How to Stay Dry on the Trail (OK, Dryish)

June 2, 2015


If you’re hiking in a steady downpour, you will eventually get soaked, no matter what you’re wearing. But you can stay drier longer with these simple tips:

  • Push up your sleeves. If you’re wearing long sleeves under your rain jacket, push them up your forearms or above the elbow to prevent cuff-leaking water from wicking up the fabric and into your layers.
  • Your wrists are a common leak point. Tightly seal the cuffs on your rain jacket, or water will slowly find its way in.
  • Ventilate to the max. Forget about your jacket being “breathable” once incessant rain saturates the outer layer of fabric. To compensate, fully open pit zips if you’ve got them, loosen the jacket around your waist so air can flow freely upward, and open the top zipper as much as conditions allow.
  • Accept wet feet. Even fully waterproof boots will fill with moisture as water wicks down your socks. Long rain pants and/or waterproof gaiters help stave off the inevitable, but even they will eventually be breached.
  • Consider an umbrella. In a sustained deluge, an ultralight hiking umbrella may actually be your best protection.

This column originally appeared in the print edition of AMC Outdoors along with the column “Choosing the Right Rain Gear.”

Equipped is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.