Hiking in the spring 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 footpaths are less busy, so you may as well get the equipment to withstand the weather and enjoy it. Warning, check that the weather isn't threatening either!
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 swimming in your own perspiration. Apart from the discomfort, there's a real risk of suffering from hypothermia.
1. Make Sure You Have a Basic Waterproof Top/Bottom Combination
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 ankle zips, so that you can get them on/off without removing your shoes.
The added extra: Regarding tops, there are two schools of thought, i.e. those who prefer ponchos and those who prefer 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 backpack but does offer great freedom of movement. In this case, consider protecting your backpack with a cover. Some Quechua backpacks have a built-in cover.
2. Don't Forget Your Feet in the Rain, Snow or Tall Grass
Walking with wet feet is never very pleasant and can cause friction and so discomfort. Therefore, remember to take water-resistant footwear.
Please note: not all the waterproof boots offer the same level of waterproofing. You'll find three levels of waterproofing which correspond to a number of flexes, i.e. steps:
2000 flexes (about 4 km of walking)
4000 flexes (about 8 km of walking)
8000 flexes (about 16 km of walking)
If you have already been using your boots for a few years, don't hesitate to restore the waterproofing before your hike. When crossing rivers, it's best to take off your boots and socks, which you can swap for a pair of open or quick-drying shoes like those of our Fresh footwear range. The latter eliminate water through a sole that is perforated with water channels. Dry your feet before putting your shoes back on. Also consider taking a spare pair of socks, just in case.
3. Also Protect Your Face from the Water Running Off Your Hood
To maintain good vision and prevent water from running down your neck, you can wear a cap with a visor under your hood to guide the water forwards. The added extra: Quechua has created waterproof jackets with a 3D hood and rigid visor to stop the water getting in your face. These hoods are adjustable to fit you perfectly and offer optimum protection.
It may seem strange, but an umbrella still comes in handy in addition to your walking gear, in the event of a shower. It's also essential in some countries where the heavy rainfall or monsoon combined with high temperatures make it the perfect accessory to stay dry without getting too hot.
5. Invest in High-Tech Breathable Clothing to Avoid "The Sauna Effect"
Indeed, it is important that the clothes you wear under your waterproof jacket wick away perspiration effectively. Otherwise you'll be soaked ... in your own perspiration! Read our article to find out how to calculate the breath-ability of materials.
The added extra: we tend to tighten the rip-tabs at the cuffs in the hope that water won't be able to get in. This also means that you will feel hotter and soon transforms your jacket into a sauna, regardless of how breath-ability it is.
6. Protect your Backpack on the Inside As Well As on the 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. A good start would be to put a waterproof cover over your backpack. 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.
7. Protect Your Precious Items from the Rain
Map, camera, identity papers and phone deserve even more effective treatment. The best option is to have some waterproof pouches to keep your belongings perfectly dry even if briefly submerged in water: one for the map which you need to consult even when it is raining and another for the belongings that remain in your backpack. The added extra: Our Forclaz 900 jacket is even equipped with outer pockets with waterproof zips to keep your valuables both dry and within easy reach.
If you have spent the whole day hiking in the rain and are base camping, i.e. day hiking and returning to the same base camp every evening, remember to dry your clothing during the day 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 clothing or lay it out in a place that is sheltered from any overnight downpours. If you have the misfortune to get the inside of your boots wet, take the insoles out, loosen the laces and, above all, do not place them too close to a heat source, as this makes them lose their shape so that you end up with sore feet the next day!
The added extra: you can also make the most of any sunny spells during the day to dry your things by hanging them from your bag (which has been dried itself) or on a tree during a break. Make the most of every ray of sunshine.
Safety advice: Experiencing a shower during a hike is one thing, hiking in driving rain with no visibility is another. We strongly recommend that you do not leave if the conditions of visibility are sub-optimal. And of course, even though it doesn't protect you from the rain, remember to take one or more torches that can be fastened to the head or other elements so that you can be seen, even from a distance.
You should now be prepared to take on the rain, whether it is for a short walk or a long day hike!What about you, do you have any tips for staying dry when out hiking? Share in the comments!