You should be wary of a lot of things when you go hiking, with the weather easily being the most dangerous part of hiking. It is only natural that you will have to face hiking in the rain, especially when you start going on longer mountain routes in tropical areas, but is it safe?
You can and should learn how to hike in the rain; it is impossible to entirely avoid hiking in the rain when going on longer trips. If you have the right clothing, the right tools, and the right plans, you can comfortably hike in some of the worst storms you have ever seen; it might just be uncomfortable.
You need to be aware of several things before going for a hike in even cloudy weather; it can be extremely dangerous. Many hiking trails close entirely if the weather may become rough, while others will allow you to go hiking even when there is a typhoon on the way.
Should you hike in the rain?
If the rainstorm is not too bad and there are little to no water crossings being done, you should go hiking in the rain, as it will offer a different experience. When you are going through a hiking trip that may last several weeks, then you cannot avoid hiking in the rain.
However, if you live near rivers and canyons and plan on hiking when you know there is rain coming, you should not go hiking. Many people who are swept away or hurt while hiking are caught in rain that they do not expect or thought would only cause discomfort.
When you are hiking through areas with some water flow during normal weather, they become a lot more dangerous as soon as the rain starts to set in. Even if it is not raining where you currently are, flash floods can be caused by heavy downpours in areas further up the canyon or stream.
Is it a bad idea to hike in the rain?
If you know that it will rain, then it is a bad idea to go hiking; hiking has you walking through treacherous terrain even when it is not raining. Adding water and slippery surfaces to the mixture will mean that you are much more likely to slip, fall, or lose your balance.
When you are already on a hiking trail, especially near the end of the trail, it cannot be avoided that you need to continue hiking. We always recommend that you try and plan your hikes around the expected weather for a region, but this is not always possible.
If you are going to take a short hike that will last only a few hours, you very well be able to go hiking in the rain; be sure that you are not hiking through potential flood areas. This is often why you will see hikers gearing up no matter what when they know a hiking trail quite well.
How do you enjoy hiking in the rain?
It can be extremely difficult to enjoy hiking in the rain, especially if you will be hiking in an area with lower temperatures. However, if you have the right waterproof clothing and the right shoes, you can enjoy hiking in the rain when you can stay dry.
If you are planning on hiking in the rain, we recommend that you ensure that it will be a warm day, that the rain will be light, and ready to be wet. We always recommend that you accept this last one, as you will be extremely wet by the end of the hike.
Surprisingly, this is something we have seen many people not realize when they start their hiking experience. Even with the best waterproof gear, you will be getting soaked; the waterproof clothes and shoes will help to keep your most vital parts dry, which does not include your hair.
How should you dress for hiking in the rain?
The clothes you are dressing in will decide just how wet you will be by the end of your hike, with many people assuming that it is best to be as waterproof as possible. While we recommend this when hiking in colder weather, we would recommend being comfortable when it is hot.
There are many things about hiking in the rain that you need to learn, with the clothing and shoes you are wearing greatly deciding how much you will enjoy it. We have some basic guidelines for the clothing, bags, and shoes you should wear when hiking in the rain.
If you know you will be hiking in the rain, we recommend wearing something synthetic that sits close to your skin; usually, a runner’s vest will work. These shirts can dry easily and will provide you with some heat and protection if needed in colder weather without dragging you down.
Many people like hiking in cotton or wool shirts, especially in colder countries, which can be perfect if you only have rain when traveling in colder weather. However, it should be noted that once these shirts do get wet, they can take hours to dry, even if the rain only lasted a few minutes in the morning.
Most people prefer to hike in either denim pants or khaki pants, with only a select few hiking in tracksuit pants. When hiking in the rain, these will also work; most denim or khaki pants made for hiking will easily dry out in a few hours of walking while providing protection.
However, it should be noted that you must wear properly insulated pants when hiking in areas that experience temperatures below freezing. These pants are usually weatherproof and a lot more expensive than the normal hiking pants worn in regular hikes.
We recommend wearing a jacket that is not specifically thick or heavy; its only requirement is to be completely waterproof. This is how you will keep almost your entire body dry while hiking when you don’t want to get wet; your jacket must have a hood.
People make a common mistake because they purchase completely waterproof jackets that do not have a hood. This causes the hoodie or jacket beneath the jacket to become soaked from the collar down, causing your core temperatures to drop as the rain continues to fall.
