As children, many of us used to be told: “Don’t you go out in the rain!”
Because we could get wet, catch a cold, and miss school.
But now you’re an adult. And you’re hiking in the rain without any fear of becoming ill.
Moreover, you now know all the benefits of walking in the rain; for those who don’t—here’s a short list:
- The smell of rain, petrichor, is proven to have a soothing effect on people.
- You burn more calories during outdoor activities when it’s raining.
- Humidity makes your skin healthy, clean, and fresh.
- The air is less contaminated during the rain (which isn’t really that important when you’re on a trail).
Anyway, if you’ve ever been caught by rain in the middle of a journey, or if you’re an I-walk-in-the-rain kind of person, you should be ready for potential rain-related hazards—such as flooding and lightning, for example.
You may also want to know some tips on what to wear, what rain gear to take, and how to stay dry on the trail.
In this article, you’ll find the most useful tips applied by professional thru-hikers and learn how to protect your glasses, set up a tent, and dry your clothes as an experienced adventurer.
Backpacking List for Hiking in the Rain
The health benefits of rain can turn into real dangers if you don’t take the right gear. If the possibility of rain is high, be sure to take the right items on your journey.
Keep reading to learn how to:
– Replace a raincoat
– Walk on slippery surfaces safely
– Keep your gear dry
These and other backpacking rain gear tips are here for you in this chapter.
1. Backpack cover
Before creating a rain gear list, take care of its transportation—you don’t want all of your gear to get wet.
That’s why you should ask how to protect a backpack from rain cheaply and quickly.
On Amazon, you can find a wide choice of waterproof covers. You should take one whether it’s going to rain or not (it doesn’t weigh a lot) and just keep it in your backpack during every hike.
2. Dry bags
Pack all your necessary gear into dry bags—especially your gadgets, batteries, and food.
Sort your food into zipper bags to keep them dry in any weather. For example, you can make sandwiches at home, and they’ll be in great shape for many hours as long as they’re properly sealed.
3. Water bottle
For those who walk in the rain, it’s important to avoid dehydration. It may sound weird, but people often forget to drink when there is a high humidity level.
Moreover, searching for water under the heavy rain can be a little bit challenging. That’s why you should have a water bottle or flask in your pocket.
One of the most important backpacking tips:
Don’t pack your snacks too deeply.
Always have some nuts, fruit leather, or chocolate bars in your pockets. You’ll burn a lot of calories—your hiking speed and body weight don’t matter. And replenishing your energy should be easy and fast.
Sometimes you just can’t keep your clothes dry on a hike, which means you may get ill.
We’re sure you’ll try to prevent such a situation, but sometimes you can’t. Don’t be pessimistic about it—just be sure to care for your health.
Take a thermometer and fever reducer to use in case you catch a cold.
6. Hot beverages
It doesn’t matter whether you like cold weather or not—at the end of a rainy day, you’ll dream of hot tea and a warm bed.
When camping in the rain, prepare a thermos with tea or hot chocolate. You’ll be grateful to yourself that you did so when you’re lying in a cold tent with freezing water dripping down the walls.
7. Trash bags
It may happen to be that you don’t have a waterproof jacket or that you accidentally left it at home, but there’s always a way for those who know how to improvise.
There are definitely some garbage bags in your backpack, so use them during rainy weather instead of a coat, backpack cover, or shelter protection.
8. Trekking umbrella
Some can’t imagine being in the rain without an umbrella, but taking such a large item can be really uncomfortable.
That’s why you should consider buying a trekking umbrella. If you plan to walk or run in the rain, this would be a nice thing to have along.
What kind of flashlight should you use on a trail?
There are thousands of practical flashlight models, and you definitely need one. However, a headlamp is an especially necessary piece of gear for walking in the rain.
Because you’ll need both hands to keep your balance, prevent yourself from falling, and protect your face from water drops. Also, you may need light in the daytime, and headlights are more comfortable for these purposes.
10. Trekking poles
It doesn’t matter which specialized shoes for the rainy weather you have—trails are really slippery when they’re wet.
Of course, there are ways to escape broken bones and pulled muscles.
