When my friends asked me about my plans for this weekend and I told them I was super excited about going on a hike the reaction was always the same: “But… it’s raining.” Apparently a rainy day is the sure-fire hiking tour killer for most. I personally believe there is only one thing that can take the fun out of exploring the great outdoors: a negative attitude.
So this is how to make the most of hiking on a rainy day:
Reasons for hiking on a rainy day
Now you might ask…. why should I choose to leave my cozy nest on a day that doesn’t exactly seem to be suitable for it? There are actually a few good reasons.
Maybe you’ve been planning the tour for a long time without knowing what the weather will be like. This often happens to us when five ever-busy family members try to agree on a date for spending time together.
But even if you’re free to choose a date for your tour: on rainy days trails are usually a lot less crowded. It’s such a magical experience to have a calm, peaceful forest almost entirely to yourself. To me it always seems as if rain and fog have the curious ability to completely swallow and muffle sounds which creates such a unique atmosphere. Plus, if you’d like to take photos you’ll enjoy being able to capture the scenery without random passersby destroying your perfect snapshots all the time.
And last but not least rainy days definitely have their very own kind of mystic beauty to them. Don’t believe me? Well, feel free to check out my little photo gallery in this post…
Plan your route
Choose your route according to the weather. What does that mean? Be sure to do your research beforehand to find a trail that doesn’t get too slippery, muddy or completely un-hikeable in the rain. Depending on where you are this can be very important – in some areas for example small streams can quickly turn into raging currents on rainy days. Make sure you’ll be back on a paved road by nightfall as slippery paths can be dangerous in the dark.
Forest trails are usually great for hiking on a rainy day as the woods are a natural shelter from the weather. Make sure there are a couple of sheltered spots on the way such as huts or cabins. They’re great places for taking a break and maybe having a picnic. Finish your hike at a café or restaurant or any cozy place where you can dry, warm back up and have a well-deserved meal after your adventure.
Having these spots on the way will make you look forward to something and it will help keep the crew’s spirits up. Which leads us directly to…
Make sure everyone’s up for it
Why am I mentioning this? As I said before – rain doesn’t ruin your hike but a negative attitude does. If you’re gonna go hiking with a group of people be sure everyone is really ready for it. Nothing’s more annoying than dragging along that person who’s constantly complaining and who starts haggling about every single kilometer. If they’d rather be on their couch watching Netflix that’s perfectly fine – nobody’s forced to spend a rainy day hiking.
Choose the right equipment
This is super important. Make sure you have:
- Water-proof hiking boots. Invest in high-quality shoes as they are simply so worth it. No compromises here. Cold, wet feet will just set you up for catching a cold and they are easily avoidable. For quite a while my mum would just wear regular sneakers and take 3 pairs of spare socks as she already knew her feet would get wet. Errrr… how about no? (Taking spare socks just in case though can be a good idea. They just shouldn’t be your Plan A, B and C.)
- Non-cotton clothes. Although many of us prefer cotton as the material for our everyday clothes you should avoid it when hiking in the rain. It will hold a lot of moisture and it generally takes a long time to dry. Opt for polyester or wool instead when hiking on a rainy day.
- A water-proof jacket. I personally have a jacket that actually consists of two jackets: a warm fleece jacket against the cold and a water-proof jacket on top. On warm but rainy days I can just skip the fleece jacket.
- A hood or hat. Make sure to cover your head so your hair won’t get wet and the water can’t drip into your face and eyes.
- A water-proof backpack cover. Make sure your belongings are safe by not letting your backpack get wet. Some backpacks already come with a rain cover which is often hidden in some little pocket. Alternatively you can also drape a rain cape over yourself and your backpack.
- Garbage bags. It can’t hurt to have a couple of those in your backpack. You can sit on them if the ground is wet or you can put your belongings in there for extra safety. You can even wear them if your clothing turns out to be less water-resistant than you expected. Plus, if you’re planning to have a little picnic somewhere along the way you’ll want to take your garbage with you when you leave.
- Rain-proof devices. If you’ll be taking your phone or camera make sure that they are water-proof (most phones nowadays are at least rain-proof) or get a case for them that’ll allow you to use them while hiking in the rain.
Stay healthy and positive
While walking the temperature should be comfortable for you. If you’re too cold and wet and can’t seem to get warm anymore by generating body heat it’s time for you to go home. Taking a break is great but make sure you don’t stop moving for too long and go hypothermic. Also, make sure you stay hydrated. Just because it’s cold and rainy doesn’t mean you won’t be sweating while hiking. Remember to rehydrate regularly.
Last but not least: enjoy it. Yeah, a constant drizzle on your face might not be the most pleasant of sensations. Maybe your fingertips will get cold and start prickling. But it’s not the end of the world. It makes us feel alive. It makes us experience things people on their couch with their Netflix don’t experience. And it makes us feel so pleasantly exhausted when we get back into a warm, dry, cozy house. It’s worth it!