You know what they say, April Shower bring May Flowers, and with April upon us, the Mud and rain season is right around the corner it is important that we are prepared when hitting the trail. While none of us may LOVE hiking in the rain, it is usually unavoidable here are some tips that will help you stay dry and comfortable:
Watch The Weather
The days leading up to hike keep an eye on the weather, so you can make sure that you prepare accordingly. Even if the chance of rain is slim it is still important that you pack accordingly, you do not want to be stuck on the trail without the proper gear.
That being said there are certain things you do not want to hike in if there are bad winds or lightning you may want to re-evaluate and stay home.
Pick the Right Trail
If it is a rainy day you may want to change your hike to something that is near a lake or waterfall as these don’t usually have amazing top viewpoints, and if you are hiking for the view you may not want to miss anything. I know personally, I do not always have this option as I have to travel to get to the hike so sometimes you just got push through and appreciate the beauty that you get to see. I do recommend though that you try to avoid steep trails as they will be extra slippery.
If the trial conditions seem bad you may have no choice but to change your plans. There are three different ways you can research and try to get some additional information on the conditions:
While alltrails does provide great downloadable maps, an idea on distance (please note this is not always accurate), and how much elevation you can expect, it is also is a great tool to see the condition of the trail or any updates to the trail. Check out the trial you are thinking about doing, look at the reviews and people’s recorded times. Has anyone done this hike recently? Did they say anything about the conditions? Plus it will also help you gauge how long it will take you to finish the hike.
Okay so this may feel weird to you, but I promise it is not the hiking community is crazy supportive and always willing to help. Search the location you are thinking of hiking, has anyone done it recently? Look at their pictures and either privately message them or comment telling them you are looking to do that hike soon and ask how the conditions are. I promise you 9 out of 10 times people do respond with helpful advice.
If you are not in these yet, I recommend you join they are a great way to connect with other hikers and a great source to fund out what is happening out there on the trail
Avoid cotton! It is a terrible insulator when wet and can cause hypothermia, try to wear synthetic fibers. You want to make sure you have the following
Waterproof Rain Jacket
Waterproof Hiking Pants
Proper Foot Wear
Can I tell you how much of a buzz kill wet feet can be on a hike? I have been on hikes where I swear there is an entire pond in my shoes and your feet are constantly steeping in wet insoles and it is just the best….not. so here are some things that you can do to avoid that:
Waterproof Hiking Boots: This is something I always consider when looking at hiking boots because even on a nice day there may be a water crossing or puddle or who knows. In my opinion, it just makes everything easier.
Gaiters (Extremely important): Even with waterproof boots water can get into your boots, this is when the gaiters come in. Gaiters will help prevent water and mud from splashing into your boot. If you need a pair I have these from Outdoor Research.
Synthetic or Wool Socks: These materials will help keep your feet dry and comfortable in those bad conditions, I personally really like Smartwool or Darntough socks. It may also be a good idea to bring an extra pair of socks in your pack just in case.
Pro Tip: Have a change of clothes and towels in the car, this way you can be comfortable for your ride home.
Waterproof your Pack
Make sure that you have a waterproof cover for your pack that fits securely, a lot of packs do come with them in an outer pocket, but if it does not make sure that you get one. Please note that if the cover is not on securely it will come off and blow away….speaking from experience here.
Bag liners, you can also get one of these to help keep everything in your pack dry
Try to open your pack as little as possible, this will help prevent everything inside from getting wet.
Protect the Important Stuff
Even though your hiking pack is waterproof, take extra care to make sure that your GPS, Map, and phone are protected. You do not want to find yourself on the trail without these. Also always try to bring a portable charger you don’t want to be on the trail with dead devices.
Pack Easy to Eat Snacks
Since it will be wet and rainy you won’t want to stop for long periods of time to eat, so pack snacks that are easy to eat such as Granola bars, fruit, nuts, etc. stuff you can easily eat on the go.
Watch Your Footing
With added water on the trail it can become slippery it is important to watch your footing to avoid falling, you may even want to bring trekking poles for extra stability.
Remember at the end of the day your safety is way more important than reaching your desired destination.
Assess the trail conditions/weather: Is the storm okay? Is this something that you can hike in safely?
Assess the group and yourself: Check-in to make sure that everyone in your hiking group is okay. If anyone is feeling cold or tired make sure that you take breaks, eat snacks, and stay hydrated.
While the weather may not be great that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun, I have personally been on some really fun rainy day hikes where I made memories I will not quickly forget so instead of focusing on the negatives (that it is wet and muddy) focus on the positives. Ultimately you can not control the weather but you can control how you react to it and a bad attitude will not only ruin the hike for you but also for everyone else.