How to Dress for Rainy Autumn Hikes

rain Hike

Just because the sum­mer is behind us does­n’t mean that hik­ing should be post­poned until next year ― but if you plan to set foot in the wilder­ness this fall, it’s wise to pre­pare for precipitation.

First things first: update your wardrobe. Your tor­so and legs should be cov­ered with a mate­r­i­al that will keep you dry and warm, as well as stave off hypother­mia if the tem­per­a­ture real­ly drops. In oth­er words, forego shirts, pants, and oth­er gar­ments made from cot­ton, wool, silk, or syneth­ic fab­rics like fleece. Instead, try this three-lay­er cloth­ing formula:

Your first (or base) lay­er should con­sist of a thin, long-sleeved shirt, long leg cov­er­ings, and socks. For the first two, many pre­fer polypropy­lene because it removes (or ‘wicks’) mois­ture from per­spi­ra­tion and leaves your body dry; poly­ester has also been known to work. For socks, poly­ester or nylon effec­tive­ly wick the mois­ture away ― but for added pro­tec­tion against blis­ters, a sec­ondary lay­er of wool socks is also recommended.

Your mid­dle lay­er should, in the­o­ry, keep your body warm regard­less of how low the tem­per­a­ture is out­side. Whether you are inclined to wear a vest or full jack­et, micro-fleece effec­tive­ly traps body heat and helps you remain toasty with­out feel­ing over­cooked. If it’s espe­cial­ly nip­py, a pair of fleece mit­tens or gloves will keep your dig­its warm. A stur­dy, depend­able hat is also essen­tial ― but if it’s rain­ing, you may want to forego the cot­ton base­ball cap and wear a beanie instead.


Your out­er­most lay­er should con­sist of two items: nylon pants (tear-away tend to be the most con­ve­nient) and a shell for your jack­et. Both of these gar­ments should be made from a water­proof mate­r­i­al. If you have a bulky pack, it might be wise to wear a larg­er upper-body gar­ment, such as a pon­cho, to keep your stuff from get­ting wet.

As far as footwear goes, Appalachi­an Moun­tain Club sug­gests pur­chas­ing a pair of stur­dy, water­proof boots with fab­ric uppers. For added mois­ture pro­tec­tion, you can fill the seams with shoe grease; sprays are also avail­able. And it might be wise to wear gaiters, as well. They’re fair­ly effec­tive at keep­ing rain, mud, and dirt from enter­ing your boots.

Final­ly, Seat­tle Back­pack­ers Club (a most rep­utable source of infor­ma­tion for this top­ic) notes that it’s impor­tant to hike at a steady, slow­er-than-usu­al pace when the rain starts to fall on warm days. The mois­ture will actu­al­ly make your body cold­er if you’re mov­ing too quickly.

Do you have any tips for hik­ing in the rain?