I am planning a backpacking trip in the Western Ghats in the second week of August. The reason for choosing to explore this part of the country during the monsoons is simple- the Western Ghats are the most beautiful during the rainy season with its scenic natural beauty and lush green deciduous forests. However, when planning a backpacking trip during the rains, when you would mostly be on your foot and using public transport, it is important to be prepared so that your clothes and other stuff do not get wet. Here are ways to ensure that you stay dry and comfortable.
Wear the right clothing: When it comes to clothing, the trick is to avoid cotton clothes – both uppers and lowers. If it is cold, wear several layers that you can put on or remove suitably. Cotton holds on to moisture and does not insulate you when wet and also takes a long time to dry. Breathable quick drying t-shirts made out of polyester or other synthetic material are the best options and will cost you Rs 1,000 or less. Full-sleeved ones will cost more. For colder climates, get yourself a pair of fleece jackets, a thicker one if it is colder. Of course, you need to invest in a good rain jacket that keeps you dry when it is raining, accompanied by a pair of rain paints. Another option is to go for a poncho, a garment made out of a watertight material which is loose fitting so that it can be draped over the rucksack as well, covering it from the rain too. It is pretty long, so you might not need to wear rain pants. Disposable polythene or PVC ponchos will cost you a few hundred rupees, while a polyester poncho will cost you about Rs 600.
Invest in suitable footwear: It is advisable to get yourself a pair of waterproof hiking boots which does not let in any moisture from the outside. Choose one with high ankles for more protection. You can get them for cheap or invest in a good pair that would cost you Rs 2,500 or more depending on the brand, but will last you a few years. If you are walking through wet vegetation, the lower part your trousers are going to get wet, but if made of out of non-cotton layers, it will dry out soon. However, if you do not want that or are really fastidious about any moisture entering your boots, get a pair of gaiters which wrap around your feet and prevents any water or mud going through. It also protects your legs from any scratches when walking through prickly vegetation. A good pair of gaiters made out of nylon will set you back by Rs 1,000.
Waterproof your rucksack: Since you will carry most of your stuff in the rucksack, you need to take every care to make it waterproof. Good rucksacks are water resistant, sometimes even waterproof, but it is best to invest in a rain cover which would cost you less than Rs 500. This ensures that your sack is protected against the heaviest of downpours. Further, for added protection, put away your clothes in polythene packs/ garbage bags to keep them warm and dry. Store essentials like snacks and other knick -knacks in outside pockets so that you need to open your rucksack as less as possible when it is raining.
Secure your gadgets: Protecting your phone against the elements is essential as you are going to use it a lot. One easy way to do that is to put in into a zip lock and secure it properly. Another option is to use a specifically designed waterproof mobile pouch which would cost you about Rs 200- Rs 300. This seals your phone and saves it from rain or even it is accidentally gets dropped into a puddle. Such pouches are designed specifically to be used for taking calls, texting and taking photos even when the phone is within the pouch and will cost you between Rs 200- Rs 400. For cameras, you would already be having a waterproof camera bag and it is advisable to not use the camera or use it in short bursts during heavy rains. You can also invest in a rains sleeve that will cost you about Rs 2,000. Made of nylon, these can be fitted on your camera to protect your camera and lenses from the worst of rains while taking a shot. In fact, while shooting the landscape on a tripod, you can even use an umbrella.
Happy backpacking in the rains!