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  • Writer's pictureJared

Hiking in the Rain: A Complete Guide

Updated: Jan 9

Woman Hiking to Waterfall



A wet, rainy day might dampen the spirits of some, but it certainly doesn't have to for a hiking lover.

Picture yourself hiking along a wooded trail in a lush patch of forest with the pattering sound of rain coming down on the thick canopy of leaves.

Wet day hikes might just be the tranquil experiences you need to escape from the noise of reality and appreciate the beauty that is hiking in the rain.

In this article, I am going to go over some tips for hiking in the rain, as well as gear and clothing you will need for a rainy hike.

With a positive attitude and some good rain gear, you might gain a new perspective and see a rainy day as a perfect opportunity to go hiking rather than just a day of bad weather.

Tips for hiking in the rain

Before I get into the gear you will need for your wet weather hike, I want to give some tips on what you should be mindful about before you hike in the rain.

Choose the right hike

Hiking in the rain can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, but if you choose the wrong hike it could also turn into just another day of bad weather.

If you plan on hiking in the rain, I would recommend finding a trail in your area that doesn't have huge increases in elevation.

For one, hiking a steep trail in wet weather can be treacherous, and two, you probably won't have a great vantage point from a summit on a rainy day anyways.

Also, be aware that if you are going to a hike a trail near a creek, that creek could potentially flood if it is raining heavy enough.

Fallen trees, landslides, and flooding are just a few of many potential hazards when hiking in the rain, so you'll want to be aware of this and make sure to choose a trail that will be less likely to harbor these obstacles.

Pack the right provisions

Granola Bars

When you're planning on hiking in the rain, you'll want to pack the right snacks.

I would recommend bringing food that is pre-packaged and doesn't require significant preparation for a rainy hike.

Nuts, granola, seeds, etc. are great options for a hike in wet weather.

Gear for hiking in the rain

The most important factor for hiking in the rain, in my opinion, is having the appropriate gear to keep you dry.

Even if your gear isn't waterproof itself, there are still ways to keep your gear dry.

It's important to have rain gear for hiking in the rain because getting wet means getting cold, and being both wet and cold can lead to hypothermia.

In this section, I want to cover some of the gear I always make sure to have when I hike in the rain.

Rain jacket

Man Hiking in Rain Jacket

The rain jacket will be one of the most important pieces of outerwear clothing you will invest in when it comes to hiking in the rain.

The rain jacket, depending on how thick the material is and how waterproof it is, will keep the worst of the heavy rain off your body.

I personally recommend you find a rain jacket with a hood. A hood will make all the difference in heat staying near your head and keeping your head dry.

Nothing will ruin an enjoyable day of hiking in the rain faster than being caught in a downpour of rain with nothing but a cotton undershirt.

Even if the rain jacket you choose is only water resistant and not completely waterproof, it will still do a great job at keeping you warm and your clothing dry.

Rain jackets can be purchased anywhere, but they will vary in quality. I would recommend checking with local outdoor suppliers to find durable, waterproof rain jackets suited for hiking.

Water resistant and waterproof jackets typically have an outer layer made of nylon or polyester, so keep this in mind and try to avoid cotton fabric when shopping for outerwear to use while hiking in the rain.

You can also find a rain jacket with an inner layer built in to protect you from the cold as well as the rain.

You still want to keep your gear relatively lightweight even for wet weather hiking, so make sure to shop around for your rain jacket to make for the best waterproof hiking experience you can.

Remember, you want to remain warm and dry, but you also still need to make sure you can move and breathe easily, so choose a jacket that will provide sufficient cover but won't restrict movement.

Waterproof hiking boots

Man Wearing Hiking Boots

If you plan on doing some wet weather hiking, you will want to purchase a good pair of waterproof hiking boots.

Good hiking boots will allow for better grip on slippery terrain, and they are made out of materials that keep your feet dry.

Keep in mind though, water resistant does not mean waterproof, and you might still get wet in substantial water if your hiking boots are only rated as water resistant.

