The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® event staff is in Michigan, getting everything ready to kick off our first 2014 event. On Monday, we (and everyone in the greater Detroit area) were deluged by a record-breaking summer thunderstorm, resulting in flooding and a whole lot of very wet Komen 3-Day staffers. Naturally, this got us thinking about tips for walking in rainy weather, and while the forecast looks clear for the 3-Day® this weekend (fingers crossed, knock on wood, wish on a star)…
…we thought it would be a great time to talk about some strategies for staying as dry and comfortable as possible so you can keep moving. So I put out the S.O.S. (Save Our Shoes!) to the coaches and got some fantastic advice for how to trek through the tempests.
Keeping Feet Dry – Plastic Bag Method
- Heavily coat your clean, dry feet with your lubricant of choice (Vaseline, Hike Goo, Body Glide, etc.). Friction causes blisters, and friction increases in wet conditions; lubing up your feet well will help prevent this if they do get wet.
- Put on clean, dry socks.
- Put a clean, dry (are you sensing a theme?) plastic bag over each socked foot. Plastic grocery bags, small trash can liners or freezer bags work well. It’s best to use something that will cover up over your ankles and won’t bunch up in your shoes.
- Some people like to secure the bags around their ankles using duct tape, or by pulling a terrycloth wristband over their feet up to their ankles. The latter is easier to get off than tape.
- At this point, I also like to put on a second pair of socks over the plastic bags to keep them in place. It’s a matter of preference, and how comfortable you are with a thick layer inside your shoes.
- Put shoes on over bags (or over the second pair of socks).
- Bring extra bags, lubricant and socks so that you can reapply and change them along the way.
Your shoes will still get wet, but this method works great to keep your feet dry from the rain. That said, they may get a little sweatier than usual since they can’t “breathe” as well. The lubrication step and changing your socks/bags throughout the day are both really important.
Keeping Feet Dry – Duct Tape Method
Some walkers swear by duct tape as the best tool for keeping shoes and feet dry. I’ve personally never tried this, but one coach clued me in to the technique: “Just ‘mummy wrap’ your shoes. Start at the toes and wrap circles around the shoe (including the bottom) until you get up to the top. Wrap around the ankle and heel, doing the best you can to cover everything. You are basically covering every part of the shoe that might soak in water with a water protected cover. The water will bead off of the tape. Eventually as you are walking, the tape will wear off the sole of the shoe, but the top will stay on because it’s stuck on there. (It takes a long time for the tape on the bottom to wear off). It is surprisingly effective.” Obviously, this method would be a little tougher to replicate 2 or 3 times a day, but if you find something that works, go for it!
- Disposable ponchos will run you about a buck each, and can be found in the camping section of any sporting goods store or Target/Walmart, so grab 2 or 3 for each day and tuck them into your pack. If it starts raining, pull out that poncho and wear it!
- Bring two pairs of shoes (recommended even if it’s not raining). If you soak one pair one day, you’ll at least have a dry pair to start with the next day.
- Speaking of soaked shoes, if your shoes get wet, cram them full of crumpled newspaper at night. They will be dry in the morning. Really, stuff as much newspaper in your shoes as you can. You may have to change it during the night once the paper absorbs the water; have some crumpled up and ready, and when you have to go to the bathroom during the night, swap out the newspaper. Ya know – since you’re up anyway.
- Wearing pants—weatherproof if you can find them—is recommended to help keep the rain from running directly into your shoes.
- If you wear glasses, wear a hat with a bill to help keep your glasses dry, and bring a cloth to dry your glasses so you can see clearly when moving down the route.
- Just because your skin is being rained on doesn’t mean the water is going where it needs to. Remember to keep hydrated.
- No cotton! Wear clothing made of dry wick material (including undies!).
- High quality, seamless tights will prevent wet pants and thighs from rubbing and chafing.
- A tight, long-sleeved base layer top will help keep you from chafing under the arms when wet.
- A rain jacket that extends longer than your torso will help keep the majority of chafing-prone areas dry and comfortable.
- Wear reflective gear, bright colors, vest or LED head lamp so cars will see you through the rain.
- Beware of freshly painted curbs; they’re slippery.
- There are a couple other rainy walking tips in our 3-Day Walking Hacks blog post.
- Camping in the rain? There are a few good tips in our 3-Day Camping Hacks post too.
Like with everything, it is ideal to test out any of these methods or products before you get to your 3-Day event, but that’s not always possible. Do what you can, keep an eye on the forecast, and be as prepared as possible. This is a good time to remind you that the 3-Day generally continues whatever the weather, so you should be ready to walk and camp in inclement weather. If the weather gets so severe that it might compromise safety, the 3-Day has a thorough back-up plan for evacuating camp and relocating participants.
When all is said and done, just remember that your safety and health should be your number one concern (they’re our number one concern!), and don’t ever forget that your part in the 3-Day is invaluable – rain or shine!