WATERPROOFING MYSELF FOR HIKING

posted in: Outdoors, Review | 8

Recently I seem to be in the habit of choosing the wettest of wet days to go hiking. And camping. I mean, this year alone I’ve done Kinder, Lancashire, and the Yorkshire Three Peaks in absolutely terrible rain. A lot of people say “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad kit” or something like that, and while I don’t agree with that statement whole heartedly (sometimes you’re best option is to not go!), there are some important items of kit that help me enjoy the outdoors even when the weather is a bit meh.

Kinder Walk from Edale, Splodz Blogz

Hiking in the rain from Edale.

The Obvious Gear – Jacket, Boots and Over Trousers

Let’s start with the obvious. A decent waterproof coat and a pair of waterproof boots (or shoes) is the combined number one priority for sure, as without either of those two you are going to be miserable very quickly if the weather is wet.

Zoe Homes - GetOutside Champion 2017

My official GetOutside photo, I quite like it 🙂

My current favourite waterproof coat is the bright blue Craghoppers Sienna* that Ordnance Survey gave me as a thank you for being one of their GetOutside Champions this year. The colour, fit and performance is just perfect for me. Perhaps a teeny bit thick for warmer days, it really has done the job well in very (very very) wet conditions, has washed well (I use the Storm Wash and Proof), and I can bundle it into the mesh pocket on the front of my day pack when I don’t need to wear it. Choose Gore-Tex or similar if you can afford it, or look for the most breathable waterproof material you can within your budget. I recommend a shell style jacket for hiking that you can layer up with a fleece underneath if needed – rather than a padded jacket that you’ll struggle to regulate your heat in when exercising. And choose one with a hood that stays put, no-one wants to hike along with their hand in the air holding their hood up all day!

Kinder Walk from Edale, Splodz Blogz - Photo Andy Browning

On Kinder. Thanks Andy for the photo!

Boots wise, my KEEN Aphlex* and my Merrell Chameleon Shift* have both proved to be waterproof to the extreme – I can choose either pair and be completely confident that the outside won’t get in (well, unless I wade too deep and things go in the top…). Some people tell me that waterproof hiking boots aren’t as comfortable as non-waterproof as they don’t breathe as well, which is a problem I have never considered; choosing the right moisture wicking socks for the occasion can help overcome problems of dampness from the inside.

Splodz Blogz | Yorkshire Three Peaks with Outdoor Bloggers

Walking off Pen y Ghent in the rain. All waterproofing gear required!

I recently replaced my old and worn out Peter Storm waterproof trousers; and I mean old, maybe 20 years, costing a tenner at the time from the local Millets in town. These are the sort of thing you buy once and use for all kinds of things; mine have kept me dry hiking, cycling, motorcycling, kayaking, and on plenty of other random occasions. After asking twitter for advice, I was inundated with recommendations for the Berghaus Deluge waterproof trousers, and I’m very happy to pass on that recommendation here. I purchased mine from Go Outdoors (the best price I could find at the time) ready for the Yorkshire Three Peaks hike. I’m very glad I did, the weather was atrocious and they were very much needed – they did the job superbly and, thanks to the fact that they come in a short length, fit me really well.

Gaiters

Sometimes the obvious is not enough and you need to add extra gear into your waterproofing arsenal. And after that hike from Edale earlier in the year , I knew it was time to get serious with my kit.

So, I got myself some gaiters. Actually, Simply Hike sent me some – they saw my post about Kinder and thought they had just the thing to help me out. They sent me the Berghaus Glacier* gaiters, one of a couple of styles they have available on their website.

Berghaus Glacier Gaiters from Simply Hike

Berghaus Glacier Gaiters from Simply Hike.

Gaiters are kind of over-socks, worn over the shoe and bottom of the trouser leg as protection from the elements. When used for hiking and similar outdoor activities, they are made from waterproof material and their job is to keep water and mud out of the boots and stop it creeping up your trouser leg.

And what a great invention they are! Not only do I look like a serious hiker now (!), but I will never get water (or peat bog) down inside my boots again. The main benefit I can see is I now walk through puddles and along muddy paths without worrying about getting wet or dirty; not that I cared too much to start with. Hiking in the rain is much more pleasant!

Kinder Walk from Edale, Splodz Blogz

Bridge versus river… I think I’d still take the bridge!

These particular ones from Berghaus are made from 300D polyester and weigh 70.5g each, slipping on easily over my walking boots. They are low cut, just slightly taller than my ankle, providing resistance against water as well as dirt and debris without going all the way up to my knee. They are ideal for general day-wear when there is a good chance of rain and mud, but no need for a full gaiter – so most lowland hiking and trail walks here in the UK, which is where I tend to be. I would happily walk through puddles and streams in these, and they will be very useful the next time I head into Kinder Low, but I wouldn’t wade through a river or trek through deep mud as they would be too short.

