Should You Walk or Run in the Rain?

Sep 13, 2018
Man Running in Rain


Rate this Post: 

Average: 3.7 (20 votes)

It’s storm season. You finish dinner at a restaurant and it’s suddenly pouring.  You gaze at your car parked not so far away.  Is it better to walk or run in the rain?

Believe it or not, scientists have debated this for years.  If you run you get there faster, so less rain hits you.  But meanwhile you’re slamming more frontwise into the droplets, making them preferentially strike your chest and legs.  If you’d walked, they’d mostly hit your head and shoulders, which offer less surface.

Is this logic correct? Do you get wetter walking or running in the rain?

In the late eighties, an Italian physicist calculated that running through a rain storm would keep you 10% drier than walking.  Barely any difference. Hardly worth the effort, especially since you’d be more likely to slip and fall.  Then in 1995 a British researcher decided that walking is better, because the drenching of your entire front side would negate the slight benefit of getting there faster.

The next year, two North Carolina climatologists put the whole issue to an actual test.  They each wore identical clothing and water measuring equipment. One of them ran 100 meters through a downpour while the other simultaneously walked.  Result?  The one who walked was 40% wetter.

Bottom line: Run to the car.

But you already instinctively knew that, didn’t you?

Now, did you know water shouldn’t be wet? I’ll explain why water—beyond its obvious life-giving properties—is truly astonishing.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Walk or Run

I say walk in the rain and enjoy it if it is not a deluge where you could drown if walking, but if you are going to run be sure to have good shoes for running in the rain or you could suffer something worse than getting wet. I love rain walks. It is very refreshing as it is meant to be.

Check the weather first

I think it is easier to be watchful when you are walking. Check the weather forecast before you leave home.

I can't believe scientists

I can't believe scientists have time to discuss this! Who pays them for this!


That's what science is all about. That's what scientists do.

Walking or running in the rain

I say walk and enjoy playing in the rain...this way you slow down and what is it going to hurt if you get wet anyway? It's not like we melt.

i think this is a good paper

i think this is a good paper about this problem

Run or walk in the rain? (Orthogonal projected area of ellipsoid) figshare

Forget speed; instead measure

Forget speed; instead measure time. Slower you walk, longer the exposure, wetter you get. Runner will be drier.

Wet is wet no matter the

Wet is wet no matter the coverage.

Walking with a big umbrella

Walking with a big umbrella is always best,
Be prepared! Boy Scout's rule.


+ a 4-season guide to raising chickens!

You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter

The Almanac Webcam

Chosen for You from The Old Farmer's Store