Washington's weather can be unpredictable, and rain is a common occurrence, making it essential for hikers to know how to stay dry and comfortable on the trail. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your hike even in wet conditions.
Invest in a high-quality rain jacket. Look for one that's waterproof and breathable. GORE-TEX is a popular choice because it keeps rain out while allowing moisture from sweat to escape, keeping you dry from both external and internal sources.
Waterproof boots are another must-have for hiking in the rain. Wet feet can lead to discomfort and even blisters, so make sure your boots are well-suited to the wet conditions. It's also a good idea to wear gaiters to keep rain, mud, and debris out of your boots.
Dress in moisture-wicking layers. Even in the rain, your body can generate sweat, and it's important to stay dry to stay warm. A moisture-wicking base layer, such as one made from merino wool, will help keep sweat off your skin. Over this, add an insulating layer to trap warmth and finish with your waterproof and windproof rain jacket.
Carry a rain cover for your backpack. It's not just you who needs to stay dry—your gear does too. A rain cover will help protect your equipment, spare clothing, and food from getting soaked.
Waterproof pants can be a valuable addition to your gear, especially if you expect heavy rain. These will keep your legs dry, and some even have side zippers that make them easy to put on and take off without removing your boots.
Use trekking poles for added stability. In slippery conditions, trekking poles can help you maintain balance and reduce the risk of slipping.
Choose rain-friendly trails. Some trails are better suited for wet conditions than others. Gravel or rock trails tend to be less muddy and slippery than dirt trails. Research your chosen trail to see if it's a good option for a rainy day.
In your backpack, pack extra clothing. In Washington, weather can change quickly, so having a spare set of clothing in a waterproof bag can be a lifesaver. Dry clothing will make you more comfortable during breaks and at the end of your hike.
Stay alert to weather changes. Keep an eye on the sky and listen to any reports of changing conditions. If you notice a significant weather shift, consider turning back to ensure your safety.
Despite the challenges of hiking in the rain, Washington's landscapes are incredibly beautiful, with lush forests, waterfalls, and serene lakes. With the right gear and preparation, you can experience the magic of the Pacific Northwest even in wet conditions.