12 Helpful Tips for Backpacking in Rain

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Backpacking in the rain can be a daunting experience, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can be enjoyable and make for a rewarding adventure. Rainy weather can bring unexpected challenges that require special considerations to ensure a safe and successful backpacking trip. In this article, we will provide gear advice and 12 tips for backpacking in the rain so you can make the most of your journey.

Gear for Backpacking in Rain

When backpacking in the rain having the right gear can make your experience better. This list of gear is necessary and helpful when stormy weather occurs during your hike. Be sure to stay prepared and bring these items or variations of them.

Choose the Right Footwear

This is one of the most important pieces of gear for any backpacking trip. You will want a good sturdy and lightweight pair of hiking boots or trail runners that will be comfortable and breathable. Make sure to try whatever footwear you are going to wear out on the trails so you know they will be appropriate for your feet. One thing that helps is to make sure you have about half an inch or so of toe room or buy half a size larger to accommodate for foot swelling on the trails.

Having the right footwear is necessary step in helping to prevent blisters, maximize comfort, and foot health out on the trails. Especially during rainy weather. For trail runners my favorite is the Speedgoat 5 and I like the budget Merrell Moab 3.

Rain Jacket

A helpful upper layer for rainy weather. Having a rain jacket is an excellent layer to add additional protection for you under layers and body temperature. Having a rain jacket is an essential piece to staying dry and warm which is important when you are out in cold wet weather. When looking for a good rain jacket it helps to be lightweight, packable, and waterproof. If you are looking for a budget set of rain gear, you really cannot go wrong with the Frogg Togg. It is not the most glamorous, but you cannot beat the value to performance.

Rain Pants

Rain pants are an essential piece of rain gear as well. If its heavily raining you are going to want to wear both a rain jacket and rain pants to protect your clothes from getting soaked. When wearing rain pants another tip is to tuck them over your boots which also helps protect a portion of your footwear and socks.

Backpack Rain Cover

Having a backpack rain cover is a important item to consider for keeping your gear and clothes dry. I like to make sure my rain cover can be tightened and buckles onto the backpack. In extreme heavy storms if a rain cover is too loose it will just flap around and fail to protect your gear. Some backpacks have a built-in rain cover but if yours does not you can always buy one separately.

Backpack Liner

A backpack liner is a super light and versatile item. Most times if I bring any item to waterproof my gear it is a backpack liner. Mostly because of how cheap, simple, and lightweight it is. I have even just used trash compactor bags in the past without any issues. Also, a liner can be used in combination with a backpack rain cover for additional waterproofing for your backpack.

Hiking Tent

Having a good hiking shelter in stormy conditions is essentials. There are various types of tents out there that are freestanding, non-freestanding, or semi free standing that will work. Bottom line you want a tent that will be lightweight, durable, and reliable on the field. For a backpacking tent we like ultralight tents made with the sturdy waterproof cuben fiber. In this category we really like our Zpacks Free Trio and the non freestanding classic Zpacks Duplex

12 Tips for Backpacking in Rain

When backpacking in rain, it is crucial to be prepared for any potential hazards. Knowing what to do to stay safe and comfortable is key to having a successful experience. There are a lot of tips out there but in this article, we are covering the 12 tips we have found to be most helpful.

Check the Weather Forecast

It is important to plan ahead and check the local weather forecast for rain before planning any backpacking trip. This can help you be prepared for wet and dangerous conditions, as well as plan alternate activities in case of inclement weather. 

Make sure to keep an eye out for thunderstorm warnings and other hazards, as these can significantly increase your risk of injury or illness while out on the trail. On that note, be sure to bring adequate rain protection in case of surprise storms. 

Know What to Do in a Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are no joke; they can be extremely dangerous so it’s important to take the proper precautions if one is encountered while backpacking. 

Here is how to stay safe during a thunderstorm:

  • Look for shelter and get inside as soon as possible. A tent or building is ideal, but any form of cover will do.
  • Avoid tall structures such as trees, poles, or towers that are by themselves. 
  • If no shelter is available, crouch down in a low area away from ridgelines or other high points.
  • If you are on the peak of a mountain. Get off as quickly as possible and find cover
  • Stay away from bodies of water and metal objects; this may mean moving out trekking poles, stakes, bowls or any other metal gear in your backpacks till the storm is over. 
  • Believe it or not, it can be safer outside your tent than in.

Choose your campsite carefully

When backpacking in the rain, it’s important to choose a campsite that is on high ground away from water sources. This will help prevent flooding around your tent and reduce the risk of getting your gear wet. In general, when trying to find a campground look for a flat are that is sheltered from the wind. Avoid setting up camp under trees or near rocky outcroppings, which can pose a hazard during thunderstorms.

Here are some additional tips for setting up your camp quickly and easily:

  • Make sure to double-check your campsite before setting up. Look for obstacles like fallen trees or steep slopes that may make it difficult to put your tent up.
  • Have a designated spot for your tent so you don’t waste time looking around for the perfect place.
  • Work as a team if possible – two pairs of hands will make setting up much easier!
  • Take inventory of all the supplies you need and double-check that they’re in working order before setting out.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to set up your camp with ease and have more time left over to experience everything nature has to offer.

Set up Your Tent Properly

Spend some time learning how to pitch a tent in the rain with a reduced risk of flooding. Make sure to pitch your tent on higher ground, away from any inclement weather, and close enough to a tree or rock for shelter. 

