Some Hikers Feel The Rain and Others Just Get Wet

By Shelby DeCusati, Girls Who Hike Georgia Ambassador

People love adventure, the thrill of getting out and exploring the natural qualities that the trails can provide. Have you ever had rain show up unexpectedly to an adventure? Do you allow raindrops to dictate whether you spend your time outdoors? I’d like to share with you several tips and tricks of how to find pleasure in rainy day adventuring.

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Apparel

As you explore in the rain, you want to make sure you wear the proper apparel. This is what can break so many experiences. Don’t let the dampness weigh you down. How should you layer with rain in mind?

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Base layers should include synthetic light-weight materials such as leggings or long-sleeved shirts. Try to wear quick drying materials (dry-fit); these are materials that will not hold excess moisture. This layer closest to your body can keep the hard shell rain jacket material from rubbing or getting stuck to your skin. These materials are comfortable and allow for more movement underneath those hard shell layers. 

Mid-layering can include a light-weight fleece. This is an insulation layer that has a few important functions; such as to provide additional warmth to your upper body while hiking as well as wicking away moisture from your base layer. It insulates your body without being too hot that you sweat heavily; so once you stop being active you will not be chilled. Avoid at all cost down feathered material in damp weather because once it gets wet, believe me, it stays wet and can even ruin! Top layers you can add include vented hard shell layers, whether it’s pants or rain jacket.

Outer layers are the most essential in wet weather. This layer will include rain pants or jacket. These waterproof layers provide a protective shell to keep your body heat locked in and the moisture out. Make sure you read the label of your jacket carefully, because this layer will be what protects you in that squall of rain. There are 3 different kinds of rain jackets such as water resistant, waterproof breathable, and waterproof non-breathable. Water resistant means that it can handle light rain and is more breathable, but this will not withstand serious downpour. Waterproof breathable jackets are performance wear to protect you from all forms of outside water while keeping the sweat away from the interior of the jacket. Waterproof non-breathable can be less expensive, handle sitting or standing around in the rain, but by the time you do any form of activity the inside of your jacket could end up being at slick as the outside (imagine a rain poncho). Lastly, waterproof outer layers also shield as a windproof barrier, which can keep a hiker warmer and comfortable.

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Backpacking and Camping

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Layering with gear in mind is crucial and wearing the proper layers can help keep your experience and spirits positive. Always make sure to waterproof your pack to keep your gear dry and safe in any kind of weather. Dry sacks can ensure all of your gear that could be sensitive to moisture is dry while contained properly inside. Before any overnight experience, I always try to add an extra liner layer in my pack with a trash bag. This can serve as an additional layer of protection in your pack against water. Open your pack a little as possible while its raining. By opening your pack you can allow water to leak inside and get other gear wet. Rain covers hooked to the exterior of your pack can serve as a shell protection layer by keeping water off of your pack. Have you ever heard, ziploc bags can be a hikers best friend? Keep your map or location device in a ziploc bag if it is not waterproof. This essential tool helps you navigate your way, makes sure you’re on the right path, so keep it dry and safe from any rain hazards. Lastly, some things you’ll want to look for in a wet weather-bearing tent are ventilation, sturdy structure, and extra space. Any damp gear should be located outside under the vestibule of your tent. Bringing in any wet gear inside of your tent can lead to a damp sleeping bag and puffy, thus leading to a cold and unhappy camper.

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Other Rain Gear

Put on and try out some gaiters, they protect your feet! Gaiters are another protective piece of gear that provides a layer to your shoe, over the shoe, and extends up the ankle to the lower leg. They keep moisture, mud, rocks, snow, and other elements from sneaking into even the most waterproof of boots. 

First aid and blister protection can keep your hiking feet comfortable. Wearing wool socks can keep the moisture off of your feet whether its sweat or water spilling into your boots. Wet socks can be known for rubbing hotspots and even blisters on your moisturized feet. Always packing extra socks to change into can help keep your feet dry. Also, packing mole skin or tape can cover the area and protect it from friction rubbing along that area of your feet.

Hats and hoods can keep your head dry, rain off of your face, and eyes focused on the trail. Waterproof hats can be breathable and moisture wicking. Chin straps in some hats can keep your hat from flying away with any gusts of wind.

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Destinations

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What are some of the best rainy day hikes? You guessed it, any and every trail! Rain can add a mysterious quality to the trails. While it may be questionable about whether you can enjoy that cloudy summit view, the trails have an entirely different vibe as you walk in a cloud. The fog, silence, and space can really be tranquil. Listening to the rain and being in nature have been known to relieve stress and help people relax. Personally, some of my favorite hikes in the rain include waterfalls, because of their lively roar they get with fresh new water. 

A chance of rain does not have to dictate your chances of adventure. Your attitude and preparation can determine your experience and mindset along the trails. So, next time you see rain in your hiking forecast, I hope you feel the thrill of a whole new kind of adventure and just go!

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Shelby is the Ambassador for our Georgia chapter. You can join her local meetups and discussions through the Georgia chapter by clicking here.