This is the only optional part of hiking in the rain, and it depends heavily on the temperature of the area you are going to be hiking in. You only need to wear a hoodie while hiking in the rain below 20oC, as this rain condition causes your body temperature to drop too far.
While you can get waterproof hoodies, we would recommend getting something a bit thicker, as this is what will keep you warm. The jacket works in combination with your hoodie or sweater that you will be wearing to keep you warm.
Your backpack must be completely waterproof; your dry clothing, jackets, phone, and most everything else will be stored here. It doesn’t matter what size your backpack is; it needs to be waterproof to allow your clothes and everything to stay dry as you continue hiking.
Surprisingly, many people try to skimp out on their first hiking backpack, trying to get something that is cheap rather than functional. However, this usually changes after they are caught in the rain, and almost everything in the backpack is completely ruined.
We always recommend waterproof hiking shoes or boots when you go hiking for a significant amount of time. If your feet are wet for too long, you can get what is known as trench foot, where parts of your skin become infected and heavily damaged because the moisture softens it.
If you are going to hike while raining, these shoes will usually provide you with all the grip you may need and allow you to walk in even the worst storms comfortably. Fortunately, you will be able to comfortably walk even the highest mountains when your feet are perfectly dry.
When should you not go hiking in the rain?
We don’t recommend hiking in the rain when you know a large storm is coming in, when the temperatures are dropping rapidly, or you are going through streams. Many people that are swept away or lost while hiking in the rain did so without planning their trip properly ahead of time.
As many people have learned, hiking can be a lot of fun, even when doing it in the rain, but it can be one of the most dangerous things you can do. The rain changes the entire terrain that you are walking on, as even a stream that is only a few millimeters high can cause you to slip.
Further, many people have learned through pain and death that areas that are extremely dry when normally hiking can turn into rivers when it rains. This is why canyons and dry valleys are so dangerous, as the drier ground does not absorb the water, creating streams of fast traveling water.
What should you consider when hiking in the rain?
While the clothes you are wearing and the temperament of you and your friends should always be considered, there are a few important things to remember. When planning a hike, when you know it will rain, you need to consider several things to ensure everyone will be safe.
We have talked about each one of these earlier, but taking a look at each one on its own will allow you to make the right decision comfortably. Many people assume a hike in the rain will be the same as a normal one with some added water.
The temperature you are going to go hiking in will decide how long you can go hiking; it is possible to go hiking in colder temperatures when it is not raining. Many clothing aimed at helping you stay warm will not be completely waterproof, which makes rainy hikes dangerous.
As the clothing becomes wetter and wetter, they lose the ability to keep you warm, causing your core temperatures to drop rapidly. Further, hot temperatures mean that you can hike in even the most tropical storms without having to stress about getting cold due to the rain.
A light, tropical rainstorm that lasts about a few minutes will not affect your hike a lot, whereas a storm that has been predicted for a few days and will last for hours on end will be dangerous. Many hikers will know that they cannot go hiking when the weather is going to turn bad.
You will need to consider how bad a storm can be when hiking; even a slightly windy storm can be extremely dangerous when on a mountain. If the incoming storm is extreme, you should rethink your hike or find a way to get off the mountain as fast as possible.
The longer a storm is ongoing, the more dangerous it will become for you and your hiking team, as the water begins to flow faster and faster. We have seen many hikers get stuck on trails simply because they did not consider that a storm could last for several days and cause widespread floods.
Even a short, intense storm can cause some flooding to happen, which will cause you and your friends to be stuck where you are hiking. Many people had found themselves stuck behind a raging river when they underestimated just how much water a light rain can add when going for days on end.
Every place on earth has different types of rain depending on the seasons, with this heavily affecting how safe it is to go hiking in that season. Usually, it is not good to go on longer hikes when you know it is the rainy season for that area.
Further, if the region you are in experiences temperatures far below freezing, you should not go hiking. As rainstorms in colder countries can quickly become snowstorms or worse, you will be airlifted out for the emergency that you find yourself in.
You can comfortably go hiking in the rain if you have done the necessary research and preparation, with many longer hikes usually suffering some rainy days. Even with the perfect gear and equipment, you can be stuck or swept away in flash floods caused by the rain.
Whatever you do, please don’t think that you are invincible when the rain starts to pour down on your trip!