15 Tips For Camping in The Rain: Staying Dry

Rainy Background with title Tips for Camping in The Rain

Rain happens when we least expect it. When planning a camping trip months in advance some times you’re going to get unlucky and have to deal with a little rain.

Don’t let a little bit of rain ruin your trip! Here are a few of my favorite tips for camping in the rain.

Tips For Camping in The Rain

We can’t control the weather! Go on enough camping trips and you’ll eventually get stuck in the rain. Thankfully with a little bit of planning you should stay dry and hopefully salvage the rest of your trip.

1) Watch The Weather and Consider Rescheduling

Check The Weather For Rain Weather Woman with 3 Day Forecast

Hopefully it’s obvious that you should be watching the weather before venturing out into the wilderness (if not you should seriously reconsider camping). Watch the weather forecast on the days leading up to the trip and consider changing your plans if possible.

Unfortunately popular campgrounds are booked up months in advance so it’s impossible to fully predict the weather. If the weather looks absolutely dreary you might just need to skip your plans and consider finding a walk-up campsites the following weekend.

Just remember that the weather can change fast so keep an eye on the forecast and know when to call it a day. If you’re out on the trail and the wind starts to pick up and a storm starts rolling in it’s time to start looking for shelter and preparing for a storm.

2)Throw on A Rain Jacket

Get caught in a rain storm without a rain jacket and I guarantee you have a bad day. Getting your clothes soaked is guaranteed to make you feel miserable.

If there’s a chance of rain take the time to organize your pack so your rain jacket is easily accessible.When you start to see clouds overhead get your rain gear ready. What’s the point of carrying around rain gear if it’s buried in your bag.

Personally I’m not made of money so I go with a cheap rain jacket/pants combo(these are what I like). Just make sure you find a jacket that has some ventilation. With so much humidity you’re bound to sweat.

3) Setup Camp on High Ground

If there’s even a slim chance of rain you’ll want to setup your campsite on elevated ground. You’ll obviously want to avoid setting up at the bottom of slopes even if the ground looks clear and flat.

Small slopes, big slopes they’re all the same. Water always flows downhill and pools up in little dips and ditches along the way. You don’t want to wake up to a flooded tent after a downpour.

When looking for a campsite setup your tent at the top of a hill (it doesn’t need to be big) and hope water doesn’t pool nearby. This might take a little bit of a hike, but it’s well worth the extra effort.

4) New Tents Are Designed to Keep Out Water

Tent designed to keep out water

Most tents that you buy today are designed to keep out water. They come from the factory with a bathtub like floor with high waterproof sides made out of a fabric called silnylon. It’s basically nylon impregnated with waterproof silicone.

Unless you’re sitting in a pool of water a new tent should be able to keep out most of the water. Problems start to arise when sticks/stones accidentally poke a hole in your tent. So try to repair structures and regularly spray the outside of your tent with a Durable Water Repellent Spray(this is what I use).

5) Tarp Footprints May or May Not Help

Whether or not you should use a tarp footprint under your tent is up for debate. While the footprint will help protect your tent from punctures and keep it clean it won’t really help reduce moisture.

I’ve actually found that when I use a tarp under my tent rain tends to pool-up causing more harm than good. Water eventually soaks through your seams and gets inside. You’re better off just choosing a campsite with good drainage and let the rain runoff directly onto the ground.

If you aren’t expecting a lot of rain you will definitely want to stick a tarp under your tent. Mud is a pain in the butt to clean and a tarp will prevent mud buildup on the base of your tent.

6) Build a Small Awning

Instead of putting that tarp below your tent you’re better off creating a makeshift awning. Create a outdoor living area by stringing up a couple tarps overhead so you can still sit outside. Setup your chairs underneath and try to enjoy the rain.

Nobody likes being cooped up in a tent all weekend so this should help preserve your sanity. You can even bring out a few lanterns, playing cards and maybe even a few cold beers. Rain brings everybody together and is actually the cause of some of my favorite camping memories.

If you’re going car camping there’s no reason why you shouldn’t bring along a full-sized canopy tent(trust me you know the kind I’m talking about). They’re easy to setup and are surprisingly affordable.

7) Bring Waterproof Bags

Waterproof Bag floating in a stream

Waterproof bags are an absolute must during the rainy season. Some campers rely on plain old grocery bags, but I’ve always used waterproof dry sacks (check them out). These are the same dry bags that I take kayaking (I don’t usually fall in).

Why mess around with flimsy plastic bags when designated dry sacks are so cheap. I jam my sleeping bag and all my clothing into these bags just in case.

8) Try to Stay Positive

Plan your trip weeks/months in advance and it rains all weekend. Nobody likes the rain, but that doesn’t mean you have to ruin your vacation time.

Act like a mean old grouch and you’ll be miserable all weekend. Try to stay warm/dry and keep a smile on your face. Who can stay angry after a few beers and a bottle of wine.

9) Bring Out The Food

When there’s nothing else to do it’s time to bring out the food. Plan on eating big meals with lots of comfort foods. Look for foods that warm you up like chili, soups, potatoes and pastas. (Carbs are Your Friend

Just make sure you prep everything before leaving home. Chop up your veggies and make sure everything is ready to go.

Don’t forget about those hot beverages to warm up your insides. Bring out the coffee, hot cocoa and some of the hard stuff.

10) Avoid Cotton Clothing

Even on days that aren’t raining cotton clothes find a way to get wet. A little bit of humidity and sweat and you’ll be wet all day. When it’s raining cotton is even worse.

Instead of cotton t-shirts opt for synthetic fabrics made out of nylon, polyester and spandex(Under-Armour style fabric). Basically anything that claims to wick away moisture will work.

11) Remember Waterproof Hiking Boots

Any pair of leather/synthetic hiking boots should come from the manufacturer with a waterproof coating already applied. However, after a few months of consistent wear the coating will wear off.

Don’t Worry! It’s cheap and easy to reapply a durable water repellent to your boots. Just spray the stuff on wait 24 hours and you’re good to go.

Your best bet is to go with a waterproofing spray like this one. You can find waterproofing sprays at just about any Walmart or Sporting Goods Store.

12) Think About Condensation

condensation on inside of tent

You’re always going to have to deal with condensation, but it’s even worse after a rainy night. High humidity and a sudden change in temperature guarantees condensation inside the walls of your tent. However, you can work to minimize condensation.

To prevent condensation you need to try and eliminate humidity inside the tent. You can do this by eliminating water sources and ventilating your tent. In a rainstorm it’s going to be easier said than done.

Try to get some ventilation without exposing yourself to moisture. Open up your screens and store all your wet clothes outside. Once the sun comes out hang up all your wet clothes outside to dry.

13) Bring Extra Layers

Rain gear and some extra layers should help regulate your body temperature. Just make sure you choose layers that wick moisture away from your body.

Stick to your polyester and wool based layers underneath a waterproof rain jacket. Make sure you pack a few extra pairs of socks and extra midlayers just in case your gear gets wet.

14) Hang Your Clothes to Dry

Clothes hanging on tree branch

Don’t be tempted to dump your clothes into the farthest corner of your tent before heading to bed. Take the time to hang up all your clothes to dry so they don’t start to smell like mildew.

If you don’t have an extra rope you can drape them over your tents guylines or a dry branch. Just make sure you ring out all the extra water before hanging them up.

15) Consider Rain Pants/Gaiters

Honestly, I didn’t wear a pair of gaiters until I was in my 30’s. My dad bought me a pair for Christmas and no more wet ankles/socks (check these out).

You can even wear them when you aren’t expecting any rain. Wet leaves and morning dew will quickly soak through your pants and socks.

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