Keeping Warm When It Rains

It is easy to get cold when you are wet. Thus, one of the most important things to do to stay warm on a rainy day is to stay as dry as possible. If you are doing field work, you might have to be out in heavy rain where having the right clothing can make a huge difference. Here are some suggestions:

1) Cotton is HORRIBLE in the rain, and this includes jeans. Cotton absorbs moisture, and it stays wet and cold for a very long time. Wet cotton against your skin absorbs a lot of heat from your body, making you feel cold. In contrast, many synthetic fabrics allow water to run off. Polyester is an example of a type of fiber that does not absorb water. When it is woven into a smooth fabric, the water just roles off. Wool is better than cotton if you prefer a natural fiber, but it only sheds water if it still has a lot of the natural oils in it.

2) Rain coats are good. I prefer one with a hood so water doesn’t run down my neck, but if you don’t wear the hood, it can fill with water that then flows down your back when you lean forward. I also like raincoats that extend past my bottom. That way more of the rain that runs off lands on the ground rather than on my pants.

3) Ponchos are good and cheap. They can be purchased at Target, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and other similar stores. If you get a clear plastic one, you can tuck you arms inside and write in your field notebook while keeping it dry. You can always keep one in your field pack.

Although ponchos work well when the rain is coming down, they don’t work as well when rain is coming sideways. In windy and rainy weather, they flap around a lot and rain gets in through the bottom and sides. That’s when a good rain coat is really nice to have.

4) Umbrellas are good if the rain is coming down more than sideways. They keep the rain off entirely, so it doesn’t drip off the end of your raincoat or poncho onto your legs. However, they are hard to handle in the wind and they take an extra hand to hold. That is a challenge if you are taking field notes, using a jacob’s staff, etc.

5) Rain pants keep your legs dry, which can help a lot.

6) Wear a hat. Most of our heat is lost out of our heads. Wearing a warm hat makes a huge difference in keeping warm even if you do get wet. Hats with brims that keep the rain out of your eyes are nice. If they have a brim in back, too, they can help keep rain from going down your back.

7) If you get caught out without a raincoat or poncho, a garbage bag can be better than nothing. If you cut a hole in the bottom for your head and holes in the side for your arms, you will stay drier and warmer than without one.