Hiking in the rain can be a really fun way to experience nature. Despite hiking in a condition that most would consider “subpar,” rain hiking can actually be super delightful.
I’ve experienced rain on trails in countless different ways/places. From summiting a mountain in Sedona with golf-balled-sized hail and nearby lightning strikes to trudging through a muddy river gorge in the pouring rain at Cummins Falls, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to hike in the rain.
The exhilarating feeling of hiking in the rain and the experiences that coincide with it never grow old. Watching torrents of water falling off rocky cliffs, witnessing rivers rushing rapidly through twisty forests, and spying soft drops dancing on glassy lakes are just a few of the many rewards you’ll get when you hike in the rain.
If you’re ready to learn how to hike in the rain, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, I will share with you five tips for hiking in the rain so that you will be able to fully and safely reap all the perks of a damp day on the trail.
Why Hike in the Rain?
Here are a few reasons to stop debating and just go for that hike in the rain!
- For the solitude. Rain scares a lot of tourists away, so chances are sky-high that your hike will be comprised of just you, some hearty wildlife, and the drizzly landscape.
- It’s therapeutic. Listening to the sound of rain can soothe frazzled nerves and alleviate anxiety.
- For the incredible views. Rain, especially thunderstorms, can alter the appearance of a landscape. Under an umbrella of dark clouds, the mountain peaks, the barren deserts, and the towering trees that were once bright and cheerful suddenly seem more dramatic. Before the release of torrents of water, the sky might appear black and ominous, reflecting its drama on the landscape beneath it.
- For the pure air. The air feels and smells cleaner when it’s raining. And it is actually cleaner! Rain forces down air pollutants and pollen, cleansing the air.
- Because the waterfalls and rivers like to show off. When it’s raining, waterfalls and rivers flow with a fierce vengeance that is unmatched by any other weather condition.
5 Tips for Hiking in the Rain
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1. Prep Your Gear for the Rain
Before you set foot on the trail, prep your hiking gear for the rain. Even if precipitation isn’t forecasted, it’s always a good idea to prepare for a pop-up thunderstorm or rain shower.
To ensure your gear is ready for rain, dew, or any other kind of moisture or precipitation, bring a rain cover for your backpack and/or stuff your gear into dry bags or waterproof stuff sacks inside your pack.
Many backpacks come with rain covers. (Look for the rain cover to be hidden in a compartment at the bottom of your pack). If a rain cover didn’t come with your pack, don’t worry: you can either buy one or invest in dry bags or waterproof stuff sacks.
Dry bags and/or waterproof stuff sacks are great for keeping gear both dry and organized on the inside of your pack. For example, you can stuff your extra clothes in one dry bag, your food in another dry bag, and your phone, wallet, and keys in another.
If you don’t want to mess with rain covers or stuff sacks, a basic trash bag will do the trick. Simply shove a trash bag inside your pack so that it lines the interior. Some hikers do this even if they have rain covers and/or stuff sacks; it’s an extra layer of protection against the elements!
Bottom line: the more layers of protection you have for your gear, the better. The last thing you want is sopping wet hiking gear. This especially applies to camping gear, but hikers won’t want soggy food, clothes, keys, emergency blankets, etc. either.
2. Wear the Right Clothes
To prepare yourself for the rain, you must wear/pack the right clothes. Good rain hiking gear should keep you dry and warm but not make you overly sweaty.
What to wear hiking in the rain:
- Rain jacket. Invest in a good-quality, durable rain jacket that can withstand harsh wind and precipitation. >>> Shop rain jackets here. This one is my favorite.
- Rain pants. While rain pants aren’t mandatory, they are nice to have so that your legs don’t chafe. These are especially nice if the temperatures are cool. >>> Shop rain pants here.
- Waterproof hiking boots. These are important. If you have wet feet rubbing against your boots, you will get blisters. Make sure the boots you pick out have excellent traction too! >>> Shop waterproof hiking boots here. These are my favorite.
- Extra pair of wool socks. On the trail, you’ll want a dry pair of socks to swap out with your wet pair so that blisters don’t form on your feet. >>> Shop wool socks here. Darn Tough is my favorite brand; they have a lifetime guarantee.
For hot weather, I usually opt for running shorts, a synthetic tee, and a lightweight rain jacket.
For cold weather, I typically opt for rain pants (with possibly a fleece underlayer if it’s extra-cold), a wicking base layer top, an insulating mid-layer top, and a durable rain jacket.
3. Pick the Right Trail
Selecting the right trail is not only beneficial for safety reasons but for enjoyment purposes. You won’t want to traipse through flooded rivers with dangerous currents or reach the top of a mountain summit just to find that there is zero visibility.
Rain often inhibits views, so skip the mountain summit and opt for a forest hike instead. You’ll like the moody vibe that a forest hike emits better, anyway!
Use caution when selecting a waterfall or river hike because oftentimes, large amounts of rain can flood rivers and create unstable trail conditions and dangerous water crossings. AllTrails is a helpful resource that has up-to-date trail conditions on hundreds of thousands of trails.
Also, try to select a hike with little elevation gain to reduce your chances of slipping and falling.
Furthermore, opt for a short trail so that if the weather turns ugly, you can bail. Don’t feel like a failure if you can’t complete the trail; the trail will always be there, so it’s not worth risking your safety.
Hike These Trails in the Rain
Don’t Hike These Trails in the Rain
4. Pack Easy Snacks
In wet, rainy weather, the last thing you’ll want to do is fire up a Jetboil or prepare a snack/meal on the trail.
Simplify things by packing an easy snack that doesn’t need to be prepped or cooked.
PRO TIP: Keep your snacks where you can easily reach them – in your hip belt, lid, or at the top of your pack. For more tips on how to pack your backpacking pack with utmost efficiency, read my guide!
Easy Snacks to Pack
- Trail mix
- Protein bars
- Nuts like almonds, peanuts, or cashews
- Dried fruit or vegetables
- Hard cheese like parmesan, cheddar, or gouda
- Sesame sticks
- Gummy bears or hard candy
- Dark chocolate
- Peanut butter pretzels
- Fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, peppers, and radishes
Want to eat like royalty on the trail? Read my Complete Guide to Eating on the Trail for some epic trail breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert, and beverage options.
5. Utilize Trekking Poles
Trails can become treacherous in the rain, especially paths that have rock, river crossings, or steep elevation changes. Rocks become slippery, rivers can flood, and steep trails can be hard to grip.
Do your knees a favor and bring your trekking poles! With two additional points of contact, you’ll gain stability and lessen the risk of falling.
I hope that after reading this, you’ve decided to give hiking in the rain a try! Who knows – you might discover a new favorite weather to hike in or rediscover your love for nature in a new way.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @alexysabroad 🙂