If you love overflowing waterfalls and landscapes bursting with lush mosses and earthy scents, then nothing beats hiking in the rain. Often, heading out in wet weather will be one of the few times you’ll have the trail to yourself, excluding those furry creatures foraging for insects in the wet soil. In reality, rain is just an inevitable part of many trips. Having the right gear for these conditions means a rainy forecast is no longer a disappointment, but an opportunity to appreciate the landscape in a completely new way. So that you can enjoy rather than endure the wet weather when out on the trail, we’ve put together some tips to help you stay dry and comfortable for a full day of adventure. 

Photograph: Lachlan Gardiner

Waterproof garments are a must

As the name suggests, the most important function of a waterproof garment is to keep the rain off. However, perhaps a less obvious but an equally important feature is the ability of the rain jacket, pants and shoes to breathe. Technical rain gear is designed to breathe during high-output activities to prevent overheating. Overheating is not only unpleasant, as you can’t unzip to cool yourself down and risk water leaking in, it can also cause the jacket to become soaked from the inside due to condensation. If you want to learn more about waterproof materials check out this blog all about waterproof fabrics

Arc’teryx Beta and Marmot PreCip

Depending on how you intend to use your waterproof garments, additional features that continue to bolster its waterproof ability and overall performance are worth considering. Having a reinforced visor on the hood of your jacket will help to keep water off your face and improve your visibility in a downpour. High-end jackets, like the Patagonia Triolet Jacket, even feature watertight zips for extra water protection. Additionally, if you’re using your jacket with safety gear or ropes you want to be sure that your jacket is helmet and harness compatible. 

Once you have chosen the right jacket for your needs it is important to take care of it so it continues to perform for many seasons. Check out this Waterproof garment care guide to see how.   

Layering will keep you comfortable  

The layers of clothes you have underneath your waterproof jacket can affect the garment’s performance. As waterproof jackets restrict breathability it is important to use multiple layers of clothing, instead of a single warm layer, so you can adjust to fluctuations in body temperature. If you’re unable to regulate your temperature, overheating can create a humid climate within the waterproof jacket which means you will become wet from the inside as condensation gathers.

The first layer against your skin, the base layer, will determine the overall comfort of your wet-weather outfit. The primary function of the base layer is to wick sweat away, breath effectively and dry quickly. Merino wool and polyester are the best performers in this category. Merino wool base layers have the added benefit of resisting odours, making them a more comfortable option to pull on for consecutive days. Avoid materials such as cotton and bamboo which retain moisture and resist drying. Your mid-layer will serve as the insulation layer when the weather requires it. Again, choose breathable materials that continue to regulate the temperature beneath the waterproof garment. The Icebreaker Helix and the Arc’teryx Atom Vest are ideal mid-layering pieces for cold weather adventures. 

Icebreaker Helix Vest and Arc’teryx Atom Vest


Pack covers keep your gear dry 

Pack covers are a great way to keep your bag dry during a heavy downpour. Pack covers are a loose covering of waterproof material with an elasticated drawcord to pull tightly around your bag. They are great for keeping the bulk of the rain off your bag, making them essential for walks where you expect a steady flow of rain. The one limitation of a pack cover is that they do not protect the back of the bag. The back-panel that is against your back when you have the bag strapped on remains unprotected. For this reason, items that need extra protection should be kept in dry bags.  

Photograph: Lachlan Gardiner

Dry bags for waterproofing and organising 

Exposing particular items to the rain on your trip can be devastating for your warm gear and expensive accessories. Walking in the rain often means you will be cold and wet when you stop. It is essential to have dry clothes to change into at the end of the day. For multi-day hikes a dry bag is your best chance of keeping your clothes dry. If you’re out for the day, make sure you have a spare set of dry clothes to change into in the car. This same caution should be applied to how you treat your sleeping bag. If down sleeping bags are exposed to water, the down insulation will clump and be unable to provide adequate warmth. If you’re expecting heavy rain on the trail, a waterproof compression bag or dry bag can add extra water protection when used in conjunction with a pack cover

Dry bags come in all shapes and colours. This means you can choose to individually bag important items, like electronics, in smaller bags or choose a bag with a larger litreage and throw all your items in one. Having a few different sized dry-bags in different colours can be more convenient so that your gear is more organised in their colour coded bags. However, for the more ultralight-minded, a single dry bag saves a few of those all-important grams. 

