Rain gets a bad rap—it can cancel hikes, delay baseball games, and make trails too muddy to ride. But that’s only part of the story. With the right gear and a little planning, there are plenty of outdoor adventures that are actually improved by a sprinkle, drizzle, or straight-up downpour. Here are ten activities that get better when the forecast calls for precipitation.
Smell the Desert
Oncoming rain can alter all your senses in an instant—it can cool you off, cut the harsh glare and UV light, and thrill you with the crashing thunder. And, as anyone who’s experienced a rain shower in the desert knows, it can release a wonderful scent. Certain plants like creosote bushes become more fragrant, and the rise in humidity flushes oils from dry rocks, creating a scent that Australian scientists have dubbed “petrichor.”
Explore Empty Trails
It’s amazing how even the slightest mist can clear trails of hikers and bikers. Which means it can be the best time to savor trails that are normally too crowded to afford any solitude. A good waterproof, breathable jacket like the Marmot Eclipse, which has pit zips and strategically-placed pockets that are accessible even with a pack on, will allow you to regulate temperature and access your camera without breaking stride. If it really starts coming down, throw on Marmot’s Eclipse rain pants. Their 3/4-length side zips make them easy to pull over even the bulkiest hiking boots.
Go for a Swim
Jumping in a pool or a swimming hole during the rain simply feels decadent, like being in an outdoor spa. It’s especially soothing when it’s a cold rain on a hot day, and you’re going to get wet anyway, so why not go for it? Just make sure there’s no lightning anywhere nearby.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleeping under the stars on a clear night is undeniably awesome, but falling asleep to the gentle pitter-patter of rain hitting your tent is also pretty great. It will feel even more satisfying if you know your campsite is dialed in and rainproof, so make sure you’ve chosen a patch of higher ground for your tent and tarped essential gear and firewood.
Gain Some Traction
When it comes to mountain biking, there’s nothing better than riding a nice, damp trail during or after a light rain. The added moisture makes the dirt grippier and tackier—you'll often hear if referred to as “hero dirt.” The increased traction lets you ride harder and climb faster, and it plain feels better—like skiing a freshly groomed trail. Just don’t be a noob and ride if the ground has turned muddy, which can rut up and damage the trail.
Photograph in the Rain
Any photographer will tell you that the best times to shoot are the magic hours just before and after sunrise and sunset. But rainy or stormy weather can dampen a harsh sun or create beautiful, dappled light any time of day. Rain can transform banal scenes into rich, reflected murals, bring out more emotions in your trail mates, and lend a moodier feel to landscape shots. Keep your camera protected with a gallon-size Ziploc bag, and keep yourself dry with Marmot’s Celeste jacket, which has a tuckaway hood that you can unfurl if the rain picks up and can stand up to all-day soakers.
Go For a Paddle
Any serious paddler will tell you that paddling in a light rain can be both serene and a great opportunity to make good time. An all-day drizzle with no wind often translates to glassy conditions, allowing you to silently and efficiently tick off the miles. Of course, nice rain gear like Marmot’s Phoenix jacket—its peripheral hood adjustment will shield your head without interfering with your vision.
Build a Fire
Almost any time is perfect for putting together a roaring campfire. But getting a big blaze going after spending a day in the rain? There’s nothing more satisfying than getting close to the flames and watching the moisture evaporate off your clothes.
Hunt for Rainy-Day Critters
Catching a large mammal like a bear or elk in the rain can make for an exceptional photograph. But tromping around in the woods, you’re more likely to find other creatures, like salamanders, who like to wait under logs until the world gets a little soggy and then begin journeying to their mating pools. In the West, various species of toads will bury themselves in the ground for almost a year, waiting to come out and croak for a few weeks during the rainy season.
Play in the Mud
There’s a reason obstacle courses like Tough Mudder are crazy popular: it’s fun to play in the mud. The next time it rains, challenge your friends to an old-fashioned mud fight to get out a little aggression and get in touch with your inner piggy.
Marmot’s EVODry collection is the evolution of rainwear, garments that out-perform current technology with minimal environment impact. EVODry uses a revolutionary Breathable Water Protection™ finish that allows water to bead off even in the heaviest most prolonged storms with no wetting out. This PFC-Free eco-friendly treatment is applied in a patented process to create a super hydrophobic finish that never washes or wears off. Using the most advance earth friendly technologies such as solution dyed upcycled nylon yarn, a PFC-Free waterproof/breathable membrane, and a nontoxic water repellent finish the EVODry fabric sets new standards for environmental stewardship while pushing the boundaries in performance.