10 Ways to Keep Your Gear Dry While Orienteering: Essential Tips and Tricks

July 03, 2024 10 min read

Orienteering offers a thrilling blend of navigation and physical challenge, but keeping your gear dry is crucial for success. Wet equipment can lead to discomfort, reduced performance, and even potential damage to your gear.

A backpack with a waterproof cover, a map in a clear plastic case, a dry bag for electronics, a waterproof jacket, and a waterproof pouch for snacks and supplies

Proper preparation and strategic packing can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining dry gear. This article will explore various methods to help you protect your equipment from the elements, ensuring you stay focused on navigating and enjoying your orienteering adventure.

1) Waterproof Map Case

A waterproof map case lays open on a moss-covered rock, surrounded by scattered gear. Rain falls gently, creating ripples on the nearby stream

A waterproof map case is essential for keeping your map safe from moisture. When you're out in the wilderness, rain and puddles are constant threats. A durable case ensures your map stays readable and intact.

Look for a case with a secure seal to prevent water entry. Many come with zip-lock or roll-top closures, which are effective against leaks.

Clear plastic material allows you to see the map without removing it. It's important to keep the map accessible while protecting it. Some cases even include lanyards, making them easy to carry around your neck.

Consider cases with reinforced edges to withstand rough handling. Orienteering can be harsh on your gear, and the extra durability can be beneficial.

Make sure the case is the right size for your map. It should fit snugly without too much extra space, which can make it cumbersome to manage.

Test the waterproof capability of the case before your trip. Submerge the case in water to ensure no leaks. It's better to find out at home than in the field.

2) Dry Bags for Electronics

Protecting your electronics from moisture is crucial during orienteering. Dry bags provide a reliable solution to keep your devices safe. These bags are specifically designed to be waterproof and durable.

When selecting a dry bag for your electronics, consider the size and capacity. Ensure it fits your devices comfortably. A snug fit helps maintain the waterproof seal and prevents water from seeping in.

Look for dry bags made from high-quality materials like PVC or nylon. These materials offer excellent water resistance and durability. Also, check for sturdy, well-sealed closures. Roll-top closures with secure buckles are particularly effective at keeping out water.

Some dry bags come with additional features like transparent panels. This can be handy as it allows you to use touch screens without removing the device from the bag. Consider these for better usability in the field.

Dry bags are versatile and can be used for various electronics, including phones, GPS devices, and cameras. Having one or more in your gear ensures that your essential devices remain operational regardless of weather conditions.

Lastly, periodically check your dry bags for wear and tear. Any damages can compromise their waterproof capabilities. Regular maintenance helps extend their lifespan and keeps your electronics safe.

Investing in good quality dry bags is a smart decision. It ensures that your electronic gear remains dry, functional, and ready for use at all times.

3) Water-Resistant Backpack

A water-resistant backpack sits on a rocky trail, surrounded by dense forest. Rain pours down, but the gear inside remains dry thanks to the backpack's waterproof material and secure closures

A water-resistant backpack is essential for keeping your gear dry during orienteering.

Look for backpacks made from water-resistant materials like treated nylon or polyester.

These materials help prevent water from seeping through, even in heavy rain.

Sealed zippers add an extra layer of protection to keep your gear dry.

Make sure the backpack has a rain cover for added security against water.

Check that the seams are sealed or welded to prevent water intrusion.

Compartments with sealed zippers can keep smaller items dry.

Adjustable straps can help you achieve a comfortable, secure fit, even in challenging weather conditions.

Pay attention to the backpack's capacity to ensure it meets your storage needs without compromising on water resistance.

4) Pack Rain Cover

Using a rain cover for your pack is essential. It offers a reliable shield against rain, keeping your gear dry and secure.

Rain covers are made from waterproof materials. This prevents water from seeping through, ensuring your items stay dry.

They are lightweight and easy to attach. Most come with an elastic edge, fitting snugly over your pack.

Make sure the cover is the right size for your pack. If it's too small, it won't provide full coverage. If it's too large, it might slip off.

Look for rain covers with additional features, such as reinforced seams. These enhance durability and effectiveness.

Keeping a rain cover handy is simple. Most covers fold into a compact size, fitting in your pack's pocket.

High-visibility rain covers are also available. These can help you stay visible in low-light conditions.

A well-fitted rain cover is a smart investment. It ensures your gear stays dry, no matter the weather.

5) Emergency Space Blanket

A bright orange emergency space blanket is draped over a pile of orienteering gear, protecting it from the pouring rain. The gear includes a map, compass, and waterproof bag

An emergency space blanket is a versatile and essential item for keeping your gear dry while orienteering. Made from lightweight, reflective material, it serves as a reliable barrier against moisture.