Sea to Summit dry bags

Look after your feet  

Keeping your feet dry for as long as possible on the trail is the best way to keep them in a good condition and to keep you happy. If your feet become saturated, the moisture in your shoe can soften the skin and promote blistering. Choosing a waterproof shoe can help to keep your feet dry in inclement weather. When paired with a gaiter, you have more of a chance of keeping your shoes dry in more persistent rain. However, if you’re out in heavy rain for hours on end, it’s very likely your feet will inevitably become wet. It is important to have a well-fitted shoe at these times. Ensure your boots are firmly laced so they grip your foot and ankle to minimise slipping and movement within the shoe. Shoes that are too big or too small can cause friction and irritate the skin on your feet. It is also important to have the right socks; wool or synthetic socks will remain more comfortable when wet as opposed to cotton or bamboo socks which hold onto water and are more likely to chafe. For more info on choosing the right socks for your adventure check out our sock guide.  

When you get to camp try to get out of your boots as quickly as possible to allow them as much time as possible to air-dry before you hit the trail again the next day. A pro tip is to have a warm pair of socks and a lightweight pair of sandals to put on at camp. Removing the insoles of your boots can help to speed up the drying process. Always be cautious when drying your boots near a campfire, the heat from the fire can cause the glue attaching the sole of the shoe to melt. If you choose to dry with a campfire, have the shoes at a distance from the fire and face the bottom of the shoe away from the heat. Regularly check to make sure the shoe is only warm and not hot. Alternatively, you can use a microfibre towel to draw the moisture out of your shoes and speed up the drying process. 

Sea to Summit microfibre towels and Teva Original Universal Sandals

Keep your body happy

Hiking is already hard work and our bodies are likely to expend extra energy when you add on the extra cold and softened terrain that comes with the rain. Further, a downpour at the end of the day can make some of us simply focus on getting to camp instead of listening to a grumbling stomach. It is important to stay hydrated and full of energy in the rain so we don’t exhaust our bodies and make them vulnerable to the cold. If pulling out your stove in the rain doesn’t sound appealing, it’s important to stay stocked up with easily accessible snacks that provide plenty of energy. High-energy snacks like Cliff Bars, jerky or Gu energy gels can provide the much-needed energy you need to power through the day. 

Check for river crossings

While hiking in the rain means overflowing waterfalls and plentiful creeks it can also introduce the risk of rising water levels at river crossings. With half of Australia lying in the tropics, heavy downpours are even more likely during the wet season. That being said, heavy rain and flash flooding is possible anywhere and can dramatically impact the conditions of the track. This is one of the many important reasons to read-up on your walk before heading out on the trail. A walk with many river-crossings may not be suitable when the forecast reads 20mm of rain. It is always best to turn back rather than risk entering dangerous and rising waterways. If the water is safe to cross then it can be best to bring a pair of lightweight sandals for the traverse. This way you can keep your boots dry and protect your feet from sharp rocks along the river bed. 

Photograph: Lachlan Gardiner

A familiar landscape under a cloud of rain can take on new colours and characteristics that can make hiking in the rain feel incredibly calm and unique. However, hiking in the wet comes with its own difficulties and requires some additional equipment and preparation. If you follow these tips and tricks for hiking in the rain hopefully you will be able to feel more of the serenity and less of the “are we there yet?”


We hope these tips help you enjoy the outdoors in wet weather! Share your rainy, summer adventures with us on Instagram! 

#ExperienceIsEverything | #PaddyPallin

About The Author


Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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