There are two types of people in this world: those who prefer camping in dry, comfortable conditions, and crazy ones who prefer to get wet.
That’s both a generalization and a joke, but rain can either ruin your hike or camping trip or enhance it. If you come out unprepared for a good rainstorm—well, you’re less likely to have a good time.
Me personally, I don’t mind the rain. I do, however, mind the cold. (I bought my vehicle specifically so I can crawl into the back and sleep comfortably if I pull up to a campsite and it’s raining.) Of course, there’s plenty of good rain gear that’s far and away from the famous old yellow rain jacket of yore to help keep you dry(ish) and warm.
Rain Jackets and Pants
The worst part of getting soaked when you’re out hiking or camping is that it’s very, very difficult to get dry again. If you’re prepared, a good rain jacket can at least help mitigate some of the wetness.
Columbia makes one of the best rain jackets I’ve ever owned: the Watertight II. It fits well, keeps me dry in extremely wet conditions, and is seam-sealed. For women, the Arcadia II operates on the same levels, with a little more comfortable cut and taper.
Beyond that, the HUK Offshore Division is a standard, heavy-duty rain jacket. It’s something Ahab would’ve worn on his hunt for Moby Dick. Women, the Ultimate Terrain TecH20 Sheltered II offers the same coverage—in more (and better) colors.
Pants – You can keep your upper dry all you want, but even after a good rainstorm, plants still hold water. Hike for too long, and suddenly your pant legs are soaked through. If you think you’ll get wet up top, you’ll get wet down below too. Seriously. Get rain pants, and be thankful you have them.
There’s nothing—nothing—worse than wet feet. Trod through enough muddy waters and unavoidable puddles in a pair of breathable boots and you’ll see just how miserable you can get very quickly. Good waterproof boots are a must for hiking and camping in the rain.
Merrell is almost on their own plane when it comes to hiking boots, and they do waterproof right. Every boot company has their own waterproof “technology,” and Merrell’s is M Select DRY—a waterproof and breathable lining. The Moab 2 Mid Waterproof will keep your feet dry and happy.
On the other end, if it’s really wet, you want heavy duty guys. The LaCrosse Alpha Agility boots are for hunting, but it’s every bit as important to keep your feet then as it is when you’re hiking or camping. With neoprene and rubber for waterproofing and 1200 grams of Thinsulate, say it with me: dry and warm.
Staying for a few days in a deluge? A few key pieces of gear can help make the whole experience much more enjoyable. And remember: always set up your tent at a high point. Otherwise, you’re going to get wetter.
You may only think of dry bags in terms of kayaking or canoeing, but water is water. When you need desperately to stay dry, keeping spare clothes, base layers, and socks in dry bags will make you a much happier camper.
Tarps are a simple and effective way to keep rain away from you. Whether you’re draping them up to create a little “living room” area or stowing them inside your tent as a bottom layer to prevent moisture seepage, a simple tarp can save a camping trip. For the cost, maybe buy a few.
Listen. I know some tents say they’re waterproof. But always put a rainfly over yours. Check the seams. Check for tears. Water gets in where it wants to get in. Consider some silicone waterproofer to help on the seams.
It can’t be understated how important it is to keep your gear dry. Toss your pack in a large black trash bag, and you’ll save yourself headaches later in the process.
Wet, cold, and dark? No thank you. A series of camp lights can help add a little much-needed ambiance when you’re sinking into the worst camping experience you’ve ever had.
What rain gear do you use? Leave a comment below! Didn’t see what you’re looking for above? Check out all of Gander’s rain gear to find exactly what you need to stay dry.