What To Wear Hiking When It’s Raining (Full Guide)

Hiking in the rain can be fun, but you should be wearing appropriate gear. Without the correct gear, problems can quickly arise. Those looking to take on a wet-weather hike may be wondering what to wear to stay dry when hiking in the rain.

When hiking in the rain you need to wear quality waterproofs. Wearing waterproofs will keep you dry and warm throughout a rainy hike. There are various types of waterproofs, some better than others. Choosing your waterproof gear comes down to personal preference and identifying quality material.

You want to feel confident enough to get out there and hike on different trails in all different weather. Therefore, you need to be prepared with the appropriate gear. Below, we look more closely at what you need to wear when faced particularly with rainy conditions.

How Should You Dress For Hiking In The Rain?

When hiking in the rain you should dress in such a way that you stay dry and comfortable. This can be achieved by wearing waterproof gear and by using layers. Waterproofs aren’t the only answer, as there are other things to consider for rainy-day attire.

Staying Dry Is Key

Staying dry is your primary goal when hiking in the rain. An important tip for staying dry is to look at the seams on your clothing. Wearing clothing with the least number of seams will be more watertight, keeping you drier for longer.

You should be looking beyond just waterproof jackets, considering your legs, hands, feet, and head as well. Wearing gloves, rainboots, and a hat will provide additional warmth and comfort. Try to keep as much of your body as dry as possible.

However, how important it is to keep yourself dry depends on different factors. The length of your hike, which then changes the time you are exposed to the weather, is one factor. Another is how heavy the rain will be. You should also consider wind speed as it can affect temperature.

It Needn’t Be Bulky

People tend to think about waterproof clothing as being large and bulky in nature. They often think about these overbearing coats, and trousers that are wider in the leg than they’d perhaps like. While they do exist, there are other choices as well.

Modern waterproof clothing uses better materials that help keep us warm and dry, while still allowing our bodies to breathe. This has led to a reduction in the amount of material, or insulation, required to produce a high-quality item.

Better manufacturing techniques mean waterproof trousers that are close-fitting, but with ample room, and the same applies to jackets. The weight associated with the items has been reduced. You no longer need to feel as if you are carrying extra weight to remain dry.

Dress According To The Weather

The weather conditions, including degree of rain and temperature, make an impact on the type of gear you need to wear. Hiking in heavy rain calls for additional equipment that is suitable for harsher conditions. Just as a light shower would not call for strong, heavy gear.

There is no one-fits-all choice for what to wear hiking in rain. Take the time to consider the weather conditions before you hike. Planning properly and being aware of the weather plays an important role in your hiking experience.

Consider Layers

Wearing layers is important no matter the weather, and hiking in rain is no different. How many and what kind oflayers you must wear depends on several factors. Wearing appropriate layers will contribute to keeping you warm and dry.


Considering the temperature is the first step. Temperature can directly affect the type of layers you need. Keep in mind, everything you wear in layers should always be breathable and not too tight.

In wet conditions during colder months, you may choose several thick layers for protection against the cold and the rain. In the spring or summer months, it is likely you would choose just enough layering to prevent sweat and keep dry. For example, natural options are warmer than synthetic options, which are better for breathability, and should be chosen in colder temperatures.

Number Of Layers

Aside from the material, you must also consider the number of layers worn while hiking in the rain. The outer layer is the most important, and ensuring the outer layer is big enough to accommodate more layers beneath is also vital.

During colder conditions, you may have several layers below the waterproof jacket. The same applies to waterproof trousers, where you could be wearing Long Johns below normal hiking trousers, and then waterproof trousers on top. Therefore, you should allow extra space underneath top layers.

What To Look For In Wet Weather Hiking Gear

Avoid Cotton And Look For Moisture Wicking Garments

Avoid wearing any kind of garment made from cotton. The problem is that cotton is useless in wet or cold weather. If you sweat, which is likely, then cotton will ensure the sweat stays there next to your body. This would chill you and make you uncomfortable.

Instead, you need material that move the moisture away from you. Synthetic materials are known to be moisture wicking garments. That means synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon will work best for wet weather hiking.

