Summer is coming to an end and, while the warm weather might last for a few more weeks, we can expect temperatures to start falling soon – and, falling right along with them, rain. In most places this time of year is when it starts to get wetter, and that’s bad news if you have to spend time outdoors. Unfortunately for soldiers, this time of year is also the exercise season. Everyone’s back from summer vacation, commanders want to make sure that skills and fitness haven’t faded, so over the next couple of months a lot of people are going to be packing their kit and heading for the training areas – where it will probably rain.
GoreTex waterproof technology makes it a lot easier to stay dry in the rain than it used to be, but on its own it isn’t enough. Even if you keep the first shower off your skin, if you have to spend a few nights in the field wet gear will quickly start to affect you. Soaked boots will cause foot problems. A damp sleeping bag won’t help you make the most of your limited chances to rest. To stay comfortable and effective, you need to make sure all your gear is as weatherproofed as possible.
First, your pack. It isn’t waterproof. Yes, I know it’s made of PU-backed fabric and has taped seams. It doesn’t matter; it still isn’t waterproof. Think of the weight that gets stuffed in there, and how packs get thrown about moving on and off transport. Those seams take a lot of abuse, and they’ll soon start to develop leaks. The inside of the fabric gets scuffed when you shove gear in there, creating spots where water can get through. The flap at the top is another weak point, especially when packs are dumped on the ground in the rain. Your gear needs some extra protection. You can use a heavy duty trash bag as a pack liner – they’re waterproof, but they’re not very robust. A better solution is a proper liner with a top closure. For smaller patrol packs, a waterproof laundry bag makes a good liner.
Pack your spare clothes in individual plastic bags – if you can get big Ziploc ones they’re ideal. That way, even if the liner gets damaged, your kit’s still protected. When you get the chance to sleep, don’t just rely on a bivvy bag. They’re pretty waterproof, but the weight of your body will force water through underneath from the ground – and heavy enough rain can get through, as well. Always take a few minutes to rig up your poncho, to keep the rain off, and use a sleeping mat. The mat will help prevent heat loss, too.
Finally, boots. If you’re moving through wet grass, get a pair of gaiters; they’ll keep your legs dry and stop water getting down the top of your boots. If the boots themselves aren’t GoreTex-lined, make sure they’re proofed with an appropriate product. Wet weather is a real challenge to personal admin in the field – and if you get it wrong it’s a rapid morale killer. A few extra minutes’ work when you’re packing your gear, and sensible precautions in the field, will do a lot to keep you and your gear dry. That means you’ll also be healthier, happier, more comfortable and more effective.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.