Want an example?
Trekking poles — they provide nice support in the wet weather and don’t weigh a lot.
11. Little Hotties
Little Hotties are one-use hand warmers that have many benefits in the wild.
What is so special about them?
They aren’t just regular hand warmers—every pair offers 8 hours of 135 °F warmth. No batteries or accumulators are needed; they’re activated by simply shaking them for several minutes.
Hikers use them for cold and rainy weather and especially for drying wet clothes.
By the way, you can even get the same things for your toes!
Hiking clothes for rainy weather
Another important point that everyone wonders about is how to choose the right clothes for wet-weather hiking. Of course, there are some specialized items you should buy before hitting the trail.
When dressing for rainy weather, consider checking the following items. Some of them are necessary to stay dry, while others assist you in protecting your body and clothes from the water.
Here’s the checklist:
Layering is a useful habit for hiking. Layered clothes allow you to react quickly to changing weather conditions. Also, they regulate your body temperature better.
Put on workout tights under your pants and a long sleeve shirt (synthetic, fleece, or wool) under your outer layer. Yoga clothes are great for these purposes because they are comfortable and don’t restrict movement.
13. Lightweight hoodie
Don’t put a raincoat over a plain shirt or lightweight tee; to retain heat longer and avoid getting wet, wear a hoodie with long sleeves.
A soft, warm material will protect you from cold air and will keep rain from getting through the shirt.
14. Polyester jacket
It’s always great to have a waterproof breathable jacket with you whether it’s raining or not. These jackets are lightweight and often come in a set with a bag.
You can attach it to your backpack and be ready to react immediately when the weather changes.
Wondering where to buy a rain jacket?
On Amazon, there are a lot of top brands that sell high-quality jackets.
Make sure that your product is both waterproof and breathable—not just one or the other.
15. Hiking pants
Choose high-quality, wind-resistant, and waterproof hiking pants. Just like your jacket, these pants should be breathable and comfortable.
Also make sure that DWR (Durable Water Resistance) is applied to your pants—it is a special coating that prevents liquids from going through the material.
Not sure how to keep your feet dry in the rain?
Here’s the most important thing:
Warm wool socks.
On Amazon, there’s a wide choice of waterproof socks available; always take an extra pair or two in case one gets wet.
If you often get blisters—try Injinji socks. Individual toe sleeves keep the skin from coming into contact and rubbing.
Don’t ignore gaiters; they’re worn over boots to protect your feet from water and mud.
They’re made of nylon and often are equipped with fasteners; there are different lengths, colors, and densities to choose from.
18. Hiking boots
Backpacking rain boots should be waterproof and lightweight.
Before going out for a hike, check two things:
— Try your shoes out during wet weather; take a walk to make sure that the size and weight suit your feet.
— Estimate how waterproof and breathable your shoes are.
Some hikers prefer to buy shoes made of mesh because they dry fast and don’t weigh a lot.
19. Baseball cap
Caps are great both for sunny and rainy weather.
Because their brims protect your eyes from UV rays and water. Find one you love and wear it throughout the hike.
Preparations for Hiking in Rain
Whether you’re going canoe camping, high mountain climbing, or making a short trip just outside the city, the wisest tip you can follow is to prepare.
Always check the weather reports nearby your locations and follow the tips below.
20. Renew DWR
If you often hike in the pouring rain, it’s important to have as many waterproof items as possible. Unfortunately, DWR coatings aren’t permanent.
That’s why you should refresh any DWR-coated clothing with a DWR spray before thru-hiking. But remember that sweat, mud, dust, and laundering can remove the coating.
21. Be ready for colds and hyperthermia
No waterproof clothing can guarantee you protection from catching a cold. Learn to recognize common symptoms like dizziness, headaches, nausea, sweating, and weakness, and always have medicines to lower your body temperature in your first aid kit.
You can recognize hyperthermia by a rapid or weak pulse, irritability, increased sweating, and flushed skin. Those with hyperthermia also have bad coordination. Take off some warm clothes and rest in a cool place.
22. Plan short trips
Keeping your shoes dry isn’t enough.
