When you’re out there in the wild outdoors, you’re literally at the mercy of the elements. So when the sky decides to send a light shower your way or a heavy downpour on some other day, don’t be surprised. And keep a positive outlook – the sun always shines again at some point anyway.
That’s the first thing to hiking safely and successfully in the rain – you’ve got to prepare for it and expect it to happen, even in the sunniest of days. The sooner you accept this fact, the better for you. When you’re mentally prepped for this weather change, you’re more likely to enjoy your outdoor experience despite the precipitation and maintain a positive outlook, not to mention bring along what you need to keep yourself dry and comfortable.
Pick Trails Suitable for Wet Weather
If your hiking destination is in a region that’s pretty rainy or are going out during the wetter season of the year, choose routes that won’t involve ridges or slippery and rocky surfaces. Forest-y destinations are more suitable for this kind of weather.
Waterproof Your Stuff
Line your backpack with trash bags or some other type of plastic and put your clothes and other personal effects, even your maps, in resealable plastic or waterproof bags. When the rain comes, you’re worry free as you got everything covered. You can also use a backpack cover to keep the rain from making your bag soaking wet and a bit heavier to carry.
Use Water Resistant, Cuffed Clothing That Breathes
Never use clothes made of cotton as these will retain water and make you feel colder and, yes, wet. Fleece or wool are good options especially if you’re hiking in chilly weather, as well as moisture-wicking, breathable fabric usually used to make athletic clothing.
Also, you may want to cuff the edges of your shirt sleeves and pants under your jacket or protective layer so that they don’t peek out and absorb water. Speaking of which, use a backpack with non-thick straps so that you don’t have to deal with wet straps that take ages to dry out.
Wear the Right Footwear
You’re thinking about hiking boots, aren’t you? If your trek is a really short one (half a day), those boots, with gaiters to match, are okay. Otherwise, you’re better off with trail running shoes as these are more comfortable, breathable, and lighter, while still providing a good grip on rough and muddy terrain. They’re sturdy and can handle water exposure well, plus they dry out faster and are less likely to cause blisters. You can opt for those you can wear sockless so you don’t get the full soggy experience.
Use a Visor – and a Belt Bag
A visor gives you the shade you need without trapping the heat in your head. Paired with a hoodie on drizzly days, you get the perfect combo as the visor can keep the rain and sweat from trickling down your forehead and into your eyes. Its bill also helps your face avoid contact with whatever hard surface you accidentally bump into. As already mentioned, pick the kind made of synthetic material so it dries faster and not absorb much water.
By the way, if your destination is non-tropical and will be cold, opt for a cap so you avoid losing body heat through your head.
Also, a belt bag that keeps water out is handy for things that you need to use every now and then, like flashlight, energy gels, Swiss knife or some other multitool, and other small essential items. As such, you avoid having to open up your backpack to get these things and potentially exposing your stuff to the rain.
Know Where Your Hand and Foot Will Land
Exercise more caution in rainy weather as visibility is not as good and the terrain is not as safe. Don’t just reach out and grab at rock holds or small plants to keep your balance – look at what you’ll be grabbing first before taking hold of it. Also, keep your gaze to the front and ahead so you know where your foot will step on next. You might unwittingly step into a hole or a very muddy spot and potentially endanger yourself.
Don’t Miss Out on Hydration
The rain may fool you into thinking you don’t need to drink as much water. While there is some truth to that, you may end up lacking in the hydration department altogether. You should sip water even before you get thirsty and eat enough during meal times so you help your body keep itself warm and functioning well.
Before you go on your hike, make sure to test your waterproof gear first to check for leaks and other issues.
Finally, check the weather forecast and the condition of the trail routes beforehand via the ranger station so you’re sure your trip will be a safe and successful one.