Camping in the rain can be an unpleasant experience if you aren’t totally prepared for it. There are different ways in which rain can affect your camping holiday, whether that be making it hard to maintain a campfire or putting a damper on activities. Luckily there are precautions you can take when camping to make sure the rain doesn’t affect your holiday too much.
Preparing for Camping in the Rain
It’s always best to be prepared regardless of whether you’re expecting rain or not when camping, as weather forecasts aren’t always 100% accurate. Even if you’re not expecting rain, it’s a good idea to keep some necessities with you just in case. It’s also a good idea to take some additional equipment and leave it in the car (if it’s a possibility) so you can grab it if the weather does turn whilst you’re camping.
Consider Where You’re Going
Before thinking about preparing your camping trip, it’s good practice to find as much information about the area in which you’re camping before heading off. The actual location you plan on pitching your tent can decide how much equipment you may need if there is a down pouring of rain. The prospect of rain can also help you make decisions about what kind of area you wish to camp in, as areas under cliffs or at the bottom of mountains can be very dangerous and potentially deadly if camped under during a flash flood or sudden downpour. Ideally, a place with a lot of natural shade and shelter like a forest is best for if rain is forecasted. Of course, additional coverage can be taken with you on your trip but sometimes picking a more naturally sheltered location can make a big difference in the rain.
Bringing the Right Equipment
Camping in the rain is a lot more different than being at home whilst it’s raining. When camping, you tend to spend less time indoors and will be wanting to go on hikes, foraging expeditions or partaking in other outdoor activities. Being outside for longer than you usually would in the rain is a nightmare if you don’t have suitable equipment with you.
Some equipment that is useful for rainy weather:
- Spare Clothes – Spare clothes are useful for any camping trip in case of emergency or accident, but they’re more likely to be used if the weather is wet. One way to utilize your spare clothes is to keep a pair of spares for just when you’re inside your tent. This will also keep the inside of your tent drier than it would be if you were to wear wet or soggy clothes inside.
- Extra Towels- Extra towels go a long way when you’re camping in the rain. They are multipurpose and once dried out, can be reused multiple times on one trip. Some uses for extra towels include wiping down the insides of the tent, drying surfaces that you intend to sit on or eat off, and drying yourself.
- Waterproof Jacket or Poncho- A waterproof jacket or poncho is essential for camping in the rain, as they’re lightweight and can easily be thrown on over your regular clothes to protect them. This will also help you stay warm, along with dry.
- Additional Shelter- Additional shelter can also be brought along when camping. Things such as gazebos, extra tarpaulin and other shelters can come in handy, especially when wanting to sit outside without getting wet.
Make Sure your Tent can Withstand Rain
This might be quite an obvious point, but some types of tents aren’t cut out for miserable weather, especially small one-man ones or larger cotton canvas ones. Bivy tents especially aren’t ideal for rain, due to their small, flimsy size and exposed areas. A larger tent is handy for keeping equipment safe inside during bouts of bad weather, as there is enough storage as opposed to smaller tents.
Different types of tents each have their own pros and cons, including their own resistance to different types of weather. It’s always a good idea to do some research on the product you’re buying so you can ensure that it will be suitable for the conditions which you plan to use it in.
How to Keep your Tent Dry in the Rain
Keeping your tent dry in the rain comes with its own issues. We’ve already written a list of tips to help keep the interior and exterior of your tent dry, but some are especially useful for rainy weather.
Waterproofing your Tent
Learning how to waterproof a tent is a great way to increase the longevity of your tent and ensure that no accidents occur which could have been easily avoided. Waterproofing your tent can keep the interior dry and reduce any potential damage to the tent that could be caused by water. A tent can be waterproofed using a series of different techniques, including using a hydrophobic sealant, making sure zips and flies are sealed and unlikely to let water in and by making sure there are no holes or rips in the tent. There are also ways to patch a tent, which will keep it waterproof for longer. Make sure you have a small sewing kit with you for this purpose, as you can never predict when your tent will spring a leak.
Tarpaulin is essential when it comes to camping and has many applications. Due to its material and durability, it can be used to keep tents dry, and is best used both under and on top of the tent. Draping tarpaulin over a tent can provide an extra waterproof layer, and can also provide insulation if you find the rainy weather is particularly cold.
