When you’re going camping in the rain and you have nothing (or close to that) prepared for it, chances are you’re going to learn the hard way that camping in the rain with no prepping is one of the worst ideas. Water in your tent, wet gear, fire that isn’t going to light and so much more- here are some of the things to describe the disaster that camping in the rain without preparation really is.
On the other hand, when you’re prepared for it, camping in the rain can become a wonderful experience. It teaches you plenty of things and helps you understand that rain is great when you have the right gear.
Let’s see what counts for a successful camping in the rain experience. It’s going to make everything a lot easier for you.
Choose the best place for your campsite and tent
One of the most important steps to take when camping in the rain is to choose the right campsite and tent location. This counts tremendously for keeping you and your gear dry, improving the whole experience.
An area with high ground and trees overhead (you’re going to need them later on for attaching your tarps to) is the best option. Try to stay away from a low area that might collect run-off, getting saturated with heavy-rain. It’s not mandatory to go in the highest point, but you sure don’t want to camp in the lowest either.
Valleys are the coldest and wettest areas so set up your camp. Therefore, go above the high water as you need to remain dry and safe in case of a flash flood.
Let’s have a closer look at this matter:
- The tent
Most modern tents are handling the rain pretty well, stopping the rain from getting in. However, not all tents are going to take the elements for a long time, so choose right.
- Don’t camp under a tree
Truth be told, during a heavy rain, trees are great for protecting you from the downpour. Once the rain stops, they’re also going to drip for quite some time. This means that sun isn’t going to get to your tent anymore so drying any time soon is out of the question. Try not to fall into temptation and install your tent under the trees. It’s better to do it close to some bushes or rocks for adding a bit more protection against the rain.
- Always go with high ground
Try as much as you can not to camp near the bottom of a slow or any water. You don’t want to wake up floating on water, so stay away from the bottom of slopes and hills. Go for the high ground as the water is going to flow away from your camp.
If the trails take you to a narrow canyon or valley, try to get up as high as you can. Flash floods may happen in no time.
- Place your tent the right way
Your tent’s position is important and you want the door to face away from the wind. This way, you’re going to reduce the amount of rain that is going to get into your tent every time you open the door.
Try to go into your tent only when you have to; it’s also important to move really fast when getting in/out of your tent.
- Stake out the tent really good
You don’t want any water to pool on top of your tent so make sure you get rid of sagginess, creating tension across the fly sheet. Use all the stakes and pull the fly away from the inner as much as you can. Be patient and secure the guy lines even if it’s not windy as it’s essential to maintain the tension (the fly is going to get saturated at some point).
- Dig a trench around your tent
If the groundwater begins to pool close to your tent, you should move fast and start digging with your shovel. Try to turn your tent into a castle, digging a small moat around it. You also need to dig a channel that is going to take the moat water far from your tent when the trench gets full.
- Stay away from the sides of your tent
Waterproof has its limitations and many canvas and budget tents are going to take only so much water. When you’re touching the sides of your tent from the inside/outside, chances are the water is going to seep through the fabric, getting inside your tent. Move very carefully inside if your tent is really small as you want to avoid any seeping. You also need to make sure that no gear or stuff is touching the sides or the edges of your tent.
- Place a groundsheet down inside your tent
Don’t use the groundsheet/footprint straight on the ground. Water may pool on top of it pretty easy, causing sagginess later on. It’s better to use a layer of protection from the damp and cold floor. Lay it down inside your tent, between the sleeping pad and the tent floor.
- Do let some air in
Even if it’s really cold outside, you should still open the vents on your tent. The air flow is actually going to prevent the buildup of condensation that may drip on you and your gear. Keeping everything dry is the goal when camping in the rain!
You need a rain free outdoor space. Here’s how to do it!
Even though camping tarps go great for all sorts of camping experiences, they do “shine” when camping in the rain. The right and lightweight tarp is going to create an overhead shelter, taking the camping in the rain experience to a whole new level.
You need to roll a paracord and a few trees (remember choosing the right spot for camping?) and set up your shelter. It’s going to be very useful when cooking or simply hanging out with your camping buddies.
Keep in mind that the tarp shelter may be installed in all camping situations, as it creates a nice shaded lounging area, protecting your kitchen set up in any unexpected events.
