Fall has arrived, which not only means pumpkin spiced everything; it also means the return of wet weather and chilly days. But don’t hang up your hiking boots just yet! With the right gear and a little extra planning, hiking in the rain can be just as much fun as exploring nature on a summer day. Here’s what you need to know about wet weather hiking, especially if you’re travelling to a wet and rainy destination.

wet weather hiking in lighthouse park north vancouver
This rocky coastline is beautiful, even when it’s raining! Lighthouse Park, North Vancouver.

Tips and Advice for Hiking in the Rain

1. Choose the right wet weather gear

Suiting up for hiking in the rain is a little like getting ready for fun in the snow. Carefully considering what to wear when hiking is important, and can make the difference between getting soaked, and just getting damp.

The best way to start is with a base layer that wicks away moisture. A great base layer is merino wool, but if you’re allergic to wool, there are many awesome synthetics available. A non-cotton insulating mid-layer can provide a barrier between both external and internal sources of moisture. Remember, you don’t stop sweating just because it’s raining! And, of course, finish off with a waterproof outer layer. Consider outer shells with a very stiff brim in the hood to keep water off of your face, and adjustable sleeve cuffs to keep raindrops from running up your arms when climbing up steep ascents.

Keep in mind that even waterproof gear has its limits, so choose materials that retain warmth when wet over those that may conduct heat away from your skin.

600 year old oak tree
An amazing, 600-year-old oak tree growing in North Vancouver.

2. Protect your pack

Though many hiking backpacks come with a waterproof rain shield, it’s a good idea to take extra steps to protect your essential gear. Putting your phone and maps in Ziploc bags hardly adds any weight, and provides a totally waterproof barrier in case you need your phone to make an emergency call.

Many hiking first aid kits are at least somewhat waterproof, but for complete protection of this essential piece of gear, it’s best to wrap it in a plastic bag before putting it in your pack.

Bonus tip: leave a complete change of clothes and towel in the car for when you get back. There’s nothing better than clean, dry socks after a long hike!

3. Stay Hydrated

When water is falling from the sky, it’s easy to forget that it’s also supposed to go inside your body. But it’s just as important to stay hydrated when hiking in wet weather as it is when the sun is shining. You may not be able to easily sense when you’re getting dehydrated, so make sure to take regular water breaks. Another great way to stay hydrated on the go is with backpack hydration packs.

wet hiking above Buntzen Lake BC
Even rain clouds can’t obscure the lovely view of Buntzen Lake, Anmore BC.

4. Keep safety in mind

Carrying a first aid kit on any hike is essential, since accidents can happen anytime. But wet weather hiking and slippery terrain go hand in hand, and can increase the likelihood of a fall or injury.

Trekking poles are a great way to help you keep your balance on steep descents. Also remember to keep your center of gravity low, and avoid walking on large rocks and tree roots.

be careful on wet log bridges when hiking in the rain
Wet weather bridge crossings can be tricky, so use caution. Mount Fromme, North Vancouver.

Before hitting the trails, make sure your travel insurance covers emergency medical helicopter evacuation. If an accident does happen and you need to be airlifted to the nearest medical facility, your trip off the mountain will be covered.

Travel Medical Insurance Tip:

Canada boasts some pretty amazing hiking trails. But even if you’re adventuring within Canada, your provincial health plan may not cover all your expenses. Learn why it’s important to have travel medical insurance when travelling within Canada.

How do you enjoy grey, drizzly days? Leave a comment below to tell us about your outdoor travel adventures!

Happy hiking!

  • Sarah Mathias

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for sharing. Looks like a great resource for walkers. Great photos too.


Tips for Hiking in the Rain

Oct 14 2015