Here are some additional tips for Staying Warm in a Tent
Tarpaulin can also be fitted underneath the tent. This is advised regardless of the weather, as it also protects the bottom of the tent against the rough terrain, thus stopping the threat of holes developing. When fitting tarpaulin under the tent, make sure it is the same size as the base of the tent. Tarpaulin that is larger than the base of the tent can trap rain in between the base of the tent and the tarpaulin itself, and lead to water damage, bad smells, or wetness on the tent floor which is undesirable, especially when it’s raining.
Tarpaulin can also be used to line the inside of a tent, especially the flooring. This can be sure to keep your tent as dry as possible when confronted by rain. It’s recommended to cut the tarpaulin floor insert slightly bigger than the base of the tent to ensure it curves up the walls of the tent slightly. This adds protection around the seams at the base of the tent.
Watch out for Condensation
Keeping the exterior of the tent dry is important when it’s raining, but don’t be alarmed if you find wetness on the inside of your tent, particularly on the walls. Condensation is caused by the moisture in the air, and will be more commonplace if you’re spending longer inside your tent. One way to check if the moisture on the walls is due to condensation or leakage is to check for any inconsistencies in the pattern. Condensation will appear as a more uniform wetness, and will usually be evenly spread around the tent, whilst a leak will usually be affecting one area of the tent.
Only Dry Items Allowed in the Tent
When entering the tent after being outside in the rain, make sure to change into dry clothes or make sure you have a change of shoes for when you’re inside the tent. Keeping a spare set of clothes that are reserved for the inside of the tent help keep the interior dry. Your tent’s porch can serve as a changing area and a place to keep your wet items. Lining the entrance area of your tent with towels can also catch any water that may be walked into the tent.
Make Sure your Equipment is Waterproof
When camping, there’s usually going to be equipment that will be left outside. Whether that be portable grills, gas canisters, or even items such as shoes or coats. Some of these items will fare well in the rain, but it’s always good to come prepared with a way to cover these items in the event of rain. Sheets of tarpaulin, or other shelter can be used to keep these items dry, so it’s important to consider the location in which you’re camping and the equipment that you’re camping with.
How to Keep Yourself Dry in the Rain
Keeping yourself dry in the rain can prevent the interior of your tent getting wet. It can also keep you feeling more comfortable and warmer during your trip. While some of these methods have been mentioned previously, there are also other ways you can keep yourself dry while camping in the rain.
Waterproof clothing is key to camping in the rain. It’s essential for any camping trip, whether or not rain is expected, as it’s lightweight, easy to carry and simple to put on when necessary. Waterproof coats and ponchos can easily be thrown on over regular clothes which eliminates the need for an overbearing amount of packed clothes. Avoid wearing cotton as it can merely soak up the rain rather than deflect it.
Suitable footwear should be on everyone’s camping checklist, but some types of footwear are more suitable for wet weather than others. Waterproof boots with a substantial grip are ideal for any camping holiday, raining or not, as the ground can become slippery.
While umbrellas may seem like an unnecessary commodity for camping, they can help you enjoy some leisurely activities a little more if it’s raining. Paired along with a raincoat or poncho, an umbrella can help keep you even drier, and is great to carry along during hikes or other strolls around the camping ground. Umbrellas are also useful if you’re taking something with you which needs covering whilst being carried, such as a phone or camera.
Towelling yourself down once the rain clears up can make you feel fresher and helps you dry quicker. As mentioned previously, towels are handy to have while camping, and have many different uses. They’re also useful for drying hair which may have been caught in the rain. Having wet hair after a bout of rain is sure to get you down even after the rain has passed.
Covered Seating Areas
At some point during a camping holiday, you’re going to want to just spend some time sitting outside and chilling. Unfortunately, this experience can be compromised by the rain, but there are ways to keep yourself dry while watching the world go by. A gazebo is an ideal way to keep your seating area covered, but open enough to be able to view your surroundings. Alternatively, you can create a makeshift gazebo using a tarpaulin and by tying it to some trees in the vicinity. Just ensure that your tarpaulin is sloped to enable the rain to run off.
How to Keep a Campfire Going in the Rain
Basic amenities may be compromised by the rain while camping, including the campfire. Campfires are an iconic part of camping, and are equally as important as a resource. Fire can provide heat, light and a means of cooking meals, so it’s ideal to keep a campfire going during your camping trip.
