Living in the UK it is inevitable that, eventually, we will have to tackle walking in the rain. While it might seem simple, there are some considerations that you might need to take.
I know a lot of people avoid walking in the rain, so I took to Twitter to find out what stops you from getting out there when the heavens open. In this post, I’ll address the problems you shared and some solutions to hopefully make walking on the wetter days more enjoyable.
Wet Glasses & Rain in your Eyes
A repeat answer to my question was around the wet glasses/rain in your eyes and not being able to see. I know this one well as I am also a glasses wearer. The best advice I can give on this one is to wear a baseball cap. It might seem a bit counter-intuitive seeing as there is definitely no sunshine on a wet day, but the peak will keep the rain off your glasses and out of your eyes. I know that many coats do come with a peak, but they can be just too small for us spectacle-wearing folk. Or the flip side is that they are huge and flop over your eyes. The bonus with wearing a baseball cap is that it covers your specs and also keeps your hood out of your eyes as the peak keeps it up. I love to wear my Buff Pack Run cap.
I also carry a small microfibre cloth in my bag for a proper clean down of my lenses when I finish my walk or when I head inside and my eyes disappear behind lenses of mist!
Sitting Around in Wet Clothes
This is something that used to get me all the time. I’d get drenched on my reverse commute and end up sitting around for most of the day soaking up to my knees. Or in really wet weather, I’d have soggy knickers too. Jit, too, would have to sit in his wet gear at work too. So I agree that this one is not much fun.
The way I have found to tackle this is by choosing my clothes more wisely. Some fabrics hold water much better than others, which will obviously make you stay wetter for longer. Take jeans, for example, they will soak up all that water and keep you soggy for a very long time (see above picture!) I have completely given up on jeans for this very reason and now purchase synthetic fabric trousers with water resistance. Yes, they still get wet, but the plus side is that they don’t get heavy and dry fast, both indoors and when the rain stops.
I have also had some success with waterproofing my clothes. I use Nikwax Cotton Proof on some of my thinner trousers to give them a bit of repellency. While it doesn’t make them waterproof, it really does help them to keep some of the water out and to dry a bit quicker too.
While not an entirely practical idea for wet weather hiking, a trusty umbrella can work wonders for keeping your trousers a bit drier when walking in the rain. And they don’t need to be expensive or huge to make a difference. If the wind is blowing towards me, I will pop up my brolly to give my legs a bit of needed shelter.
Sweaty Inside & Wet on the Outside
The age-old problem of wearing waterproofs. I remember the days well when I would take off my basic plastic cagoule only for it to feel wetter on the inside than on the outside. And this is where the kinds of clothes you have come in handy.
While you will never quite be able to completely stop the sweaty inside and wet on the outside problem, you can tackle it a bit, which will help. Wicking and quick-dry fabrics for clothing are a lifesaver (see above for quick drying) as they will draw the sweat and moisture away from you which makes things feel more comfortable. Having some breathable areas in your jacket, either flaps with breathable mesh or “pit zips” (those zips under the sleeves reaching from the wrist to the armpit) can really help keep some airflow going inside the waterproofs.
The same with trousers, I opt for ones that have full side two-way zips so that I can let a bit of air in to keep a bit of a breeze flowing. Obviously, choose the timing wisely if it is absolutely lashing it though.
Running and other sports clothes often have wicking and quick-dry fabrics, so it is worth checking them out. Decathlon does some really reasonably priced (and pretty non-sporty looking) t-shirts that work well, like this Run Dry+ t-shirt (in men’s too)
Water Dripping from Coats
Linking nicely with our wet leg issue, it is often the case that our waterproof coats are so good that they encourage the water down onto our legs and bums. Again, this leading to the soggy bottom and leg issue. This can be resolved by choosing a longer length of coat or opting for a poncho that covers more of your legs. Yes, you will still get wet shins (unless you go for a full length waterproof) but you will be far drier and save the risk of wet undercrackers)
I have shared my opinion of The People’s Poncho in another post, but have found it to be a fantastic addition to my kit for extra wet and windy days.
Now that we have managed to keep our legs dry, it’s all about the feet. Wellies are definitely not the kind of high fashion you want to be walking around town in, and let’s face it, they are so cold!
Keeping your feet dry comes down to choosing the right footwear in the first place. Many shoes will state that they are showerproof, which does not guarantee your feet will stay dry. Choosing shoes/boots which are made with solid pieces of material (leather or otherwise) and fewer stitched joins will be more waterproof than other kinds. I also like to choose ones that I can maintain with wax or other aftercare products. And if in doubt, wear a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking boots. It might look a bit over the top for a trip to the shops, but the thicker soles will keep you out of deep puddles and they are more likely to be waterproof than many shoes on sale.
But what about those days when the rain comes out of the blue? I like to keep a pair of running shoe gaiters in my bag for times like these. They are small, shoe covers that will add an extra layer to your shoes to keep your feet dry. They’re not a replacement for properly waterproofed shoes, but they will do the trick in an emergency.
Choosing the right footwear to buy and then making sure you choose well on the day is key to keeping those tootsies comfortable.
And if you’re really not keen on any kind of dampness near your feet, Sealskinz makes some brilliant waterproof socks, which you can pop over your usual socks to give your shoes a real boost in water resistance.
Joint Pain in Colder Wet Weather
Many of you mentioned that in the colder, wetter weather, you find that your arthritis or joint pain seems to get worse. It has been quite a few years since I had terrible trouble with my long-term knee injury but there were a few things that I found helped when I wanted to get out in the rain.
Warming up before going, was a biggie for me. Getting my blood flowing by swinging my arms around and rolling my head (the kinds of things you do before a workout and is enough to help you feel warm). Layering up over the joints that feel discomfort, whether with layers of clothing or with a loosely fitting support bandage (I found Tubigrip was a real help for keeping my knee happy and still carry some with me now, just in case)
And finally, on this one is about finding the positive about rain and the colder months. Dr. Starz writing for the Arthritis Foundation says, “The mind-body connection is strong. If warm sunny weather makes you feel better psychologically, you’ll probably feel better physically as well.” So finding a way to enjoy the darker, cooler, wetter days can also help with the pain. Simple changes in language around things like rain can really alter our outlook and the feelings we experience. Don’t immediately call a rainy day “miserable” as it is sure to have more of an effect on you than the weather itself.
Finding the brighter side
The final tip for this post about walking in the rain is to ask you to hunt out the brighter side of walking in the rain. Whether it is seeing the colours of the plants popping against a grey sky. The fact that fewer people are about. Or simply a nice big pat on your own back for not letting the wet weather stop you from getting out there and moving your body and clearing your mind! However, you do it, finding the positive will really help you when you’re a little bit damp.
I hope that you found some ideas to help you get out this autumn, winter…erm, year! And you are able to stay a little bit drier and happier when walking in the rain.