7 Tips for Wet Weather Hiking

Spring is upon us, which means that the temperatures are rising and more adventurers are heading outside. But, sometimes, a rainy forecast or a surprise storm challenges our spring trips. Don’t let it discourage you, however. If you’re prepared, it should hardly slow you down! Embrace the wetness with these tips:

1. Pack Garbage Bags and Ziploc Bags

Garbage bags and Ziplocs are cheap, light, and effective solutions for rainy weather’s challenges. Keep one or two in your pack throughout the season for emergency waterproofing, and pack less-critical items inside them. On the other hand, more important stuff, such as phones, headlamps, and other electronics, should be packed in more waterproof, durable, and trustworthy roll-top dry bags.

Rainy Hiking

2. Dress for the Occasion

Water’s thermal conductivity is 26 times that of air. So, your body loses heat four times as fast when you get wet! A 60° F sunny day is beautiful, but a 60° F rainy day can pose hypothermia risks if you are not prepared. As a solution, shells and rain jackets make adventuring in inclement weather possible and are much more breathable than garbage bags. As well, synthetic clothing like EMS® Techwick® will help prevent hypothermia.

For selecting the right gear, check out our “Top 7 Rainy Day Hiking Essentials” to see if you need to make a stop at your local EMS. As well, if your equipment’s water repellency needs to be restored after the winter season, read “A Guide to Picking the Right Nikwax Product” beforehand.

3. Pack Extra Calories

Hiking in muddy conditions is physically demanding, and wet trails can take more out of you than an easy dry hike. So, be sure to pack extra calorie-dense foods to keep yourself fueled up.

When backpacking, be aware that, in a downpour, you may not be able to cook food, so items like trail mix and energy bars are a safe bet. Finding shelter to get out of the rain while you take a break to eat can make a big difference, too.

Rainy Camping

4. Optimize Overnight Trips

For extended trips, make sure you have a way to dry your clothes and boots out. As backup, always carry dry clothes in a waterproof bag.

Additionally, when you’re pitching your tent, find high ground and avoid basins, or you may wake up in a pool of water! Try to get as little water as possible inside the tent, and if your structure needs it, lay a footprint down when you set up camp. If you are attempting this during a storm, look for sheltered areas where you will be safe if a tree falls.

5. Respect the Woods and Stay on the Trail

Whether you are out for a day hike or an extended trip, spring is a very delicate time for the trails. Even though there may be puddles and mud on the path, stay inside the trail’s edges to minimize erosion and widening.

6. Have an Emergency Plan

In case of a surprise storm, making cautious calls is the key to having an enjoyable experience. Lightning is always serious, so read up on lightning safety before planning any trips. If you happen to be outdoors during a storm, seek lower ground, avoid open areas and isolated trees, and never set up camp near water, as it is a strong electrical conductor.

7. Keep Morale Up!

Hiking in rainy weather challenges you in new ways, both physically and mentally. But, whether the weather turns for the worse or the weekend forecast is foreboding, the outdoors can still be enjoyable. During your journey, notice what looks and sounds different when you are outside in the rain. Odds are good that few people will be out. And, if the rain subsides and the sun comes out, you may even catch a rainbow!

Credit: Gregory Robben
Credit: Gregory Robben