Here are some of the uses of camping tarps:
- It creates an important layer of protection between your tent bottom and the ground, reducing the risk for ripping and keeping water from the ground away from your tent
- You may also install one above your tent to add more protection against the rain
- You can also lay a tarp on the ground, under your tarp shelter. You won’t have to walk on muddy/wet ground like this, minimizing the mess that comes with a rainstorm.
Stay dry without a shelter
Staying warm and dry when camping in the rain is one of the important (if not the most important) aspects that you should have in mind.
You need to stay in your tent or under your shelter, but it’s not unusual for the rain to hit in some unexpected places. You should have the right top layers so that you don’t get wet even sooner than expected.
When it comes to top layers, the choices are many and you should pick depending on the weather you’re expecting. You’re going to need one heavy-duty type of gear for the extreme rain and cold, whereas a lighter layer is going to be enough for some warm weather rain or sprinkling rain.
The safest choice for top layer is a waterproof jacket that is also breathable. It should come with eVent or Gore-Tex. Finding a jacket that is waterproof, breathable and comfortable isn’t that difficult anymore.
When you’re only looking for something to have on you in case of an emergency, put your money at stake with a rain suit or a poncho. Affordable and very easy to pack, they’re great as emergency options.
How to make campfire in the rain?
Creating a good campfire takes practice and trying to create it in the rain takes the whole thing to another level.
Here are some things to take under consideration regarding the campfire:
The most important thing is that you need to make sure that you can actually start a fire. A dependable lighter is fundamental when camping, no matter if you’re creating a fire in the small stove or a campfire.
You need a waterproof and windproof lighter, waterproof matches and a magnesium fire for your campfire. As you can see, waterproof is the magical word in this situation. You’re not going to start a fire with some regular matches that are wet. And no, starting a fire with some sticks like survivalists do it when out in the jungle is no easy job either.
You cannot start a fire without tinder, which is lightweight, catching fire almost instantly and burning pretty fast. There are several options for tinder even when camping in the rain.
Here are some tips:
- Take a look under pine trees as you may find some good tinder there. Most pine trees have a thick bed of needles just right under the tree. If you’re going to dip down, you’re going to find some dry needles. You should be able to find dry leaves/needles under all sorts of trees or thick grass.
- The safest option is to take waterproof tinder with you. You should always include it in your survival/emergency kit. Don’t hesitate to go online and get the one that fits your budget and your needs the best way. You can find some that burn hot for 5 minutes in all kinds of weather, even when wet.
- Get some fallen wood and use it as tinder. Look for the driest log and peel off its bark as the wood should be dry under the bark. Scrape along the dry wood with your survival knife so that you obtain some really thin wood shavings. They should light in no time, burning fast and hot.
The small fuel that lights pretty easy, burning longer than tinder is named kindling. Pinecones, small twigs and branches may serve as kindling. The driest type is easy to find under dense bushes, thick grass or under trees. Should you find only wet kindling, go ahead and scrape off the bark of small twigs, trying to get to dry wood.
- Fuel wood
This fuel is going to help your fire go for a good amount of time. If your tinder and kindling are already burning, it shouldn’t be complicated to get the fuelwood light.
Collect as much fuelwood as you can and only use wood from dead trees and fallen trees. Live wood isn’t going to burn and it’s not nice to cut down live trees anyway.
Once you have enough fuelwood, continue with peeling the bark and splitting it for accessing the dry center. Splitting the wood is going to make the wood burn a lot easier, ensuring success. You should also pack a camping hatchet for better results, but a survival knife may work too if you know how to use it.
How to get dressed when camping in the rain?
Wearing the appropriate clothing when camping in the rain can make the difference between a good and a bad experience. It may even save your life or put your life at risk if it’s not the right one. Pack clothing for this kind of trip and don’t take it out of the equation especially if you’re planning to camp in cold weather or when storms are in the forecast.
- Wool clothing
Wool is one dependable choice for clothing when planning to camp in difficult weather. Waterproof, wool offers insulation and it’s great for wicking moisture. This means that even if it’s wet, it’s still going to keep you warm. When you’re wearing wool clothes, you’re still going to be able to wear your clothing as it dries out on its own, keeping you nice and warm.
The crimping of the fiber leads to capture of more dead air, insulating you from the elements and helping you feel warm.
The big downside related to wool is that it’s typically itchy and uncomfortable, so decide what counts for you the most.
