Snowmelt, storms, unpredictable trails: Springtime is one of the best times to go hiking. Be prepared for whatever Mother Nature can muster by consulting our gear guide with top picks from Moosejaw.
Rainy days are not an excuse to stay indoors. With the proper kit, impending storm clouds offer a welcome reprieve of solitude, all accompanied by the soft patter of rainfall.
The list below is a head-to-toe assembly of gear for spring day hikes, rain or shine. From staples like waterproof-breathable rain jackets to lesser-used waterproof socks, these picks will help round out your build. Plus, we dispersed expert tips from the GJ staff throughout the selections.
12 Essentials: Rainy-Day Hiking Gear
Brave the downpour in the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket. With WaterTight zippers and Gore-Tex PacLite waterproof fabric, this jacket is sure to inspire confidence when the conditions turn nasty. Plus, thanks to its 11.1 ounces, the jacket won’t weigh down your pack when not in use and can pack down nicely to be stuffed into a backpack.
Pro tip: The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric used in this jacket is designed with weight and packability in mind. Consider Paclite if space and weight are of utmost importance.
Dawn treks and blustery mountaintop gales are reason enough to pack a quality insulating layer like The North Face Mountain 1/4 Zip. But this midlayer is also water resistant and flexible and will keep you warm without much added weight. On top of everything (literally), a durable water-repellent coating will help keep you dry.
Hike up wet trails with confidence in a shoe that has a grippy sole and a waterproof membrane. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is a waterproof hiking shoe outfitted with waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex to keep your feet dry when the rain starts. Quick-to-tighten cable laces make hitting the trails a breeze, and the outsole is non-marking. Want to save a $40? Check to see if they have last year’s model in your size.
Made from fabric that resists water and stains as well as provides UPF 50 sun protection, the Global Adventure shirt prepares you for spring showers and sunny days. Columbia makes it with some elastane for stretch, a zip-closed pocket, and tab holders on the sleeves.
Did you know? Traditional cotton t-shirts still allow UV rays to pass through. Cotton blocks only about 80 percent of UV rays while this Columbia long-sleeved shirt blocks 98 percent.
Windy days, light rain, and miles of hiking: Outdoor Research designed the Ferrosi Convertible Pant with versatility in mind. The zip-offs resist wind and water, breathe well, and dry quickly, making them suitable for many uses.
Zip-offs are still in style, as seen in the Marmot Women’s Lobo’s Convertible Pant. Plus, it’s hard to get more breathable than a pair of pants that converts to shorts. The Lobo’s Convertible pants offer UPF 50 protection, have a DWR finish to repel water, and are constructed with durable nylon.
Osprey Kestrel 32: $150
You don’t need a ton of gear on a day hike, but you do want some extra layers, snacks, and other essentials. The Kestrel 32 is a perfect choice for short excursions, from a 14er in a day to a 5-mile loop at a national park. And for spring showers, it has a built-in rain cover to keep your gear dry.
Pro tip: Even with a rain fly, backpacks often get wet during downpours. We frequently pair daypacks and hiking packs with waterproof stuff sacks that fit inside.
There are options from Exped that are big enough to line your main pack – so your sleeping bag and food don’t get wet – and others sized for essentials like cameras, phones, and wallets. Don’t want to buy one? Try a trash compactor bag or heavy garbage bag.
Water won’t get past the Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow Jacket. Waterproof shell, watertight zippers, and a dual-adjust drawcord hem seal out the elements but also vent heat when you start to go uphill. And the waterproof Rainshadow’s underarm zips and adjustable hood provide added temperature control and comfort.
Want to know how waterproof ratings and breathability are measured? We explain them in detail in the related article below.
Extend the lifetime of your raincoat by washing it responsibly with Nikwax. Excessive washing of raincoats or water-resistant clothing can weaken the water repellency if the garment is treated with DWR. The Nikwax Hardshell Care Kit can eliminate dirt and odors while preserving the water-repellent finish on the outside of coats.
A sturdy leather boot with a waterproof membrane will be able to get up most trails in most conditions. The KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Shoe comes with 4-mm multidirectional lugs on the bottom for grip and KEEN’s proprietary KEEN.DRY waterproofing. Get a solid hiking boot from a reputable brand in the Targhee III. Check out the Targhee II for different color option and $10 savings.
Pro tip: Hiking boots have a shelf life, and once you rack up the mileage past 600, it’s time to start looking for a new pair.
Waterproof shoes are only suited for water that splashes on top of the shoe. When crossing streams, or encountering a serious downpour, you may need to double down with waterproof socks.
The Showers Pass Crosspoint Sock is calf-high and blocks water while staying breathable, so your feet don’t feel clammy. Showers Pass designed the socks to wick moisture, so your feet stay dry when heating up.
Do waterproof socks work? This video proves they do:
The Ruffwear Aira Rain Jacket won’t totally eliminate the cause of wet dog, but it will work to keep your pet mostly dry. This rain jacket allows full range of motion and is easily spotted at night thanks to reflective accents.
Pro tip: When layering clothes onto your pooch, consider how well it can cool down. Some breeds cool themselves off more efficiently than others. For example, short-snouted dogs like pugs and bulldogs are not as efficient as most breeds at breathing and thus can’t cool down as well.