Is It Safe To Go Hiking In The Rain?

There are times when hikes are planned and anticipated, only for the rain to pelt down when the day dawns. You may be reluctant to defer the hike, or perhaps you have even paid substantial amounts to book it. These reasons may make you tempted to hike in the rain. One issue that must be considered is the safety of hiking in the rain.

Hiking in the rain is safe if the rain is soft, you know the area very well, and the ground is mostly level. The risks increase when rain becomes heavy and is accompanied by mist, thunder, and lightning. Another factor that increases the danger is uneven or steep terrain and an unfamiliar region.

Your mother may have told you that you won’t melt in the rain if you get wet. While you may not melt if you hike in the rain, there are some essential aspects to consider.

When Is It Safe To Hike In The Rain?

Safety must always be considered when hiking, which is especially true when it is raining. There are some aspects that make it relatively safe to hike in the rain.

Soft rain or drizzle does not pose much of a hazard when hiking. It will be useful to have a waterproof jacket or raincoat to keep your clothes dry. Wet clothes are prone to chafing you, and the results are not clinically serious, but they are decidedly uncomfortable.

Light rain does not impede visibility much, and you can generally see where you are going. Visibility is critical if you are walking over uneven ground. If the surface is relatively level and there are not too many slopes, you should be safe to cover this area in the rain. 

It will be necessary to walk carefully as the muddy ground may make you prone to slipping. Spraining an ankle or wrist from a fall in slippery mud is probably the worst injury that could occur in light rain.

Knowing the area where you are hiking well will lessen the chance of problems while hiking in drizzly conditions. 

When Is It Unsafe To Hike In The Rain?

Rain can surprise us sometimes with the ferocity it pours down with. It is not good to hike in heavy downpours that obscure visibility and make the ground slick with running water. This scenario increases the risk of injury considerably.

Rain may be accompanied by mist or low clouds. These conditions would make it challenging to see, and if pouring rain is added, you will probably have limited visibility. Being unable to see clearly can result in you becoming lost, wandering off the trail, or falling down steep slopes or ravines.

Rain accompanied by thunder and lightning is not something to take lightly. You should avoid hiking in these conditions.

Forty-three people are killed by lightning each year. Lightning strikes cause cardiac arrest and irreversible brain damage. Approximately four hundred and thirty people are struck by lightning every year in the United States. Forty-three die, and three hundred and eighty-seven live but have permanent disabilities.

Hiking while there is lightning is not worth the risk. Lightning strikes are sometimes particularly severe in mountainous areas. You should seek shelter as soon as possible if you are caught in a storm while hiking.

Heavy rain or storms usually cause a drop in temperature, which is concerning. Being wet and warm is not a problem. Being damp and cold should be taken seriously, as hypothermia can set in. The water evaporates from the clothing, leaving the body even colder.

If you are hiking in a region you are unfamiliar with, you should not hike in the rain. Not only will you be unfamiliar with challenging areas of the trail, but you may also be unaware of any unusual climate conditions. In some regions, mists roll in rapidly, and this can leave you stranded, lost in the wilderness.

Dangerous Phenomena Encountered By Hiking In The Rain

Heavy downpours give rise to flash floods which are lethal. Flash floods occur when heavy rain and massive amounts of water run into the riverbeds and channels. The water builds up momentum and races down at frightening speeds.

The national average for the last thirty years is 88 deaths per year from flash floods. Hiking in heavy rain or when there has been heavy rain in the surrounding areas puts you at risk of encountering flash floods.

Uneven or steep terrain is twenty times more difficult to negotiate in the rain. It is best to avoid hiking this sort of ground as it will put you at risk of falling badly, breaking bones, and sustaining head injuries.

Steep slopes will be prone to landslides, mudslides, and avalanches during and after heavy rain. You should be aware of these potential dangers and avoid them by staying off the trails.

Safety Tips For Hiking In The Rain

  • Use layers of clothing with a waterproof layer on the outside. Ensure that you have enough warm clothes if the temperature suddenly drops. Hypothermia is one of the highest risks for hikers.
  • Do not start hikes in heavy rain or thunderstorms. If you get caught in torrential rain, or there is thunder and lightning, try to find shelter as soon as possible.
  • Always let a trusted friend or family member know where you are hiking and an expected time to finish the hike. Arrange to contact the person after the hike to confirm your safety.
  • It is better to hike with at least one other person.
  • Do not enter gulleys, slot canyons, or riverbeds, as flash floods may occur.
  • Keep your sleeping bag in a waterproof bag so that it will be dry when you need to use it.
  • Ensure you have snacks and food, even if you are not going to be hiking for longer than a few hours.  

Conclusion

Hiking in gentle rain in familiar level terrain has minimal danger. Hiking in heavy storms over steep, treacherous unknown terrain is dangerous and not advisable. There are many risks ranging from lightning to flash floods. Hypothermia is a deadly condition and one that commonly causes problems for hikers.