Hiking in the Rain : Tips to Stay Dry, Comfortable & Safe

Hiking in the rain can be very beautiful. The muted lighting, the peaceful sound, the mist and the fog are our rewards for getting outside outside. Whether you are out on the West Coast, East Coast or somewhere in between, the best way to enjoy these serene landscapes is by making sure you are dry, comfortable and safe.

  1. Wear the right layers. It isn’t enough to wear a rain jacket. The layers beneath make all the difference. Recently, I went on a hike wearing a wicking tank top and thicker hooded athletic jacket. Usually, I warm up quickly on a well-paced hike, but that didn’t happen on this one. I wished that I had layered up with a polar fleece, wool sweater or puffa jacket. Long hooded rain jackets or hooded ponchos are best because they prevent rain from dripping or blowing in around your neck and cover more of your body or pack. It’s good practice to pack a cheap dollar store poncho on the regular. I’ve actually had to use one to build a shelter for someone who ended up without a tent.
  2. Wear a wool or wool blended toque or beanie. Wool retains heat even when wet.
  3. A wicking neck warm not only will help to keep you warm, but can serve as a mask, a head band, a tourniquet… whatever.
  4. You may want bring waterproof or wool gloves
  5. Waterproof or water resistant pants. On my last rainy hike I wore athletic leggings and gators. It was okay, but another layer of water protection would have been golden.
  6. Gators! I love gators in all sorts of conditions. They save your legs from brush, mud splatter and keep you dry. Secure them around high top boots to prevent water from funnelling down and pooling around your feet.
  7. Wear wool or wool blended socks. If wool is an issue for you there are other socks with nano technology fibres that will help with keeping your feet warm.
  8. Wear the right hiking shoes or boots. In wet weather waterproof with anti-slip soles are a must. When you hike enough your waterproof boots will eventually stop working. If you feel like there is still life left in the boots you can try spraying them with water repellent spray.
  9. Bring your hiking pole or poles. Mud is slippery and messy. Even on the easiest of trails, a pole can help you catch your balance. If you bring both poles you can always lend one to a friend if they forget. Or find a sturdy stick.
  10. You’ll want to protect your personal items too. If you aren’t wearing a poncho, a dry bag or backpack cover will do the trick. Protect any paper maps with a plastic sleeve.
  11. Bring simple snacks.
  12. Choose an appropriate trail and don’t put too much pressure on reaching your goal. I believe you should finish before you and your party are too fatigued. This is when mis-steps occur.
  13. Bring a basic first-aid kit.
  14. Leave a set of warm, dry clothes and shoes in the car.
  15. Bring a positive disposition.

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