Many waterproof hiking boots come with interior insulation so your feet stay warm as well, so this is a great option depending on the climate where you will be hiking.

Boots are as important as any other clothing item when hiking in the rain, so take some time to shop around for these and find a pair that will work well for you.

Like a jacket, good waterproof boots can get expensive, but they will likely last you a very long time and are worth the investment.

Rain pants

Having rain pants might not be necessary unless it is a particularly heavy rain, but they still might be worth investing in for you if you plan on hiking in the rain regularly.

The best rain pants in my opinion are those you can slip on and off of your regular pants easily.

I prefer to be able to slip them on if the rain really starts pouring and being able to easily take them off again and still have hiking pants or shorts on underneath. This way I can stay dry but not have to be smothered if the rain stops and the sun comes out.

Waterproof hiking pants can be purchased at outdoor gear suppliers or online.

Rain poncho

If you are in particularly heavy rain, a rain jacket might not be enough.

A lightweight poncho will give you that extra layer of waterproof protection for your clothing so you can stay dry, and they don't take up much space when rolled tightly and stuffed in a backpack.

A rain poncho also won't add any substantial weight to your pack, so they are great for packing light.


Camping Tent Under the Stars

I typically don't plan to camp in the rain, but rather it is usually just an unexpected circumstance. However, I did want to mention having a tent in case you do plan to turn your day hike into a multi day camping trip or if you just need some emergency shelter.

Depending on where you are located in the world, if you camp for more than one day at a time, you will likely experience rain at some point in your trip.

If you are going to camp in the rain, you want to make sure your tent is either waterproof, or you have a rain cover for your tent.

I have been caught without a rain cover when camping in the past, and it is not fun. I woke up in the middle of the night with my head in a puddle of cold rain water and my clothing soaked.

This is a completely preventable scenario if you have a simple waterproof rain cover for your tent. Many tents come with these now, so when you are shopping around, be sure to take this into consideration.

If you think you might end up camping in heavy rain at some point, I would highly recommend investing a waterproof tent or at least a water resistant tent with a waterproof rain cover.

Additional gear you might want

In addition to the essential rain gear, there are some optional pieces of gear you might want to bring along with you to make your rainy journey a little easier and more comfortable.


If you are planning on backpacking trip or multi day hike, a tarp is good to have to keep gear dry when setting up camp, and it can even act as shelter if you didn't bring a tent.

They are typically lightweight, and if packed correctly they won't take up too much space in your gear pack.

Hiking poles

Woman Hiking with Hiking Poles

Also, known as trekking poles, hiking poles can be a great tool to use while hiking, especially on uneven or slippery terrain.

Hiking with poles will give you an extra sense of balance, and they will allow you to navigate with more stability on a rainy day.

Dry bags

Waterproof dry bags are perfect for keeping things dry when it's rainy on the trail.

You can simply put a smaller piece of equipment or clothing in the bag, and it won't matter if the bag gets wet.

Typically the outer layer of a dry bag is made of nylon, and they contain a waterproof coating.

I highly recommend investing in at least one durable dry bag to have not only for hiking in the rain, but outdoor water activities as well.


Gloves are another piece of rain gear for hiking that you can wear and will keep you warm and dry if you purchase the right material.

Neoprene is the lightweight material I would recommend for gloves to keep your hands dry and warm.

You might not need to wear them if the rainy weather is relatively warm, but I would recommend just throwing a pair in your pack just in case.


A rainy day can be a great time to get out on the trail and doesn't have to be considered just a day of bad weather.

There are plenty of clothing and gear options to keep you from getting cold and wet while hiking.

Also, be sure to pack the right kind of snacks that don't require much in the way of preparation. Pack cover, whether that be a waterproof tent or just a simple tarp.

Lastly, remember to have a positive attitude and enjoy this peaceful experience.

As long as you stay dry and stay warm, hiking a trail in the rain can be memorable and enjoyable.

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