I like hiking in the rain. Maybe if I lived in Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest or another part of the world where it rains a lot I wouldn’t hit in the trail in wet weather. But I live in drought-plagued California and hiking in the rain (in reasonable quantity, of course) is a novelty not always a no-no.

Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day.

That chant from childhood never works very well does it? At least not for me.

Besides, some of my most memorable hikes have been rained-on. I’ve taken my friends and family for hikes in the rain. Hiking in the rain gives us a chance to enjoy a kind of hiking that’s experiential—not goal oriented.

Trailmaster John McKinney hiking in the rain--on the cactus-dotted slopes of the Simi Hills in Southern California.
Trailmaster John McKinney hiking in the rain–on the cactus-dotted slopes of the Simi Hills in Southern California.

I’ve been on expensive European hiking vacations when it rained and you know what? Yes, that’s right, the guest hikers had a wonderful time. The group camaraderie and bonding increases exponentially with the shared experience of hiking in the rain.

I’d rather be rained-on than rained-out.

Hiking in the rain is fun--really! These hikers in Australia's Kosciuszko National Park aren't exactly jumping for joy.
Hiking in the rain is fun–really! These hikers in Australia’s Kosciuszko National Park aren’t exactly jumping for joy.

You could stay indoors and watch the rain come down and re-schedule your hike for a clear day. But sometimes you can’t re-schedule. Or you could take a hike.

Part of being a hiker is embracing all kinds of weather. Certainly the drier you are, the happier your trails will be.

It rains when the weathercaster calls for clear skies. It rains on the coast on supposedly good “beach days.” It rains in the middle of a record drought. It rains in the desert where it’s not supposed to rain.

Rainwear, therefore, is essential. Carry it at all times. And here are some more of The Trailmaster Tips for hiking in the rain.

Rainy Day Hiking Tips

• Unzip your pits. Assuming your rain gear has armpit zippers, regulate your temperature by zipping and unzipping your pit zips.

• Keep your map dry. Carry a waterproof map or put your paper map in a plastic sleeve to keep it dry.

• Keep everything else dry. Ah, the wonder of self-sealing plastic bags. Use them to keep dry the more vital of your pack’s contents—maps, camera, food and more.

• Enough is enough. It’s fine to hike in the rain up to a point. If you get wet and cold, though, get back to the trailhead and hike again another day.

• Don’t be surprised. Experienced hikers aren’t surprised by sudden wet conditions. Sometimes hiking to the coast and all of a sudden experience fog so dense you might as well be walking in the rain. It’s common to labor up a high and dry mountain pass, crest the range and find wet and rainy conditions on the other side of the mountain.

• Keep snacks at the ready. Keep food and snacks in a handy place on your person so you don’t have to stop and retrieve them from the depths of your pack. If the rain is intermittent, use the dry spells to eat and drink and never mind your normally scheduled break or meal times.

• Snack at will. When the rain stops, take a break and start eating, even if it isn’t your regular break time or meal times. Keep trail snacks handy so that you can refuel on the go.

• Keep your clothing dry. Carry a change of dry clothes in waterproof stuff sacks.

• Watch out for post-rainstorm drip. Rain-soaked undergrowth can drench the passing hiker. If you’re hiking in a forest, beware of trees drizzling down on you, sometimes for hours after the storm passes. Remove your rainwear when it’s dry-going on the trail not the instant the rain stops.