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Let It Rain

Thunderheads above, rapids ahead . . . there's water in your future. So what do you bring to keep things dry?

By Steve Casimiro

It won't score you any fashion points, but a simple poncho is great for staying dry in a downpour. The multipurpose poncho from OUTDOOR PRODUCTS has a generous hood, is made from urethane-coated nylon, and won't break the bank. $30, rei.com


Most three-season backpacking tents do just fine in moderate rain. But if you're in a truly wet place—on the Olympic Peninsula, say—choose a more robust shelter, like the Cirque ASL 2 from REI. The 31-square-foot, two-person domicile has a deep, waterproof bathtub floor, panels to cover mesh doors, and vents to fend off internal condensation. $360, rei.com


The first all-weather digital consumer camera by NIKON, the Coolpix AW100 is waterproof and freeze-proof (to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) and can survive drops up to five feet. The gadget also shoots 1080p video, packs a 5X glass lens for ultrasharp images, and has GPS for geotagging photos. A favorite function: the super-slow-motion feature that captures up to 240 frames per second. $380, nikonusa.com


Traveling ultralight is the most liberating way to romp through the backcountry—until a shower rolls through right at dark. Combine the MSR one-pound E-Wing tarp with hiking poles and the enclosed parachute cord, though, and you're protected from light rain, wind, and sun. It's easily configured into a variety of shelter types: pup tent, lean-to, kitchen cover, and others. $170, msrcorp.com


When the starter on your stove fails on a damp night, the REI Stormproof Matches come to the rescue, sparking up dinner. They burn until their chemical treatment runs out—even in the heaviest rain—but you can submerge them in water to douse the flame. $6.50 for two 25-match boxes, rei.com


Plenty of dry bags remain watertight on even the wildest river trip, but most of them trap air—and stay bulky—when buckled shut. The eVac Dry Sack from SEA TO SUMMIT has a base made of a breathable, waterproof material (called eVent) that lets you easily squeeze out air after you've rolled the bag's top. $18 to $35 (depending on size), seatosummit.com


Instead of buying a separate waterproof phone to take rafting, just make sure to properly protect your everyday smartphone. The eSeries 8 Case from SEALLINE keeps your phone dry while letting you make calls through the transparent cover. You'd be ill advised to ski, cycle, or do anything sporty without slipping your electronics into one. SealLine also makes cases for iPads, maps, and small cameras. $20, cascadedesigns.com


A better name for the waterproof Montana 600 GPS by GARMIN might be "the Amphibian." It can be loaded with worldwide marine charts (so you'll never be lost at sea), as well as topos and detailed road maps. But what you might appreciate most is the generous four-inch screen. $550, garmin.com


PATAGONIA wetsuits have a secret ingredient: They're lined with chlorine-free merino wool, so they stay warm while using less rubber. The easy-access R2 Front-Zip Full Suit is designed for water that's 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit; it'll get you through spring to fall. $525, patagonia.com


Poncho, e-case, and matches photos by Lori Eanes


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