Hiking in pring and autumn offers some wonderful surprises, and it would be a shame to miss out on them for fear of getting caught out in the rain! When the weather is changeable, the trails are less crowded, so you need to be well equipped to face whatever the weather brings and enjoy it. However, make sure you check that the weather isn't too threatening! Read our article on what to do in the event of a mountain storm to make sure you're prepared!
To keep dry, waterproof clothing is, of course, the first thing that comes to mind. Make sure you take equipment that's waterproof and breathable, though, otherwise you'll end up bathed in your own perspiration. Apart from the discomfort, there's a real risk of suffering from hypothermia.
1/ Make sure you have a waterproof top/bottom combination to start with
Waterproof jacket and over-trousers are two essentials. They are often very light and easy to slip into a backpack. Some overtrousers even come with zips along the calf, so they can be put on over your shoes without removing them.
A little extra: As for your top half, there are two schools of thought: fans of ponchos and jackets. The poncho has the advantage of protecting both yourself, and your backpack. However, in windy weather, it quickly becomes a hindrance, and can even prevent you from seeing where you're putting your feet. A jacket doesn't protect your bag but it does offer great freedom of movement. In this case, consider protecting your bag with a cover.
2/ Don't forget your feet - in the rain, in the snow or in tall grass
Walking with wet feet is never very pleasant and can cause friction and so discomfort. Consider wearing water-resistant footwear. Please note: not all waterproof boots offer the same level of impermeability. You'll find three levels of impermeability that correspond to a number of flexions, and thus steps: either 2000 flexions (about 4 km of walking), 4000 flexions (about 8 km of walking) or 8000 flexions (about 16 km of walking). If your boots have a few years of walking behind them, don't hesitate to re-waterproof them the day before your hike. During river crossings, it's best to take off your boots and socks, which you can swap for a pair of open or quick-drying shoes, such as our Fresh range of shoes, which evacuate water through a perforated sole with channels to disperse the water. Dry your feet before putting your shoes back on. Also consider taking extra socks, just in case.
A little extra: consider using gaiters, made of waterproof fabric to cover your shoes. They're also very useful in dry weather when walking in wet grass. Indeed, if it's higher than your shoe, the water will drip off the blades of grass towards the inside of your shoe.
3/ Protect your face from run-off from your hood
To maintain good vision and avoid water running down your neck, you can wear a cap with visor under your hood that will drain the water forward.
A little extra: Quechua has created waterproof jackets with a 3D hood with a rigid visor that stops you getting water on your face. These hoods are adjustable to fit you perfectly and offer optimum protection.
4/ IDEALLY, TAKE A LIGHT, FOLDING UMBRELLA
It may seem strange, but an umbrella remains, only in case of showers, a good complement to your walking gear. It's also a must in some countries subject to heavy monsoon rains where showers and high temperatures make it the perfect accessory to stay dry without being too hot.
A little extra: Of course, if it's stormy, don't use one.
5/ INVEST IN BREATHABLE TECHNICAL CLOTHING TO AVOID “THE SAUNA EFFECT”
Indeed, it is important that the clothes you wear under your waterproof jacket evacuate body humidity correctly. Otherwise you'll be soaked ... in your own perspiration!
A little extra: we tend to tighten the rip-tabs at the end of our sleeves, believing that the water won't be able to get in. That also means that you'll get hotter. You'll quickly turn your jacket into a sauna, however breathable it may be.
6/ PROTECT YOUR BACKPACK INSIDE AS WELL AS OUTSIDE
Staying dry is essential, but if the spare equipment you're carrying on your back gets wet, all your efforts will have been in vain. Protecting your backpack with a waterproof cover is a good starting point. But it's not always enough. Indeed, water can trickle down your back and onto the back of your bag. The ideal thing to do is pack your things in plastic bags so that it all stays dry even if the cover and the backpack get wet. You can even protect your belongings while saving space in your bag with a waterproof compression cover.
A little extra: after the rain, if you want to store your wet jacket in your bag, consider folding it and rolling it up in its hood and place it in a plastic bag for increased safety.
7/ PROTECT YOUR PRECIOUS ITEMS FROM THE RAIN
Map, camera, identity papers and phone deserve even more effective treatment. The best thing is to have watertight pockets which guarantee, even after a short immersion in water, that their contents remain perfectly dry. One for the map, so that you can look at it, even in the rain, and another for what's left in your backpack.
A little extra: Our Forclaz 900 jacket is even equipped with exterior pockets with waterproof zips to keep your valuables both dry and within reach.
8/ OPTIMISE DRYING DURING THE NIGHT
If you have spent your day in the rain and are hiking over several days, in a tent or refuge, remember to dry your day's equipment for the next day. Even if your first reaction is to attend to basic needs such as eating or resting, take a few minutes to hang up your stuff or lie it flat and sheltered from any overnight downpours. If you have the misfortune to get the inside of your shoes wet, consider removing the insoles of your boots, loosen your laces and, most of all, avoid placing them too close to a heat source, which could cause them to lose their shape so that you end up with sore feet the next day!
A little extra: you can also make the most of sunny spells during the day to dry your things by hanging them from your bag (previously dried itself) or on a tree during a break. Make the most of every ray of sunshine.
And of course, even though it doesn't protect you from the rain, remember to take one or more headlamps that can be used with different supports so you can be seen, even from a distance.
You should now be ready to face the rain, whether for a short stroll or a weekend under canvas!
Safety advice: Wiping away a shower while hiking is one thing, hiking in driving rain with no visibility is another. We strongly recommend you go walking only if you have good visibility.
And you, what are your little tips for staying dry when out hiking? Share them in our comments section!