Hiking in the Rain - Without Pain

We live in a rainy place. Get tips and tricks to learn how to hike in the rain to keep yourself dry and have fun on our trails.
Mountaineers Books Mountaineers Books
October 27, 2016
Hiking in the Rain - Without Pain
Hiking in the rain at Mt. St. Helens. Photo by Ida Vincent.

Can you really have a successful hike through a waterlogged day or weekend? Sure — if you have the right attitude, and if you keep your gear dry.

10 tips to help you out:

  1. Waterproof stuff sacks are the way to keep dry clothes dry. Use different-colored sacks so you can easily identify where your gear is stashed. Garbage bags work as liners for non-waterproof sacks.
  2. Self-locking plastic bags keep everything dry, from your food supplies to your journal, your matches, camera, first aid kit, guidebook, maps, and firestarter—among other things.
  3. In hot climates, it can be pleasant to walk in the rain without rain gear, but if you start feeling cold, it’s time to gear up. Keep a slow, steady pace. You don’t want to overheat.
  4. Be prepared by having an extra layer of clothes available where you can get to them fast in case of a sudden change in the weather.
  5. Be flexible about stopping for breaks. In intermittent wet weather, take advantage of dry stretches to eat and drink—regardless of whether it’s your usual time. You’re burning a lot of calories walking and staying warm, and you need to replenish them.
  6. Ventilation can regulate your temperature. If your rain gear has “pit zips”, open and close them to cool off or warm up.
  7. To keep your feet dry, put on your rain pants. These direct the flow of water past your legs, over the waterproof outsides of your boots. If it’s too warm, gaiters will keep your feet dry for awhile, but won’t keep the rain from going in the tops of your boots.
  8. Keep snacks handy in a waistpouch or somewhere else where you don’t have to take off your rain cover, open your pack, and expose your gear to the weather every time you want a snack.
  9. When the sun comes out, keep your pack cover and gaiters on. Trees will be dribbling rain down onto you for several hours after the rain has stopped, and wet knee-brushing vegetation can soak feet in minutes.
  10. If you end up with wet socks after the day’s hiking, wring them out and hang them up where escaping body heat will dry them a little. If next day is sunny, wear spare socks and hang wet ones on your pack to dry. If it’s still raining, put your already soggy socks back on your feet, and save the dry ones for the end of the day.

The more comfortable you are, the happier you’ll stay.

Adapted from EVERYDAY WISDOM: 1001 Expert Tips for Hikers by Karen Berger.

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