Berghaus Glacier Gaiters from Simply Hike

Berghaus Glacier Gaiters from Simply Hike.

I was worried putting them on would be a bit of a faff, but now I’ve done it a couple of times I’m a dab hand! They have a front zip for easy donning and doffing on the move, and this is protected by a velcro baffle over the top to aid waterproofing and protection. The strap that goes under the boot is made of rubber and can be adjusted to create a good fit. And at only £25 they are great value, too.

And the Rest

There are a few other bits and bobs that help getting outside in the rain be a much more pleasurable experience. I always wear a hat when it’s wet to keep my head warm and dry as much as possible. Actually, I generally wear a hat whenever I’m hiking, but especially when it’s wet. None of mine are waterproof themselves, although they are available, but any kind of head covering will help. If it has a peak it’ll also help keep your jacket hood in place, which is an important bonus.

I carry a waterproof case for my phone and use carrier bags or dry bags inside my day pack to prevent my bits and bobs from becoming soggy (no-one wants soggy sandwiches). For mapping, OS do some cool waterproof maps now that won’t tear or disintegrate in the rain, or you can print out your route from OS online onto waterproof paper (a great tip from fellow GetOutside Champion Jason).

Next on my list of things to buy to keep me outdoors when it’s wet are a pair of waterproof gloves – maybe the Sealskinz Dragon Eye Gloves, but I’m open to suggestions so please send me your recommendations.

Splodz Blogz | Camping Weekend with VARTA - Muddy Puddle

My KEEN Aphlex boots doing their job.

How do you waterproof yourself for hiking? What are your top gear/equipment tips? And how do you keep motivated to go out even when the weather is poor? Share your advice in the comments below.

 

*I was sent some of the products mentions in this post for free, but as always I write with honest words based on my experience.

8 Responses

  1. Make sure your gaiters are breathable too! I have bad memories of sweaty lower legs from a horrendous pair I had as a teenager

  2. I have to admit my approach to waterproofing myself is very different. I tend to chose quick drying clothes as I haven’t encountered true waterproof clothes. I know they exist, but I find the price a bit of a barrier.

    I do have an okay waterproof jacket and waterproof hiking shoes. For me it’s the most important. As long as my legs keep moving, I’m fine with them being wet. As someone said to me once, we’re not made of sugar so I’m not going to melt. Having a change of clothes at the end of the day has always proved more important than staying dry.

    That being said there are different kind of rain. When it’s wet and warm, I’m really not bothered by being soaked to the bone. But when it’s wet and cold, it’s definitely not enjoyable to get wet.

    All that being said, if I had proper waterproof gear, I may have another opinion on the matter. I can’t miss what I haven’t fully experience yet.

    • I’m totally with you on this Allysse. I’m loads easier to dry and clean than any clothing (especially my feet…), but having the right gear when it’s cold is so important, especially if you’re doing long distance.

  3. I agree with Allysse on the quick drying kit – not only for when you’re wearing them but over night too. I do, of course, have my waterproof trousers, jacket, gaiters etc as I tend to choose rainy days too. I’m currently looking for a new waterproof jacket as the seams have leaked and come apart on my current coat. Considering the Rab Firewall so far, but we’ll have to see. I like it because it has room for layering underneath and can be used all year round – with a big hood for keeping my glasses dryer!

    • Yup quick drying is good in the rain and when it’s so hot you’re sweaty! A thin waterproof jacket with room for layers and a big hood is perfect – good luck on your quest to find the perfect one! I have the Haglofs LIM Proof Q Women’s Running Jacket, which has done the job in reasonable rain but I’ve never taken it out in the super heavy stuff.

  4. I much prefer hiking in Autumn and Winter so often head out when it’s chilly and wet. I’ve got some pretty decent gear, but I find unless it’s really cold, if I’m wearing waterproof over trousers I get hot really quick. And a hot Shell is a grumpy petulant Shell with no motivation to take another step. I’ve found my Kiwi stretch pro trousers to me amazing in terms of how fast they dry, so as long as my feet and torso are I’m fairly happy. That said, I could have done with some decent gaiters last time we walked a Dovedale and ended up at Bunster Hil… I’ve never encountered mud like it going through the final farmers field near the carpak! I normally skirt around mud and puddles though….I think its because I keep forgetting that I’ve got some great walking gear and actually mud and puddles are totally fine lol

    My best kit hands down is all my snowboarding gear…it’s just a bit too highly padded for our relatively mild climate, but i’d wear it all the time if I could – it makes me totally impervious to cold and wet 🙂

    • Ah yes, Bunster Hill, I hear you! I’ve just purchased some Craghoppers Kiwi Stretch Pro trousers and they are great. I hate waterproof trousers and only wear them if absolutely necessary – if it’s going to be horrendous or last all day. Feet and torso are definitely way more important.

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