The rain drips down off the rooftop of your home, soaking the dry earth and loosening up the soil. You take a deep breath and sigh. It looks like I won’t be going to hike today; the weather will just keep me away, you say. Stop right there. It is not all so bad. Just because it’s wet outside does not mean you cannot enjoy yourself. In this article, 5 Tips for Hiking in the Rain – Get the Best Rain Jacket!, you will learn how to hike through the wet weather with a smile on your face, so let’s get started on our adventure.
Tip 1 – Keep Ya Head Up! It’s only Rain
It is only rain. You cannot let rain get you down. I used to get seasonal depression and still do a bit now, but that was because I did not see the positive in dreary weather. It is a time for cleansing. When you walk along a trail or on the side of the road after a good rain, you have to take careful steps, hopping from one dry spot to another.
Another positive of the rain is that there is no one else on the trail. You get peace and quiet to calm you down. The weather pushes people away, but not you. You can self reflect and wander through the wilderness. The silence deafens all the noise. It is magical. The crowded trails are now devoid of people. You can do two important things when hiking in the rain, bask in the wet beauty of the trail and self reflect. It is very nice. You get the chance to slow down.
Tip 2 – Pick the Right Trail
Not all trails are created equal. Some are better for wet weather hiking than others. The one you frequent may be better in warm weather than cold weather. View heavy hikes are not as good as those with waterfalls, lakes, or streams on a rainy day. The water really comes out full force on wet days, so one of the three would be better than one with a fantastic view. You won’t be seeing very far on a wet and cloudy day, but you can really see the power of water on rainy days.
Tip 3 – Mind the Gap, It’s a Slippery Trail
If you have ever walked barefoot on a wet floor, then you know how dangerous a fall can be to your health. No one wants that, especially when you are going on a rainy day hike. More is at stake. Fewer people are on the trail to help you out and the weather slows everything down, impeding any progress.
In a previous article, I wrote about hiking basics, covering everything from having a plan to starting in the morning. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran, a fresh read will be sure to help you out and keep you safe.
When it comes to hiking in the rain, watch where you step. One of my favorite parts about hiking is that it forces you to be present and situationally aware, watching each and every step you take. On a rainy day hike, everything is slippery. If you are not careful, you can fall.
Swollen creeks, lakes, and waterfalls are another challenge when hiking in the rain. They can take you by surprise if you are not careful, so keep away from fast moving currents. You can get sucked down like a strawberry heading down the garbage disposal. Once it’s in, there is no way you’re getting out of there.
Hypothermia is the killer in the cold. If you forget to bring plenty of warm clothes, then you can encounter hypothermia. To beat it off, make sure you have all the right clothes on for the weather to keep the heat inside. A good, cold weather hike can also take a lot out of you and you need to replenish your body of energy, so bring plenty of nutritious food.
It’s okay. The weather can be very nasty. This is not a contest. You do not want to confront the full force of nature head on. It will beat you every time. You are there to enjoy its beauty, not fight it, so constantly check the weather. This will save your rear end down the road because, if it becomes too dangerous, you can call it a day if need be. Professionals may be able to handle bad weather, but they cannot sleep through dangerous weather. It is too much of a risk. Play it safe when the weather looks too worrisome.
Tip 4 – Bring Delicious Food and Tasty Snacks
There is a direct correlation between your mood and food. As I like to say, a full camper is a happy camper, so be sure to pack plenty of food in your bag. It is important to realize that, on cold days, you need to eat and drink more. The environment demands more of you. You trod through the scenery more carefully for fear of slipping and the rain hammers down on you. To handle all of this, you need energy. Your best bet is going to be delicious and tasty food. When you eat well and hearty, you develop a skip to your step and then the rainy weather does not seem all that bad.
Tip 5 – Protect Your Gear and Wear Wet Weather Clothing
As the legendary Ron Swanson would say, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing and methods of transportation.” If you do not have the right gear, the weather feels a lot worse. The cold air seeps in through your jacket and sticks to your body, lowering your body temperature. Fortunately though, if a person has gone through the weather, you can bet that someone has designed clothing for it.
Gear Protectors – Essentials to Minimizing Dampness
Ziplock plastic bags and trash bags will keep your gear dry. Both are inexpensive and common, so you can get your hands on them very easily. Trash bags are quite versatile. You can cut them up and use them as backpack liner or rain cover.
Handwarmers will warm you up. I used to be against them because I thought they were just another useless item that outdoor shop salesmen pitch to you, but they work. My sister gave me some for the rainy weather at UC Santa Cruz and they have made a world of a difference, warming me up in the cold weather.
Trekking poles help you keep your footing. The trails will be slippery and dangerous. A good pair will extend your arms, catching you well before you fall. I recommend the black diamond alpine trekking poles. While they are not the lightest pair out there, they are durable and sturdy, making them very reliable. Every REI expert recommends them. Get your pair today and save yourself from a nasty fall.
Headlamp, it will light up the darkness. The day is much shorter in dreary weather. The clouds rush in to stop all light from the sun. A headlamp will give you the light you need to shine through the darkness.
Multi towel, no matter what happens on a rainy day. You will get a bit wet at some point. There is no getting around it. The damp creeps in to soak you. A good multi towel will dry up those wet spots and wring out easily for the next use.
Clothing, the Key to Staying Warm and Enjoying Yourself
First things first when dressing for a hike in the rain, absolutely no cotton, it will soak up the water like a rag. In combination with sweat, your cotton clothing will cool you down and you risk hypothermia. Wool, nylon, or polyester work much better, keeping you warm despite the weather.
Gaiters, they are perfect for stream crossing and puddle jumping. When you have these on, the creeks do not seem so bad. The water rolls off you once you emerge victorious from the river bank. I recommend the Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters. They are meant for research in harsh conditions, holding in their own in wet weather. While on the expensive side, these gaiters have longevity, providing for you even in the most foul weather.
Dry clothes, you might get soaked. An extra pair of dry clothes in your backpack will do wonders for you in case the weather surprises you. If this is not an option, then bring an extra pair of socks at a minimum. No one likes cold feet.
Waterproof boots or shoes, soggy feet will drag you down. If you have a good pair of boots though, it is like having angel wings on your feet gliding you over the muddy ground. Your feet won’t get wet.
Rain jacket, you need one for the rainy weather. I recommend the Mammut Wenaha Rain Jacket. While I have not used this jacket myself, the reviews have been quite phenomenal. If you get this one or a something similar, I recommend bright colors. In a search and rescue operation, those colors will be a godsend, providing a visual beacon for rescuers. When weight and space are limited, you can keep warm through the foul weather. It is the best rain jacket.
Waterproof pants, the rain will try to get to you, falling down from above. If you have nice, waterproof pants on you though, then you won’t have to worry about getting wet because it will just roll off you.
Rain cap, this is often an overlooked piece of gear. Why get a rain cap when I have a rain jacket hoodie you say? It does the same thing right? Nope, a rain cap will protect your face and glasses from water while a jacket will not. If you wear glasses, then a rain cap is a must have to protect your glasses from water droplets.
Don’t Let the Rain Stop You from Having a Good Time
See? The rain is not all that bad. In fact, there is quite a lot of beauty in it. Silence falls from the clouds and dampens the noise, relaxing your mind and focusing you in on the here and now. You take a deep breath of the cool, moist air, softening your throat. The next chance you get, try a rainy day hike. It will be a marvelous, magical adventure.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, please comment below and remember to share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!