Look For Waterproof Materials, Such As Gore-Tex

You want your outer waterproofs to be capable of withstanding any amount of rain. Therefore, you should pay attention to the materials used. While there are several to look out for, such as e-Vent or Pertex Shield, Gore-Tex is the most popular.

You want your waterproof jacket to repel the water as soon as it hits it. You don’t want it to be absorbed in any way, since that adds weight to your jacket. Gore-Tex is popular because of its breathability. It stops water from getting in while allowing your perspiration to get out.

The Hood

An important part of your waterproof jacket is the hood, and it’s an area people tend to overlook. A peaked hood is best because of how it pushes the water away from your face, and not simply over it. It’s also best if the brim on the hood is stiff. This will ensure the rain does not fall into your eyes.

You should also make sure it’s adjustable. The ability to effectively tie down your hood when the wind picks up is key if you want to stay dry. No matter the waterproof jacket you purchase, ensure you pay special attention to the hood functionality.

Taped Seams

Seams are a weak point, so ensuring they are taped reduces the chances of any rain working its way through them. All the best waterproofs will have this as standard, but it’s worth double checking the situation.

Highly Breathable

You need your waterproofs to be highly breathable, and that is where knowledge about the materials used in the items is beneficial. The goal is to have wet weather gear that keeps water and wind out, but allows your own body heat and perspiration to escape. This balance keeps you comfortable, so prioritize clothing that is classified as highly breathable.

Adjustable Cuffs

It’s a good idea to have a waterproof jacket with adjustable cuffs. This is important as it stops rain and wind from getting into your sleeves, which would leave you wet and cold. They should be adjustable to allow you to wear gloves if needed. You will be able to make them as tight as you like without feeling restricted.

Durability And Weight

It is important to balance weight and durability with your waterproof clothing. The weight may correlate to how well the jacket tolerates harsh conditions. Finding a good balance of weight and durability will help determine the type of hiking jacket that is best for you.

If you are hiking in a light shower, then a lightweight jacket will suffice. It won’t need to withstand as much wear and tear, and it won’t make you feel as if it’s slowing you down too much due to weight. However, lightweight jackets are not as durable as those that are heavier and designed to handle harsh conditions. Therefore, you must choose between the two or find a balance.

How It Deals With Water And Dry Time

The best waterproofs will allow the rain to slide off without it penetrating the fabric. You will not feel as if the outer layer of your jacket or trousers stays wet for long. Quality waterproofs have fast-drying properties. This also gives you greater confidence in their ability to cope with the conditions when you see those beads of rain sitting on the surface unable to get through.

Be sure to pay attention to the characteristics of each item before you purchase. Some brands grade their items according to what they can withstand, from showers to full on torrential rain, and that can help guide you toward getting the appropriate choices for your needs.

5 Things To Wear Hiking When It’s Raining

1. Waterproof Jacket

The most important thing to wear is a waterproof jacket. You should take all characteristics into account when selecting one. Consider investing in a high-quality jacket. Often, inexpensive waterproof jackets make you sweat, which causes discomfort and other frustrating issues.

Waterproof jackets come in various styles and sizes. Some are lined, and others are not. Be aware of other options where an inner lining, usually fleece, can be removed. These 3-in-1 jackets can be another useful item to own. It provides you with more options to accommodate for changing weather conditions.

Look at the material of the jacket carefully. It’s the material that makes the difference between excessive sweating or a comfortable hike. Pockets are also useful. They can be used for additional storage, fitting a variety of small items. Remember, every time you open your pack, some rain can get inside, and you want to reduce the number of times that can happen.

2. Waterproof Trousers

You still need to protect the lower half of your body, so consider investing in a quality pair of waterproof trousers. These should easily slide over your hiking trousers to give you an extra layer of protection. You should still look for trousers that are breathable.

Often, waterproof trousers will not have pockets, but they will have ‘pockets’ that provide access to those already existing in your hiking trousers. Look for waterproof trousers that are easy to both pull on and pull off.

The waistband will usually contain elastic, and the same may apply to the ankles. Alternatively, they may use studs to ‘close off’ the ankles to stop water or wet foliage from getting under the waterproof trousers and getting your hiking trousers wet.

