Hello Hiking Family!
We are heading out to the Mnweni circuit in Drakensberg next weekend. Rain forecast, and would appreciate this community’s advice.
What works best for you to avoid getting boots or shoes filling with water? Shoes are waterproof, though continuous rain leaks in from the top. Gaiters, rain pants, both, something else? Or will neither do anything except add weight?
Please do add your view. I don’t think there is one answer, though looking for personal accounts.
Hello Hiking Family!
Not trying to put you off but is it really worth doing if there’s a heavy rain forecast?
A group of five of us did the Rhino Peak (southern berg) about three weeks back. This particular hike has quite a few river crossings and the river was fast flowing. Waterproof or non-waterproof boots, they have to come off.
I didn’t have waterproof boots but managed ok. On the descent we experienced a downpour for about an hour or so. Rain jackets prevented our top halves from getting soaked but not the lower. Quick dry hiking pants work well. Rain pants are just too restrictive in my opinion.
Gaiters would have been nice for the early morning dew which will make your lower pants wet - I wouldn’t say strictly necessary though.
a Combination of both, with the gaiters underneath the pants to create a shingle effect should work very well. Just make sure the gaiters fit snugly against your skin at the top. Unless you go for some more expensive rain pants your legs will still get wet, but that’s manageable. I Suppose having just gaiters underneath normal hiking long-pants could work well enough if your priority is just keeping your feet dry.
Gaiters are a must in the Berg right now in my opinion. Even when it’s not raining, it’s so wet up there right now (especially if you go further into Lesotho) that the ground squelches water wherever you walk. I was walking up there about two weeks ago and in the middle of an otherwise normal looking patch of grassy terrain I stepped in what can best be described as 'n mud-landmine. Spouted a gush of mud all the way up my leg fouling my the inside of my boot from above (I’d put away the gaiter because I was sunny).
I would definitely say a combination of both, with some snug gaiters that rise up quite high.
We did the Mnweni circuit three weeks ago and the area is extremely wet and lush at the moment.
We only got light rain on day 1 and 2, however the big issue is rundown of water from all the plants into your boots. The last 2 km up to Chi Chi Bush camp is basically 2m tall grass and streams/mud that is the path. In my opinion not even the best gaiters and rain pants combo can help you here, so be ready to have some wet feet there.
Pack nice and warm and make sure your navigation is on point - in bad weather it is quite difficult to navigate on the escarpment.
Enjoy and stay safe!
Having gone full circle with gaiters, I can confidently say that the are 100% useless in the Drakensberg. Yes, they keep water out, but the problem is that your pants will get wet, either from rain itself or waterdrops on vegetation which rubs off on your hiking pants. Anything above the gaitors will collect water which will find their way down into your boots. We experienced this 2 weekends ago in Injasuthi.
The only thing that works in the wet, is rainpants. Assuming also that they are long enough to cover your waterproof boots.
Gaitors works well in snow, trust me, not having them in snow will result in very wet and cold feet. They also keep debris out, especially helpful in the lower berg. They dont work for keeping liquids out, simple as that.
I planned an expedition overseas, and have a pair of brand new Outdoor Research Gaiters (100% waterproof) for sale, under the classifieds section, should you be interested.
I recommend them in addition to rain pants.