Updated: Apr 2, 2022
Hiking in the rain or in a storm can be a pain, having everything wet including yourself can make hiking a little less fun than it should be along with making it harder, so here are five tips to protect yourself from the effects of rain during your next hike!
1. Waterproofing your gear
Keeping your gear dry is important when it is wet because if it is raining for the duration of your hike you will find it near impossible to dry off and will increase the weight of your pack, to avoid this try get a pack that is water resistant or has a cover built in so you don’t waste time when the weather turns bad. Alternatively you might already have a pack and don’t really want to spend the money to replace it, there are many different stores that sell pack covers out there so it's worth investing in one as they are usually cheap and improve the experience of hiking in the rain drastically since you are not wasting time drying stuff out that could have simply been kept dry in the first place. Having this cover removes the need to waterproof all your gear individually as they are all kept dry by one handy cover to protect it all. Waterproofing your gear doesn't stop there, if you have any technology like phones or recharge batteries its best to keep them in either a dry bag or Zip lock bag to avoid any damage to them, this can also be done for any other important items like a wallet or torch.
2. Waterproofing yourself
Apart from waterproofing your pack, you also need to waterproof yourself, waterproofing yourself is all about wearing the right clothing for hiking in the rain and making sure you stay dry. Make sure to have a strong robust rain jacket that is breathable as you want to avoid getting sweaty and damp when the air around you becomes very moist and humid, these jackets are critical in this weather so that you don’t come back looking like you just came out of a shower. Other important things to remember are water proof shoes and pants if necessary, check the forecast in advance so you know what kind of weather to expect and weather the rain will be enough to warrant you bring these items. Through the duration of a wet weather hike you need to change your socks quite often to avoid the consequences of damp socks, walking through puddles may be fun but will mean that you will need to walk all day in damp socks that may lead to the early signs of trench foot.
3. What to do when your wet
Sometimes getting wet is unavoidable, the weather may have made a sudden turn that you had no control over and you got soaked, the first thing you want to do is to get everything that you are wearing that is wet off and change into something dry. During a hike it is imperative to stay dry as spending prolonged time in wet clothes can cause hypothermia, for most people their first opportunity to do this will be when they start to set up camp and get ready for the night including making dinner, make sure to do this first as the effects of wearing wet clothes is worse than putting dinner off for 30 minutes. While you are changing into new clothes take the time to hang up the wet ones, you want to try to get these to be as dry as possible because carrying wet clothes can add lots of unnecessary weight to your pack that can be easily avoided. Once your clothes are hung up and you are dry go through you pack and see what else got wet, try to get the wet items aired out overnight to hopefully dry them out but this does not always work depending on how damp they are.
4. Keep yourself fueled
Hiking through the rain or storm can pose unique difficulties but one element that is too often overlooked is keeping yourself going, walking in the rain with added humidity and sweat can use much more energy than if the weather was clear and 22 degrees so it’s important that you have snacks ready to eat along the way. Make sure to pack snack bars so that along the way to can have a little booster to help you get towards the end, other snacks that are really good for boosting energy are dried apricots, dried mangos and dried prunes, these snacks are naturally high in sugar and protein helping you get that energy boost to continue. Burnout can come physically but also mentally so it's good to keep yourself not only fueled with food but with a good positive outlook too. Take the hike one step at a time and if you need a break make sure to take them as it is important to look after your mind while on the trail, I personally find hiking a great place for me to think things and ideas in my head through and that helps distract me from the sometimes endless walking.
5. Setting up your camp
The weather doesn't always go your way, rain can often continue from day through to all of the night, setting up your camp so that it is more likely to stay dry is important as wet tents in the morning means more weight on your back in the afternoon. Some key tips for setting up camp in the rain is to always make sure you have your tent fly with you and to place your tent on a mound or hill of some kind, this mound doesn't need to be tall at all but does need to be slightly raised compared to the ground around it. This will ensure that you and your tent stay dry through the night no matter how hard it rains as the water will just run down into lower parts of the surrounding landscape. If the wind is blowing or it's a bit of a stormy night then try to avoid placing your tent under trees, the damage of a falling branch can badly damage tents but more importantly can be fatal to people if they fall on top of you while your sleeping.
Applying these five tips next time the weather turns sour can turn a hike that was on the brink of failure into a weekend or longer full of fun for everyone, hopeful you have learned some valuable skills and feel more equipped to tackle the bush during the wet seasons.
Need some tips for hiking in the heat? Well then check out this article right here.
Written by Josh Welch