Top Five Tips For Hiking In The Rain You’ll Need This 2017
Staying dry and comfortable while hiking can sometimes be a challenge. If it’s not sweat from the heat that you’re battling, it might be sudden and unexpected rain that seems to appear out of nowhere.
One of the most difficult hikes for me is hiking in the rain. This is because I often have a lot of gear to carry since I love to bring my little boys with me out on the trail, so it can become challenging when the rain starts to come down.
It is really important for me that my sons stay as dry as possible because I don’t want them to get sick. Our gear also needs to stay dry so we can still use them and be comfortable.
Over the years of hiking, I’ve learnt a few things to help keep my sons, my gear, and myself dry when hiking during the rain. So don’t let the damp weather get you down, I’m here to help you make the most out of the experience!
Even though it may not seem like it at first, hiking through the rain can still be fun once you learn how to keep as dry as possible. Here are my top five tips for staying dry during rainy hikes.
#1: Wear The Right Clothing
If you know that there’s a high chance of rain during your hike (or it’s already raining), you should wear the right clothing. This may seem a bit obvious but it is actually often overlooked, especially by inexperienced hikers.
Make sure to wear or bring a jacket that is waterproof but also breathable. It’s one thing to avoid getting wet from the rain on the outside and sweating on the inside at the same time.
In general, there are two types of jackets that you can get: hard shell jackets and soft shell jackets.
Hard shell jackets are specifically designed to keep you dry in the rain although they are not very breathable. This is why if you are getting a hard shell jacket, look for one with vents like a pit zip that can drastically help you feel better.
Soft shell jackets are much more breathable but they aren’t waterproof, they are only water resistant. When using a soft shell jacket, you may need some extra layers of water-resistant clothing.
Under your jacket, wear base or mid-weight tights paired with a synthetic long sleeve shirt. This is the most comfortable option and will still allow you to move around easily underneath your jacket, especially if it is a hard shell jacket.
In terms of material, go for synthetic or fleece since they can stay warm even when damp, unlike other materials such as down or cotton.
If it’s raining extra hard, you can top off with a raincoat as well if you wanted to. A raincoat can help because you can also cover your backpack to give it some extra protection.
TIP: Avoid cotton clothing as much as possible. This is because it will soak up all of the water and does not stay warm when it is wet.
#2: Protect The Pack…
…and everything inside of it.
Surviving a wet hike depends on how well your backpack holds up. The best way to ensure that is to get a good backpack that is already waterproof, water-resistant or has a rain cover that comes with it.
If your backpack isn’t already fully waterproof or you feel like it needs more protection, you can buy a pack cover. If you’re really on a budget, you can use a large garbage bag instead, as long as it can cover your bag completely.
The problem with pack covers is that when it rains really hard, they can be a bit ineffective. The rain that lands on your jacket will run down your back and just go through the backside of your backpack, which isn’t always waterproof.
The best thing you can do is to protect your items on the inside of your backpack.
You’ll learn that dry sacks, garbage bags, and Ziplocs will end up becoming one of your best friends. Store all your items separately inside. Dry sacks and Ziplocs not only protect your items, but they help organize them as well.
Keep your map in a Ziploc bag to save it from water damage. But since the plastic is clear, you’ll still be able to see parts of the map that you’ll need.
Try not to open your bag so much – only when you need to, because every time you do, more water will get inside and will stay there until the end of the trip.
A good practice is to keep all the items you constantly need such as your snacks, water, maps, or GPS in the side and front pockets of your bag. That way, you have easy access without having to open the main compartment.
The goal is to keep your backpack and all its contents as dry as possible because a wet backpack is a heavy one.
#3: Select The Right Footwear
Let’s face it – no matter how waterproof your shoes are, they will still get wet. The only thing that could probably fully keep your feet dry are rubber rain boots – but those aren’t really an option for hiking.
While you may be tempted to go for waterproof hiking boots, I suggest that you go for lightweight trail shoes instead.
A good pair of trail shoes won’t hold any water inside of it and will dry a lot quicker than boots. At least with trail shoes, your feet will feel lighter than if you use hiking boots.
- Keep all wet shoes, socks, backpack, and other gear that suffered in the rain outside the tent in the vestibules or porches if your tent has it. If not, wrap up your wet gear and try to find some kind of cover for them.
- Bringing wet gear inside your tent will get your sleeping bag wet and make it feel moist and damp inside, which will greatly reduce your comfort and will result in unhappy campers.
Also, when your feet are wet for a long period of time, the chances of getting blisters increase. Heavy leather hiking boots will most likely give you more blisters than softer trail shoes or even running shoes.
If the next day your shoes are still wet, a good tip is to just put on your already damp or wet socks so you can save your dry socks when the rain stops or when your shoes are dry. You’ll feel happier – trust me!
#4: Safety First
Aside from being extremely inconvenient, one of the bigger problems with hiking in the rain is safety. Not only is your visibility reduced when hiking, but the rain can suddenly trigger flash floods or landslides.
Pay attention to your surroundings and make smart choices. Avoid crossing rivers during heavy rain if possible. Observe the trail as well since landslides and erosions are a higher possibility.
Do not camp beside a riverbed or any bodies of water. If rain starts or gets heavier at night, you could be in big trouble.
Check for any warnings in the area and get as much information about the trail, conditions, and how it’s like during the rain. If you’re not from the area, remember to get the number of emergency local authorities for safety.
You can test your gear our long before you go on a hike. Set everything up in your garden and sprinkle water on it. See if there is any leakage or problems anywhere and fix it accordingly.
The video below will give you more useful information!
#5: Stay Positive
One of the most important, but also most difficult thing to do when hiking in the rain, is to stay positive. Prepare yourself mentally for anything that can happen on the trip, including heavy downpours of rain.
If you get into a mindset where you tell yourself that you will have fun even if you get wet, you most likely will have a good time.
Hiking in the rain isn’t always so bad for me with my sons because they really, really enjoy it. Their enjoyment will eventually rub off on my husband and me, and we all end up just having fun and singing in the rain.
One of the most difficult things for those new to hiking to accept is that if it rains, they will get wet, no matter what kind of gear you have. You can have the most expensive gear out there but when rain wants to pour, it will pour.
Waterproof clothing helps but it keeps body heat inside as well, so truly, no matter what happens, you won’t be too comfortable either way.
Rather than stressing out about trying to avoid the inevitable, just accept your fate, if you will. So when it rains, find something that you can smile about – friends, your kids, or the surroundings, and simply, enjoy it.
Face The Rain
How is hiking in the rain for you? If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, or share this article with anyone you feel will benefit from the tips I’ve talked about here.
Staying dry is a difficult task but with proper preparation and taking into account these tips, you can at least avoid being completely soaked when hiking in the rain, and maybe keep the sickness away after.
Remember that safety is the most important and if you feel that your hike will become too risky during the rain, you can always reschedule for warmer and drier months!
Hopefully, you enjoyed today's lesson and happy hiking!