You can use an emergency space blanket to cover your backpack or any other gear. This keeps rain and dampness from infiltrating your belongings. Make sure to secure the blanket tightly around your items to prevent water from seeping in.

Emergency space blankets are compact and easy to carry. When not in use, they can be folded and stored in a small pouch. This makes them convenient to take on any orienteering adventure.

These blankets can also provide insulation, reflecting body heat to keep you warm in cold conditions. This dual function adds an extra layer of protection and comfort in unpredictable weather.

Always check your emergency space blanket for any tears or damage before your trip. An intact blanket is crucial for it to work effectively.

6) Silicone Waterproofing Spray

Silicone waterproofing spray is a versatile option for protecting your gear. This spray can be applied to various materials, including fabric, leather, and even some plastics.

Before using the spray, ensure the item is clean and dry. Dirt and moisture can hinder the effectiveness of the waterproofing treatment.

Hold the spray can at a distance of about 6-8 inches from the surface. Apply a light, even coat, ensuring that you cover all areas.

Allow the item to dry completely before using it. This might take a few hours, so plan accordingly.

One advantage of silicone waterproofing spray is its durability. With proper application, the protective layer can last through multiple uses and even some washing.

Reapply the spray periodically, especially after heavy use or exposure to harsh conditions. This will help maintain the waterproofing effect.

Always test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area first. This helps ensure that the spray doesn’t discolor or damage your gear.

7) Waterproof Clothing Layers

A person wearing waterproof clothing layers while navigating through a forest. Rain is falling, but the gear is keeping them dry

When orienteering, opting for waterproof clothing layers is essential. Select outer layers made from materials like Gore-Tex or eVent, which offer breathability and water resistance. These will help keep you dry in wet conditions.

Invest in a waterproof jacket with sealed seams and waterproof zippers. This prevents water from seeping in through the tiny openings. A hood with a drawstring can shield your head and neck from rain.

Your trousers should also be waterproof. Look for designs with elasticated cuffs to prevent water from running down and soaking your socks. Side zippers can allow for quick ventilation without compromising waterproofing.

Layering is key to maintaining body temperature. Use moisture-wicking base layers to keep sweat away from your skin. Synthetic materials dry faster than cotton, making them ideal for active pursuits like orienteering.

An insulated mid-layer can help retain warmth, especially in colder weather. Choose a fleece or synthetic insulated jacket that maintains its insulating properties even when damp.

Footwear is another critical aspect. Waterproof boots with Gore-Tex linings provide protection and support. Make sure they fit well and are broken in to avoid blisters. Wool socks can offer added water resistance and keep your feet warm.

Lastly, don’t forget your hands. Waterproof gloves can protect your hands from rain and cold, ensuring you can still handle maps and compass effectively. Look for gloves with good dexterity and grip to maintain function.

8) Gaiters for Muddy Conditions

Gaiters are an essential accessory for orienteering in muddy conditions. They cover the tops of your boots and lower legs, providing a barrier against mud, water, and debris. This keeps your feet and lower legs dry and clean.

When choosing gaiters, look for ones made from waterproof and durable materials. Adjustable straps ensure a snug fit, preventing mud from seeping in. Breathable fabric can help reduce sweat buildup.

Gaiters come in various heights, so select the right height for your needs. For extremely muddy or wet areas, consider knee-high gaiters for maximum protection.

Ensure the gaiters are compatible with your footwear. Some designs attach directly to your boots, while others use hooks or straps. Proper attachment helps maintain a secure fit even in thick mud.

Wearing gaiters also adds a layer of insulation. This can be useful in cold, wet environments. They also serve as a barrier against insects and thorny vegetation, ensuring safer and more comfortable navigation through rough terrain.

Regularly clean and maintain your gaiters. Rinse off mud and debris after each use to prolong their lifespan. Proper care keeps them functional and ready for your next orienteering adventure.

9) Quick-Drying Towel

A colorful quick-drying towel draped over a backpack, with a waterproof cover and dry bags for gear, surrounded by a forest setting with a map and compass

Using a quick-drying towel is essential when you're out orienteering. These towels are designed to dry rapidly, minimizing the risk of mildew and unwanted odors in your pack.

Quick-drying towels are typically made from synthetic materials like microfiber. This ensures they are lightweight and compact, taking up minimal space in your gear.

They are also highly absorbent. This means you can effectively dry off in a short amount of time, even if the weather is wet or humid.

Another advantage is that they're easy to wring out. Even after heavy use, you can quickly remove excess water and have a relatively dry towel ready for next use.

Most quick-drying towels come with a convenient carrying case or loop. This allows you to attach them to your pack, making them easily accessible and speeding up the drying process.

In addition to keeping yourself dry, they can help protect other gear. Use your towel to wipe down wet items before stowing them back in your pack.

Their versatility makes them beneficial for multiple purposes. Beyond drying off, they can be used as a makeshift blanket, a sun shield, or even a ground cover when taking a break.