Keeping a campfire going in the rain requires a level of preplanning and preparation. As discussed in how to keep a campfire going, there are several components which are necessary for a fire to sustain itself. These include heat, oxygen and fuel to keep the fire started and going, whilst tinder, kindle and wood will keep the fire burning. To keep a campfire going in the rain, you’ll need access to dry materials, and a supply of oxygen. It’s possible to pack dry materials which could be used for a campfire, whether those materials be firewood or even manmade materials such as tampons or cotton which make for good tinder. If you’re planning on camping in an area which rains frequently, make sure you have several options available for cooking or heat. There are ways to heat your tent without using a campfire or electricity, and there are other ways to cook that don’t include creating a campfire.
Cooking Without a Campfire
Keeping a second option available when planning to cook is vital if you’re planning to camp somewhere that may impede on your abilities to set up and maintain a campfire. Luckily, there are options available to help cook whilst camping.
Camping Grills- Camping grills are self-sustained and easy to use, but their main downfall is that they limit the foods which can be cooked on them. On the contrary, their cooking space is large and so they are incredibly useful if you’re cooking several meals at once or are preheating food to eat later on during your trip.
Gas Canister Cookers- Gas canister cookers are ideal for camping in the rain, as they are smaller and much easier self-sustained. They’re a reliable piece of equipment, and can help whip up meals quicker
Camping Activities in the Rain
Some activities may be compromised due to the weather when camping in the rain, so it’s always a good idea to think of alternative ways to have fun when camping in wet weather. Whether you plan on bringing games or other activities along with you, or planning on finding your own forms of entertainment in the wilderness, there’s always something to do even if the weather is glum.
If you have created or found some shelter, you can usually do what you’d normally do around a campfire or seating area, but other experiences may have to be changed up a little bit to accommodate for the rain.
Hiking can still be undertaken whilst in the rain, providing you take it slow and have the necessary clothing and items available to keep you dry and comfortable as you walk. There’s always something relaxing about walking in the rain, and being able to do so comfortably would be a pleasant experience while camping.
You can easily buy compact board games or card games which can be brought along on trips. These kinds of games can be fun for all age groups and are easy to play in a tent or other sheltered area. They’re perfect for evenings or mealtimes and don’t require any forward planning.
Use Your Imagination
If you’ve forgotten your board games or have exhausted them, there are other games to play which require no equipment. Some examples include rock paper scissors, hide and seek, word games and eye spy to name a few.
Read a Book
Taking a good book to get your teeth into is great for quiet moments at the campsite when you just want to sit and occupy yourself for a while. If it’s raining, reading a book by torchlight in your tent could be a really relaxing experience.
Draw or Paint
Regardless of whether you’re artistically inclined or not, sometimes drawing or painting in a more natural environment can invoke inspiration. Taking a sketchbook and art supplies when camping is an easy way to pass the time. You can either draw something from your imagination or something you can see from your campsite.
Find Somewhere Indoors
National parks often have visitor centers which are both educational and a source of entertainment whilst the rain is pouring outside. If you’re camped in a national park, why not try and find the visitor center?
Some campgrounds also have camping clubhouses which are hosted indoors for shelter and socializing with other campers.
Take a Nap
If the weather looks like it’ll clear up later in the day, why not try and nap whilst it’s raining? The sounds of rain on the tent can act as soothing white noise and help you drift off easier, and you’ll feel much more refreshed and raring to go once the rain goes off.
How to Pitch a Tent in the Rain
Pitching a tent in normal circumstances can be the cause of a lot of tribulation, so it’s easy to think how much harder and frustrating it is to pitch a tent in the rain. There are a couple of tips and tricks for effectively pitching a tent in the rain, which will luckily help you set your tent up more efficiently in the rain.
Choosing Where to Pitch Your Tent
How your camping trip pans out is partly dependent on where you’ve pitched your tent. Knowing where to pitch your tent can prevent a lot of different problems from arising, such as flooding, critters and unsavory weather conditions such as wind reaching you. When camping in the rain, the best setup for a tent is on a very slight slope, with the door facing downwards. Never pitch your tent in a ditch or at the bottom of a slope, especially during rainy weather, as flash floods could occur and damage your tent and potentially cause harm.
Taking note of which way the wind is heading from can also help you decide on a position for your tent. Angle the tent’s door away from the way in which the wind is blowing to minimize the amount of rain being blown into the tent.
Even more ideally, try to utilize any natural shelters that may be in the area, whether these be rock formations, forested areas or other structures that may help you shelter from the rain.
