Tips to enjoy hiking in the rain

November 15, 2019

If you are one of those hikers who has waited forever for it to stop raining or for a clear weather day to get outside, read on. 

wet hike
wet hike

Wouldn’t you want to experience the smell of the wet mud, foggy and misty scenes, lush greens woods, beautiful reflections on wet surfaces, and so much more? Here are our tips for experiencing the magic of trails on a wet day:

another wet hike
another wet hike

How to pick the best hike for a rainy day

  • Don’t go for the view as it might get foggy and you probably won’t see much, but go for a waterfall or an alpine lake instead

  • What to avoid: 

  1. steep slippery slopes

  2. crossing streams that may be swollen due to the rain

  3. trails prone to flooding or landslides

  • Watch your footing around:

  1. slippery rocks and roots

  2. on the edges of drainages 

How to gear up for a rainy hike

It’s absolutely true that there is no bad day, there is only bad gear. Some pointers on what gear has worked well for us in the rain:

Wet hike jacket hood
Wet hike jacket hood

  • Jacket - what you essentially need for a rainy day is a hard shell jacket made of gore tex or similar waterproof and breathable material. All hardshell jackets have a tendency to trap heat so you might want to consider getting one with zippered vents for cooling off. When buying a hard shell jacket, you also want to look for an extended hood that prevents water from trickling down your face. 

Hood hat
Hood hat

  • Hat - If the hood of your jacket is not extended out enough, you can wear a baseball cap under the hood. 

  • Insulation layers - avoid cotton, as it takes longer to dry and will make you colder, exposing you to a risk of hypothermia. Instead use fleece and layers, preferably with synthetic insulation as down doesn’t do great in when wet either.

  • Pants - We recommend rain pants with zippered vents. In summer or warmer conditions, rain pants are great with or without tights underneath. In winter or cooler conditions, layer up as needed tights and hiking pants and under your rain pants.

Trailrunners
Trailrunners

  • Boots - make sure whenever you buy your hiking or trekking boots that you buy the waterproof kind so you don’t have to buy separate pairs for different seasons and trails. There are several waterproof hiking, trekking and trail running boots / shoes out in the market. We recommend the ones with a Gore tex or equivalent material used in building the boot upper. 

Gaiters
Gaiters

  • Gaiters - You want to pick the ones made of waterproof material. We have a preference for tall gaiters. Depending on the hike and terrain low gaiters may work well too, but we recommend the taller ones as they can double up for the winter season and snow activities such as snowshoeing, mountain climbing or ice climbing.

  • Gloves and socks - wool will serve you much better on rainy days as they will keep you warm even when wet. Do not forget to carry extra pairs!

  • Buff - this little piece of gear always comes in handy to keep your neck, face or head covered. On rainy days it also doubles up as a wipe for your glasses, faces, gear, …

  • Trash bags - Line you backpack with a trash bag to keep its contents dry. You could go with the normal trash bags but we highly recommend using the Heavy Duty Contractor Trash Bags that are at least 3mil in thickness.

  • Stuff sacks - In addition to the trash bag liner, for multi day treks you want to pack the important pieces of your gear (like sleeping bag and puffy) in a dry sacks. Best to pick waterproof compression stuff sacks to create more room in you pack in addition to keeping your precious gear dry.

  • Ziplock pouches - These are great to put your electronics into, or even a permit or physical map.

rain cover
rain cover

  • Rain cover - Even with your backpack lined with a trash bag, you might still want to consider bringing with you a rain cover for your backpack. A wet backpack is heavier and not fun, even if the contents inside remain dry. Get a cover that fits the size of your backpack and do not forget to fasten it to your backpack properly on a windy day.

  • Poncho - This one is a favourite and has saved the day more than once. After you get all your rain gear and backpack on, throw a plastic poncho over. It works wonders in keeping you and your gear dry. It’s a savior that will not break bank, or even the kitty bank. All you need is the change in your pocket for this one!

Jacket
Jacket

Colors

Don’t forget to wear bright colors on a rainy day as attitude is the most important ingredient in ensuring an enjoyable experience. Lively colors help lift the mood which makes carrying the right attitude easier.

Snacking on a rainy day

Don’t forget to eat and hydrate regularly on a rainy day. You need more calories and it’s easy to forget this key part of self care as you focus all your energies on keeping yourself dry. Also remember to keep your snacks handy so you don’t spend too much time digging into your backpack and accumulating rain inside it in the process. A flask of hot beverage like hot chocolate goes a long way in keeping you warm while providing the much needed calories.

Happy trails - rain or shine!

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