Inside Wet Rucksacks

Waking at Craiglyn Dyfi, I discovered several large, black slugs on the outside of my Phoenix Phantom’s inner.  More were on the Joe Brown 7 rucksack inside my tent’s vestibule.  Thirteen in total.  After showing them the door, I delved into the rucksack for breakfast.  The rucksack had been fastened as I had anticipated the slugs and yet it was damp inside.  That had not been the case when I closed it before going to bed so how could the water have got in through the rucksack’s thick nylon.

The only possibility is that I had put the water there.  Damp pots and pans, probably.  Sweat from my evening clothes, possibly.  Each of the items I had hidden from the slugs will have carried in a drop or two.  The overnight conditions did the rest.  First some warmth to vaporise each droplet.  High humidity from rain in the night and not a breath of wind so the vapour couldn’t go anywhere.  Perfect conditions for slugs, by the way.  Then a chill in the morning air to condense the water on the inside face of the impervious nylon used by Karrimor in the construction of that rucksack.

The sight which greeted me when I opened up the tent gave compensation.  The lake was so still that it was hard for me to tell where it ended and the crags began.  The water’s surface was a perfect mirror.  I thoroughly enjoyed the walk to Bala even though it passed through disputed land where one outdoors writer was allegedly threatened with a shotgun.  My traverse and descent from Aran Benllyn was incident free.

***

Big mistake, the experts said, buying a cuben rucksack.  Shaped, pyramid tents, fine.  Rucksacks, no.  Abrasion.  Leakage through the seams.  All of the experts had tried cuben rucksacks and had rejected them.  Well, my zPacks Blast is still going strong.  No sign of abrasion and, although I have found water inside it, that water was away from the seams.  When I stopped at Greg’s Hut on Cross Fell to clean up a nosebleed, I found condensation rather than leakage.  The dampness was in the middle of a cuben panel and did not look as if it had wicked across from the seams as there were dry areas between the condensation and each of the seams.

The damp area coincided with the part of the pack which had been blasted by cold rain as I crossed the Dun Fells.  The rain will have chilled the fabric, causing any moisture inside the Blast to condense on the inner face of the cuben.  Water may very well have got in through the untaped seams but I had packed up damp gear at Dufton that morning so, I suspect, the condensation would have formed even if the seams hadn’t leaked.

Despite the horrible weather, I managed to hike from Middleton-in-Teesdale to Alston in two, stress-free days.  At my age, I’m quite pleased with that performance.  I have no doubt that using a rucksack, tarp and quilt which weigh next to nothing facilitated the hike.  They also got me tea and chocolate biscuits when I arrived at Dufton’s lovely campsite.  A man in the nearest caravan simply did not believe that I could be comfortable with such minimal gear.  He was completely wrong.

***

I’ve just ordered a packliner drybag from http://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk.  They emailed to confirm my order and then emailed an hour later to say they had dispatched it.  Will the pack liner solve the problem?  It will add insulation and help keep my rucksack’s contents warmer but, if I will insist on camping in the rain, then puting my damp gear into a rucksack and climbing up to a cold ridge, the packliner might not solve the problem.  Yes, I could and should put the wet tarp in an outside pocket.  Perhaps I ought to wipe out the pots and pans with toilet paper and find a bin for the paper.  But there will still be moisture in my sleeping bag and in my evening clothes.  And I can’t do much about the air inside my rucksack.  It will be holding water vapour.

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