How to weatherproof your hiking attire
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Great Inclinations is your go-to source for diving into the world of casual hiking in and around the Lower Mainland. Because hiking’s not just for assholes anymore.
Most hikers would agree that summer is the best season for hitting up trails. However, don’t leave autumn out altogether; there are some sunny days left before the shroud of winter takes over, so get out and enjoy those last fragments of frost-free weather!
On those days when it does rain on the trail, don’t get caught unprepared. Slight alterations to your hiking gear can help keep you snug—and more importantly, dry—during the wet months ahead.
Before diving in, I want to familiarize you all with your new, hyphenated best friend: Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is the go-to material for anything waterproof. A patented material, Gore-Tex has a semipermeable exterior, allowing heat to escape from the interior. This keeps the wearer dry without causing them to overheat, which makes it the perfect material for active outerwear.
The most important thing to consider is what kind of hiking boots you’ll be using. There’s a big difference between boots that are water-resistant and those that are waterproof. Waterproof boots have an inner boot sewn inside to keep your feet totally dry. If something is water-resistant, it’s generally coated in silicone to prevent water from seeping into the boot. Water-resistant boots are more breathable and more flexible to wear, but they won’t keep you 100 percent dry, so it’s up to you which best suits your hiking style. Remember that the silicone layer can wear away over time, so you’ll have to regularly apply silicone sprays or waxes to keep it water-resistant. If your hiking boots are only water-resistant, you might want to splurge on some waterproof socks. Gore-Tex has several models which run between $40 and $60. They’re likely to be the most expensive pair of socks you’ll ever purchase, but they’ll also be the most useful.
In terms of keeping your body warm and dry, remember that the start of a hike is the coldest you’ll ever be. Oftentimes people will instinctively bundle up, but as soon as they’re hiking they overheat. Try to dress in layers for your hike: A T-shirt, followed by a fleece or sweater, and then a Gore-Tex rain shell overtop. I guarantee that partway through the hike you’ll shed the middle layer. With two other layers and your blood pumpin’, you should be comfortable.
Surprisingly, backpacks are the trickiest things to keep dry during a hike. Ordinary backpacks lack the waterproofing material that hiking brands boast, so they’re at a disadvantage here. Many hiking backpacks also come with built-in pack covers—like a small poncho, except specifically for your backpack—but these can be cumbersome, since you have to undo them anytime you want to access your backpack. Most outdoor equipment stores sell pack liners, which are waterproof bags that you slide into your backpack to keep the contents dry. Ultimately though, the amount of rain coming down is inconsequential for shorter hikes. My advice: Unless you’re embarking on a multi-day hike in a monsoon, just use your regular backpack and make sure your valuables are tucked away in the inside so they’ll stay dry.
Garbage weather outside is hardly an excuse to not hit the trails. With a few extra steps to waterproof your hiking getup, you can easily hike into late October and even early November.