Even those with strong immune systems can suffer a cold after spending a rainy night in a tent.
You should be careful when planning your trip—prepare some walking-in-the-rain routes that are short enough to keep your pants dry but just as beautiful, calm, and peaceful.
Make your route go near campgrounds and motels so that you can spend a night in a warm place any time you need.
22. Buy contact lenses
Walking during the rain can be ruined if you are used to wearing glasses. In the heavy rain, it’s almost impossible to see the path under your feet through glasses.
A baseball cap can protect your eyes, but your glasses will definitely get fogged up because of the temperature and humidity.
Wet clothes are an unpleasant problem—but when your glasses are fogged up, you can’t see where to step, and you may slip on mud and end up in a hospital.
Daily contact lenses will guarantee clear eyesight in any condition.
24. Check weather reports
First, try to avoid bad weather by constantly checking the weather reports.
Every time you see service bars on your smartphone, check out AccuWeather or Weather.com.
If your route lays through a town or village, find out whether heavy rains or storms are expected.
25. Buy waterproof cases
When staying in the rain, you should take care to protect your devices from the humidity.
Buy waterproof cases for your phone and camera. Also, don’t take or use devices that aren’t designed for extreme weather conditions.
For example, your iPhone may turn itself off because of the cold air temperature.
26. Avoid cooking
Camp cooking can be really difficult and sometimes even impossible when backpacking in the rain.
By the way, it’s highly dangerous to cook in your tent. That means you can cook only when the rain ends or by setting up a tarp over the campfire.
Make sure that you carry a couple of camping meals that don’t need to be heated or boiled.
27. Avoid dangerous areas
Know ahead of time which places aren’t appropriate for those who love walking in the rain.
For example, go ahead and take a significant detour if you need to cross a high river—this precaution may protect you from getting swept into a flood.
Also, avoid extremely muddy paths—there’s a great chance you may slip and get injured.
To know which areas are dangerous, call your local Red Cross Chapter before hitting the trail.
28. In case of danger, abandon your gear
If you happen to find yourself in a dangerous area like a field with lightning or a canyon that’s flooding, drop your backpack and go—care about your safety first.
While crossing streams and rivers, always unbuckle the backpack’s belt. If rain causes flooding, the current may be too fast for you to escape with the weight of your equipment on your back.
Also, be ready to drop it within seconds and evacuate the area.
Setting Up a Camping Shelter
It doesn’t matter how much you like “bad weather”—you still need to rest in a warm tent at the end of the day.
After all, sleeping in a wet shelter will definitely cause a lot of cold symptoms, which can ruin the journey and irritate you for weeks after it ends.
The perfect shelter for high-humidity surroundings has:
- A tarp over a tent
- A second wall
- A place to dry camping gear and clothes
- A rain cover to cook under
29. Set your tent fast
Spend a couple of evenings at home setting the tent as fast as possible; on the trail, setting up camp is a real survival skill, so you should practice a lot.
But remember, your set-up speed also depends on which tent you buy. A good choice is a pop-up tent—it’s usually lightweight, high-quality, and appropriate for various weather conditions including snow and rain.
30. Choose your campsite wisely
If we were creating a camping in the rain checklist, this would be the very first point.
Search for a high place that can’t get flooded—you don’t want to sleep in a puddle, do you?
Also, it’s nice to settle under a tree, where it is warmer and the wind isn’t so strong. But don’t follow this tip if there’s lightning.
31. Set a tarp first
What happens when it rains in your surroundings?
Everything gets wet—including your tent.
If you have a tarp for your camping shelter, set it up at the beginning for keeping your tent dry.
You will also save your gear this way by not leaving it under the rain, and, honestly, it’ll just feel more comfortable for you.
32. Mind where the door should be
This is where you need your weather reports—to know which direction the wind is blowing and whether it’ll change during the night.
Never orient the door so that the wind can blow through your tent. Wind will not only make your shelter colder—moisture can also get into it.
33. Don’t touch the walls
When setting up a tent in the rain, try not to touch its walls—water can seep through the material when you apply physical pressure.
This is another reason why a camping tarp is so useful. It keeps water from going through the tent even if you touch it.
