If you only go hiking when there’s zero chance of rain, you’re going to miss out on some pretty magical and mud-luscious adventures. So rather than shying away from wet weather, it’s best to prepare, adapt and embrace it.
Here are some simple tips to help you stay dry, comfy, safe and happy outdoors when the weather turns wet.
Check the weather forecast: Whenever you’re venturing outdoors, always check the weather first. It’s important you know the limitations of your gear (waterproof, water-resistant or not at all!) and dress appropriately for the conditions you’ll be in. Don’t go if there are extreme weather warnings.
Wear appropriate rainwear: The best rainwear for hiking will not only be waterproof, but lightweight, so it’s easy to carry in your pack, and highly breathable too. You want to minimise perspiration getting trapped on your skin as it can make you feel damp and clammy and can lead to hypothermia in wet and cold conditions.
The best waterproof jackets will have fully taped seams, adjustable wrist cuffs, zipper flaps, a fully-adjustable hood and a stiff rain-shedding brim. It’s also important to note a lightweight jacket may not be as durable as a heavier jacket, so you will need to decide if durability is more important than lightweight for your needs.
Wear layers: If you’re hiking in wet and cold conditions, it’s important you stay as warm and dry as possible for comfort and to avoid hypothermia. Opt for polyester, nylon or wool layers as they are generally quick-drying, moisture-wicking, lightweight, insulating and quick-drying (with the exception of wool, which is not especially quick-drying).
Don’t wear cotton, which is the worst fabric for wet and cold conditions. Cotton holds moisture and takes a long time to dry, hence the saying ‘cotton kills’.
Keep your feet happy: Durable, waterproof hiking boots with a good tread on the bottom will help keep your feet dry and protected and will prevent slipping. You can wear waterproof gaiters over your boots to minimise water getting into your boot mouth. If your feet do get wet, keep in mind that soft, soggy skin is more susceptible to blisters. If you feel hotspots developing attend to them immediately.
Waterproof your backpack: Getting wet is one thing, but you don’t want your backpack belongings — such as food, spare clothes and a sleeping bag, if you’re on a multi-day hike — getting wet too! You can use a raincover to pull over the outside of your pack or a pack liner to weather protect your belongings. Place your important and water-sensitive items (such as mobile phones, wallet) in a seam-sealed, roll top dry sack.
Fuel the body: When hiking in wet weather, we often focus on staying dry and warm and getting to our destination rather than stopping to eat and drink. It’s really important you stay hydrated and have enough body fuel to get you to where you’re going, plus adequate food and hydration helps the body stay warm and regulate temperature.
Dry wet gear asap: Avoid mould developing by drying out your wet gear as soon as possible. If you’re on a multi-day hike that involves camping, you should dry your wet gear in your tent’s vestibule so there’s no chance they’ll drip and wet the dry gear inside your tent, like your sleeping bag.
Your small, quick-drying inner layers can be kept inside your tent where your body heat will quickly warm and dry them. Ensure sure there’s ventilation in your tent to minimise condensation forming.
Pitch your tent on a raised area: If you are camping, avoid pitching your tent on dry riverbeds or dips in the ground where torrential rain could create a puddle around or under your tent — or worse, sweep it away!
Maintain a positive attitude: Lastly, don’t let a bit of rain dampen your spirits. If you have the right gear, take a few precautions and have an up-for-anything spirit, you’re much more likely to have a worthwhile adventure. Look for the positives: listen to the dulcet sound of raindrops on leaves, admire the atmospheric mist and the way fresh rain turns flora emerald green. With less people on the track, you can better take in the blissful serenity of the outdoors.