The Ultimate Packing List for Hiking in Rain

Spring in Northwest Arkansas typically comes with its fair share of precipitation. Sometimes this means a lone mid-day shower, or 24 hours of sporadic sprinkling. Sometimes this means buckets of rain that lasts for days. If you’re not one to let a little water stand between you and a day on the trail, we’re here to help. Here’s a rainy weather packing list to help keep you comfortable while hiking in rain!

Waterproof rain jacket

A waterproof shell is a must have when the forecast calls for rain. This is your first line of defense against moisture. Look for a breathable waterproof rain jacket with ventilation features. Hiking can generate a lot of body heat, and while hardshells keep moisture out, they also keep moisture (sweat) in. Vents can help you dump some unwanted body heat.

Waterproof rain pants

As with the rain jacket, look for breathable hardshell pants with some type of ventilation. Depending on the temperature outside some hikers will opt for softshell pants, or even shorts in the rain. When hiking in the rain you must sometimes decide whether you value waterproof or breathable more.

Waterproof poncho

It’s hard to compete with the water protection and breathability of a waterproof poncho. Ponchos have the added benefit of fitting over a hiking pack.


A baseball cap will keep the rain out of your face, but a wide brim hat is ideal. If you don’t bring a hat, you will have rain slapping your face all day long.

Waterproof hiking boots – or breathable trail running shoes

This is a hot topic for debate. Some say that you should wear waterproof boots to keep the rain off your feet. Others say that your feet will get wet no matter what, so it’s better to go with footwear that drains and dries quickly. Here’s one way to make that decision:

  • Go with waterproof boots for short trips and moderate precipitation.
  • Go with breathable trail runners for long trips and heavy precipitation.

Synthetic insulation

Avoid cotton at all costs. Don’t wear blue jeans and a t-shirt. Do wear a synthetic fleece and synthetic hiking pants. Unlike cotton, synthetic fibers dry quickly and provide insulation when wet.

Wool or synthetic base layers

Again, avoid cotton. You want maximum coverage to keep your rain jacket and hard shell pants off your skin. Think long a sleeve shirt and mid-lightweight tights depending on the temperature.

Waterproof backpack cover

Many hiking backpack manufacturers make waterproof covers design specifically to fit over their packs. Other companies make generic pack covers designed to fit over most packs within a certain volume range. Seriously consider a pack cover if you want to go hiking in rain. A waterproof cover keeps your gear dry and your pack from becoming waterlogged.

Dry bag

This might be overkill, but if you have sensitive belongings – such as food that can be damaged by moisture, or electronics – consider packing a small dry bag to keep your gear safe.


You obviously don’t want to dry yourself off if you’re just going to get wet again, but when the storm passes, or you’re done hiking for the day, you’ll be glad you have a lightweight towel for hiking so that you can dry yourself.

Extra clothing

You’re not going to carry these with you. Leave a change of clothes in your car for the ride home!


What did we miss? Share your tips for hiking in the rain!

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