Hiking is slowly becoming popular among the masses, especially those who want to regale themselves in the serene surroundings punctuated with verdant flora. The mere mention of vacationing on a hiking trail can make their heart skip a beat. But for some, hiking is a way of life. Their love for hiking does not depend on any season. They can continue living their passion even in the rains. As Rachel Carsen aptly remarks, “A rainy day is a perfect time for a walk in the woods.” And if you agree with Carsen’s romantic thought, then you must be looking forward to enjoy hiking in the rain.
Essential Tips for Hiking in the Rain
Rains bother beginners because it gets wet, cold, and soggy. However, the plus side is that hiking in the rain means fewer crowd, clean-clear-fresh-green woods, more wildlife, and an excellent opportunity to feel the virginal beauty around. It requires practice, though.
The more you hike in the rain, the more you are prepared for it.
You should begin with backpacking to a trail that is short, simple, and near your hometown; gradually you can upgrade to a difficult trail. On that note, here are some essential tips for hiking in the rain.
Wear the Right Clothing
After you have decided the hiking destination, the next question that pops up is how to stay dry when hiking in the rain? Rainproof clothing is the first item you should pick. Suit up in three-tier layering:
- Base layer: This is a lightweight layer that keeps your body fresh in the rains. It absorbs the moisture and insulates the body heat.
- Fleece: These synthetic insulators will retain their feel, warmth, and function while you get drenched in the rain.
- Waterproof jacket: Look for a jacket that has a waterproof rating of 2,000 mm or above. Also, they should have a mesh lining or an underarm ventilating zip for breathing.
A few additional clothing tips:
- Go for synthetic clothes, as they dry quickly and retain heat even when they are wet.
- Cotton is a big no.
- Choose waterproof clothes with good ventilation.
- Regulate your body temperature with hoods, zipper, wrist straps, and pit zips.
- Pack extra pairs of socks, long underwears, and a long sleeve jersey.
Pick the Right Footwear
Your footwear is as important as any other rain-proof clothing. Walking boots are the best rain boots for hiking as they have a good and sturdy rubber sole. A rubber sole has a good traction on different terrains, including wet surfaces. Mesh material is another important feature that you should look for in your hiking boots. The mesh helps your feet to breathe and boots dry up quickly.
Besides, you must pay attention to the socks as well. Wet socks can lead to blistering and athlete’s foot. While picking the socks, make sure it is made of the appropriate material to minimize blisters.
Get all the details on hiking shoes here- 9 Tips to Keep in Mind while Choosing Hiking Shoes
Bring the Right Gear
These are other items to be added to your list of essentials for backpacking in the rain.
- Waterproof backpack: Although they are expensive but are worth investing. Alternatively, you can make do with a rack sack cover.
- Chamois cloth: If you wear glasses, always carry a chamois cloth in your outer pocket.
- Bandana: Do not trust tissues in the rainy season as they tend to get soggy; instead carry a bandana.
- Gaiters: These can be wrapped around your lower legs to keep your socks dry. Also, carry neck gaiters.
- Hiking poles: They come very handy while hiking in the rain. They provide stability on slippery ground and are helpful in gauging the water depth. (Read our article “To Use or Not? Benefits of Trekking Poles”).
- Headlamp: During rains, it gets dark early. This is the time headlamp will come to your rescue.
- Hat: Carry a hat with a brim to keep rain out of sight. The hat should easily fit beneath your jacket hood.
- Hand warmers: Temperature is typically low in the wet regions. If the conditions drop beyond your tolerance, then a packet of hand warmers would be really relieving and uplifting. Hand warmers are disposable packets that produce heat on demand to cold hands.
- Blister care: Wet feet, tight shoes, or even a wrinkle in the socks can induce a pressure point and the constant friction between your heel and the shoes creates heat which is conducive to blister environment.
For more details read How to Prevent Blisters While Hiking.
Choose the Right Trail
Hiking in rains is a real challenge as the trails are wet, muddy, and slippery. No matter the trail condition, the view and the whole experience is worth accepting the challenge. Be prudent while zeroing down on the destination. Pick a trail that is relatively easy to negotiate even when there is a heavy downpour.
Well-established routes are a safe bet.
Also, prefer a trail that is well covered by woods. The trees will not only minimize the damage to the trail from the rains but also provide shelter from it. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned hiker, always have proper knowledge about the place you are hiking to.
Bring the Right Snacks
Even if you are going on a short hiking trip, you need to pack snacks. (Read our article “Hiking Food Ideas – Not Knowing These Can Make You Regret!”). Opt for ready-to-eat snacks as you cannot sit and cook in the rain. Carry energy bars, fruits, and even dried meat for a quick source of energy.
Ways to Protect Your Gear
After having an amazing yet drenched hike, what can be more satisfying than drying out and relaxing in a cozy sleeping bag by campsite! After having been through a lot during the day, you would want to have a peaceful sleep in the night. To ensure this, you need to take measures to keep the essential items dry while hiking in the rain. We list the things you should carry for protecting your gear:
- Garbage bags: These are lightweight and inexpensive and can protect your gears from the rain.
- Heavy-duty bin liner: Use a heavy-duty bin liner inside your backpack. This will ensure that your items inside the bag stay dry and free from moisture.
- Waterproof containers: Your electronic navigators and communication devices may get wet and stop working. Place them in waterproof containers instead of plastic bags.
- Ziplock bags: Place you wet-sensitive items like maps, snacks, etc. in ziplock bags.
- Pack covers: This cover is made up of lightweight nylon or ultra-light silk nylon and tightens around the pack and keeps the gears safe even in heavy rains.
Wet Weather Trail Hazards
Heavy rains can create hazards for both beginners and seasoned hikers. Follow the following safety tactics to avoid possible hazards:
- On hilly paths: You can easily fall from or on wet rocky surfaces, muddy paths, and sandy badland. Wear ankle boots with ridged soles and carry a hiking pole.
- During a flash flood: A stream may overflow and just wash away whatever comes in its way. Avoid hiking along rivers during rains.
- Crossing creeks: Be careful while crossing swollen creeks. Remember to unbuckle the hipbelt of the backpack for easy release in case of a slip or fall in the running current.
- In the case of a landslide: Rainwater can soak natural or man-made slopes. Avoid going near slopes during rains as there can be unpredictable landslides. Look for alternative safe routes and leave the scene immediately in case you fall victim to any of the landslides.
- When you suffer hypothermia: With constant rains, the body temperature may go down even in summers. Insufficient padding in a cold place can lead to hypothermia. Carry warm and waterproof clothes. Always pack a couple of extra clothing. Take rest at regular intervals and keep yourself sufficiently energized with snacks.
Camping Tactics in the Rain
Setting up the tent (in the rains) is a complicated job. But shelter from the persistent pitter patter is important if you are hiking in the rain for more than a day. Here are certain pointers for camping in the rain adequately, take notes-
- Select a drier, higher ground. Preferably under trees but damaged ones.
- Be wary of the fly-first pitch. Carry the footprint.
- Recruit rainfly holders.
- Keep the insides of the tent/rainfly dry. Switch to the dry set of clothes before getting inside.
- Never cook inside the tent.
- Avoid touching the inner wall of the tent or the rainfly.
So, there you go! Those are some of the points to be mindful of when you go hiking in the rain. Don’t let your love for hiking get washed away in the rainy season. Just be cautious, load on the required essentials and prepare yourself with the competent campsite tactics for the most adventurous hiking in the rains! Feel a fresher and greener Mother Earth and trust us, woods are more beautiful in the rains.
Share your story with us. We would love to read your memorable moments and any other tips you may have to offer.