8 Tips for Hiking in the Rain
While we always want perfect weather for our hikes, sometimes we have to deal with what Mother Nature gives us. Occasionally, that means hiking in the rain.
But just because the skies are gray or rain starts pouring on your hike, that doesn’t mean your trip is ruined. With a little preparation and the right plan in place, you can actually enjoy your hike in the rain. Even better, you might be one of the only people on the trail, which makes it even easier to take in nature’s beauty!
Here are 8 tips you need to know to stay dry and have fun when you’re hiking in the rain.
1. Choose the Right Trail
If you’re already on the trail when it starts to rain, you basically have to stick with your plan. However, if you haven’t started your hike and you’re able to change your plans, choose a trail that’s more conducive to hiking in the rain.
Since you won’t be able to enjoy expansive views from overlooks, skip the summit hikes. I find that rainy days are ideal for hiking through the forest because the trees provide a little extra cover from the rain and the sound of the rain hitting the leaves is incredibly peaceful and relaxing.
Related: Best Hikes Around Chattanooga
No matter where you choose to hike, keep in mind that wet weather can create unique hazards on the trail. Rocks, logs, and mud will all be slippery, so tread carefully. Also remember that rivers and creeks will be swollen, so you want to make sure you avoid fast-moving water.
Related: Top Hiking Trails in Florida
2. Wear the Right Clothes
You should always pack these 10 essential items when you’re going on a hike. However, when you’re hiking in the rain, you’ll probably need to bring along a few extra items to make sure you stay dry and comfortable.
Wearing the right clothes on your rainy hike is absolutely essential. After all, it’s easier to stay dry than it is to dry out after you’ve gotten wet.
Start with a waterproof rain jacket. When you’re shopping for a jacket, consider going up one size from what you normally wear. If you have to wear layers on your hike, you want to make sure you have enough space under your jacket.
Here are some good options for the best waterproof hiking rain jackets:
- Columbia Women’s Switchback III Waterproof Rain Jacket
- Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II Waterproof Jacket (budget-friendly option)
- The North Face Men’s Millerton Waterproof Hooded Jacket
Even though your rain jacket likely has a hood, you might want to consider also wearing a rain cap. This will give your face a little extra protection from the rain or any drips coming off your hood.
Next, pick out some waterproof hiking pants. I suggest wearing a pair of leggings under your hiking pants. This provides some extra protection against chaffing, gives you another layer for a little more warmth, and gives you something you can wear if the rain stops and you want to take off your waterproof pants.
Related: The Best Waterproof Hiking Pants for Women
These are a few of the best waterproof hiking pants:
- Columbia Women’s Storm Surge Waterproof Pants
- 5Oaks Men’s and Women’s Waterproof Rain Pants (budget-friendly option)
- Outdoor Ventures Men’s Waterproof Pants
Related: The Best Waterproof Hiking Pants for Men
Waterproof hiking boots are also crucial for staying dry and comfortable when you’re hiking in the rain. Here are two excellent options for waterproof hiking boots:
If you’re looking for even more suggestions for hiking boots, be sure to check out the best hiking boots for women and the top hiking boots for men.
Related: How to Easily Break In Hiking Boots
For even more protection from mud and puddles, wear a pair of gaiters. They’ll prevent water from splashing beneath your pants and into your boots. Here are some good options to consider:
- QTECLOR Waterproof Gaiters (budget-friendly option)
- Azarxis Waterproof Hiking Gaiters
- Frelaxy Ultra-Strong Waterproof Gaiters
Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to bring along a pair of dry clothes to change into when your hike is done. Consider leaving some clothes in your car if you’re heading out on a day hike in the rain.
3. Waterproof Your Backpack
Not only do you want to make sure you stay dry when it’s raining, but you also want to ensure your backpack stays dry. A lot of hiking backpacks will come with a rain cover. If your backpack doesn’t have one, you can purchase one separately.
Look for a lightweight, waterproof rain cover that will fit over your backpack to keep everything dry. Here are several good options:
- Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover
- Fancywing Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover With Reflective Strap
- Frelaxy Ultralight Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover
Remember that every time you take off the rain cover and open your backpack, a little bit of water is going to get in. To prevent this from happening, try to open your backpack as little as possible.
One easy way to do this is to keep things you need to access frequently, such as snacks or your map, in dry bags outside of your backpack.
Related: The Best Waterproof Hiking Backpack
4. Protect Your Water-Sensitive Gear
The rain cover on your backpack will do a pretty good job of keeping your belongings inside dry, but you’ll still want to pick up some lightweight dry bags for your water-sensitive gear.
Things you’ll want to put in your dry bags can include your maps, food, headlamp, phone, and any other electronics you’re carrying on your hike.
Related: Essential Survival Gear Every Hiker Should Carry
Here are several good options for dry bags that can suit your needs:
5. Bring Along Some Trekking Poles
If there’s one piece of hiking gear that I highly encourage you to get for hiking in the rain, it’s a set of trekking poles. I actually prefer to use trekking poles all the time, but I find them especially helpful on wet trails.
Related: The Best Trekking Poles for Every Type of Hiker
Trekking poles will give you some extra stability on slippery ground. You can also use them to gauge the depth of a stream before trying to cross it.
Here are some good trekking pole options to consider:
- Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Cascade Mountain Aluminum Trekking Poles (budget-friendly option)
- Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
6. Pay Extra Attention to Blister Protection
Wet feet are one of the common causes of blisters when hiking. To make sure your feet stay dry and blister-free, bring along extra blister protection and read more about blister prevention and care when hiking.
Related: The Best Hiking Socks for Every Hiker
7. Pack Easy Snacks
Normally, stopping to have a bite to eat when you’re hiking is a nice break. However, when it’s raining, stopping is uncomfortable and inconvenient because you stop moving, you get wet, and your body begins to lose heat.
Related: Important Tips for Hiking in the Winter
To cut down on the number of times you have to stop, pack snacks that are easy to consume while you’re on the move. Here are some good ideas for easy snacks:
- Happy Belly Trail Mix
- Turkey Jerky
- Fresh Fruit
- Clif Bar Energy Bar
8. Know When to Take Cover
These tips are fine for rainstorms. But what happens if you’re on the trail and a thunderstorm moves through? Thunder always indicates the presence of lightning since lightning causes thunder.
In the United States, there are around 60 deaths and 300 injuries every year from lightning, so you need to take immediate action when you hear thunder or see lightning.
Related: 10 Hiking Mistakes You Never Want to Make
First, descend from peaks or ridges and move away from tall, solitary trees or other lone objects. Lightning tends to strike the highest point and send an electrical charge through the ground over a large area.
Stay away from water, and separate yourself from any metal objects you’re carrying, including crampons, trekking poles, and external-frame backpacks.
The best place to be in a thunderstorm is in a low-laying area within a group of trees that are all about the same height. If you can’t find that, look for the lowest spot in an open meadow.
To insulate yourself from ground currents, sit on a sleeping pad or an internal-frame backpack or crouch on the ground and keep your feet close together. Never lie down since this expands the number of contact points your body has on the ground.
As always, if you’re feeling miserable or the conditions are becoming hazardous, turn around and head back. You can always tackle that trail when the weather is better!
Important Tips for Hiking in the Rain
A rainy day doesn’t have to ruin your plans for a hike. With the right frame of mind and these tips on hiking in the rain, you can enjoy those wet days and experience a side of nature many people don’t get a chance to see.
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