Last Updated on 01/03/2022
What Is the Best Hiking Weather?
In this guide, you will learn about the best types of weather for hiking and what to avoid. The best hiking weather is warm and breezy but not too hot or windy. Sunny but cold days are also a pleasure to hike in if you wear multiple layers of clothing to regulate your body temperature and avoid sweating. Cloud cover is often welcome so long as it isn’t followed by rain and the optimum temperature to hike in is around 12 degrees Celcius.
Understanding the weather and what to expect will help you plan your clothing and the items you take. Ideally, you want the weather to be warm and dry for hiking, allowing you to wear breathable clothing and pack lightweight gear.
Nobody really enjoys walking in rain but you can’t change the weather by complaining so you might as well make the most of it. Keeping a positive attitude when the weather gets bad is important for morale, especially if hiking in a group. A good waterproof jacket and trousers are one of the most important factors in staying dry, after your choice of footwear.
What Is a Good Temperature for Hiking?
Recent studies have shown that hiking in 30+ degree C heat will decrease your performance by 11% when compared to hiking in 19 degrees C heat. This is pretty huge news and proves that you are better off walking in cooler temperatures of around 12 degrees Celsius (55 degrees F).
Is 90 degrees F too hot to hike? Anything over 30 degrees Celsius (90 degrees F) would be considered very hot and I would advise against doing strenuous hikes in this kind of weather. If you do hike in 90 or even 60 degrees F heat then be sure to protect yourself from the sun, drink plenty of water, and are aware of the symptoms and treatment of heatstroke.
Weather Apps for Hiking
Before you go for a hike you should always check the weather forecast before you pack your bag. Yes, we all know that the forecasters often get it wrong but it generally gives you a good idea of what conditions will be like. If you are on a multiday hike then you should try and check an updated forecast at least once a day so that you can make a plan. There are hundreds of different weather apps and websites out there that will do the job but here are a few of our favorites:
- Weather Underground
- Dark Sky Weather
- NOAA Weather Radar Live
Different Types of Weather for Hiking
Here is a list of all the best hiking weather and some of the worst, and what you can do to make the most of them.
Hiking on Hot and Dry Days
These days can be tough and the sun can really zap your energy and increase the amount of water you should drink. A good wide-brimmed sun hat, sun hoody or long sleeve shirt, shorts, and a spot of sunscreen will reduce your risk of burning as well as help keep you cooler. As you pass streams, dip your hat or bandana in the water which will help keep your head and neck cool.
Hiking on Hot and Humid Days
These are the kind of days that make you want to strip your clothes off and jump in every pool of water or river that you pass. Again, you will need to drink a lot of water and wear especially breathable clothing to try and stay cool. As uncomfortable as hot and humid days can be, they still beat raining and windy.
Hiking on Hot and Windy Days
Hot and windy days are a pleasure to walk in and offer great views from the tops of the mountains but you need to watch out for sunburn which you may not feel due to the wind. You can normally walk in shorts and a t-shirt so long as you keep moving and the wind doesn’t get too cold.
Hiking on Cloudy Days
when the sky is cloudy, there are benefits and downsides. The advantage is that you don’t get beaten by the sun which allows you to stay cooler and more comfortable. The downside is that clouds bring a risk of rain and can hinder views from the top. Still, there is nothing like seeing a few cumulus clouds drifting across the landscape.
Hiking on Rainy Days
These can be testing of your positive attitude and if you aren’t careful they can become a miserable slog. You should keep waterproofs on or close to hand which can result in condensation build-up inside. Staying dry is your main concern so investing in quality waterproof gear is strongly recommended.
Hiking on Rainy and Windy Days
Hiking in the wind and rain is enough to test even the most level-headed person and so if you can avoid hiking on rainy and windy days then you should. If you are on a thru-hike and there is no avoiding it then you just need to protect yourself in waterproof clothing and hope to stay dry. The problem with windy rain is that it will come in at an angle and will soak through cheaper waterproof jackets.
Hiking on Cold and Sunny Days
Who doesn’t love the crisp winter air with the sun beaming down on you? Sunny days in winter are what hiking dreams are made of and whether it means wearing snow boots or crampons, you know it will be a good day. Layering up with more thin layers than thick will help you control your body temperature without sweating. Hats and gloves are a luxury worth taking also.
Hiking on Cold and Windy Days
Cold and windy days are fine for hiking if you wear the correct clothing that will keep you warm and block the wind. One benefit of it being windy is that if you do start to sweat you are able to dry out pretty fast. However, if it is raining then that changes things but if it is just windy and cold you should go for that hike!
Hiking on Cold and Rainy Days
Cold and rainy days are pretty grim, but so long as you have somewhere to warm up after, it is easily manageable. Instead of wearing one thick insulated jacket that is also waterproof. I would recommend wearing multiple layers underneath a hardshell waterproof jacket which will allow you to take off a layer or two if it stops raining or you start to sweat.
Hiking on Freezing Days
Hiking on freezing cold days below zero degrees can be potentially dangerous if you aren’t fully prepared and wearing sufficient insulation. That isn’t to say it can’t be done, just that you really do need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. You often get rewarded with fantastic visibility on clear but frozen days which can make the view from the top of a mountain worth the climb.
Hiking on Stormy Days
Stormy weather is something you should avoid at all costs. The risk of lightning is enhanced when you are on top of a mountain with a load of hiking gear on your back and maybe even trekking poles. Plus the rain will hammer you and the views will be virtually nonexistent. It is ok to cancel a long-awaited trip last minute if the weather isn’t safe for hiking.
Hiking on Snowy Days
I think you either love snowy days or you hate them. Snow isn’t even half as bad as rain and if you are wearing waterproof gear then it should brush straight off you. Snow changes the landscape and is stunning to look at but it also puts your feet at risk of getting wet and cold. Wear thick wool socks and waterproof boots or don’t even bother going hiking in the snow.
I hope you have found this guide to the best hiking weather useful. Check out our homepage for our latest articles.