- Merino wool
Presenting all the amazing properties of regular wool, merino wool stands out as the best choice for camping in wet and cold conditions. It’s able to wick moisture away from your body, leading it towards less humid areas (like the outside of your clothing). It feels dry even if carries 30% of its weight in water. On the side note, most fibers are going to feel wet at only 7%. The best part about merino wool is that it’s going to dry out as you go- isn’t this amazing?
Merino wool is very comfortable to wear. If the main downside of traditional wool is that it feels all itchy and rough from the large rigid fibers, that’s not the case with Merino wool. This type of wool has smaller and smoother fibers, which explains the great and comfy soft touch feel to the skin.
In addition, Merino wool presents anti-odor abilities so it smells fresh for a good amount of time. If you’re into camping, you should take the leap of faith and invest in some Merino wool clothing for your camping experiences. You’re able to find many brands out there that create so many types of clothing for the outdoors fans.
Even if the price tag may be a pet peeve for many, you really shouldn’t go out there in the rain without a base layer made of Merino wool, to say the least. Stay on the safe side and get several pieces of Merino wool clothing, according to the weather conditions you’re expecting.
Fleece base layers are another solution when camping in the rain. Light, the fleece clothing dries fast and wicks nicely, providing a smooth comfort. They take the long time use and are very affordable too. If you’re the dedicated camper, chances are you already have a drawer full of various fleece clothing.
However, fleece isn’t the warmest base layer as it’s not able to seal in heat when wet. Wind really gets through it too, so make sure you choose right.
This is the second best choice when selecting your clothing for your camping in the rain. Thin, lightweight and pretty efficient when it comes to wicking, polypropylene lets you dry out a lot faster than cotton, fleece and surpasses even wool.
Many brands out there design and manufacture polypropylene clothing so it shouldn’t be difficult getting some.
- Cotton clothing
Light and comfy, cotton is great for many situation, but it’s never a good choice for wet and cold conditions. It has no wicking abilities whatsoever and once it gets wet, it’s going to remain that way for a very long time. When you’re wearing cotton and you get wet, the best solution is to simply take it off, allowing it to dry. Get yourself warm as fast as you can and look for other clothing options. Anything but cotton, though.
How to keep your gear dry?
When you’re camping in the rain, it’s not only you that needs to stay dry, but also your gear. Here are the tips for that:
- Get waterproof backpacks/portage packs/daypacks
Even if your jacket is waterproof and keeps you nice and dry all day long, that may not be the case for your gear as your pack is soaking wet. You may think you got a waterproof pack, but the reality proves you wrong.
You should pay the extra buck for a good quality backpack, especially if you’re planning camping in the rain. Not only a good backpack is going to fit everything you need nice and comfy, but it’s also going to take the rain and the long time wear.
If you already have a good backpack which lacks waterproofness, you may easily protect it with a backpack rain cover. It’s going to keep water away from your essentials and backpack and you can stow it away once the sun comes out.
A reliable backpack rain cover isn’t as expensive as one may think. The good ones out there are highly portable and go great when camping. They’re large, waterproof and quite comfortable, without adding unnecessary weight to your backpack.
- Don’t forget about the waterproof stuff sacks
How you pack your non-waterproof gear is also important and you need to develop some skills about it. You should start using waterproof stuff sacks inside your main pack. This way, you’re going to protect your gear with two different layers so the risk for getting your gear wet is pretty slim.
Is it possible to dry out your wet gear and clothes?
Sometimes, no matter how cautious or meticulous you are with your gear, you may still end up with some wet clothes and gear. Knowing how to dry them out when out there is going to help you, for sure.
- Use a tarp/paracord
As we mentioned previously, you should build a tarp shelter, which means you already have on you some drying line. Therefore, stringing the drying line and hanging your clothes and gear for drying throughout the night seems like the easiest solution. Ideally, you should light a fire nearby so that the heat speeds up the drying process.
- Get creative
When you don’t have a tarp, the situation becomes a bit more challenging and you need to get creative. You may hang out your clothes in the tent or throw the wet clothes inside the sleeping bag, allowing your body heat do all the work for you.
You should also keep your wicking clothes on for as much as you can. They are going to wick moisture away from your body, drying out quicker.
- Stay warm
No matter if you’re able to dry out your wet clothes or not, staying warm should always be taken under consideration. Being cold and wet is going to cause hypothermia, which may become life-threatening in the middle of nowhere.