How to Walk in the Rain: Waterproof Pants

Rain Shield O2 Rainwear
Rain Shield O2 Rainwear. Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Cotton is a terrible fabric for wearing in wet weather. It holds moisture on the skin and does not dry fast, if ever. Yet many walkers wear jeans or cotton hiking pants in wet weather and finish their walk in misery.

Rain Pants

Waterproof old-fashioned rubberized/vinyl rain pants are a good choice for walking long distances at a moderate to easy pace in constant rain. The rain rolls off. They hold the sweat in, so they are not useful if you are walking at a sweat-producing pace.

Usually, these zip fully up the sides, allowing you to step into them or wear them over other pants, shorts, or tights. Rain pants are often cold against the skin, so an underlayer is recommended. You can find waterproof rain pants at outdoor stores and ski shops as well as online. Look for them from Columbia Sportswear.

High Tech Wicking Fibers

Microfiber pants and tights will get wet, but quickly dry once the rain stops. They wick perspiration away from the skin and are a good choice to wear when walking up a sweat in showery weather.
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Waterproof treated/layered pants

A waterproof/breathable pants made of the same processes as jackets are available but expensive. With moderate activity and some sweating, you will stay drier with waterproof/breathable pants. But with intense activity or sweating, even the breathable fabrics can't accommodate the sweat and you will end up wet.

Often the pants will be sold to match jackets. Prices are expensive, $100 and up. Look for sales.

Drip Dry

Bare legs are often a better option in the rain than wearing pants. In warmer wet weather, you can wear running shorts with a jacket and realize that rain rolls off your skin just as well as it rolls off of rain pants.

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