Hiking in The Rain

Desert rainThere are definitely fair-weather fans when it comes to spending time outdoors. These are the people who only step foot on the trail if it’s sunny, 60-70 degrees, and very likely that there will at least be 100 other people who are also looking to take advantage of the nice weather. However, there are plenty of outdoor enthusiasts with a little more resilience, who look forward to crumby weather just because it means that they will have the trail to themselves. These are the people who won’t bat and eye at the prospect of hiking in the rain.

If you’re one of those hikers who isn’t made of sugar, here are a few tips for hiking in the rain.

Invest in a pack cover or dry sack. Pack covers are designed to keep your entire pack mostly dry. Pack covers are not waterproof, which means that if it’s really coming down, your gear can still get wet. Dry sacks, however, are waterproof but you have to choose which items you want to keep dry.

You will want to bring insulation. Even 50 degrees can feel cold in the rain. Avoid down insulation and and opt for synthetic.

Wear a hat or a visor with a bill or brim. Hats can help keep the rain out of your face, but if you want the utmost protection, consider sunglasses or clear glasses to keep the rain out of your eyes.

Your base layer is important when hiking in the rain. Wool is great for soggy conditions because it will help insulate even when wet. A synthetic base layer can work as well. Just steer clear of cotton.

Wool socks are a must have. Again, wool is the best fiber for wet and rainy conditions.

Gaiters can help keep excessive amounts of rain and moisture out of your shoes. While you shouldn’t get hung up on keeping your footbed totally dry (that isn’t going to happen), gaiters can definitely help reduce the amount of water that gets in.

You of course need to bring rain gear when hiking in the rain. Pack a hard shell rain jacket and pants, or a poncho. In light rain, a soft shell jacket and pants might suffice, just know that you will be getting wet if the rain picks up. Rain gear with vents can help regulate body temperature and allow more breahtability when needed.

Think about lunch. Unless you’re well practiced, it can be extremely difficult to start a fire in the rain. Even getting your stove to work in a downpour can be a challenge. Don’t rely on food that has to be cooked over a flame.

Changes in elevation get significantly more challenging in the rain. Northwest Arkansas’ topography is anything but flat, but you can find trails that are flatter than others. If you’re looking to tackle hills in the rain, just be prepared for a challenge in both directions.

Be cautious. Rocks may be loose or slick, and it’s easy to lose your balance. Bring adequate footwear, and consider waterproof boots or waterproof trail running shoes. Also, be especially careful at river crossings as rivers can flood and currents can be quite swift. It’s usually better to err on the side of caution when dealing with a fast moving river. Look for an alternate route or find a safer section to cross.

Be mentally prepared. Hiking in the rain can be pleasant, or it can also be exhausting. Trudging through mud in a downpour can defeat even the most determined hiker. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before heading out on the trail. You’re going to get wet, dirty, and tired, but it will definitely be rewarding.

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