Has November felt just as damp, grey and dark for you as it has for me? With the fall colors gone, the switch to winter time and what seems like a month of just grey sludge I have definitely been affected by it. The past couple of weeks I’ve mostly been cooped up inside feeling more tired than usual. It is so easy to let the weather affect us and most of us are probably not even aware that it’s happening.
So when Addnature asked me if I wanted to partner with them and write about hiking in bad weather I immediately felt that this was a subject well needed, definitely for me and hopefully for you as well. In this post are share my thoughts on the topic, as well as tips for a good mindset and the gear needed to getting out and seeing the beauty in bad weather.
Because even though the season has changed doesn’t mean our need for the outside has. Even though it’s grey and wet outside we still need the fresh air, the calmness of nature and earthy smells. It’s important to make the most out of it now that it’s dark which easily leads to us feeling tired, maybe even depressed.
Luckily, with the right mindset and good gear some rain or dull colors can’t stop us – in fact it can even be beautiful!
So this week I decided to ignore the impending grey and headed outside to Sidsjön, one of our many lovely recreational areas close to town. It’s actually amazing how accessible nature and outdoor activities are to us here in Sundsvall! I think if you live in a city it’s even more important to get out into nature during these dull months, city life just feels boring right now, especially with the restrictions around covid getting stricter again.
The soft, muted colors and lack of people creates a very calm and quiet environment where I feel that there is more room for my thoughts to wander freely. In the city or at home there’s always something poking at me, grabbing my attention. But as I walk around the lake I feel my mind relax.
Now, one cannot just simply walk out into rain. The key to being able to enjoy the outdoors in bad weather consists of two things:
1. A good, positive mindset
Before this day rolled around I had decided that this was the day to get out, no matter what. My lunch was prepared and my bag packed. I had planned where to go and what trail to hike. This helped me so much in actually getting out, since I had already put in some work into planning. It’s all too easy to say we are going to go out and then find excuses not to.
Once out there I tried to walk slowly, take deep breaths and I had planned to use my camera to look for interesting shapes, colors and textures. This also helped me to slow down and actually take in my surroundings. The fog created a mysterious atmosphere as it danced through the tree tops and the water drops glistening on grass, moss and branches was beautiful. I honed in on the details and not the big picture of the world just looking grey, because at a closer inspection that proved to not be the case at all.
Thoughts that I don’t “have time for” in my everyday life emerged as I walked in silence, just focused on putting one foot in front of the other while looking at the details in nature. The soft browns, crisp textures and lush, shimmering greens. Absolutely gorgeous!
2. layer up properly
With it being both cold and damp, it’s important to be properly dressed. Your mindset can only take you so far if you feel wet or cold. Not only do you need to wear warm clothes but also clothes that protect you from wind and rain. Warm layers are insulating and keep the warmth you generate close to you but if wind or rain makes you cold then there’s no warmth to trap, so you have to make sure you can keep the warmth you generate.
Here’s my system:
I always wear a merino base layer. A t-shirt if it’s a bit warmer out but now in fall and winter it’s long sleeved. Over that I wear a warm sweater and if it’s really cold I also wear my down jacket. It packs into it’s own pocked so if I don’t wear it I still bring it since it does not take up a lot of space in the bag.
I finish it all of with a shell jacket which might be the most important garment. It protects me from wind and rain and makes sure that the other layers can keep the heat I generate as I stay dry and warm. I highly recommend getting a shell jacket with ventilation zippers on the sides / by the armpits. That way you can stay dry but still let some air in as it can easily get too warm sometimes.
For the legs I either wear hiking tights or outdoor pants. If it rains a lot the hiking tights sit nice and snug under my rain pants. Otherwise outdoor pants are sturdy and great for the outdoors. I like ones with drawstrings at the ankles so they don’t drag in the wet undergrowth. If the ground is still very wet that could lead to water splashing in over the rim of the shoe, in which case I would recommend gaiters. They’re also great for being out in taller grass or snow and I so use them a lot during fall and winter.
As with any outdoor excursion, bringing snacks or food always improves the experience. During fall we have a tradition at home to spend Sundays make a huge pot of stew or soup that will take us through the week. So in the morning before heading out I decided to heat some up, pour it into my lunch container and bring with me. Food always tastes better outside and replenishing energy after hiking in cold, damp weather with a hot stew is honestly so good!
There are many wind shelters and free cabins in this area, so I took refuge from the wind in one of them and that’s where I decided to have my lunch followed by some coffee. It even had an outdoor toilet and was stocked with firewood, I need to make sure to bring a knife and matches next time!
It had gotten a lot darker and even more foggy and moody out by the time I was down my lunch. But not in a scary way, it was just quiet and serene. I was the only one making any noise and the gravel crunched under my boots and puddles splashed against my feet. I hiked through the forest back home just listening to the trees and silence.
Of course, make sure you are in familiar settings if you end up being out in the dark (especially when the weather is bad). Always pack a headlamp for fall and winter excursions! I was close to home and just around the bend of this forest path I hit a bigger trail with street lights.
Once back home I felt happier and more energetic than I’ve done in a long time. I put on some music and danced around with Luci on my shoulder for a little bit. Then I prepped for dinner and hopped on my bike to go get some last essentials from the grocery store. I felt like I was flying down the street!
I had really dreaded going out and looked for excuses to put it off, but once I was out I really enjoyed myself and I had so much fun taking photos. The energy I felt when I got back is something I need to remember and hold on to as a carrot to head out more often again, even when the weather seems crummy.
I am already planning to return to the cabin I found very shortly. Some food, the company of friends and a fire is all I need to brighten these November days!
Are you good and getting out regardless of the weather, and if so, do you have any tips of your own?
Live slow & STAY wild! // Rania
↟ SHOP my clothes & gear ↟
Primus Leisure Cutlery Concrete Grey
Thule AllTrail X Backpack 25l Obsidian
Primus TrailBreak Lunch Jug 400ml
*my shell jacket Laka from Lundhags won’t arrive in stock until spring so
I added a good one from another Swedish, sustainable brand instead.