10) Sealed Food Containers

A table with various sealed food containers surrounded by waterproof bags, dry sacks, and plastic bins, all labeled "10 Ways to Keep Your Gear Dry While Orienteering."

Sealed food containers are excellent for keeping your gear dry. They are designed to be waterproof, ensuring that any moisture is kept out. By using these containers, you can prevent water damage to food items and other sensitive gear.

Choose high-quality containers with sturdy seals. This guarantees they maintain their waterproof properties in various conditions. Place smaller items that need protection inside these containers for added security.

These containers come in various sizes, making it easy to find ones that fit your needs. You can store anything from snacks to electronics, keeping them dry and safe.

Look for containers that are easy to open and close. This ensures you can access your items quickly without risking exposure to rain or moisture.

Incorporate multiple sealed food containers into your kit to compartmentalize your gear. This approach helps organize items and provides extra layers of protection.

By investing in reliable sealed food containers, you add a simple yet effective layer of defense against the elements. This method is straightforward, practical, and highly effective for keeping your gear dry while orienteering.

Understanding the Importance of Dry Gear

Dry gear plays a critical role in ensuring both comfort and safety during your orienteering activities. Moreover, keeping your gear dry prevents potential damage, extending its lifespan and reliability.

Impact on Comfort and Safety

Keeping your gear dry enhances your comfort significantly. Wet clothing can cause chafing and lead to skin irritations. In cooler weather, wet gear can rapidly decrease body temperature, increasing the risk of hypothermia. Dry gear keeps you warm, allowing you to maintain optimal performance levels.

Safety is also tied to dry gear. Wet conditions can make equipment like maps and GPS devices harder to use. In extreme cases, moisture can cause these tools to malfunction. Reliable, dry gear ensures you can navigate effectively and avoid dangerous situations.

Preventing Gear Damage

Moisture can cause substantial damage to your equipment. Water exposure can degrade materials, leading to wear and tear much faster. For instance, fabric tents and clothing lose integrity when consistently wet. Electronics are particularly vulnerable, with moisture causing short circuits and permanent failures.

Properly drying your gear prevents mold and mildew growth. This is especially true for items like boots and backpacks. Mold not only damages materials but also creates unhealthy conditions, leading to potential health risks. By keeping your gear dry, you invest in its longevity and functionality.

Selecting the Right Equipment

Choosing appropriate gear ensures your essentials stay dry and functional during orienteering. Focus on acquiring protective containers and suitable clothing to withstand wet conditions.

Waterproof Bags and Cases

Invest in waterproof bags and cases for safeguarding your gear. Look for bags with reinforced seams and roll-top closures, as these features provide optimal water resistance.

Key features to consider:

  1. Material: Ensure bags are made from durable materials like PVC or nylon.
  2. Size: Select various sizes for different items from maps to electronics.
  3. Closures: Roll-top closures offer better protection than traditional zippers.

Some popular brands include Sea to Summit and Ortlieb, known for their reliability and quality.

Water-Resistant Clothing

Water-resistant clothing is crucial for comfort and protection. Choose garments with a minimum rating of 5,000mm for effective water resistance.

Essential items:

  1. Jackets: Look for jackets with sealed seams and adjustable hoods.
  2. Pants: Opt for lightweight, breathable options that allow freedom of movement.
  3. Footwear: Select waterproof boots to keep feet dry during excursions.

Brands like Patagonia and Arc'teryx offer excellent options designed for harsh conditions.

These choices will ensure you stay dry and focused on navigating your course effectively.

Maintenance Tips for Keeping Gear Dry

Effective maintenance is crucial to keep your gear dry. This involves regular inspections to catch any potential issues early and proper storage techniques to ensure the longevity of your equipment.

Regular Inspections

Conduct thorough inspections of your gear before and after each use. Check for any signs of wear or damage, such as tears, holes, or weakened seams.

Pay close attention to:

  • Zippers and seams: Ensure they are intact and functional.
  • Waterproof coatings: Look for any peeling or thinning areas.
  • Stitching: Examine for loose or broken threads.

Testing your gear in controlled environments, like using a garden hose to simulate rain, can help identify weak spots. Address any minor issues promptly to prevent them from becoming larger problems.

Proper Storage Techniques

Proper storage of your gear is essential to maintain its waterproof qualities. Always clean and dry your equipment thoroughly before storing it.

Store your gear in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Use breathable storage bags or containers to avoid trapping moisture.

Tips for specific items include:

  • Backpacks: Hang or store flat to maintain shape.
  • Tents: Ensure all components are fully dry before packing away.
  • Clothing: Fold neatly and store in moisture-wicking bags.

Following these storage practices will prolong the lifespan of your gear and keep it ready for your next adventure.