34. Never dry your clothes or gear where you sleep
Wet gear drying in your tent won’t do any good for your health or your sleep, so use rain protection to have as few items to dry as possible at the end of the day.
If you still have wet items and are out of Little Hotties, put the clothes in the tent’s vestibule.
Remember to dry your clothes as soon as possible.
35. Never sleep with wet feet
Don’t leave wet socks on overnight. Always have an extra pair of socks for sleep, or alternatively, don’t wear any during the night at all.
To warm up your toes, use Little Hotties — they help dry feet quickly.
36. Don’t use a stove
If you’ve ever heard the camping idea that you should warm up by cooking in your tent or using the stove—don’t trust it.
Spending time inside with a turned-on stove can kill you. Because carbon monoxide produced by propane doesn’t have any smell or taste, you won’t even know you’re in danger.
Flames also produce a lot of smoke and sparks, so don’t make a campfire in the tent if you want to protect your health and shelter.
37. Stay as long as you need
Following the plan is a great principle that gives many benefits. But if the rain just won’t let you leave camp—don’t leave it.
Although extreme cold camping isn’t the best idea, walking in heavy rain can be more unpleasant.
Don’t be afraid to spend a couple of extra days in your shelter.
38. Dry the tent as soon as possible
Packing up a wet tent is a trial, just as much as carrying it around is.
A small piece of advice:
Don’t be lazy—dry it as soon as you can.
Every time the rain ends and the day gets warmer, take a rest. Squeeze out all of your wet equipment and wait for it to become completely dry before you continue your adventure.
Lightning Safety Rules
Rain is strongly associated with hazards and catastrophes, and although people rarely get struck, one of the main reasons for this scary reputation is lightning.
In this section, you’ll find hiking safety tips to protect yourself in a thunderstorm or, in other words, you’ll see the dos and don’ts of hiking in a storm.
39. Observe the weather
Always keep an eye on the sky—thunderstorms are usually visible with the naked eye. If you notice lightning clouds forming in the distance, you’ll always have some time to find a shelter.
If you’re going to climb, do it in the morning; in the mountains, there’s a higher chance of lightning in the afternoon.
Also, don’t listen to music during your adventure because you need to be able to hear thunder if there’s any.
40. Start counting when you hear thunder
This is a proven way to find out whether the storm is coming closer or not; when the storm is heading your way, keep counting and looking for a place to sit it out.
If there’s a half of a minute or less between the lighting strike and the thunder—you should find shelter ASAP.
41. Leave your gear
Avoiding lightning isn’t as difficult as it seems; following a couple of easy rules is enough.
If your backpack has a metal frame, don’t wear it or sit near it—you can get struck if it’s not at least 30 meters away from your location.
Think about all of the metal things you’re carrying and leave those far away as well—for example, set trekking poles at a distance. By the way, taking selfies with lightning clouds in the background can cost you your life.
42. Get a lightning-proof bolt tent
Can you get struck by lightning in a tent?
Not in a tent like this:
This is a lightweight, easy-to-carry tent designed by Kama Jania of Finland. It isn’t only a waterproof tent that protects you from the rainy weather—it also provides lightning safety.
By pitching a tent with a lightning-proof bolt, you won’t have to worry about staying outside during the storm.
43. Don’t stay in a group
If you’re traveling with a large group of people, one beneficial hack is to separate into pairs.
Have each group spread out at least 15-30 meters from each other; this way, even if someone gets struck, the others can call 911 and give first aid.
Every time you hear thunder nearby, call over to the other pairs. You can join up again when the storm ends.
44. Avoid the lowest and highest spots
When camping in the lightning storm, hikers often try to build shelters in the lowest spots—but this is not the right tactic.
If your location is too low, rainwater can accumulate there, creating an extremely dangerous situation in the midst of lightning.
Go a little bit higher and don’t go near the water.
For some—hiking in the rain is a trial and ruins all the adventure; for others—it’s simply the best way to spend the weekend.
By following these easy tips, you’ll become an expert in this challenging but refreshing activity.
Do you have any hacks and tips for camping on rainy days? Tell us what helps you in the comments.