Hiking in the rain is rarely ever fun, but if you’re backpacking, or even day hiking and find yourself several miles away from the car when a rain storm rolls in, there’s no way you can avoid it. Here are some things you can do to make hiking in the rain a little less miserable.
8 Tips for hiking in the rain
Don’t hike in the rain. I know this may seem a little contradictory, but hear me out. I actually met a thru hiker on the AT who simply didn’t hike if it was raining. He would just stay at whatever shelter or hostel he was at until it was clear, even it took a day or two of waiting, and then he only hiked when it was sunny! I don’t do this often, but I have also been known to spend a zero day holed up in my tent, journaling and reading, waiting out the rain.
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Move to, or make hiking vacations to, sunny locations! While the weather is never guaranteed, moving from the eastern US to Colorado was a game changer. A life changer! I never realized the positive impact moving to a state with nearly 300 annual days of sunshine would have on my mood and lifestyle. (Pennsylvania, where I grew up, has about half that many, at 140 annual sunny days on average, that means more often than not – it will be raining, or stormy, or dark and cloudy when you want to hike. Yikes!)
If hiking in the rain can’t be avoided, here a few tips to make it a little less miserable.
Invest in good quality hiking rain gear that you like to wear. The two choices hikers usually debate between is a rain jacket and rain pants, or one of those big ponchos with a hood that fits over you and your backpack. I’ve used both and ended up ditching the poncho pretty quickly, for no good reason other than I just didn’t like it. I like to use my rain jacket, and rain pants too if it’s a bad storm. One of the most important things I look for in a rain jacket and pants to make sure I can fit some layers under them – you don’t want these to be too snug or tight.
Wear a hat with a brim. I’m not usually such a hat fanatic, of any kind, but wearing a synthetic baseball-style hat with a brim, underneath my rain jacket hood, is a big morale booster for me, since it keeps the rain and hail off my face.
Wear hiking rain pants that go over the tops of your shoes. Now, if it’s raining for many hours or days at a time, your socks and shoes will get wet, unfortunately, but for those quick passing, summer time, afternoon showers this will keep your feet mostly dry.
If your shoes and socks do get soaked, help them dry out as fast as you can when the rain stops. Lay out your wet socks, take out the insoles in your shoes, and unlace your shoes and open them up to let everything sit in the sunshine on every break you get during the day and maybe repeat by the fire at night.
If you’re backpacking, make sure you always keep a dry set of clothes and socks to sleep in or wear on a zero day.
Keep your gear dry. I like to line the inside of my pack with a trash compactor bag, then also carry and use a pack cover to go on the outside of my pack. That protects all the outside pockets and brain of the pack from getting wet too.
Also, look on the bright side, if it’s raining or storming, there probably won’t be many other hikers out on the trails and you may have the trail or campsite all to yourself ?
Let us know your favorite hack for hiking in the rain in the comments below!
For more hiking and backpacking tips, check out:
- How to prevent and treat blisters while hiking
- How much first aid training do you really need?
- Campsite safety tips
- Hiking with dogs