The rainy season doesn’t need to halt your outdoor excursions—there’s no need to let a little water slow you down. With the right gear and knowing how to handle wet conditions, hiking in the rain is just as fun as in the sun. Some might even like it a bit more. If you’re planning on playing outside in the rain, you’re going to want to make sure these rainy-day hiking essentials are part of your kit.

Rainy-day hiking essentials

10 Rainy-Day Hiking Essentials

1. Waterproof Boots

Keeping your feet from getting soaked as you splash through puddles, pools of mud, and high-running streams is vital to your hike’s success and comfort. For this reason, I’m a big fan of waterproof hiking boots. They help keep you dry during every season and their taller height—compared to waterproof trail runners—guards against deeper-than-expected puddles.

2. Gaiters

Gaiters provide even more protection against puddles and mud by sealing off the tops of your boots. This handy piece of gear adds a waterproof layer that overlaps with the top of your boots and your pants, preventing water from getting in and simultaneously protecting your pant legs from the worst of it. Make sure to look for waterproof gaiters, as some are designed only to guard against dirt and debris.

3. Rain Pants

Rain pants are another rainy day essential you’ll want to have either on hand or your body. You can wear rain pants, like the EMS Thunderhead Peak Pants (men’s/women’s), by themselves or over your standard hiking pants. Either way, their waterproof and breathable surface will help keep you dry inside and out.

Spring hiking in the rain

4. Rain Jacket

The EMS Thunderhead Peak Jacket (men’s/women’s) is a tried-and-true choice for staying dry on a rainy day hike. Featuring a 10k/10k waterproof/breathability rating for maximum protection and performance—and pit zips for venting—the Thunderhead is a proven adventure partner.

5. Moisture-Wicking Shirt

Base layers are extremely important for hiking in general, let alone attempting it in the rain; as their name implies, they’re the foundation on which good layering systems are built.

6. Insulating Layer

Getting wet commonly goes hand in hand with getting cold, which makes it a good idea to pack an insulating layer. Down jackets made using hydrophobic down (down treated with a water repellant) are a popular option. However, synthetic-filled jackets are the best choice for hiking in the rain, as they provide insulation even when wet and dry faster than their down counterparts.

Rainy hiking

7. Dry Clothes

Having the right gear on the trail goes a long way toward staying dry and comfortable while hiking in the rain. That said, it’s seemingly impossible to stay totally dry when in the rain all day. Leaving a dry set of clothes in the car at the trailhead is a nice luxury and ensures a cozy drive home.

8. Pack Cover

A wet pack is a heavy pack. One preventative measure you can take to keep your gear dry is to use a pack cover. Like a raincoat for your pack, a pack cover is a waterproof layer that goes over your pack and helps keep essentials dry.

9. Dry Bags

Although a pack cover does a good job of keeping the contents of your pack dry, it’s a good idea to pack particularly sensitive gear—like your phone, camera, or paper map—in dry bags. Don’t have any dry bags on hand? Ziplock bags provide a budget-friendly alternative.

10. Trekking Poles

Wet weather typically means additional challenges on the trail. Trekking poles help provide balance when negotiating slick and slippery trails and provide stability when crossing swollen streams and creeks (you can even use them to test the depth of puddles before plunging through).

Spring hiking in waterproof breathable coats

Hiking in the Rain

While rain might not make for the most ideal hiking conditions, a little water never hurt anyone. So, don’t let it dampen your spirits, and with these essentials, open up your hiking season to days you might have otherwise called off.

Hannah Wohltmann

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, I moved to New Hampshire permanantly after graduating from The University of New Hampshire in spring 2016. My very first hike was up Mount Major in spring 2014 and I was hooked. I hiked my first 4k footer in September 2014 and I have hiked 19 more since then. I am on the trek to hike all 48 and thus far my favorite has been Mount Liberty (4,459). I dream of conquering the NE 67 and beyond!

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