8 Ways to Manage Spring and Summer Rain When Hiking
Rain gives life to plants and creatures around the world. It can also be a pain to hike in. While rain may initially be thought of as a winter weather pattern, it’s common throughout spring and summer, as well, depending on where you’re hiking.
Spring and summer rain can be more unpredictable and include thunderstorms. In the summer, it can leave trails hot and muggy, which makes wearing a raincoat quite unappealing. In spring, temperatures tend to fluctuate more, necessitating proper layering to keep dry and warm.
Spring and summer also bring colorful wildflowers, plentiful sunshine, and outdoor vacation vibes worth soaking up—pun intended! So, below, we offer eight ways to make your rainy day hikes in the warmer months more comfortable and safe.
1. Do a little research before you head out.
Even if yesterday was a beautifully sunny day, check the weather forecast before you head out. Rain forecasts may fluctuate more during spring and summer and you want to be prepared for your trip and know if it’s necessary to pivot.
You can also take a look at the seasonal weather trends for the area you’re planning to explore. If you find that July regularly experiences the worst and most frequent thunderstorms in that region, for example, you may want to consider another month for your backpacking trip.
If you’re expecting rain or scattered thunderstorms on your backpacking trip or day hike, study your maps in advance for ideas on what parts of the trail would provide the best shelter, if needed. If you’re looking for more tips on planning your adventure, we recommend checking out Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, & Resiliency by Katie Gerber and Heather Anderson.
2. Plan to start your hike earlier in the day.
In regions where scattered thunderstorms are common in the summer, those storms usually occur in the afternoon or early evening. Starting your hikes earlier in the day can ensure you’re off trail before the weather moves through. You’re also likely to beat the heat by taking advantage of those earlier hours.
3. Use a hiking umbrella.
Putting on a raincoat during spring or summer rains can leave you feeling your own personal sweat sauna. When it’s already hot out, the last thing you want to do is trap all your body heat inside a layer that is never as “breathable” as it’s marketed.
Using a hiking umbrella instead is a great way to stay dry while maintaining good airflow for keeping cool. We offer a lightweight hiking umbrella at Gossamer Gear in both silver and gold. You can attach it to your pack with a simple bungee–clamp system to enjoy hands-free rain protection. Some even use the umbrella for sun protection or keeping their bestest trail dog friend more comfortable.
4. Protect your gear with a pack liner.
There may be times when you don’t want to hassle with a poncho, umbrella, or other rain gear. If it’s a lighter rain, you might know it’ll pass quickly and you’ll dry off naturally in no time. As Natasha Bedingfield urged us to do in 2004, you may want to feel the rain on your skin. However, you still need to ensure your critical gear stays dry even if you aren’t.
A pack liner will provide water protection for the items in your backpack’s main compartment, meaning a dry sleeping bag when you get to camp. Gossamer Gear’s waterproof pack liner is simple to use and weighs just 1.2 ounces.
5. Prevent slips with trekking poles.
During spring and summer rains, creek crossings can increase in flow and get a little trickier to ford. Trails get muddy and rocky sections become slick. It’s important to hike with care in the rain so you don’t fall and hurt yourself.
Trekking poles can lend extra support during the rain to prevent injuries. Use a pair of hiking poles to assist with balance as you navigate the changing terrain. Gossamer Gear’s LT5 Three-Piece Carbon Trekking Poles are super light and compact, meaning they’re there to assist whenever you need without weighing you down.
6. Pack a hat.
Getting rain in your eyes during a storm is a pain. Bring along a baseball cap or other brimmed hat to direct the raindrops away from your face. It’s great to have even if you’re using a raincoat, as the brims on those are always a little too short and tend to drip down onto your face over time. Plus, when the sun comes out, you’ll have protection from the glare, as well.
7. Consider your clothing and footwear choices.
If there’s a chance for rain, you’ll want to wear and pack clothing that can handle it and protect items that can’t.
Avoid cotton clothing, as it soaks water right up and can take forever to dry. Plus, it won’t keep you insulated once wet. Opt instead for wool or synthetic materials. If you’re bringing along a down puffy jacket, ensure it’s stored well in your pack so it stays dry during the rain. If you need to wear it, throw on a lightweight poncho over it.
Periodically check the waterproofing on your gear. This protective coating breaks down over time. Depending on frequency of use, you may need to reapply it annually.
Finally, consider what footwear to use on your hike. While waterproof hiking boots may keep your feet dry during rainfalls, they take a long time to dry out if you get them wet on the inside during a creek crossing. They’re also less breathable, so your feet may sweat more and be uncomfortable during spring and summer hikes.
Lightweight trail runners may soak through during the rain, but tend to dry quickly and drain well after stream crossings. They’re also more breathable, so can keep your feet cool during warmer months. Overall, find the features and fit that work best for you in wet conditions.
8. Leave cozy items in your car.
Being able to get cozy after a long day on trail when it has been wet and rainy is an absolute delight. Leave a few items in your car at the trailhead to help you get dry and warm, such as a towel, change of clothes, and spare shoes.
Enjoy Hiking in Spring and Summer Rain With a Little Preparation
Hiking in spring and summer rain doesn’t have to be a drag. Use these tips to stay safe and enjoy your rain day to its full potential!
Have a good hiking in the rain story to share? Know some other tips for managing the rain while backpacking? We’d love to hear about them! Share your rain stories and tips with us by tagging Gossamer Gear on social media (@gossamergear) and using the hashtag #takelessdomore.
Looking for more outdoor adventure inspiration? Check out some of our other articles on the Light Feet blog: