There's nothing quite like hiking in the rain. The fresh smell of the wet forest, the sound of raindrops pattering on your hiking boots, and the feeling of accomplishment when you make it to the top of the trail, are all unforgettable. But hike in the rain long enough without proper rain gear, and you're bound to get cold, wet, and frustrated. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of your next rainy day hike so you can face the trail with a positive attitude.
Bring The Proper Gear
Proper rain gear includes things like a waterproof hiking rain jackets, rain pants, and boots and even hiking gloves if the weather is cold. If you don't have proper rain gear, you will end up soaked and cold, which can lead to hypothermia.
Take extra care of your feet. Wet feet are more susceptible to blisters and other foot problems. Make sure to change your socks it they get waterlogged and your feet are getting cold. Try keep your feet as dry as possible.
Even the best waterproof boots for hiking can benefit from the addition of a waterproofing layer. Whether you are wearing waterproof footwear like waterproof hiking boots or lighter weight trail shoes made of synthetic materials, topping up with a waterproofing spray can be a really good idea. Just read the instructions carefully and test a small area to check compatibility.
I have used general waterproofing spray on hiking gear as well as tents and I know the difference a robust waterproof layer can make to keeping your feet warm and dry.
Water Wicking Fabrics
The wonderful thing about buying specialised hiking gear is that a lot of thought has gone into practical problems that hikers face. Clothes made water wicking fabric means damp and wet is kept off your skin as much as possible. This is because the fabric forms a barrier where water is shrugged off, but also that it dries really quickly if it does get wet. Moisture wicking fabrics also pull the water away from your skin which makes it great for keeping dry even when you are sweating.
What I love about merino wool is that it wicks away water, but also, even when wet, works towards keeping you warm. For instance, hiking socks made of merino wool are far more appropriate for hiking in wet weather than cotton socks.
On a rainy day hike, you're going to want to layer up. This gives you flexibility so you can manage how warm you want to be throughout the day. I need to cool down quickly sometimes, but then get chilled easily too. By wearing layers I can manage my internal temperature more effectively.
Waterproof Outer Shell
If you are planning a hike in the rain, a waterproof jacket is a good start. Look our for the waterproof rating which will give you an idea of how effective the garment will be for keeping you dry. Waterproof hiking pants are also great as your thighs take the brunt of the rain when your are climbing in rainy weather.
Wearing waterproof outerwear is a must, but don't forget about layering underneath as well.
A moisture-wicking base layer will help keep you dry and comfortable even if you start to sweat. This is a great tip to prevent chafing which is common when you get wet while hiking.
And if it's really cold out, don't be afraid to throw on a fleece or down jacket for extra warmth. Alternatively, sometimes all you will need is a hiking vest to keep your chest and neck cozy. Just make sure your layers are breathable or there are features included like ventilating zippers on the side, so that you don't end up feeling clammy. You might find when you are moving you get warm and sweaty, and then when you stop for a break you get chilled from being damp. Layering really helps you regulate your body temperature.
Pack a Rain Cover
You will start your hike with a dry set of clothes, but you may find it useful to bring along some dry kit in your backpack. This will only be of use to you, however, if your backpack is waterproof. You can improve the waterproofing of your backpack with waterproofing spray.
Alternatively if you're worried about your backpack getting wet, pack a backpack rain cover. Rain covers for backpacks usually go over the entire pack and do a good job of keeping your backpack dry.
In addition, the use of dry bags provides that extra layer of water resistant protection, which you will glad to have when heavy rain pelters down.
Pack a Rain Tarp
Something you will find really useful is if you bring along a lightweight rain tarp. This can be invaluable to create an impromptu rain shelter is the weather tuns extreme. Sometimes the tarp can be used to warm up too, which is great if you are chilled from getting wet.
Be Aware of your Surroundings
This is especially important in thunderstorms. Avoid being near tall trees or open areas. If you hear thunder, seek shelter immediately.
When hiking in the rain its best to bring along hiking poles as part of your rain gear. They are invaluable as wet ground can be very slippery and they will serve as anchors.
A great advantage of hiking in the rain is that you are forced to slow down a bit, which gives you time to appreciate your surroundings rather than simply racing towards your goal.
Hike With Friends?
Hiking in the rain can be miserable for some hikers if they are doing it alone. But if you've got some friends by your side, rainy day hikes can actually be quite fun. Make sure everyone in your group is properly equipped for the conditions, then hit the trail and enjoy each other's company.
Enjoy the Solitude!
If you prefer solo hiking where you can be alone with your thoughts, wet weather hiking is great as fewer casual hikers will venture out. Hiking in the rain can be a great way to see nature in a different light. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the solitude.
Embrace the Challenge
Hiking in the rain may seem daunting at first but with the proper gear and preparation, a rainy hike can be a fun and rewarding experience. So next time there's a storm rolling in, don't let it deter you from getting outside - just grab your waterproof gear and hit the trail with some friends. Just don't forget to bring some hot chocolate for afterwards!
Plan for Overnight Backpacking
Planning for a hike in the rain takes on a new dimension if its a two or three day hike. We have done some research on the best waterproof tents for hiking so you can enjoy your hike knowing that at the end of the day you will have a warm dry shelter that's quick to erect. Read on if that interests you.