High and Dry: Top Tips for Hiking on a Rainy Day

Preparing to hike

Every hiker loves spending a warm, sunny day beneath a bright blue sky. But sooner or later, the rains will come. And whether you’re spending a weekend exploring the coast, an overnight along the riverbed, or an afternoon on the mountain, knowing how to stay warm, dry, and comfortable when the clouds roll in can mean the difference between a successful, soul-soothing hike and a soggy mess of an attempted adventure.

Know How to Dress

Hands-down, the most essential component to learning to master the rainy day hike is learning the right way to layer your clothing for your activity level. Think of dressing for hiking in the rain similarly as you would for hiking in cold or winter weather. Layers are the name of the game–but remember that just because it’s cold and damp out does not mean that you’ll stop sweating from physical exertion.

Woman HikingStaying dry is the name of the game here–both from within and from the elements. So avoid building up a sweat or letting the rain get you damp, as all of this can lead to major discomfort as well as chafing, blistering, and rashes. As far as your actual layers go, a good rule of thumb is to stick to layers that have the highest likelihood of keeping you warm, even if they should happen to get wet. This can include things like non-cotton underwear, thermal long underwear, a non-cotton insulating layer, and a waterproof shell layer. Don’t neglect the importance of a brimmed cap, either.

Tackle the Trail Like a Pro

Knowing when to do things a little differently is an essential part of the rules when dealing with Mother Nature. When raindrops make an unexpected appearance during a hike, you may need to forgo your schedule and take advantage of breaks in bad weather to rest, eat, or make camp. Hike wet and camp dry is a good rule to keep in mind during multiple camping day trips.

Other trail tips of the trade? Try not to raise your arms unless necessary–sleeve openings are the easiest place for water to sneak in. And unless you absolutely have to, do not open your pack. No matter how careful you are, some water will sneak in, making your entire load that much heavier. Keep your most utilized tools, maps, and snacks in zip bags accessible to your outer pockets if at all possible.

HikingHave a Comfy Way to Get Home

Whether your idea of the perfect ride home is the back of an open pickup with your best (two or four) legged friend, or cruising along in comfy ride like the Chrysler 200, there’s no denying that the end of a hike brings with it a certain sense of satisfaction and calm with it. Take that time for reflection and don’t stress about the condition of your clothes and car too much.

Even if you plan all of your hiking trips with the greatest of care, if you hike often enough, there’s still a good chance you could end up caught in a surprise rain storm out on the trail some day. With a couple of smart tips and tricks, you can be prepared for even the wettest of downpours!

Calvin Hemphill is a Boy Scout leader who, as the motto goes, is always prepared! Having lead groups of 20+ kids on 3 day hikes he believes he knows a thing or two and shares his tips, tricks and ideas via blogging.


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