Make sure your tent is properly pitched and rainfly and guy lines are used to prevent water from seeping in. If you’re camping on a slope, set up your tent so that your head is at the highest point, which will help prevent water from flowing into your tent. You can also use a groundsheet to protect your tent from moisture and to provide and additional layer of insulation.

Keep Your Sleeping Bag Dry

Keeping your sleeping bag dry is super important as it will be essential to ensuring you stay warm at night. You can keep your sleeping bag dry by placing it inside a waterproof stuff sack or bag. Then use a backpack cover or compactor trash bag as a liner inside your backpack to keep your gear dry.

Dress in Layers

When backpacking, it is important to dress in layers to stay comfortable and safe in all kinds of weather. Layering will help you regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable while hiking, even if the weather changes suddenly. 

Start with a lightweight base layer like a synthetic t-shirt, then add other garments on top as needed. Include an insulated mid-layer such as a fleece or down vest, and an outer layer of a waterproof rain jacket or windbreaker. This way you can adjust the number of items you are wearing depending on how warm or cold it gets. 

Avoid cotton clothing as this material does not wick away moisture and can make you feel colder than necessary when wet.

In cold environments, be sure to cover your head, hands, and feet with extra layers to avoid hypothermia. It is also crucial to have an outer shell that is both water-resistant and windproof, so you do not get soaked by rain or chilled by strong winds. With the right amount of layering, you should be able to keep warm and dry no matter what Mother Nature throws at you!

Bring Extra Socks

Backpacking provides a great way to get some exercise while exploring nature. But no matter how experienced you are, there’s one thing you should never forget: bring extra socks!

Having an extra pair of socks can make all the difference when it comes to comfort and performance. If your feet get wet or start to blister, having a clean, dry pair of socks can help keep your feet comfortable, clean, and even prevent hypothermia.

When I am out on the trails, I like to bring a pair of designated sleeping socks, trail socks, and a backup pair. Get your feet nice and dry when you hit the sack each night. Pop on a pair of clean socks if you got ’em; otherwise, let them air out – no coverings necessary!

Bring Your Rain Gear

Weather forecasts are never wrong…right? 

We’ve all been caught off guard by unexpected rain or snow while out on the trail. That’s why it’s important to always pack some basic rain gear, even if the forecast says it won’t be needed. No matter what type of outdoor activity you’re doing, it’s always a good idea to bring your rain gear, especially if you have important things in your pack like a new camera or your phone.

While the weather can be unpredictable, having some kind of protection from the rain can help make your trip more enjoyable. A lightweight rain jacket, waterproof pants, and a waterproof hat are all essential items to have in case of wet weather. Don’t forget to pack a waterproof bag or cover for your gear too! 

For activities such as hiking and camping, a waterproof jacket, pants, or poncho is often enough. Look for something that is breathable and not too bulky, so you don’t feel weighed down on the trail. 

If you’re going on a longer backpacking trip or mountaineering adventure, consider bringing a full rain suit or Gore-Tex shell. These provide greater coverage from wet weather and are typically more durable than a single piece of clothing. 

Don’t take chances when it comes to wet weather – make sure to bring your rain gear!

Dry Out When You Can

Rainy days and wet conditions can put a damper on your outdoor adventure, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. With a few simple steps, you can dry out when possible and still experience all that nature has to offer.

  • If possible, camp in an area near trees or behind rocks so you have something to block the wind and rain.
  • Invest in good waterproofing gear such as jackets, pants, sleeping bags, etc. This will keep you warm and dry even when the weather isn’t so great outside.
  • Plan ahead and bring sleeping clothes that way you can have a set of dry clothes
  • During times of extended sunlight, change into your sleeping clothes and let your hiking clothes and backpack sun dry

Protect Your Feet

No matter where your outdoor journey takes you, make sure to keep your feet safe and protected. After all, it’s the part of your body that will bear most of the brunt when you’re out in the wilderness.

  • Invest in good quality hiking boots – they should fit well and be waterproof.
  • Pack a pair of backup socks – I like to designate a pair of socks as sleeping socks and bring a backup pair of trail socks this way you can change them out when one pair gets wet or starts to wear out.
  • Bring along a pair of sandals or multi use camping shoes to let your feet dry out and use for river crossings.
  • Make sure to apply foot powder, spray, or balm on your feet before you go to bed – this will help prevent rashes, blisters, and other common issues caused by damp conditions and long hours on the trail.
  • Take some time each night to clean and inspect your feet; look for any signs of injury like cuts, scrapes, or bruises that might need special attention.

Cooking in the Rain

Rainy days don’t mean you have to skip out on good meals while outdoors.

  • Invest in a waterproof tarp or two and hang them over your cook site – this will give you shelter and protection from the rain.
  • For windy conditions, look for natural barriers like rocks or trees to provide additional shielding.
  • If possible, set up your camp near an elevated spot – that way any runoff won’t hit the cooking area.
  • Bring along some quick-cooking items such as instant rice, ramen, dehydrated meals, etc. These require less time to make and can be cooked quickly in bad weather conditions.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Backpacking in the rain can be a challenge but try to keep a positive attitude and enjoy the unique experience. Remember that rain can also bring out beautiful scenery and wildlife. To help pass the time during rainy conditions bring a good book or lightweight games to keep you positive and entertained during downtime.

Final Thoughts

Backpacking in the rain can be a bit of a challenge, but with some preparation and planning, you’ll have no problem setting up a successful and enjoyable outdoor adventure. Make sure to be prepared and plan ahead. By taking the necessary precautions, you can stay safe and dry while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.

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