Hiking in the rain - How to keep yourself and your belongings dry.
If given a choice, most people would prefer to hike in dry, sunny conditions. However it's not always possible to predict the weather and if you've planned a trip months in advance, it seems a shame to cancel just because of some rain. Below are our top tips for hiking in wet weather, to make sure you keep yourself and your belongings dry.
1. Choose a good rain shell. Make sure your waterproof jacket has good ventilation, so you don't sweat inside it. There's no point keeping dry from the rain if you're going to end up drenched in sweat. Armpit zips are a good idea to get some airflow, but make sure the rest of the seams are tightly sewn or have covers to keep the rain out. We prefer jackets with a peaked hood because it stops the rain from running down our faces, but you could also wear a cap underneath your hood if you want to keep your face dry.
2. Waterproof trousers. Although they are not the most comfortable item of clothing, wearing waterproof trousers over your usual hiking trousers will keep a lot of rain off. The cheaper trousers don't tend to be as waterproof, so it's worth spending a bit extra if you know there's going to be a lot of rain. Choosing a pair with poppers or zips down the side will enable you to put them on and take them off without having to remove your shoes. This can be handy if you want to remove them in cafes, pubs etc for lunch. It's also important to find a pair with a comfortable waistband as you'll likely wear them over another pair of trousers or leggings. I wore my Berghaus Deluge Overtrousers for 4 hours in torrential rain and my hiking trousers underneath remained completely dry.
3. Choose waterproofing layers in size bigger than you usually wear. This will give you space for warm clothing and layers underneath, which is especially important when the temperature drops.
4. Use gaiters to keep water out of your shoes. Proper gaiters, not the ultra-light running ones, will provide extra protection from the rain and puddles. They are usually waterproof and fairly tough, so will stop water and debris from getting in the top of your shoes. They will also stop puddle water from soaking through the bottoms of your trousers.
5. Wear hiking boots or shoes with Goretex waterproofing. For multi-day hikes though, trail runners are better as they will dry quicker. You can see our guide to choosing appropriate hiking footwear by clicking here.
6. Take spare dry shoes and socks to change into after your hike. Even if you're only out hiking for a day, having a spare pair of dry socks and shoes will help you to warm up once you're out of the rain. Plus, restaurant and pub owners are much happier to serve hikers if you're not wearing wet, muddy boots!
7. Take plasters and tape in case of blisters. Stop and remove debris from your shoes as soon as you notice any - wet feet are a high risk for blisters, especially if there are bits floating around in your shoes causing friction.
8. Dry your feet as soon as you stop hiking. This will help prevent trench foot, the term given to feet which have been soaked in water and mud for so long that the skin has started to rot and die. Yes that sounds gross, but it's a serious issue for wet multi-day hikes. Especially if you are camping and cannot fully dry your shoes or clothes each night.
9. Wear fleece insulation and materials which dry quickly - Again, this is more important for multi-day hikes, but will also be helpful if you're likely to sweat. The best materials for hiking in the rain are merino wool, polyester and nylon.
10. Keep your belongings in dry sacks. Using dry sacks to store your belongings within your backpack will provide extra waterproofing to keep them safe. Most backpacks are not particularly waterproof and accumulate water in the bottom, causing a nice puddle for your belongings to swim in.
11. Use a waterproof cover for your backpack. As mentioned above, backpacks are not very waterproof, so if hiking in torrential rain, a waterproof cover (as well as dry sacks) is a wise idea. This will prevent the water accumulation by allowing water to run off your bag instead of running into it.
12. Keep your map in a waterproof case. Having to keep getting your map out of your backpack is annoying, but a waterproof case can be worn around your neck and will keep your map dry so you can still read it.
13. If camping, try to keep your wet clothes out of the inner part of your tent. This enables them to aerate and dry quicker - wet clothes in a tent will cause condensation and the damp air will stop them drying.
14. Always keep a spare outfit dry. This includes underwear, socks and warm layers. If you're on a multi-day hike, put your wet clothing back on before hiking out in the rain each day to ensure your dry clothes remain dry and warm for camp. Hypothermia is a risk, especially if you've been wet for a long time, and it can kill. Dry clothes will help keep you safe and warm.
15. Embrace and enjoy it!
What do you think? Do you have any other tips or advice? Please share in the comments below!
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