Why Go Hiking in the Rain? (+ Essential Wet Weather Gear)

Waterfall whilst hiking in rain

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You love hiking, who doesn’t! But do you love hiking in the rain?

Hmm, ok that’s debatable! Here I will tell you why I still go hiking in the rain, plus how to enjoy it!

A rainy day doesn’t mean a day indoors but to ensure you still have a good day here are a few tips for what to expect (yes, water) and how to keep happy whilst hiking in the rain.

*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here.

What to expect when hiking in the rain?

Extra water in streams and rivers

Crossing a flooded section of the path in the Peak District
Crossing a flooded section of the path in the Peak District

Ok, this is stating the obvious, but it might be something you’ve not considered how it will impact your hike.

After all the rain we had in February this year it’s certainly made me think about the hikes I do on rainy days.

Consider the route you’re planning on taking, if it’s a low-level route near a river, brook or stream then the chances are you might come across flooding on the footpath. 

Water levels increase and can make crossing rivers and streams dangerous and not possible to cross safely.

Top tip 

  • Check your route and consider alternative routes in case you can’t cross.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks, a detour is better than falling fully clothed in a river 
  • Wear gaiters – see below!

Paths can become more slippy

Hiking on the Jurassic Coast (in the rain)
Hiking on the Jurassic Coast (in the rain)

Whether it’s a rocky path or muddy trail the rain can make paths more dangerous, especially if there are hills involved.

A pair of hiking poles will help keep you upright and will certainly help you on the downhill sections.

Top tip 

  • Use trekking poles to give yourself some extra balance

Stepping stones

Dovedale stepping stones after heavy rainfall
Dovedale stepping stones after heavy rainfall

If your route includes stepping stones then these might be underwater and not safe to pass or if you can cross them there’s a chance of getting wet feet.

For example, Chee Dale stepping stones in the Peak District.

Consider what type of rocks the stepping stones are made from. For example, if they are made from limestone they are very slippy when wet, in fact, it’s unlikely the stepping stones are made from limestone because of this!

Top tip

  • Check the first stepping stone for how slippy it is with one foot on dry land.
  • Plan an alternative route.

Lunch stops in the rain

Hiking in the rain might be ok but when it comes to stopping for lunch on a long day hike rain can be a bit of a pain.

You have a few options for lunch stops in the rain

  1. Pick a route that offers shelter at some point during the route.
  2. Take a small survival shelter with you, lightweight, easy to put up and keeps you dry.
  3. Opt for lots of mini snacks throughout the day instead.
Sheltering in a survival shelter for lunch
Sheltering in a survival shelter for a lunch stop

Survival shelters

But what kind of shelters might you find on your hike?

Sheltering from the rain in a cave in Peak District
Sheltering from the rain in a cave in Peak District
  • Woodland areas – trees make great shelter on rainy day hikes
  • Caves – the bigger the better
  • Mountain bothies – although most of these are in Scotland there are a few in England you can use for shelter
  • Shelters – similar to bothies but not all of these have a roof, but can offer some shelter from sideways rain!
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Hiking in the rain wet weather gear

Hiking in the rain – Essential wet weather gear

There are, of course, the obvious items for staying dry but here are a few of my top tips for how to keep you and your belongings dry when hiking in the rain with my essential wet weather gear.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other items for keeping dry.

Waterproof jacket

Hiking in the rain
A good waterproof jacket is essential wet weather gear

Photo above – pretending to look sad about the rain but can’t help but smile!

Let’s start with a good waterproof jacket, to keep dry on a rainy day hike you’ll need a good jacket. 

I’d always recommend a waterproof jacket with Gortex, but other things to factor in when buying a rainy day jacket is where the water can get in!

A jacket with lots of pockets is handy for keeping things in but also might mean points where the rain can get in too!

But for me, the most important thing for a waterproof jacket is the hood, I’ve tried many different jackets over the years but my favourite rainy day jacket for torrential rain is my Mountain Equipment Nanda Devi which has a hood that fits me well and keeps the rain out!

It also has velcro straps on the wrists to tighten and again reduce the chance of rain getting inside.

For my summer hiking trips, I prefer to take a lightweight jacket, I reviewed the Berghaus Paclite jacket (currently on sale) which is great for summer hiking trips in the rain. You can read my review of the jacket here.

Check out more waterproof jackets here from Cotswold Outdoor (they often have sales on so you can pick up a good deal) – Women’s jackets, Men’s jackets and children’s waterproofs.

