Many a camper has run into the issue where they are excited about their camping trip but then suddenly, RAIN! The weather just doesn’t want to cooperate with us sometimes. When this happens we have two choices. Either we can call it quits and stay home or we can go camping in the rain! Camping in the rain can be a terrible experience if you are unprepared. It doesn’t have to be though if you have the right gear and the right know-how. In fact, if you take some common precautions for rain, you can avoid the danger that comes with it. In the end, you may find the patter of raindrops on the tent fly or RV roof a soothing sound that lulls you to sleep. So let’s take a look at some great tips so that you can be successful when camping in the rain.
1. Watch the Weather Forecast and the Terrain Around you
The very first thing that you should do is watch the weather forecast. Check this prior to leaving multiple times so that you can be prepared. Then make sure you have a way to check the weather during your trip. If you are remote camping bring along a weather radio. This will help for an unexpected shower that arises. I like to check the weather every morning when I wake up and again as I enjoy lunch. Changes can come quickly and with fury. So it is best to know before you head out and to stay informed as you go.
Even if the forecast does not call for wet weather, you should take your rain gear with you. Be prepared and look for signs as you camp and hike. Normally animals will react to the changing environment. If birds suddenly go quiet you can bet that there may be a storm coming. Other things to watch for are a pick-up in wind or a sudden drop in temperature. So don’t just watch the weather report watch nature’s report as well. This could take some practice but it can help you prepare to go camping in the rain.
2. Find the Right Tent Site
The worst thing that can happen in regards to camping in the rain is waking up in a soggy puddle of the sleeping bag. It is important to choose a campsite that is raised up a bit from the surrounding area. Do not set up your tent right beside a river or lake. Guess what, water rises and it rises quickly! You don’t want to wake up sleeping in standing water as the rain pours down outside. Facing your tent east towards the rising sun can have great mental effects as well. As the sun streams in it can remind you of the brilliant day you have ahead of you.
Another thing to keep in mind is to look up. In some storms, wind can be more damaging than just the rain itself. Setting up under a tree could lead to a branch falling on the tent while you sleep. Not to mention that trees will get struck by lighting as well. Being close to a lightning rod is not where I want to be! So while it may seem like that old oak can offer protection, it could actually end up causing more harm than good.
3. Purchase a Tent with a Rainfly and Vestibule
You would think that this would be a no-brainer. There are many options when choosing the best tent so know what you need before you go! You want to have a good tent with a proper rainfly. When purchasing a tent you want one with a rainfly that completely covers any mesh vents and windows. This will help to keep the rain that comes sideways from entering the tent.
You may also want to consider upgrading to a tent that also includes a vestibule. This again will help protect you from the rain as it blows sideways. Finding a tent with a good size vestibule could also provide you with a bit of gear storage. You will also want to look for a tent with a good belly pan that has good height on the sides in case you end up with a stream under your tent. In any case, the name of the game when looking for a tent is to make sure that it does not allow water in.
Purchasing isn’t enough though! Your tent should have its rainfly. Make sure before you head out that you have it packed. I hate to admit it but I forgot to pack it back into the bag after allowing my tent to air out from the last trip. So check and double-check!
4. Pack Into Waterproof Dry Bags
Most camping gear these days comes in stuff sacks. These provide little to no protection against water intrusion. Luckily you have options. You will want to place your gear in proper weather-resistant bags. Further, your backpack is likely not going to be water-resistant either. So you will want to make sure that your sleeping bag, a change of clothes, food, any electronics, and first aid kit stay completely dry. For your backpack, you can buy rain covers to protect the gear inside. If you have lots of gear or even individual gear then consider using independent water-resistant packs. Going modular has its own benefits especially as you are trying to set up camp in the rain. Each item will be protected as you pull it out of your pack.
5. Camping in the Rain with Tarps and Paracord
Tarps are an incredibly useful tool to have with you when you are outdoors and especially when camping in the rain. A lightweight tarp will aid you in creating a temporary shelter. This shelter could be over your cooking station or to just have a dry place to sit. Simply tie your paracord between some trees and secure the tarp. It is very simple and there are many different types of structures you can build with just a tarp and some paracord.
