Rainy Hiking Gear Solutions (Olympic Peninsula)

Hiking in the Olympic Mountains (Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest) when the weather is bad can be very rewarding. Chances are that popular destinations will not be as crowded in the rainy season. All the waterfalls, creeks and rivers come to true life. Your chances of wildlife viewing also dramatically increase in the off season months. If the hiker is prepared for stormy weather conditions, a walk in the rain forest is very enjoyable.

Hiking Gear for the Pouring Rain

The weather in the Olympic Mountains is very dynamic. You should always bring the right hiking gear. It can be sunny in the morning, rainbows in the afternoon and then snowing in the evening. A hiker should always be prepared for bad weather, no matter what the forecast predicts or season. Here are some tips that I learned from hundreds of overnight camping trips on the Olympic Peninsula.

Wear Wool and Fleece Layers

Outdoor gear made of synthetic materials handle heavy rain the best. I often bring two fleeces in bad weather, and wear them on top of two additional merino wool wicking layers. Then throw a lightweight rain jacket top of that. I always keep my gear in a dry sack, packed away safe inside my backpack. That way I can always count on them, if things get really bad.

rain hiking
Quinault Rain Forest Hike in Olympic National Park

Dry Roof Over Your Head

A hiking umbrella can be a real game changer when weather turns terrible. This is even more the case, when you are new to the outdoors. A rookie will be less reluctant to step outside, when they have additional rain protection. Additionally, an umbrella is a crucial piece of gear when it can rain several inches a day on the Peninsula. I personally pair it with a lightweight rain jacket, for bombproof protection. Hike in the summer? Don't forget, an umbrella provides shade in a heat wave.

Hardshell Rain Jacket for Insurance

A rain jacket is a crucial piece of gear in heavy rain. Not so much to keep the rain out, because all lightweight outdoor fabrics wet out. Jackets help keep your body heat in, and also provide wind protection. Keeping your body heat, will save you from hypothermia in the rain. Save yourself money from those fashion fancy jackets on the market, at your favorite outdoor store. I suggest hikers use ultralight Frogg Toggs for a simple fraction of the price point.

Waterproof Your Hiking Backpack

It is very important that water does not get on your dry layers. It may cause you to want to end your adventure, if all your clothes are soaking wet. I also protect my photography equipment in the same manner. You should also minimize how much you open the backpack, keeping snacks, maps and water in an outside pocket. Save yourself money! I suggest hikers using trash compactor bags {affiliate link} to keep gear dry. Simply put your dry gear inside the sack, then twist the open end several times, and then stuff the tail into the main compartment. This will keep your stuff 100% waterproof.

Additionally, put maps, phone and headlamp inside a large Ziploc. That way you can always count on it staying dry. A clear sack, also allows you to still be able to read information on the map.

Keep Your Feet Dry or Wet

There is no such thing as keeping your boots or shoes dry in the rain. Water will eventually find its way to your dry socks, no matter how fancy your the boots or what empty promises the manufacture gives you. I suggest wearing super breathable footwear in the pacific northwest backcountry. That way when your foot does get wet, the water can drain out off the shoe easily. A breathable upper, will also help the foot get the air it needs, before the skin can break down (blisters). Additionally, wearing a merino wool hiking sock will help keep the moisture off your skin.

Wet Outdoor Gear Stays Outside the Pack

I suggest all soaking wet gear stay outside your backpack. Wet rain jacket, tent fly and other possible items, should not go in the pack's main compartment. It is important that you chose a hiking pack, with a large outside pocket for this reason. This will also allow for gravity to semi-dry it as you walk. Need help packing your backpack? Learn how to efficiently pack your backpack for hiking!

Article by Barefoot Jake