Wow what a thread!
Okay, I have finally read the entirety of both threads, plus the latter half of a third. And I find this to be one of the most interesting and amazing threads I have ever read at the hammock forums. I think that this is the time when the elements finally caught up with the HF members. Possibly even more so than on most of the deep cold adventures that some of the members have had. And some of those deep cold hangers have said repeatedly that wet cold (specially when complicated by wind) can be far more challenging than even significantly colder temperatures. I think that is well proven by reading the posts on this thread. And it sends me back to times when I had to deal with similar situations. And it also gets me to thinking about basics.
And I have sometimes been a bit on the obnoxious side around here, when stating that – just in my personal opinion and experience – that there's not a soul here who can guarantee they can always keep their insulation dry. This sometimes it's just a matter of your luck running out. Most of the time when making that statement I was referring to things having to do with sleeping gear insulation: things like tree limbs falling to your tarp, or tarp springing a leak, or condensation accumulating in your quilts. But clothing is certainly an equal challenge, probably even more so when you're hiking all day in torrential rainfall and possibly even working up a sweat. And this thread is going to greatly serve to increase the education of all of us on the safe way for us to deal with the circumstances. That's what makes this forum such a wonderful resource.
So it appears some experienced, careful and well-equipped people got wet. Was it Doctari who used previously trustworthy Gore-Tex rain gear top and bottom, and similarly waterproof boots? And was pretty much soaked head to toe? In years past, I have skied all day (downhill and cross-country) working up a sweat (but with all synthetic and fleece clothing) under a Gore-Tex shell – and on other occasions have hiked in a cold daylong rain, under a Gore-Tex rain jacket, pants and boots. In all of these occasions I stayed dry. The sweat that I generated skiing (and maybe hiking in the rain) managed to evaporate leaving me basically dry under the Gore-Tex.
Still, all of this makes me think of when I showed up for my NOLS course way back in 1985. I had the newest Gore-Tex stuff! But all of the instructors strongly discouraged me from using it. It was just their opinion that, especially since we were out for 30 days straight, some of the people using Gore-Tex were going to get wet. This was the opinion of people with lots of days with lots of people deep in the wilderness. They preferred coated, non-breathable nylon. Now mind you, these opinions of theirs were based on trials of the earliest generations of Gore-Tex stuff. Still, that's how they felt. I wonder if they still feel that way? These days as I continue to experiment with vapor barrier approaches, I feel like if I ever get fully committed to that approach that I will go back to (in fact am already doing so with a Packa) their non-breathable – but reliably waterproof – approach. Sweat and condensation might be considerable challenges to be dealt with. But it looks like ice cold rain getting past your outer layer of protection and into your insulation might be an even greater challenge. Clearly that can't be tolerated for very long without danger resulting.
And then there is the consideration of what kind of insulation is under the rain garment, insulation that is getting soaked either from the rain getting in or from tons of sweat/condensation trying to get out. I know wet installation of any type is still cold and miserable, but I still feel based on my personal experience that some things handle it a lot better than others. Cotton being about at the bottom of the list for her performance in the wet, but is not the only one near the bottom. But once the cotton gets wet, you now have an air conditioner like evaporative cooling machine hanging on your body. Which takes absolutely forever to dry. Course we all knew that, and it has been confirmed in this thread. And yes, I do some of my hiking with some cotton garments, even when the weather is not all that hot and maybe even kind of cool. Sometimes I take the chance. I'm sure a lot of us do. I had some friends a few years back whom I was introducing to backpacking in Wyoming, and while advising them long distance over the phone, I used the phrase "cotton kills". I later found out that they thought I was an absolute buffoon for having said that. Though as they became more educated they did come to realize the inadequacies of cotton, but they still felt my statement was a gross exaggeration. And when they heard it from me for the first time, I guess they had visions of a pair of cotton jeans choking you to death, or maybe a cotton plant attacking you. Still, I stick with that old saying. If you are hiking where you could get wet and could possibly get hypothermic, more than anything else, cotton kills. It's great stuff for keeping you cool in the summer time.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.