Some people love rain and cloudy weather whereas some people roaming outdoors mostly grumble and complain during gray clouds and heavy rainfall. But, you need to know that none of the natural wonders would exist without relentless raindrops, which happened billions of times. Nonetheless, if you can adopt a proper attitude, you can learn to love hiking under the rainy clouds.
How Should You Gear Up For Hiking In The Rain?
Irrespective of rains, all hiking trips start with certain essentials/necessities. When rain is a for sure possibility, then it might be best to adjust the gear list and take extra stuff with you before leaving. Protecting the gear is crucial because seams are not sealed, and packs are not truly waterproof especially during tremendous rainfall. Additionally, all the places that allow access to your gear also provide an open path for the rain to fall all over you and seep into your gear. Even water-resistant zippers can eventually let water sneak in without you noticing.
For added protection include the following options into your gear list:
(A) Raincover – This is a very obvious and critical piece of equipment during rainfalls. Usually, some packs do come with one, but you can buy one to cover your daypack.
(B) Lightweight Dry Sacks – use these inside your pack for your most vulnerable gear.
(C) Waterproof Cases – Buy one specially designed to fit your phone, helmet cam, or any other favorite gadgets.
(D) Ziplock Plastic Bags – inexpensive, but not exactly unfailingly waterproof nor particularly durable.
(E) Trash Bags – part of essentials, can use scissors on this to fashion a crude pack cover. These can also be used to double-bag important items for additional protection. Moreover, it is always good to carry one with you if you need to wrap up and carry your wet shoes with you.
(F) Almost-Essential Wet-Weather Gear
- Trekking poles – for sloppy footing, can be a huge help on creek crossings
- Handwarmers – Typically a winter sports accessory, these work when you tear open an outer foil pouch to produce a heat packet that lasts for hours. The added warmth from these can motivate you if your extremities are getting uncomfortable.
- Extra blister supplies – Wet feet equals more blisters, which equals more supplies needed
- Headlamp – One of the essentials, use it before dark, even during light conditions that get extra gloomy
- Bandana or multi towel – handy for wiping or drying off wet gear
How To Avoid Getting Shoes & Boots Wet In Wet Weather Hiking?
Before you head out for hiking with the possibility of rain, you need to wear special clothing. These include outwear and footwear and assess how ready they are in damp weather that can leave you soaking.
(I) Renew your rainwear’s Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating
If you have chosen the gear you are going to wear outside, then you need to check if water drops are beading up and rolling off. If not, renew its DWR coating or spray them with a waterproofing spray to restore performance. It is a good idea to renew your DWR coating at the beginning of every hiking season.
(II) Evaluate your footwear
It is best to opt for waterproof boots or shoes even if there is no chance of rain. These can keep your footwear and feet drier even in wet mud, water puddles, shallow rivers, etc. Moreover, they are a good option for colder conditions since they are made of tight stitch material to keep moisture from entering your footwear.
Renew the waterproofing coating at the beginning of each season, or if you notice large dark spots forming when you splosh across wet terrain. Mesh footwear is great for milder damp conditions as it drains and dries more quickly if you land in a puddle or creek. Either option is great when you need deep lug soles for muddy roads and good traction to deal with slippery logs and rocks.
It can be a disappointment if you have to turn around just because your shoes are dripping wet and your feet are soggy. One of the keys to successful wet weather hiking is waterproof footwear. These boots are a game changer if you are out hiking in heavy rains. Most day hikers prefer light, low ankle shoes, but the same option cannot be chosen in rain. High ankle robust boots provide more ankle support on slippery trails and keep water out better than other footwear.
Gaiters can shield your socks and the tops of your footwear from water. Also, pack extra shoes/boots/gaiters if possible to switch out your current ones if they get too wet or dirty. Gaiters can keep away mud and water from dripping into your shoes if you will be going through mud or deep puddles.
What Are The Trail Hazards During Wet Weather?
Significant storm systems can create dangers and health concerns. Moreover, if you are on the lookout, you can take the necessary steps to avoid unwanted complications.
- Slippery surfaces – Step carefully on muddy slopes, slimy rocks, and rain-dipped logs
- Swollen creeks – Unbuckle hipbelt before crossing to easily get free of your pack if you slip and fall into a swift-moving current
- Flash floods – In Canyon countries, check the forecast ahead of time, always keep an eye out for quickly accessible higher ground
- Hypothermia – grumbling, mumbling, tumbling, and stumbling are telltale signs of hypothermia. You need to stop, dry out and get some calories in your body. Eat and drink more often than you would in clear, sunny weather.
