes (medium or expedition weight longjohns and some socks would do) to wear in camp - keep them in a waterproof bag (Ziploc works well) when they're in your pack. Don't even think of wearing them on the trail; change back into your trail clothes, even if they're a little wet. (If they're a lot wet, it's time to think about using one of those bailout points.)
Also consider taking some extra food (a pack of ramen noodles, maybe some extra granola bars or candy) and beverages for that quick jolt of warmth. Also, if you usually eat a cold breakfast and lunch (like I do) consider cooking those meals, also. Of course, you'll also want to bring extra stove fuel. You might also want to bring a lightweight 8x10 tarp to pitch as a kitchen shelter in camp, or a shelter for your lunchtime stop.
Don't take this for a comprehensive lesson on hypothermia; it's not. My experience is limited to the very early onset - be sure you've read up on later stages, too. (My guess is that Midnight Sun might be an excellent source of information - you out there, MNS?)
Decent rain gear is pretty cheap is your friends don't even have that. Grab up some cheapo rain ponchos (nylon, PVC). Polyester is okay too, but I would keep a polyester jacket as a backup. Polyester will keep you dry for a certain amount of time, but it's real nice in that it dries pretty fast.
Unless you plan to spend all your time (other than hiking) inside your tents I would bring along a tarp of whatever size your comfortable carrying. I hammock camp so I always use a tarp :-) If your pack or friend's packs don't have a rain cover you can go the cheapo route and put grocery bags over your packs to keep them dry (mostly).
Just make sure your friends dress in layers of clothing and try to keep your inner warm layers from getting wet. Always bring an extra set of clothes.
All of my summer camping experiences were in the low 40's and they weren't so bad. I just hope you got a decent sleeping bag. As long as you stay fairly dry and give yourself enough time to dry up and warm up before bed you should be okay.
My very first backpacking trip I overpacked by 20lbs, I hiked into a storm on the mountain, and had on nothing but pure cotton. Oh, and my sleeping bag was crap. I survived being soaked, but I could have just made simple clothing changes and bought some cheap rain gear and I would have been fine.
So, tell your friends to get a rain jacket/pants or wear some polyester or maybe some wool. I were the same thing in the winter when it snows like crazy in the morning.
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