Wet Weather Hiking

The backpacking trip started good – sun out, a few fluffy white clouds dotting the sky. The first sprinkles of moisture started just after setting up camp; the rain stopped just after breaking our final campsite, three days later.

Warm rain, no wind = umbrella perfect hiking! (Photo: B.Kopp)

Contrary to what you might be thinking, it was a perfect outdoor adventure. Waterfalls poured off of sheer rock walls, clouds encircled our heads and then lifted to showcase mountain vistas, and wildflower colors shone against the slate grey background.

Why did it work out so well? We had all the right gear to allow us to appreciate the beauty of wet weather!

Wet weather gear that works:

  1. Pack cover – make sure the waterproof material covers your pack completely and cinches tight to avoid leaks. Be sure to check regularly for wear and tear.
  2. Quick dry clothing – Cotton clothing may be comfortable, but once it’s wet, it stays wet for a long time. Synthetics dry quickly and help avoid the uncomfortable chill that is associated with wet clothing.
  3. Umbrella – nearing the summit of the first pass on this trip, we encountered another group of three backpackers. Their coats were plastered against their bodies, soaking wet from sweat on the inside and rain on the outside. As we passed, cool and dry, I’ve overheard one of them say, “An umbrella – what a good idea!” A word of caution: don’t use an umbrella if there is a threat of lightening.
  4. Gaiters – not just for winter skiing, gaiters keep the moisture from grasses and tall trailside plants from running into your boots.
  5. Waterproof jacket – a must-have in camp and when winds pick up or temperatures drop.
  6. Tarp – Once you’re ready to set up camp, an extra tarp in the cooking/eating area is critical. We set ours up over one of the backcountry campsite tables, using two hiking poles set on each end of the table to raise the roof. Perfection.

What’s your best wet weather hiking tip?

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