3. Gaiters

If your hiking trail is somewhat off the beaten path, then a pair of gaiters could be worthwhile. They provide added protection around your ankles and lower leg. This becomes even more beneficial when walking through environments that have long grass or foliage.

Gaiters often have an elasticated strap that comes under your boot to hold them in place. This is crucial, as it holds them tight to your leg. Gaiters are fully waterproof, but they are not designed to be breathable. That’s not such a bad thing in this instance. They merely cover your ankle area and bottom of your leg, so breathability is not such an issue.

4. Gloves And A Hat

Admittedly, this may not apply when hiking in warm conditions, but gloves and a hat can certainly be beneficial when hiking in wet, cold conditions. Allowing rain to hit your hands or head can bring your body temperature down considerably, and you want to avoid that.

By wearing gloves and a hat, you will keep your core temperature up. Gloves are beneficial as they provide warmth and still allow your hands to function normally. Consider avoiding wool as the material only absorbs the water, the clothing items then become heavy, cold, and uncomfortable. Instead, look for gloves and hats that are waterproof.

5. A Good Base Layer

A good base layer is important when it comes to hiking in wet weather. Something breathable that keeps you warm and dry is the best approach. You do not always require something bulky as a base layer. In fact, bulkiness can work against you with layering.

Remember, you will wear outer layers designed to keep the elements out. While having breathable outer layers is possible, they may not be as beneficial on top. If you do not wear breathable base layers, you can very quickly get too warm.

How To Keep Your Gear Dry When Hiking In The Rain

Your waterproofs are designed to keep your body warm and dry while hiking, however you should also consider the rest of your camping gear and belongings. There are measures you can take to ensure all your gear remains dry.

Pack Covers

You have your pack, but unfortunately it often comes with several seams that are not always as waterproof as you want. So, if the rain looks as if it will be continual, then a pack cover could prove useful.

Pack covers are fully waterproof, and generally made without seams. You pull them over your pack, and they will keep both the pack itself and everything inside completely dry. Of course, it makes it tougher to get into your pack, but keeps everything protected.

Pack covers are designed to completely cover your pack, and then fit to the pack to ensure they do not simply blow off. They are absolutely waterproof and offer a vast amount of protection to your pack. If you are planning a hike in heavy rain, then a pack cover is one item you do not want to be without.

Pack Liners

If you don’t like the idea of pack covers, due to your pack becoming more inaccessible, then pack liners could work for you. Pack liners ensure everything in the pack is covered by bags, stopping any moisture from getting to the contents. Some people may wrap extra clothing in garbage bags, or place cell phones inside another bag to provide additional protection.

Keep Important Elements In The Middle Of Your Pack

The most fragile items should always be kept more to the middle of your pack, and certainly away from the outer material. It would be extremely difficult for the rain to work its way to the middle of your pack, so anything placed in the heart and then wrapped up, should be completely safe.

This is where organizing your pack is useful. Avoid carrying items that are not always necessary to ensure you can protect whatever you are carrying from the elements. You can also offer some extra protection by surrounding fragile belongings with other items that may absorb some moisture. This will further reduce the chances of anything being damaged.


The final thing you need to do is consider re-waterproofing your outer garments regularly. This involves a special spray that covers the surface, allowing your jacket and other clothing to remain resistant to the rain. Many overlook this action, but your jacket cannot continue to withstand strong weather without damage.

Cleaning your jacket can break down the waterproof layer, as can UV rays and the passage of time. If you do not re-waterproof your gear, then the quality of the jacket will degrade over time, and rain will start to get into the fabric.

Re-waterproofing spray is easy to purchase, easy to use, and is surprisingly effective. Check what the manufacturer of your gear recommends about this process and how often it should be done. You should not ignore this crucial step. This can be the difference between your gear lasting for years or having to be replaced regularly.

Final Thoughts

When hiking in the rain you should wear waterproof gear designed for the activity. Quality waterproofs make a huge difference in keeping you warm and dry. You should be wearing protective waterproof gear on your lower-half, hands, and head, not only your torso.