How to Walk in the Rain With the Right Gear

Walking in the Rain

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Walking in the rain may sound unpleasant, but with the right gear, you can boldly walk among the raindrops and maybe even enjoy it. From race-friendly rain jackets to waterproof shoes, gators, rain pants, and umbrellas, there are plenty of options available to help you keep up your outdoor workouts when the weather won't cooperate.

Raincoats and Ponchos

A waterproof jacket is a must for keeping dry while walking in the rain. Look for a breathable fabric that will help reduce perspiration. A good rain jacket should also have a sturdy hood that fits well and can be tightened to keep water out. Raincoats are sold at many department, sports, warehouse, and outdoor stores.

A rain poncho can be a lifesaver in a downpour. Whereas a raincoat only covers your torso, leaving your pants vulnerable to rain, a poncho is longer and will help keep your pants drier. You can find ponchos at most outdoor retailers.

Many stores sell disposable ponchos that come folded up in a tiny packet that can easily be kept in your pocket if needed.

Waterproof Rain Pants

Rain pants help solve the problem of water draining off your waterproof jacket. However, they may also restrict your movement more than you want for brisk fitness walking.

You can find lightweight waterproof rain pants at warehouse stores or outdoor retailers for men and women. Before buying a pair, test them out to be sure you can move well in them.

An alternate idea may be to just wear shorts if the temperature isn't too cold. Rain will drain off your bare legs rather than soak into the fabric of your pants, and wet pants will do more to lower your body temperature than bare skin will.

Waterproof Shoes

A good pair of waterproof shoes can help keep your toes drier on your walk. Full-grain leather hiking shoes and boots are fine for light walking and hiking, but if you are fitness walking, they won't provide the flexibility you need and will slow you down.

Waterproof running shoes can be a good addition to your walking wardrobe. Look for shoes made from Gore-Tex, a breathable waterproof fabric. They may be more expensive than standard sneakers.

Some walkers find Rubber Wellington-style rain boots helpful in wet weather, but they are best for shorter, slower walks, such as walking your dog. They are not designed for brisk walking for fitness and won't provide the support and flexibility you need.


Even with waterproof shoes, rain can still drain down your pants into the shoe or splash up from puddles and soak your ankles. If you find this particularly bothersome, you may want to look into a pair of gaiters.

A gaiter extends from your ankle or shin and covers the back of the heel and the tongue of the shoe. Hikers wear gaiters to keep dust and trail debris out of their footwear, but many walkers use waterproof or water-resistant gaiters to help shoes and socks stay drier.


Umbrellas work better for standing than for walking, especially when rain is accompanied by wind. But some walkers prefer to use them for less-strenuous walks.

An umbrella can be helpful in moderate-to-hard rain when you can't keep the rain out, even with waterproof gear. It will keep more of the water from running down your coat or rain poncho and soaking your pants.

Fun Fact

Legend has it that carrying an umbrella on a Volkssport walk prevents rain most of the time.

A lightweight, compact, telescoping umbrella can be carried in your pack, jacket pocket, or in your hand while walking. Look for one that is wind-tested and strengthened against inverting and breaking.

If you walk in low-light conditions, look for an umbrella that has a reflective canopy or a reflective stripe around it, so drivers can see you. You can also add reflective tape to an umbrella you already have.

Racing in the Rain

If you're participating in a race in the rain, you'll need different tactics to walk fast without being weighted down. You are also likely to be standing around longer waiting for the start.

Bulky raincoats and waterproof pants may not be a good option, but disposable rain ponchos are especially useful for rainy races. Be prepared at the end of the race with dry clothes and a space blanket to help prevent hypothermia.

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.