What To Do On Rainy Days?
With the right mindset, hiking on rainy days can be something to remember fondly for years to come. Solitude, clean air, are just a few things you can gain on rainy days, and taking extra precautions can keep you on track.
- Remember that staying dry is easier than drying out after you are soaking wet
- Be proactive and do not wait to put on your raincoats or take cover in a full-on rain squall
- Keep monitoring the weather as weather forecasting is not a perfect science
- Keep an eye out for lightning as they are the easiest to notice signs, which no one can miss
- Nonetheless, it is even more important to take cover immediately under thunderstorms
- Constantly self-assess, add extra layers or grab snacks & drinks if you are starting to feel a little cold
- Ditch destination fever if relentless storms are making things difficult and miserable
How To Choose The Right Trail During Wet Weather?
Choosing where to go for hikes can be the first step to having a successful hike during wet weather. During such conditions, you would not be able to see expansive views so opting to reach the summit is not the best bet. Nevertheless, you can explore a trail through the forest, grasslands, or flat surfaces. If it’s raining heavily, consider avoiding places with rivers, waterfalls, or lakes. You never know when you may trip and slip into them or face sudden floodings.
Think about what you are hoping to get from the day to narrow down your trail options. If you know what exactly you are looking for, then it can help you determine where you should go. For exercise reasons, you can hit a trail that is not steep so you can work out without much risk of slipping. For relaxing reasons, you can choose a trail that meanders through a forest so you can enjoy the relaxing rain sounds.
Whichever your reason may be, pick a short trail that can be completed within a few hours or half-day. Also, choose a trail with multiple roads or nearby transportation places to go back to your original starting point so that you can quit whenever you want. It is a good practice to read up on the specific trail before heading out because the views are usually skewed. You want to make sure you have your bearings, so you don’t end up lost somewhere.
If the trail is very steep or there are creeks on the way or it tends to get flooding, then put such trails aside for dry days. For an added safety measure, carry a satellite communicator, which is a tiny handheld device that has 2-way texting, SOS, and tracking capabilities. Hiking in spotty cellular service areas can be easier with this life-saving piece of equipment in an emergency.
What Is The Right Mindset For Hiking In The Rain?
Most may have heard the saying – there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. Even though there may be some truth to this, there is always a thing called not-good weather. Nonetheless, the focus here is mostly the gear, more precisely the footwear, which we have control over.
Good hiking gear must have a balance between keeping you dry and warm, but cool enough to avoid getting all sweaty. Hence, wearing a waterproof, breathable rain jacket, thick water-resistant shoes and some lightweight waterproof hiking pants are necessary. But, just having gear without any motivation, determination, dedication to going, or even complete hiking isn’t enough. Most times, hikers face troubles when they are too determined to make it to the goal and complete the hike.
But, when conditions take a turn for the worst, it is best to quit and head back to your original starting point. One of the nicest things about hiking in the rain is that you can slow down and take your time. Take in the scenery instead of setting your sights on the end goal that is the summit. That way you can turn around early if you are content with how far you have come. Moreover, warm tea or coffee can be great to have while taking a rest under shade or taking cover in shelter or caves.
How Does Rain Impact Overall Hiking Performance?
Severe weather is where you can gain an opportunity to push past limits. It reminds us to put in the maximum effort as trekking can be hard and it will be harder to do in rain. However, pain is a friend that helps us improve, but on the flip side, rain and other similar extreme weathers can have an unpredictable effect on your overall performance. Moreover, it is highly dependent on the amount of rain.
Light drizzles can enhance your running performance as they can keep your body cool. Additionally, heavier rain causes the opposite effect and slows you down as you adjust your pace to walk more cautiously to prevent falling or slipping. No hiker wants to miss out on a good trek just because of the rain, however, it is important to think of your safety first to avoid injuries. Moreover, no runner or trekker wishes for rain and with proper preparation, a rainy run may actually be a nice change of pace.
To conclude, there are some simple hacks you can do to make your shoes waterproof. For example, a YouTube user named Crazy Russian Hacker made a video about a neat trick that is useful and simple to do. You only need the wax on candles and a hair-dryer to do it. In the end, both precautions and preparation are needed to face wet hiking conditions.
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Hey, I am the founder of Outside Origin! I love hiking in my spare time and have gone to various different hikes. You can check out our about us section to learn more about what our team and I do over at Outside Origin.