Hiking in the rain can be delightful and refreshing. A light rain can keep you cool during a strenuous outdoor workout. But rainy day hiking can also be a pain in the ass. The trail gets muddy and slippery, water gets into your boots—it’s an annoyance.
When you’re preparing for an outdoor adventure, you’ve got to think about how to handle adverse weather conditions. Rain is definitely something you should plan on dealing with as a matter of hiking safety. Weather is often unpredictable. You may be expecting perfect conditions, but then go hiking only to experience light showers or worse.
Our tactical hiking tips will help you be prepared for such circumstances.
Wet Vs. Dry: Key Differences in Hiking Experiences
If you haven’t gone hiking in the rain before, you need to know what to expect. Generally speaking, dry conditions are more ideal for your hiking safety. You can expect the adventure trail to be firmer, offering a better support and gripping surface for your footwear. Visibility is clear. Getting your gear wet is not an issue.
Rain can affect visibility and trail conditions. It can also be a source of discomfort, depending on the rain intensity, muddiness, humidity, temperature and personal preferences. Rain can cause delays in your hiking schedule. Sometimes routes will become unusable because of rainy conditions, mud or even flooding.
If you have waterproof hiking gear, you may be less affected by wet conditions during an outdoor adventure. They can help you avoid too much discomfort. But they may not help you deal with poor visibility or bad trail conditions.
Some hiking spots need to be avoided when it rains. If an area is prone to flash floods, you don’t want to go hiking or camping there in rainy weather.
Are There Any Benefits to Hiking in the Rain?
Many hikers prefer to trek in dry conditions rather than in the rain. It’s a matter of comfort and safety. That said, could there be actual benefits to hiking in the rain? To a veteran nature trekker who has experience with rainy day hiking, there are indeed some upsides.
Rain can reinvigorate the hiking experience on what may be a well-trodden trail for you. Even if you have taken the same trail before, it can feel very different when you traverse it during a rainshower. You may see the environment in a new light. This can be a good way to refresh the appeal of a familiar hiking route.
Scheduling a hike during a rainshower can increase the chance of hiking the trail alone. Many people prefer to avoid hiking in the rain, so on rainy days you can expect to have less of a crowd on the trail. It can be nice to have the area all to yourself!
Some people find that rainy day hiking offers therapeutic benefits. It can have a positive effect on one’s mental state and make an outdoor experience more enjoyable.
Hiking Safety Tips for Rain on the Trail
The most important safety tip for rainy day hiking is to keep up your situational awareness. You may encounter conditions that will necessitate giving up on the trail. On the other hand, you may find that the rain is tolerable and you can still continue your outdoor adventure. You need to know your strengths and limitations and whether hiking in current weather conditions is within your capabilities or not.
Another key safety precaution: be equipped with waterproof hiking gear. Ideally, your hiking clothes should be water resistant, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. Your backpack should be made from water resistant materials. Your gear should include a rain jacket in an easily accessible location in your backpack.
If it begins to rain during your hike, quickly take out your rain jacket and put it on. The jacket will keep your torso relatively dry and prevent too much heat loss, so you can avoid uncomfortably cold temperatures. The comfort and safety it provides will help you keep going on your outdoor adventure.
You also need to pack an extra set of clothes in your bag. If you’re gonna camp for the night, you don’t want to sleep in wet clothing! Even if you don’t plan on camping, you will probably wish to change into dry clothes at some point.
Our Recommended Gear Options for Rainy Day Hiking
Every tactical hiker needs to start with the basics of packing for your next nature trek. That means including the Ten Essentials of outdoor adventure. Have a checklist of necessary items and make sure that you have everything required.
Of course, it’s not enough to get the item. You also want to choose the right kind of equipment. In short, you should select gear with the quality and functionality to perform to your satisfaction. This is especially important with waterproof hiking gear.
For your pack, we believe you will be well served by the 14er Tactical Backpack. It is durable, modular, lightweight and water resistant. To account for very heavy rains, get a waterproof backpack cover for additional protection. You probably wouldn’t want to continue trekking under terrible weather conditions, but it’s still good to be prepared!
Having a first aid kit is essential. Keep it secure and at the ready in an IFAK Pouch. Attach it to the hide of your tactical backpack using its MOLLE straps. That will allow for quick deployment.
Other recommendations for rainy day hiking gear:
- Backpack rain cover - extra protection for your stuff
- Trekking poles - to keep your balance on slippery trails
- Gaiters - avoid soaked trouser legs and wet socks
- Rain jacket - keeps you dry and reduces heat loss
- Rain pants - keeps you dry and reduces heat loss
- Waterproof shelter - don’t let rain bother your sleep!
- Waterproof footwear - keeps your feet dry
- Ziplock bags - keep your belongings dry
Hiking Tips for Enjoying Rainy Outings
Part of experiencing nature is accepting whatever it offers. That can mean trekking on a rainy day sometimes. If you follow our hiking tips, you should still be able to appreciate and enjoy your adventure under less than ideal conditions. Being prepared and safe should give you the confidence to weather such challenges.
Embrace the elements, we say! Hiking isn’t simply about getting a workout and seeing great views. It’s about testing your resilience and fortitude. Being confronted with a challenge is a cue for you to rise to the occasion. This is the kind of thing that develops one’s character and sharpens one’s tactical mindset.
Stay positive and you’ll make it through just fine. Maybe even have one of the best experiences of your adventuring life. Sunny days and clement weather can give you a pleasant time, for sure. But hiking in the rain can be a fun challenge—and a great memory to look back upon.