Waterproof trousers

Full waterproofs on a rainy day hike
Full waterproofs on a rainy day hike

To be fully waterproof, as well as a waterproof jacket you will need waterproof trousers. These are best worn from the beginning of your hike on a rainy day because they are a bit of a pain to put on mid-way through your hike.

For lightweight summer showers, I have the Salomon Bonatti waterproof trousers, these were perfect on my E2W hike because they were lightweight but kept me dry too.

However, my new Berghaus Paclite is now my go-to waterproof trousers for rainy day hikes. They are perfect because they have a zip all the way to the top so you can easily put them on and off if the rain decides to disappear halfway through your day!

Berghaus also do a cheaper option, the Deluge (currently on sale at Cotswold Outdoor), which has good reviews too but not quite as light (and you know it’s all about weight for me haha).

Top tip

  • Waterproof trousers can get muddy so be sure to clean them regularly. 
  • If you notice the waterproofing not working as well be sure to treat them to a re-waterproofing as well.

Gortex hiking boots

Salomon Outback 500 GORE-TEX hiking boots
Salomon Outback 500 GORE-TEX hiking boots

When looking for waterproof hiking boots again the best thing to look for is the Gortex boots. The Gortex is a layer within the boot so although the outside of the boot gets wet the inside stays dry!

Gortex works perfectly, but like most materials won’t last forever but by cleaning your hiking boots after each walk it will help ensure they last longer.

Mud can eat away at the boot material, over time, not just overnight but regular cleaning can make a difference.

Top tip

  • Clean the mud from your boots after every hike
  • Waterproof them regularly

Wear gaiters on your hike

Wearing gaiters on a rainy day hike
Wearing gaiters on a rainy day hike

I have mixed thoughts on gaiters, but then when I wear them I think they are really good, haha.

Gaiters aren’t for everyone, however, when hiking in the rain they do stop the rain dripping down your trousers, soaking your socks and ultimately making your feet wet.

Often people think that their boots are no longer waterproof, when in fact, it’s water that has dripped into them from above.

Gaiters are also handy when walking through water that would normally go over your boots. 

There’s a wide range of different options, from budget gaiters like Mountain Warehouse Ankle Gaiters to mid-range like Trekmates Cairngorm Gore-Tex and then the more pricer options like Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter GTX

Other essential items

As well as waterproof clothes it’s also important to keep your gear as dry as possible.

I use Osprey dry sacks and a pack liner which I use to organise all my kit then pop in one big dry sack for double protection. You can buy them in a range of different sizes and colours which make it easy to find the kit in your backpack.

If you’re using a paper map then a waterproof map case is very important and not to mention a waterproof phone case too.

What do you waterproof your clothes and gear with?

There are two products I use for waterproofing my outdoor clothes and footwear.

The first is a product that cleans my hiking gear and the second is a waterproofing product.

In order to keep your footwear and clothing fully waterproof, you need to keep them clean. Mud and dirt can (over time) cause the waterproofing to fail quicker than normal so it’s important to do the not so fun job of cleaning when you get home from a hike.

If I’m honest I mostly use the cleaning product, Nikwax tech wash then I use the Nikwax waterproofing when I feel the item of clothing.

Check out this option to buy a twin pack Nikwax Tech Wash / TX Direct Wash-In Twin Pack

Worried about how eco-friendly Nikwax is? Nikwax uses recycled pellets to make their bottles, meaning the bottles are 100% recycled products.

Why go hiking in the rain?

Do you still need convincing to go hiking in the rain! If you love the outdoors then don’t let the rain stop you from going out on adventures!

Here are my top reasons for going outdoors when it’s raining!

Waterfalls look amazing

Waterfall on rainy day - Four Falls Walk in Brecon Beacons
Four Falls Walk in the Brecon Beacons

With all that extra water, when it’s raining is the best time to go and see all the awesome waterfalls in the UK.

The paths are quieter

Ok, let’s face it, not everyone has all the waterproof gear to go hiking in the rain. You’ll find that popular spots can be much quieter so go an enjoy them all to yourself.

Better chance of seeing a rainbow

Rainbow in Lake District
Happiness after rain showers with a beautiful rainbow

Even if there’s rain scheduled it doesn’t mean it will last all day long! And the best treat you can have is seeing a wonderful rainbow once the rain has cleared.

Getting outdoors is good for your mental health

Whether it’s raining or not, hiking outdoors gives you a great boost for your mental health. 

What are your thoughts on hiking in the rain? Any questions on wet weather gear? Tell me or ask me in the comments below

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Walking in the rain wet weather gear

Waterfall - Walking in the rain wet weather gear

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