Before you head out with the possibility of rain in the forecast, take a closer look at your clothing, including outerwear and footwear, and assess how rain-ready they are. Some things to keep in mind.
1. Absolutely No Cotton.
This is key for next-to-skin layers because cotton holds water, including your sweat, and chills you. Go with wicking materials like wool, nylon or polyester clothing instead. Don’t think that cotton in briefs or a bra is OK either, because those are the first things search-and-rescue workers will cut off if there’s a possibility that you’re starting to get hypothermia.
2. Use Synthetic Insulation In Your Jacket.
Standard down loses much of its insulating ability if you get it wet. Water-resistant down and hybrids that combine synthetic insulation and water-resistant down are your next best bet. If you’re hiking in milder weather, you can pack a lightweight fleece or soft-shell jacket instead.
3. Evaluate Your Rain Wear.
If you’re considering an upgrade, read Rain wear: How to Choose. Going with bright colors can help brighten your mood on a relentlessly gray day. In an emergency, bright colors also help search teams locate you.
4. Renew Your Rain Wear’s Durable Water Repellent (DWR).
If you love your current rain gear, see if drops bead up and roll off. If not, renew its DWR coating to restore performance. It’s a good idea to renew your DWR coating at the beginning of every hiking season.
5. Pack A Rain Cap.
Even if your rain jacket has a brimmed hood, it does a poor job of keeping rain off your face or glasses. A rain hat should have a nice, broad brim. If you choose a ball cap-style hat, then you can wear it under the hood of your rain jacket.
6. Evaluate Your Footwear.
Waterproof boots and shoes keep feet drier initially, making them a good option for colder conditions. Renew the waterproofing at the beginning of each season, or if you notice large dark spots forming when you splosh across wet terrain. Mesh footwear works well in milder conditions, as mesh drains and dries more quickly if you land in a puddle or creek. With either option you need deep lug soles to deal with mud and superior traction to deal with slippery rocks and logs.
7. Pack Gaiters And Dry Clothes.
They’ll shield your socks and the tops of your footwear. Extra clothing is already one of the Ten Essentials. Be sure dry socks are one of the extras you bring.