Hello, intrepid walkers, the sun is dancing in and out of clouds, it’s the first day of Spring in Northern California (and some other parts of the world, weather or not!) and it’s another rainy morning. Have you been walking despite the rain, snow, fog and ice? If you’re addicted to walking like I am, walk for daily spiritual, mental and/or physical health or training for a coming long distance walk, like the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain, then you rarely let a little wet weather stop you from venturing out. I want to be dry and warm thanks to rainproof walking gear. Well, at least I try to wear rainproof clothes and shoes, and that is what I’m writing about today.
This morning wasn’t too cold at 6:30 a.m. While we have had snow, hail, ice and freezing temperatures, today I started out walking in a steady light rain, about 40 degrees. I decided to test my rain gear, while I still have the chance, just in case we begin to have lots of days of sunshine. I’m optimistic. I wore Marmot women’s PreCip waterproof pants, Marmot women’s Gore-Tex jacket similar to the Minimalist, Hoka One Tor Tech One Waterproof Boots, plus base layers for warmth, and Darn Tough Wool Socks.
Check below for experiences and recommendations for water-proof walking gear.
If you’re planning to walk a Camino or other trek, testing is critical unless you want to end up getting drenched or unprepared for wet weather. I’m an expert at learning through experience. On my first Camino in 2016, I spent months training, but also purchasing and trying out just the right clothes for my long distance walk. Although it would be summer and early autumn, I knew that I needed to prepare for rainy days. I also agonized (yes!) about the weight of my backpack and in the end, packed a light weight tried and true (six year old), Marmot Pre-Cip rain jacket that I tested in the shower, leaving behind my Gore-Tex jacket that I had purchased that spring. I also carried a one ounce just-in-case plastic poncho, telling myself that if I met with days of rain, I would buy a better poncho along the way.
Of course, I was tested the first day of my hike, August 17, 2016. Over the Pyrenees it was so foggy and rainy, we missed the classic views, the reason many walk over the mountains, but we were serenaded by mountain music and the bells of sheep and cows. And…I found my trusty waterproof jacket not to be waterproof.
I was already wet when I pulled out my emergency poncho, that turned out to be a green piece of plastic. Here’s what prepared pilgrims wore that day:
But I was dry under my make-do poncho and took it off as soon as the downpour stopped to a drizzle.
I left the non-waterproof jacket in the Roncesvalles giveaway table with a note in English and Spanish warning pilgrims it was not waterproof. It’s probably still there. The next rainy days were light enough not to need a jacket, but again I used my rain cover for my backpack.
The very end of my journey to Finisterre proved to be one last foggy, rainy day, just like the first day, and I still only had my plastic poncho and the resolve to be better prepared next time, with at least a sturdier poncho. I’m wearing my plastic poncho, but my friend, Darlene, who is a seasoned Camino Pilgrim and walker, was prepared. I’m truly grateful for the lessons I learned hiking with her at the end of my Camino.
So, in order to see the ocean and the views, at the End of the World, Finisterre, in sunny weather, I returned in 2017, and walked to the lighthouse and the zero marker, no need for rain gear this time.
Testing: How much protection do you need?
My two year old Gore-Tex jacket isn’t completely waterproof any longer. I contacted Marmot and they told me the Gore-Tex lasts only one year and since I purchased a close-out model, the waterproof properties would need to be renewed with a product, such as Nixwax. Instructions are on the webpage or do a search and you will find information and opinions.
Marmot also made sure I understood that the Pre-Cip is for light rain and not for a storm, although the new Pre-Cip jacket did keep my clothing underneath dry in a two hour drench. Still, if you are walking a full day in rain, you will need the right rain protection, so do your homework.
Walking in the rain for at least one or two hours is better than the shower for testing your clothing and your shoes. I love my Hoka Boots that are advertised as waterproof and my feet were dry, but the boots were wet and so were my socks, but not soaked. And below you can see the wet inside of the untreated jacket. The pants were waterproof and kept me dry. My waterproof hat was good for light rain.
At home you might wait out a storm, On the Camino, you are more likely than not to walk in rain, and you usually need to move on, rain or shine. So take advantage of those rainy spring days and test your waterproof gear. You’ll be so happy to be dry and comfortable while you’re making amazing memories.
Below, Foxglove on the Camino, just over the mountain on the way to Roncesvalles, where the rain stopped on the downhill, opening to a spectacular sunny day. Buen Camino, Irene