“Now he’s brought down the rain and the Indian summer is through”
When Ye Go Away (Mike Scott, The Waterboys)
October definitely brought a change to the weather with a noticeable drop in temperature and some of the most sustained wet weather we have seen for months. This made us think about walking in wet weather. Having been active in the hills for many years and therefore being ‘very experienced’ when it comes to being soaked and frozen, I was asked if I could suggest a few tips for dealing with these rainy days.
Firstly let me say that I quite like a walk in the rain occasionally. Some of my most memorable hill days have involved very bad weather, challenging navigation and entertaining river crossings. You wouldn’t want to do it every time you go out but these are some of the days you remember fondly afterwards.
On the lower ground, a wander through the woods can be magical during rain. You tend to see more wildlife, hear the sound of the wind and rain through the trees and notice the smell of things more. The power of water is truly impressive too and a walk along the river to see waterfalls and rapids in full flood is well worth a soaking. Sometimes you just feel the need to jump in a few puddles too!
Enjoying the nature and staying dry and comfortable, but how does that work? Here are 12 tips:
Rain will get in at some point!
Accept that even with the best clothing and equipment, you will never stay completely dry. Rain is clever stuff and tends to find it’s way in eventually.
A good layering system
Baselayer (Thermal or wicking layer) /Fleece (Fleece) / Shell layer (Waterproofs) of technical clothing will help you stay comfortable, even when damp. They will allow you to put on or take off layers and maintain a comfortable temperature. Natural fabrics like cotton aren’t great as they absorb moisture and can be cold and clammy.
Waterproof jackets and overtrousers
Well designed waterproofs will keep most of the rain out. Most waterproofs will also have a degree of breathability which can aid comfort. Well designed hoods and closures can also help keep the rain off your face. Ideally waterproof trousers should be easy to pull on and off without taking your boots off. My personal choice is for tough waterproof, breathable equipment, the Munro Mountain Jacket and a pair of lightweight, packable overtrousers like the Stow & Go trousers, which I can pack away small when not in use and quickly pull on when required.
BootsA good pair of waterproof boots are essential. Something with a waterproof lining is ideal for day walks but will take longer to dry afterwards if they do get wet. Cold, wet feet are not fun. A good tread is also vital as where there is rain there is normally mud too, and mud is slippy stuff!
Very important as they keep the water out of the top of your boots and protect you from mud and splash.
TOP TIP – On wet days Gaiters go on UNDER the overtrousers, otherwise the moisture runs down the trousers, inside the gaiters and into your boots.
- Protect valuables from moisture
Phones, car keys and cameras are not fond of water. Keep them wrapped up in plastic bags or in one of our very useful mini Drybags.
- Hats and gloves
It’s always worth having gloves and a lightweight hat or headover in your bag. Wet hands can feel cold quite quickly, even on a mild day so a couple of pairs might be worthwhile. Waterproof gloves are useful but will inevitably become damp in use. A baseball cap or brimmed hat keeps the rain off your face or glasses and a headover or warm watch cap is useful if you feel cold.
Well fitting Hiking Socks will help protect your feet and prevent rubs and blisters even if wet. I personally prefer a mixed fibre sock. Waterproof socks are available and are useful. Having a spare pair to change into at the end of the day is a must.
Very few rucksacks are completely waterproof and although the raincover that many are supplied with is really helpful it is inevitable that the damp will creep in on very wet days. It is really important to keep any spare clothing and other vital gear well protected. Our good old Rucksack Liner is great for this and has been in use for many years. Our range of drybags are also excellent for this job and come in a wide range of sizes from 1litre (Car Keys, wallet) to 140L (Very large rucksack liner). I use a selection of these bags as they help keep everything tidy and easy to find as well as dry.
- Other very useful items
Map cases to keep your map safe and dry, Trekking Poles - great to improve balance on wet and slippy ground and very useful if crossing swollen streams.
Highlander 2-3 man Survival Shelters are really useful to provide shelter from bad weather for lunch or a break. Compact and lightweight and indispensable in an emergency.
- Try to have fun
Even if you are trudging through horizontal driving rain. Remember – It’s character building!