Make Shelter Before Putting Your Tent Up
Using tarpaulin or a gazebo as mentioned earlier, create a shelter which you can use to pitch your tent underneath. Doing this will provide a dry space to minimize any rain reaching the insides of your tent. This is why it’s extra useful to find a camping area with natural shelter, as it will reinforce the job which the tarpaulin or gazebo are doing. This is also useful for when you’re putting your tent away, as it provides covering as you’re packing your tent away.
Keeping Equipment Dry
It’s a struggle keeping anything dry in the rain, but some items are better kept dry than others. For instance, the bag in which your tent is carried inside should remain as dry as possible, especially on the inside. This reduces the risk of any mold or unpleasant odors from emerging once the tent has been repacked. Putting the tent bag safely inside your rucksack or other waterproof container is a quick tip which may be looked over when in a rush. The same goes for any items you intend to store in the tent, such as sleeping bags and mats. Try keeping these items as sheltered as possible when assembling the tent, as it will make your effort somewhat redundant if you proceeded to bring a collection of wet items inside the tent after spending so long trying to put it up without it getting wet.
Putting Your Tent Away in the Rain
If you’re expecting to camp in particularly heavy or persistent rain, it’s handy to make sure you’re carrying an assortment of dry bags which can be used to transport wet items and keep them separate from dry items. When disassembling your tent in the rain (or even if it’s still wet from the previous spell of rain!), make sure to pack it into as many dry bags as possible to keep it separate from other, dry, items. This will also serve as a reminder to dry the tent out when you return home, thus lessening the risk of water damage to it.
How to Dry your Clothes when Camping
If you’ve been camping for a couple of days in the rain and your spare clothes are depleting by the day, it might be best that you try to dry some of the ones you have. The best and most reliable way to dry your clothes while camping is to hang them on the guylines of your tent using pegs and wait for them to dry naturally in the sun.
Of course, if the rain is constant and consistent, there’s little to no chance they’ll get the chance to dry off outside. Instead, you’ll need a backup option. One way to help dry wet clothes out is to lie them down inside your tent’s porch. Keeping the main body of your tent dry is key to camping in the rain, so wet clothes shouldn’t be attempted to dry off in there. Instead, the porch is more suitable. If your tent doesn’t have a porch, you can hang your clothes up on a line under protective tarpaulin. Whilst this is a last-ditch effort to dry off your clothes, it does offer them a fighting chance at drying off. Bear in mind that this method may work better for raincoats, shoes and hats as opposed to wooly jumpers or daily wear.
Additional Tips for Camping in the Rain
- Newspaper- Newspaper makes a great means of drying out wet shoes. Crumpling up an old newspaper and putting it inside a pair of wet shoes can help dry them out by the time you use them again.
- Plastic bags are your friend- As mentioned earlier, carrying a bunch of plastic bags will help keep your dry items separate from your wet ones. This makes unpacking a lot easier for when your trip’s finished, and it protects your dry items.
- Stretch your tent out- Keeping your tent exterior as stretched out as possible will make it easier for the rain to fall smoothly from it. You can easily test this by seeing how tight the guylines are.
- Use your car- If your car is within short walking distance, using it to store items which you wish to keep dry may be a reasonable option. It could be used for saving dry firewood, storing clothes, shoes or anything else that needs to be kept dry.
- Invest in a tree tent- Maybe you’ve been considering a treehouse tent for a while, but haven’t had the push to purchase one. After all, they have plenty of downfalls alongside their benefits. However, they’re great for camping in the rain as they keep you suspended off the wet, muddy floor.
- Carry spare tarpaulin – Tarpaulin is essential when camping, due its versatility. Carrying spare tarpaulin of different sizes is a great habit to get into as you’ll never know when you’ll need it. Because it’s lightweight and thin, it can be easily carried and wrapped around other equipment during transport.
- Waterproof Matches – Matches can be easily forgotten when camping as there is other equipment that can be used to create and maintain a fire. Waterproof matches are useful as a last resort when camping, in case you have no source or fire or warmth in the rain.
- Suitable lighting – Bringing suitable lighting for wet and rainy days might seem like an odd tip, but the constant dark cloud coverage can change lighting levels significantly. Bringing additional torches or head torches to navigate the dark may be worth considering.
- If your tent has windows, keep them closed – Tent windows can be easily opened and forgotten about.
Accept that You’re Going to Get Wet
Accepting that you’re going to get wet when camping during rainy weather is a great way to mentally prepare. Being able to laugh off your misfortune helps you overcome any shortcomings you may experience when camping in the rain. You can generally do all the things you were intending to do had it been dry, providing you come prepared.