The weather forecast is RAIN. Do you

a) hide indoors and dust the top of your kitchen cupboards OR

b) greedily choose to have stunning bushwalking tracks all to yourself, see more wildlife than usual, stare in amazement at the trickles and waterfalls you never thought possible?

The more awesome option b) means facing the reality of hiking in the rain. So you’ve grabbed a raincoat. Sorted? Not so fast. Hiking in the rain means everything could get wet – everything! So how do you keep all your gear dry? Here are our tips for hiking in the rain, whether you’re doing a short bush walk or exploring on a longer hike.

Our first ever bush walk together was at this time of year in the rain, so luckily we used all these tips for hiking in the rain so we were still happy by the end of the day!

Watch the video or scroll down to read the full transcript of how we (and our gear) stay dry when bush walking.

In this video you’ll learn:

  • The first question to ask when buying a new backpack.
  • The biggest pitfall of relying on a bag’s in-built rain cover and how to avoid it.
  • How to keep your gear dry on a day walk… a free solution you already have at home.
  • How to keep your gear dry on a multi-day hike… the good, better and best options.

Keep scrolling to read the full video transcript below.

For more packing tips, check out our hiking checklist.


The Transcript

Ian: G’day, I’m Ian.

Tara: And I’m Tara. It was five years ago today –

Both: Today!

Tara: – that I went on a hike with Ian. I said I’d take some photos, it will be great. It was Easter time. I had to call a few days prior and say, “Ian, it’s going to rain. You know it always rains at Easter. Do you still want me to come?” And do you know what you said?

Ian: I said, “Absolutely”. It does always rain at Easter but it’s a beautiful time of year to walk. You’ve got those crisp mornings but it usually gets nice and clear and sunny. Yeah, please come along and take lots of photos.

Tara: So I did and the photos turned out well and here we are five years later. But we’ve just had Easter. And?

Ian: It rained.

Tara: It rained. So today we want to share about how you can go walking at this really beautiful time of year, but to make sure that you keep everything dry in your pack.

Ian: Sydney’s rainfall is pretty much spread out evenly across the year but between March and June is when we get the most amount of rainfall and that’s why it’s so important.

Tara: And you could also say that it’s one of the best times of the year to walk because the days are so mild. So with a few simple tips you can make sure that you are just as happy at the end of the day as you were when you set out.

So when you pack a day pack, if you get anything more than a shower, everything that’s in your bag is going to get wet, and you don’t want that. And you might have some warm clothes that you need to put on, on the way home. Instead of just, well… most modern bags come with an in-built raincoat.

Ian: And they’re usually at the top or bottom of the bag. So if you’re going to buy a day pack or even an overnight pack, just have a look. It should have one. Either at the top or the bottom. Just make sure you know where it is before you get out there and the shower comes.

Hiking in the rain keep bag dry

Tara: So you pack it like this. Whether you’ve got an old bag that doesn’t have a raincoat or even if you’ve got one of these, I still wouldn’t recommend relying 100 per cent on it.

It’s fantastic if it showers but if the rain really comes down, you should have an extra security measure.

And so that security measure is as simple and as free as just grabbing a department store bag. So like a supermarket bag is just too thin. It won’t work. Get a department store bag because they’re really thick plastic and then put whatever you are taking for the day, put that inside the bag. Roll it up.

You can even secure it with an elastic band to make sure that no water gets in. And then pack your bag. And then if you need it, put the raincoat on. But if you’re doing a multi-day walk, you’ll need a bit more.

Ian: It’s the same principle though, yeah exactly Tara. It’s the same principle though. I do quite a lot of extended multi-day walking and I have a pack liner. Pack liners are absolutely awesome.

The beauty of a pack liner, you stuff it down inside your pack, everything goes down inside there, you open it up like that. This is a 75-litre pack, it’s probably an 80-90 litre pack liner. It doesn’t need to be that big, as long as it fits everything in there. Pack liners are great because they have –

Tara: It’s like a dry sack really, isn’t it?

Ian: Exactly what it is, Tara. Exactly right. You clip it up. You velcro it all up. Hundred percent waterproof. You clip it there. You fold it down like that, clip it up and you’re done.

pack liner for hiking in the rain

Tara: How much would that cost? A pack liner?

Ian: It’s probably about $70 or $80. But when you consider the amount of gear in your pack, like your tent, your sleeping bag and your mat, that’s much more expensive than $70 or $80 or even $90.

It’s expensive gear but it lasts. I’ve had that for a year. I’ve taken it on 20 multi-day hikes. You get value. All gear is expensive but you get value if you use it.

Also, as Tara said, there is a spray jacket if you like on the bottom of that one and so I’d do the same. Leave that over the top and there you go. The spray is going to run off the top of there.

But if you get sustained rain, which you will or you could at this time of year, everything inside my pack is going to be dry. And that’s vital for your enjoyment of even a day hike or a multi-day hike.

Tara: Yes. When I started hiking, I really didn’t have the cash that I could even spend 70 bucks on a pack liner. So is there a cheaper option, or a free option, that you could use?

Ian: Yeah, a bin bag. A heavy duty bin bag. Glad bags, supermarket bags always tear. But if you get a heavy duty bin bag, absolutely perfect.

Tara: Yes. What I used to do, I’d have that plastic bin liner to line the whole pack. And then you’ve got external pockets as well, so then you go back to those department store bags to put smaller things into compartments, and then put it in the bag. And that way you’re dry and happy.

Ian: Thank you. See you on the track.

More Hiking and Camping Essentials


Tara Wells is a freelance journalist who is delighted to combine her love of hiking – and Sydney – with storytelling.

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