Ah the Great British summer. Don’t you just love it?! Warm and sunny one minute, chucking it down with rain the next. Over the last few weeks we have been treated to some amazing sunny weather; warm, bright, ideal for spending time outside in the countryside. But we all know it; the rain is coming, and when it does it would be all too easy to forget any outdoors plans and stay inside in front of the tellybox.
I’ve been told hundreds of times that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. And while I don’t completely agree with that statement, because there is actually such a thing as bad weather, and we absolutely must make good choices when we are hiking, I am most definitely an advocate of the “let’s go hiking anyway” attitude. Providing things aren’t going to get dangerous, you are properly prepared and have a good idea of what you are doing, a hike, hill walk, or even a scramble, in the rain can be equally as rewarding as one in perfect weather.
But how? Preparation is the key, of course. Here are five tips from this wet-weather-loving hiker to keep you walking even when the weather looks dodgy.
Tip 1 > Take a waterproof coat
The benefits of a decent waterproof jacket are pretty obvious, I genuinely wouldn’t go hiking without one in my day pack. If you’re buying new this season, look for something thin and lightweight that you can use as a top layer over your normal hiking gear to make it the most versatile, and go for one that’s also breathable to try and avoid the boil in the bag problem.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get something with decent technical specification, but you do generally get what you pay for when it comes to outer layers, so do your research before you part with your money.
Tip 2 > Don’t forget your legs
I think it’s fair to say we probably all have some kind of waterproof coat knocking about, however old and heavy it might be. But what about the rest of your body? They might not look the most fashionable thing in the world, but a simple pair of waterproof overtrousers will revolutionise your enjoyment in the wet weather. Honestly, when your legs get wet, everything is so much harder; keep them dry and you will be marching through the rain like you own the footpath.
Not convinced? At least add a pair of gaiters to stop the water going in the top of your boots and making your feet wet. You could have the best hiking boots money can buy, but if the rain gets in the top you will suffer. There is nothing worse when you’re hiking than getting wet feet; believe me!
Tip 3 > Hats and hoods
One of the biggest struggles when hiking in the rain is the ever falling down hood… for some reason, even with all the fancy coats that have wire or peaks or whatever else, they still blow down in the slightest breeze meaning you end up having to use an arm to hold it up, or just not bother with it at all.
My advice? Wear a cap! A peaked cap will help keep the rain off your face and keep your hood in place so you can hike hands free.
Tip 4 > Eat
I know it sounds very simple, but please, make sure you eat. When I hike in the rain, the last thing I want to do is take a break and fuel up, especially if there is no shelter from the elements, I have a tendency to just keep plodding forward and end up without any energy and feeling pretty miserable.
You may not want to stop for a full-on picnic, so go prepared with snacks packed in easy to reach pockets that you can munch on as you go to keep your body and mind happy. Cereal bars, Kendal Mint Cake, dried fruits and nuts, Jelly Babies (of course). And if your route takes you passed a pub, there is absolutely nothing wrong with heading inside for a cuppa and whatever takes your fancy on the menu.
Tip 5 > Protect your kit
It’s all very well keeping yourself warm and dry underneath layers of waterproof membrane, but don’t forget about your kit. Keep everything you carry dry by choosing a day pack with a built-in waterproof cover, or buy one as an accessory to add over the top – I guarantee that any pack that says its waterproof will still need a helping hand in bad weather, the water just seems to seep in. A simple (and cheap) waterproof phone case means you can keep taking photos even when it’s super wet, and a small dry bag for your bits and bobs (mine is 3litres) will mean you’ll still have a working car key and dry money at the end of the day too.
Other things to also consider include wearing bright colours to make you more visible on the hill (and maybe even brighten your mood), singing songs to keep your spirits up (although I take no responsibility for the rest of your group hating you after twenty verses of your favourite Kylie number), hiking with great friends so you can spur each other on, and always have your favourite treat just in case you need a bit of a wet-weather boost.
And of course, don’t feel like a failure if you decide to cancel your plans based on the weather – sometimes not going really is the best choice, and the hills will always be there next time.
Here’s hoping the rest of the summer is as good as the last few weeks!
You can find more about Zoe over at Splodz Blogs where she writes about all things adventure and fitting it into a 'normal' everyday life.