Trekking in the monsoon season is about much more than managing wet backpacks or soaking clothes. The Himalayas are at their loveliest during this time. Forests are at their greenest. The meadows burst with colourful wild flowers. Streams and waterfalls dot the landscape.
All it takes to enjoy this and stay dry is some smart packing. If you are anxious about going on a monsoon trek, keep these simple rules in mind to make your trek comfortable.
1. Make generous use of plastic bags while packing.
When trekking in mosoon season, carry the same number of clothes as you would for a regular trek. But pack different categories in different plastic bags.
Compartmentalising your things in separate plastic bags is a good practice to make packing your backpack more efficient even on non-monsoon treks.
This means, your ranger rolled t-shirts, trek pants, underwear, thermals, socks, all go in different plastic bags. Put even your jackets in separate bags. Once done, roll up each bag tightly, and place them in your backpack. Rolling the plastic bag ensures the items don’t fall out. Your backpack also stays firmly packed as you trek.
In addition, carry extra plastic bags to keep wet clothes and socks.
Pro Tip: Reuse old plastic bags for this. Don’t buy new ones. Once you’re done with your trek, dry the plastic bags and store them away with your backpack so you can reuse the same plastic bags the next time.
2. Cover your backpack while trekking.
Always carry a rain cover for your backpack irrespective of what season you are trekking in. And before you start trekking, cover your backpack. Even if it looks like a perfectly sunny day. You never know when it can suddenly start raining in the mountains.
Backpack covers prevent your bag from being directly exposed to the rain. However, they are not completely waterproof. It is possible that your backpack gets wet in a downpour. Keep your valuables (things that should not get wet) in the central part of your backpack as opposed to the outermost compartments.
Also, do not skip packing the things inside your backpack in plastic bags.
3. Keep your poncho or rain coat handy.
Like I mentioned earlier, it can start raining anytime in the mountains. You do not want to be scrambling for your poncho when that happens. Nor do you want to open up your entire bag and its contents to the rain. So, keep your poncho easily accessible. It should ideally be in the top cover.
Should you use a poncho or a raincoat?
It doesn’t really matter. A poncho has the added benefit or providing a second layer of protection to your backpack. But raincoats, especially if you have rain pants and a coat are more effective in keeping you dry. Make sure the material is sturdy, or else you’ll be drenched despite being covered.
4. Keep all wet items outside the tent.
If your shoes, socks or backpacks get wet while trekking in monsoon season, do not carry them inside the tent. Take out only what you need from your backpack. Packing things in separate plastic bags makes this easier to do. Keeping your backpack out also ensures you do not mix dry and wet clothes.
If you keep the outer cover of your tent zipped, you’ll even have the privacy to change out of wet trekking pants without having to soil your tent with them.
5. Get into dry clothes as soon as you reach a campsite.
Always keep a complete set of dry clothes to wear at the campsite. As soon as you reach a campsite, change out of your wet clothes. Change into dry socks as well.
Your body cools down rapidly once you stop trekking. So, continuing to stay in wet clothes could lead to hypothermia. And you don’t want to get anywhere close to that.
If your trekking clothes do not dry completely before you start trekking the next day, change into them nevertheless. They will dry as you trek if it’s sunny. If not, your body can still manage as it warms up during the trek. Never compromise on your set of dry clothes.
Similarly, if you are running out of clean socks, always save a pair of dry ones for the campsite. You’d rather trek wearing wet socks than be stuck with them on cold nights at the campsite.
6. Carry quick-dry, synthetic clothes.
Avoid using thick trekking pants or cotton t-shirts on a monsoon trek. These take forever to dry. Wear breathable, quick-dry clothes instead. These will dry quickly while you are trekking and also at campsites.
7. Take care of your electronic items.
So far I have spoken about how to keep yourself dry on monsoon treks. But do not forget your electronic items like camera, power banks, headlamps and phones.
All of these can get damaged easily in the rain. So pack them in plastic covers as well. You could use silica gel packets to keep moisture away from your camera.
Learn more about how to pack your camera equipment here.
Is it safe to trek in monsoon?
Absolutely. As you plan your next trek, remember that not only is it possible trek in monsoon but it can also be a lot of fun. It’s your chance to be out in the open in the rain, which you seldom get to do in the city. Unlike cities, it usually does not rain constantly or in copious quantities for a long time in the mountains. So, it’s unlikely that you will be trekking in the rain all the time.
On most monsoon treks, you will be spending 5-6 six hours at most trekking each day. The rest of the day will be at campsites, where you can be completely dry. So, let go of your fear of monsoon treks, if any!
Does it rain in other seasons on treks?
Again, the answer is a yes! It’s best to be prepared for rain when you’re trekking in the Himalayas. Your trek usually lasts between 4 and 6 days. It’s not likely that it will rain everyday. But an afternoon or evening of rain in any season is not uncommon in the mountains.
So keep those plastic bags, rain covers and ponchos handy!
If you have any other tips on how to stay dry on a monsoon trek, share them in a comment below.