How To Stay Dry When Hiking Or Camping In The Rain

Get outside, rain or shine.

By: Eric Carrell
May 6, 2016

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If you’re like me, you don’t want to miss out on a day of adventuring just because it’s raining! After all, only so much fun can be had indoors. When you’re properly equipped, hiking and camping in the rain can actually be heaps of fun. Here are some tips that’ll help you to keep your gear (and yourself) dry in the wonderfully wet wilderness.

1. Invest in quality rain gear.

When it comes to venturing out in rainy weather, there’s no substitute for quality rain gear. What you’ll need depends on how long you’re out for and the kind weather you’re liking to encounter. Take a bit of time to learn about choosing the right wet weather gear and buy what’s suited to your activity. At a minimum, you’ll need a water-resistant jacket, boots and a pack to keep you and your gear dry in light rain.

2. Test wet weather gear at home.

Even the best quality gear can sometimes be faulty so try new gear BEFORE you take it out in the field. It’s a great way to learn the limitations of your gear and you can have some fun while you’re at it! Have a water fight in your new rain jacket, take a shower with your pack or dip your boots in the bath. Afterwards, carefully check for any leaks and if you’re still dry, you’re good to go!

3. Keep yourself cool.

While you’re focused on keeping the rain out, don’t forget about staying dry from the inside out. Most water-resistant and waterproof clothing is designed to be somewhat breathable but if you’re sweating up a storm, strip off some layers, use ventilation zips and wear moisture wicking base layers to prevent sweat from building up inside of your clothes.

Hike to Metlako & Punchbowl Falls | Photo: Vic Garcia

4. Use a dry bag for electronics.

If you’re out in pouring rain, don’t risk it with your electronics. Store your phone, camera and anything else that absolutely can’t get wet in a dry sack so that if your bag wets out, the important stuff is still alright.

5. Keep food and water accessible.

Opening your bag when it’s raining will make your gear wet so keep a snack in your pocket and attach a water bottle to the outside of your pack so you can keep yourself well-fueled and hydrated.

6. Check the weather forecast.

In a lot of places, it can be raining one minute and sunny the next so check the weather before you head out. Make sure you’ve packed appropriate wet weather gear and if it’s showering, consider waiting it out before you keep walking. There’s a great app for iPhones called DarkSky that turns your phone into your personal weather station and can even warn you if a storm’s on its way!

7. Make your tent a dry zone.

Walking through the rain can be heaps of fun but nobody ever thought that sleeping in wet clothes in a wet sleeping bag was their idea of a good time. It’s also dangerous for your health so designate your tent as a dry zone and don’t put anything wet inside it! Use dry sack to keep your sleeping bag, pillow and sleeping clothes dry and store anything that’s wet in your tent’s vestibule.

Capturing the Monsoons in Grand Canyon NP | Photo: Michael Strickland

8. Camp on high ground.

Never pitch your tent in a depression or dry riverbed! If it rains overnight you might wake up in a pool of water or a flash-flood that could sweep you and your tent away. Instead, find a raised area that’s gently sloped so that water can run off and if you’re not 100% sure that it’s going to be a 100% dry night, put your rainfly on so that you don’t wake up in a shower.

9. Dry wet gear ASAP.

If the inevitable does happen and your gear gets wet when it’s pouring outside, try to dry it as soon as possible. Even one wet item will quickly make everything else in your pack wet too, so tie wet clothing to the outside of your pack so that it can dry when it stops raining. Once you set up camp for the evening, hang wet gear in your vestibule to dry overnight or use a campfire to speed up the process.

10. Look after your rain gear.

A lot of people don’t realize that wet weather gear needs to be regularly maintained to keep its water-resistant or waterproof qualities. Dirt and oils on your clothing, boots, tent and pack wear away at the water-resistant finish, reducing how much exposure your gear can handle before it wets out. Wash dirty gear when needed, following the manufacturer's instructions, and re-apply the recommended waterproofing finish at least once a year to keep your gear in top condition.

Cover photo: Vic Garcia

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.