As a camping enthusiast, it’s only a matter of time until you find yourself bundled up in your tent, waiting out a rainstorm. Rain is a totally normal, often unavoidable part of being one with nature. In fact, a rainy day can make for the best stories and most memorable camping adventures…as long as you’re well-prepared.
Whether you embark on a camping trip expecting bad weather or you’re caught off guard by a sudden storm, there are a few steps you can take to prepare for camping in the rain.
Prepare Your Tent
Preparing for camping in the rain starts before you even leave your house. First, you should make every effort to invest in a high-quality waterproof tent. Even if you’re using a brand new tent, take the time to seal your tent seams by applying an adhesive seam sealer.
If your tent is has seen better days, apply an instant water-repellent spray to the exterior of your tent before using it. These sprays work best if reapplied after each time your tent gets wet. Don’t forget to spray and seal your rain fly, too!
Pick the Right Campsite
Pitch your tent in a clear, elevated spot away from any body of water that may rise during a rainstorm. Choose an area with nearby trees so you can hang tarps, but do not set up camp directly under a tree. Falling branches can not only damage your tent, but injure you while you’re in it. Setting up away from trees means less water dripping on your tent when you’re drying out after the storm.
Bring a Few Tarps
If there’s even the slightest chance of rain, take a few tarps with you. Bring tarps even if you don’t think it’ll rain. Tarps can single-handedly save your camping trip in inclement weather.
Set your tent up on a tarp to keep groundwater from seeping into your tent. Position your tent so that any extra tarp is at the tent entrance. Use that space to shake off your wet shoes and gear before entering the tent. If you’re feeling extra cautious, lay another tarp down on the floor of your tent. In case water finds its way into your tent, it will pool under the tarp, keeping your sleeping bag and gear dry.
You can also hang a tarp over your tent to divert rainwater if your tent isn’t completely waterproof. Use another tarp to create a makeshift shelter over your picnic table and chairs so can still enjoy being outside during the storm.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to camping in the rain:
Ugh, we’re stuck in a tent.
Waiting out the rain is no problem! Bring along some games and books to stay entertained inside your tent. Pack extra batteries for your lanterns in case it rains through the night.
Also, bring snacks and easy meals to make in your tent, like sandwiches and veggie dips. Keep in mind that you’ll need to bring your food inside your tent when it starts raining to avoid going in and out of your tent.
Awesome, let’s go on an adventure!
Hiking in the rain is a great way to stay busy and experience your natural surroundings from a different perspective. Just make sure to bring a rain jacket, pants, and waterproof footwear. You can use the same spray-on water repellent that you used on your tent to help waterproof your boots. Wear layers under your rain gear and choose wicking clothing that won’t retain moisture if it gets wet.
Take a waterproof flashlight with you when you head out and place your phone in a waterproof case so you can still use it to find your way back. Always be cautious of slippery trails, and never go out during a lightning storm.
Be Mindful of Your Fire
The first thing to do at the sight of rain is protect your firewood. Whether you put it in a trash bag or carefully cover it with a tarp, find a way to keep your firewood dry. It will keep you warm after the rain has passed, and help dry out your gear quicker.
Try to to keep a fire going when it’s raining. If you have a good base of hot coals, set large logs on top of your fire to shield your fire base from the rain. You’ll be surprised at how long a fire can last in the rain. If your fire goes out and you have to restart it, clear the top layer of wet ground, exposing a dry spot to build your fire.
Pack a camp lighter, waterproof matches, fire starter, or InstaFire to help you start a fire with wet wood. In fact, pack a few of these items. It’s always better to overpack and be prepared than to be cold.
Stake Your Tent Correctly
Staking your tent correctly while camping in the rain can mean the difference between staying dry all night or waking up in a puddle.
Start out by staking all corners of your tent outside the tarp. Be careful not to let the tarp corners curl up, which will cause water to pool inside the tarp and potentially seep into the bottom of your tent.
Even if your tent is waterproof, condensation can still make the inside or your tent wet. When staking your rain fly, take extra care to tightly tie down all sides and corners so the outer shell of the fly doesn’t collect water, dip, and touch the walls of your tent. Any contact between a wet rain fly and the walls of your tent will create condensation and moisture inside your tent.
Dry Out Wet Gear
After the rain passes, it’s important to air out your clothes and gear as quickly as possible. If you’re still wearing wet clothes, change into dry clothes as soon as you can or get inside your sleeping bag naked to warm up.
Utilize the rope you used to hang your tarps as clotheslines to dry out wet clothing, towels, and bedding (if you waterproofed and set up your tent correctly, this shouldn’t be an issue). Bungee cords make great makeshift clotheslines.
Once you get a fire started, set your shoes, backpacks, and other durable items near the fire to help dry those out quicker. As a bonus, your shoes will be warm when you put them on again.
When you’re ready to leave, use towels to dry off any moisture on the outside of your tent. Any time you camp in the rain, make sure to pitch your tent when you get back home to finish drying it out completely. This will help keep your tent from getting moldy and preserve the life of your tent.
Camping in the Rain Checklist
Consider bringing the following items when preparing for camping in the rain:
- Waterproof tent with rain fly
- Rain jacket, pants, and waterproof or sealed boots
- Waterproof flashlight, lantern, or headlamp
- Extra batteries
- No-prep food, like sandwiches, dips, and sliced fruits and veggies to eat inside your tent
- Trash bags to keep firewood dry
- Two or more tarps – at least one for the ground below your tent and one to hang over your tent
- Canopy to place over your tables and chairs (seal and waterproof it, too)
- Games, books, and activities for waiting out the rain inside your tent
- Ziplock bags or dry bags for valuables and electronics
- Waterproof case for your phone
- Extra towels
- Extra clothes to change into if you get wet
- Bungee cords to secure your tarps and make clotheslines
- Waterproof matches, fire starters, InstaFire, or other tools of choice to get your fire going after the rain passes
No matter how much you plan or prepare, Mother Nature is unpredictable. As long as you maintain a positive outlook, camping in the rain can be an amazing outdoor adventure. Leave us a comment and share your story about a great time you’ve had in the rain.