How to Stay Dry While Hiking in The Rain?
Staying dry or making yourself water-resistant during a hike in the rain is fairly simple. It’s all about water-resistant outerwear, water-resistant footwear, water-resistant packs, extra water bottles or water bladders for your pack, and shelter from the rain.
Moreover, It is extremely important to vent water vapor out of your jackets, boots, footwear, and pack. If water can’t escape from water-resistant fabrics when you are working hard in the rain then water will be forced into water-proof or water-resistant fabrics.
This is absolutely the opposite of what you want to accomplish when in cold weather so it’s important to have waterproof-breathable outerwear.
What to Wear when Hiking in the Rain?
What you wear in the rain will depend somewhat on the temperature and how far in advance you actually think it may rain. If you are in cold temperatures, then there is no need to carry extra clothing with you that could get wet or freeze when your body warmth dries out the clothes.
If you are hiking for a few hours, then you may be able to wear some or all of your regular clothing without worrying about extra layers getting wet. It’s not a good idea to wear cotton, but that’s what many people do when hiking in the rain because they are used to working up a sweat when out on the trail.
On the other hand, if it is extremely cold and wet, you will need to use all available means to stay warm. You could wear a very lightweight poncho over your clothing, which would allow your clothes to dry out while keeping you covered and protected from the rain.
Prior Preparation for a Water Resistant Hike
Preparing before a hike in the rain is fairly simple as well. First, make sure you have a water-resistant backpack to carry all of your gear in. Second, treat your clothing with a treatment that will help it become more water-resistant if you haven’t already done so. A popular choice for this purpose is Scotch Guard or similar types of protectants that allow direct spraying onto your clothes. Finally, you can purchase hats, gloves, and insoles that lines with materials like Gore-Tex or eVent which will help you stay drier while hiking in the rain.
Some people turn to “waterproof” shoes which they believe will keep their feet dry while hiking in the rain. However, unless they completely enclose your foot and attach them tightly around your ankle (which would make it very hard to walk), then water may still enter through the sides of the shoe where your ankles bend when walking.
Here are 6 Tips to Stay Dry while Hiking in the Rain:
1. Raincoat Over the Backpack
This is an ideal choice to keep dry and be water-resistant, but it may not be ideal for everyone. Some prefer a rain skirt or pants, others would go as far as to wear an expensive Gore-Tex suit while hiking in the rain.
The waist of the coat should be high enough so water running off your backpack will hit your raincoat instead of going down inside it and wetting your clothes. A belt is helpful to keep the coat from flapping around excessively if there’s a wind.
2. Waterproof Shoes & Gaiters
Your feet need special attention when hiking in the rain because unless you have waterproof boots, water can enter through any gaps between your boot and shoelaces or where your socks meet the tops of them. On top of that, keeping debris out of your boots is just as important.
One solution to this problem is “waterproof” boots that use Gore-Tex or other breathable membranes to make sure water does not enter while allowing your feet to breathe. You can also try wearing tall gaiters over the tops of your boots to keep rainwater out, but if you do let them come down around your boot’s laces then they should be fully waterproof. I used simple trash compactor bags for my last hike in the bog, and it works very well!
3. Apparel with Zip Pockets
Many people will find themselves hiking in the rain at some point. So it’s best to get familiar with their rain gear beforehand. In addition, get a few zippered pockets on the outside of your raincoat. Moreover, pants or poncho can really help you stay dry.
For instance, if you have a zippered pocket on the inside of your coat that is big enough for your cell phone then you can just slip it into that pocket when it’s raining. The water will roll right off the phone and be absorbed by the material before entering the zipper itself. Having an external zippered pocket lets you stop at regular intervals. This will let your clothing dry out so it doesn’t get wetter than necessary.
4. Wearing Layers
One common mistake made by hikers is neglecting to wear layers of warm clothing underneath their rain gear. This is because they expect to stay warm due to their wind-resistant rain gear. Unfortunately, the breathable fabrics used to make most rain gears are with designs that vent excess moisture. This means they can’t do much for keeping you warm.
Instead of wearing only one or two layers underneath your jacket, consider adding more like a light wool sweater, polyester fleece pullover, etc.
5. Keeping Your Hands Warm
If you’re hiking in the rain all day long then your hands need special consideration as well. This is because an hour or two without gloves is bad enough but all day could cause frostbite on your fingers.
One common solution for this problem is to wear waterproof mittens with some sort of heat pack inside them. Two good choices worth mentioning are HotHands Hand Warmers and Hand Warmers by ReadyHeat. Both of these products are with designs that provide several hours of heat inside a sealed bag that you can open when needed.
Both of these products are cheap, compact, lightweight. Moreover, they store for years without losing their ability to generate heat. Hence, they’re ideal for backpackers who hike in the rain regularly during hot weather. A small disc of this stuff placed under your gloves will keep your hands quite warm while hiking in the rain all day long!
6. Keeping Your Feet Warm
If you want to stay dry then it’s important not to let your feet get wet. However, there is only so much you can do about that without stopping every mile or two to take off your shoes and socks, change into some dry ones and let your boots dry out.
This is especially necessary if you’re hiking in water above your ankles. This is because it’s very easy to wade into a stream, ford a river, or step through a puddle and soak your feet that way. It’s best to wear waterproof socks over whatever wool or polyester blend socks you prefer. Next, you can put on some sort of insulated booties if possible.
What About Cold Weather?
If you’re going to be hiking in the rain when the temperature is only 40° F (5° C) or so then wearing any kind of waterproof gear can actually make you colder than normal. This is because they trap your body heat against your skin instead of allowing it to escape as regular clothing does. This means that no matter how much insulation your rain gear provides then it’s still going to make you colder than usual.
In that case, using a poncho instead of a raincoat is highly recommended. This is because it gives you far more breathability and the ability to vent excess heat. In fact, staying dry with a poncho is so easy. Moreover, it allows use for year-long even if it’s not raining because it provides so much protection from wind chill.
To conclude, staying water-resistant during hikes in the rain is not difficult. However, it does take some preparation and common sense to do it properly. Don’t neglect your feet or hands because they are two of the most important parts of your body when hiking long distances. Hence, keeping them warm is vital for staying comfortable on the trail.
Don’t forget to have a dry set of clothes waiting at home in case you do end up soaked. This is because there is nothing worse than sitting around wet and cold after a long day hiking. Keeping out water during a hike is extremely important to enjoy a hiking tour with confidence and freedom.
Stay safe and stay warm!