If you are like me, you love to hike, and the ideal weather involves a bright sun, a blue sky, and warm temperatures. It is a great way to explore the world and get some exercise, but the weather won’t always fall in your favor. While we generally try to avoid hiking in the rain, it’s not always possible and sometimes the unexpected happens. It’s inevitable that at some point you’ll get rained on, but being properly dressed and prepared can prevent your adventure from turning dangerous.
What to Wear While Hiking in the Rain
The first consideration for hiking in the rain (or being prepared to hike in the rain) is what to wear. You will want to wear or carry water-resistant clothes with waterproof outer layers. This means choosing materials such as a Gore-Tex rain jacket. It is also important to have clothes that fit well and are not too tight, as loose clothing can get caught in thorn bushes or branches on the trail. Stay away from clothes that have drawstrings as they can also get caught. Here is a quick list of what to wear while you are out hiking on a rainy day:
– A hiking rain jacket is probably the first thing you would think of. A rain jacket is a great option because it has waterproof material on the outside that keeps you dry from the rain while having breathable mesh or fabric on the inside to keep your body temperature and sweat regulated. It’s always good to carry a rain jacket on any hike, regardless of if you’re expecting rain or not. If anything, it makes a great wind breaker or extra layer. If you’re expecting heavy rains or what to be prepared for even more adverse conditions, perhaps a rain poncho would be a better option.
– Waterproof Hiking Pants are another essential piece of clothing when going out into bad weather conditions like pouring down rain. You want to make sure that you have pants with waterproof material on the outside and a breathable of fabric on the inside so your legs do not get too hot, or sweat in your hiking gear. Our personal opinion is that we wear water-resistant hiking pants and avoid hiking in the rain whenever possible. But if you live in a rainy climate where that’s not as avoidable, it would be worth investing in some rain pants that will do a better job of keeping you dry.
– Waterproof Hiking Boots are another necessity when going out into nature during bad weather conditions. Always choose hiking shoes that have waterproof material on the outside.
– Gaiters are something that not that many people think of, but they make a big difference when you are hiking through mud or deep puddles. They do an excellent job at keeping mud and water out of your boots, as well as protecting the lower parts of your pants from water and sharp thorns that could tear your pants.
– Layers are essential when you are dressing to stay warm and dry. Keep in mind that when it rains, temperatures tend to drop and when you are wet you are much more likely to go hypothermic. Layer up and stay warm! Read more here about how to dress in layers for hiking in cold weather.
Essential Gear for Hiking in the Rain
The next thing that you need to consider is what gear and equipment will be needed for your hike. This includes things like a rain cover for your backpack or even extra clothes in case the weather gets worse than expected. Don’t forget these essentials for a rainy day hike
– A rain cover for your backpack is a must for any hike. Your backpack doesn’t necessarily have to be waterproof but a good quality rain cover can keep everything in your backpack nice and dry during any rainfall.
– An extra pair of socks is another essential piece of gear to have while hiking in the rain. You can never be too prepared when it comes to your feet staying dry and blister-free!
– Trekking Poles can be very helpful when hiking in the rain. The poles can help you keep your balance on slippery surfaces and also help you trek through mud or deep puddles. We appreciate carrying trekking poles on most of our hikes, just because they’re nice to have and help save our knees when going downhill.
How to Protect Your Gear While Hiking in the Rain
One thing you always want to remember is that water and electronics do not mix well. If you are taking any electronics with you on your hike, be sure to protect them from the rain. This can mean using a rain cover for your backpack, putting your electronic devices in waterproof cases, or even just enclosing them in plastic bags. Most quality hiking backpacks will have a smaller waterproof pocket meant for a phone and keys.
How to Hike Safely in the Rain
Is it safe to hike in the rain? Now that you are dressed and equipped appropriately for a hike in the rain, it is time to talk about safety. While it’s not ideal to hike in bad conditions, there are a few things to keep in mind to make it safer:
– Don’t hike alone; it is always better to be with someone else in case of an emergency.
– Pay attention to weather conditions and be aware of any changes that could make the hike more dangerous.
– Watch your footing and be especially careful when hiking on slippery surfaces. If you know it’s going to rain but still want to hike, pick a hike that’s better for these conditions. Avoid rocky, steep, or overly difficult routes, and instead opt for wide trails that are tree covered and don’t require extra hard work.
– Have a plan B in case the weather gets too bad and you have to turn back. It’s never worth the risk of getting caught in adverse conditions.
– Never hike in a thunderstorm, especially above tree line. We’ve unfortunately learned the hard way how scary it can be to get caught above tree line in an electrical storm, and we would highly not recommend risking that. In the event a rain cloud becomes electrical, follow the proper steps to take cover until it’s safe to continue.
The whole point of hiking is for it to be enjoyable, and to get some fresh air. If hiking in the rain becomes risky, or if there’s any chance of an electrical storm with thunder and lightning, it’s not fun any more and it’s not worth the risk. It’s always good to be properly prepared for rain while outside hiking or backpacking, regardless of the weather forecast. That being said, you should always consider the weather and possibly cancel or change your plans if the weather doesn’t fall in your favor.
It’s also worth considering that hiking on trails in wet or muddy conditions can lead to more wear and tear on the trails themselves, and can even contribute to mud slides over time. If it’s wet or rainy conditions, consider saving that hike for another time and rescheduling.
About the Author
My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.