Autumn was declared on 23rd September and since then it has not stopped raining! Having spent the last weekend in the Peak District, and being forced to purchase a new waterproof jacket, I felt that it was time for a top tips blog for walking in the wet stuff!
Before I get into how to stay dry when walking in the rain, I thought it would be a good idea to remind you of why it is a good idea to get outside even if it is raining!
- You burn more calories in the outdoors when it is raining
- If you crave peace and perhaps a bit of solitude, then walking in the rain is perfect as there are always fewer people around.
- Walking in the rain is great for your mental health as it creates that feeling of space in your mind.
- Release that inner child and splash around in the puddles… it's fun!
- Don't you just love the smell of rain? I know that sounds weird, but have a good sniff next time you are out and you will see what I mean.
- Feeling the rain on your skin makes you feel alive.
Here are my top tips for hiking in the rain
Tip #1 – Have a backpack rain cover & dry bags
A few people were walking with backpack covers during the Peak District weekend, but there were more people who didn't have a cover. You can purchase them relatively cheaply from Amazon, but make sure that you get one that fits your rucksack. You may think that your rucksack is waterproof, but unless it is made of specialised material and fully seam-sealed then I guarantee that it will leak.
In addition to the rain cover, I also suggest either putting everything inside your pack into a pack liner, or dry bags. I always put my spare clothes, sleeping bag, electronics, journal etc into a dry bag as a habit (whether I am expecting rain or not), then I won't get caught out.
Tip #2 – Walk with an umbrella
If you have followed me for a while then you will know that I use a trekking umbrella on all my long trips. They are great for the rain and also for the hot sun. The Euroschirm umbrella only weighs 8oz and I would not leave home without it. I find walking with a poncho or even a rain jacket can often cause me to sweat. The only drawback to an umbrella is walking with one in windy climates, then it is not fun!
Tip #3 – Keep your feet dry at all times!
There are many options for keeping your feet dry, but the combination that I prefer is trail runners, gaiters and waterproof socks. I like boots or shoes that breathe and waterproof boots often make my feet hot in the rain, which causes blisters. Waterproof socks are absolutely brilliant and I have only had one pair leak, which was in a downpour that went on for hours! (I use the Seal Skin brand)
#4 – Waterproof Jacket
I certainly had gear envy when three of my walking colleagues grabbed their waterproof jackets that included pit-zips! Pit-zips are zips under the armpits and allows your body to breathe. I regret not buying a jacket with this little feature as I ended up sweating like a trooper! Other tips for jackets are:-
- Make sure you can tighten the cuffs.
- Has it got a hood? The hoods with a little peak at the front are brilliant.
- Has it got a garage? This is where the collar fits into its own little pouch so protects your neck.
- And pit-zips!
#5 – Trekking poles / Nordic poles
Walking in the rain can often be quite dangerous underfoot. Wooden bridges and rocks become slippery and field become muddy quite quickly. Even one walking pole will offer you the stability and give you the confidence to navigate through these obstacles quickly.
#6 – Layer up
This tip is not just relevant for the rain, but for all hikes – layer up. When we first start walking we are always cold, especially in the rain, but you soon warm up. Being able to control your temperature by layering up is essential for a successful hike.
#7 – Hiking Trousers
I am not a fan of waterproof trousers, but that does not mean that I do not recommend them. I would recommend having a breathable pair of hiking trousers in your pack for emergencies. I simply wear water-resistant hiking leggings which dry really quickly instead of waterproof trousers. I find waterproof trousers are a real pain to get on and off and the noise they make when I walk in them gets on my nerves (just a personal note). I have been considering a rain-skirt, which is quick and easy to use. If you have any experience with rain-skirts then I would welcome your comments.
#8 – Hat
I love my baseball cap as the brim protects my eyes from the rain and they are super comfy.
#9 – Dry your boots
If you are staying at a hostel, hotel or B&B, they will probably be able to put your wet boots into a dry room or airing cupboard overnight. Newspaper stuffed into your shoes is an effective strategy to drying your boots out and has stood the test of time, but newspapers are not always available. I used a pair of electric boot dryers this weekend which worked brilliantly. Please do not use a hairdryer on your shoes – the direct heat will soften the glue and ruin your boots. Boots need to be dried slowly, not fast.
#10 – Start counting when you hear thunder
I know this sounds like something you perhaps did as a kid, but it is a proven strategy that could save your life. When you hear thunder, start counting until you see lightning. If there’s a half of a minute or less between the lightning strike and the thunder—you need to start looking for shelter asap (and not under a tree!).
Don't let a bit of drizzle put you off going for a walk, but please be sensible. If you hear thunder then it is probably best to stay inside and pour yourself a glass of wine, sit in front of the fire and watch Doc Martin.