Even if you aren’t expecting to go camping in the rain, the tarp structure can help to keep the sun off your shoulders. Sunny weather can be enjoyable but we need time in the shade too.
Tarps can also be used as a barrier between the ground and the bottom of the tent. Having an extra layer will prevent any unknown rivulet of water under the tent from penetrating. You can also use it as a floor in your tent vestibule making it a great place to remove shoes before entering the tent.
6. Read the Newspaper
So this is an interesting tip that I picked up years ago from my father. We always would take along a newspaper with us when we went camping. Not much, but enough. The reason for this is if your shoes get wet it can help the drying process. Let me explain. Normally when our shoes get wet we have to let the air dry from the outside in. However, if you place some newspaper inside your shoes and boots it helps to wick water away. This can aid in the drying process. Wet feet are bad news when it comes to hiking and camping and can make a trip head south real quick.
7. Layer for Camping in the Rain
Layering in the wintertime is critical for cold weather survival. However, did you know that it is just as important to layer when it comes to rain? You can follow many of the same tips we provide in our wintertime layering guide. You want to have an inner layer that wicks water from your body. Then you want a mid-layer for warmth. Finally, you will want an outer shell to prevent water from getting in. Don’t just waterproof your gear! Make yourself waterproof! There are many good options out there. Make sure that you pick materials that are comfortable and keep you dry.
8. Camping in the Rain Meal Plan
Camping meal plans are a staple in my home. We camp so much that we have our go-to favorites. However, we have to make some modifications when it starts to rain. If your campsite isn’t set up properly with tarps or protected areas, then cooking in the rain will be miserable. However, you still have to eat, and you will likely need more calorie-dense foods since your body is trying to stay warm. When you just don’t have the energy to cook make sure to take some dehydrated meals with you.
For the love of everything though, please don’t try to use your camp stove in your tent. Every year there are injuries because people try this. Be prepared with our above tips and set up camp in a way that you can still cook in the rain. If you are backpacking try to find shelter to cook against. It is likely if you are on the trail though you have already brought some ready-to-eat meals. A rainy evening is the best time to break one of these out!
Need some meal ideas? We have you covered with lots of recipes for your next camping trip!
9. Drying Out
Even the best-laid plans can still result in things getting wet. So how should you dry out to get back to peak performance? You will need to consult the individual items as each piece of gear will have its own materials. Every type of material is different.
If you have set up a tarp shelter then you should have a good place to get the gear out of the rain. It is likely that you could even create a clothesline under the tarp to hang the clothes from. You will still have to deal with humidity and the length of time it takes to dry but it is a good first step. If you can get a fire started this can also help. Just remember that putting gear close to a fire to dry it quickly can actually damage the gear. So use this method with caution.
If you simply have no choice and your gear is wet make sure to get it off your body as soon as you can. Leaving wet clothes on can lead to numerous medical issues that you will want to avoid.
10. Stay Active when Camping in the Rain
If it does start to rain on you, don’t let that postpone the fun you had planned. Rain can be demoralizing when camping. If you find that you have to spend time in your tent you may feel like your trip is ruined. It isn’t though! If you keep your mind active then it can help your morale. Take things with you like cards, board games, books, and play eye spy. Journaling is another great way to pass the time when out in the wilderness. Not only can you record the things that you are doing but what you are feeling. Hopefully, if you are camping with children you already have some of these items just to keep them busy. Remember to stay active when it is raining!
Need more rainy day activities? Check out these activities for when it is raining at the campsite!
Final thoughts for Camping in the Rain
The 10 tips for camping in the rain above will help you be comfortable even in a storm. There is a good chance that you will stay dry because you prepared yourself for any kind of weather. So keep morale up with games. Build a fire to stay warm. Tell a few stories of past trips or better yet write down this new adventure. Whatever you do learn to sit back and enjoy that rhythmic pitter-patter of raindrops on the tarp. Enjoy the beauty of nature and you will have an enjoyable experience if you end up having to go camping in the rain!
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