So you’ve planned your next family camping trip and you just learned that it is expected to rain. What should you do? Cancel the trip? Move it to a different date? Go and hope for the best?
Don’t worry, rain does not have to ruin your camping trip. Camping in the rain can actually be a lot of fun. These 21 tips for camping in the rain will help you ensure that you don’t have to cancel your camping trip and still have a great time.
Use Seam Sealer
If you will be expecting rain it is a good idea to use some seam sealer on the seams of your tent. Seam sealer prevents water from getting into the tent through the seams of the tent. I find it a good idea to seal the seams on all tent. Some manufacturers say that their tents come pre-sealed.
I have had an experience that a pre-sealed seam still leaked while camping in the rain. I now make sure that I seal the seams for all my tents regardless of whether manufacturers state that the seams were already sealed.
Dig a Trench Around Your Tent
No one likes water in their tent so it’s a good idea to take a few extra precautions to ensure water doesn’t end up in your tent. One good way to help prevent water from running under your tent and slowly soaking through the bottom is to dig a small trench around your tent.
Digging a small trench around your tent will catch any runoff from your tent as well as any flowing water near your tent. It is also a good idea to dig an outlet for your trench at the lowest point. This will allow the water to run out instead of simply filling up the trench.
Bring Extra Tarps
Extra tarps are some of the most useful things a camper who is expecting rainy weather can bring with them. Whether you use it to simply to cover extra supplies during the day or adding an extra layer to the bottom of your tent, make sure you bring more than one extra tarp. If it does start to rain, you’ll be happy to have a few extra waterproof tarps to cover your gear and keep everything dry.
Additionally, along with the tarps, make sure to bring some para-cord or another kind of rope to hang up the tarp with, or to prevent the tarp from blowing away in the wind. You’ll be surprised how often some extra rope or para-cord comes in handy.
Put a Tarp Over Your Tent
One great thing to do with the extra tarps you bring is to hang one above your tent. Keeping water out of your tent is going to be one of the most important parts of making sure you have a good time while rainy camping. Hanging a tarp over your tent goes a long way to ensure water doesn’t end up in your tent. Even if you don’t have a tarp large enough to cover your entire tent, covering a portion will still help quite a bit.
Bring Waterproof Clothing
Bringing clothes that can handle some rain is a must when rain is a possibility. Waterproof shoes are also more important than you may think. It is easy to think that getting your feet wet will not be so bad, but after walking around all day in wet socks and shoes, you will definitely regret it. If you don’t want to get new shoes you can at least pick up some waterproof socks.
Some other waterproof clothes that might be worth considering are some cheap ponchos, rain jackets, gaiters, and a brimmed hat. No matter what you decide to bring, just make sure you have a plan for keeping dry while out in the rain.
Bring a Bivy Sack
If you sleep on the ground having a bivy sack would be a good idea. You can easily put your sleeping bag inside the bivy bag and then you will have a waterproof liner for your sleeping bag. If any water does get into your tent or condense, your sleeping bag won’t get wet. Additionally, if the weather is not cold, you could sleep in the bivy sack with only a few blankets.
Bring Extra Clothes
No matter what precautions you take to stay dry it’s inevitable that you’ll get at least a little wet. It’s important to change into dry clothes as soon as possible to stay warm and dry. Too much time in wet clothes and you’ll just start feeling cold and miserable. Having extra clothes in a dry location is essential for camping in the rain.
Beyond just having extra clothes, try to make sure you don’t get any of your cotton clothes wet. When cotton gets wet, it stops acting as an insulator and won’t keep you warm. Additionally, it also takes longer to dry out, especially when there is a lot of moisture in the air.
Choose the Right Campsite
One of the first things that you need to do when you get to the campsite is to find a suitable location to pitch your tent. While it may be tempting to camp by the lake, a better choice is to look for higher ground. Water runs downhill, so setting up your tent on an elevated area is ideal. Flat ground will be more comfortable to sleep on and to balance your gear on, but puddles have a harder time forming on sloped ground, so a slightly sloped surface is ideal.
The slope does not need to be much but just enough so that the water will run around your tent through the trench you dug. Additionally, camping under trees is a good idea. They offer an added layer of cover as well as give you the ability to hang a tarp over your tent.
Create a Covered Gathering & Cooking Area
Following the pitching of the tent, the next thing you should do when camping in wet weather is to create a rain-free area to act as a ‘living room’ while you camp. You can use your tent to serve this purpose, but then you will most likely end up with a wet tent before you sleep. A pop-up canopy or two to create dry areas. Having a dry place for sitting and relaxing as well as a dry area for food prep is important.
Another way to create dry spaces is to use some of the extra tarps you packed, along with some para-cord, and string it up to create your dry zone. Whatever you decide to do, having some dry places is important when you are camping in the rain.
Bring Hand Warmers
One part of camping in the rain is that often your hands end up cold. Cold hands make it hard to cook, work with small items, or simply have an enjoyable time. Bringing some hand warmers is a great way to keep your hands warm in rainy weather. These small hand warmers can be kept in your pockets and you can quickly stick your hands in to be warmed up or you can even keep them inside your gloves. Bring some of these hand warmers and you’ll be grateful you brought them.
Pack Important Items in Ziploc Bags
When there is a possibility of rain, it is a good idea to put important items in Ziploc bags. An extra layer of protection for the most important items will help you ensure you don’t run into any major problem from the rain. We recommend keeping medicine, extra clothes, food that shouldn’t get wet, and electronics. Those are a few good items to start with but if there is anything else you want to ensure stays dry, putting it in Ziploc bags is a good idea.
Change Clothes Before Bed
Changing into dry clothes before bed is something you should do every night. You don’t want to go to bed in wet clothes. For me personally, socks are the most important. Having wet feet will make things uncomfortable all night and often keeps you cold all night long.
Additionally, you don’t want to get your sleeping bag wet. It is very difficult to get your sleeping bag dry once it is wet. Having a wet sleeping bag will ruin your entire camping trip. We definitely recommend changing into dry clothes before bed if you have gotten wet at all throughout the day.
Keep Dry Wood Under Your Car
Keeping wood dry for a fire can be tough when expecting rain. One great way to keep wood dry is to place it under your car. After placing the dry wood under your car, dig a small trench around your car. This will prevent any rainwater from running under the car and getting the wood all wet.
If you have a smaller car, there might not be enough space under your car for firewood. Another great option is to use one of your extra tarps to cover dry wood. Whatever you decide to do, having dry wood is a priority if you want to have a campfire.
Starting a Fire in the Rain
Starting a fire after it has rained can be a little challenging but there are a few tips that can make it easier. First, you should have some dry wood from our previous tip on how to keep wood dry. Use that wood to make some kindling and to get the fire started.
Probably the easiest way to get a fire going in the rain is to use InstaFire. This will be your best friend when it comes to getting even slightly wet wood going. It can it will burn up to 25 minutes in almost any condition, including in rain and snow. Additionally, I would recommend getting either stormproof matches or some of the forever matches. Both are good options and will help you get a fire started easier than regular matches or lighters.
How to Keep a Fire Going in the Rain
While it might be tempting to put a canopy over your firer, that is actually not a good idea. Your canopy will inevitably melt or catch fire. Once you get a fire going it actually shouldn’t be too difficult to keep the fire going as long as it isn’t raining too hard. Fires can continue to burn in light rain without too much extra effort.
If it is a bit windy, setting up a windbreak will ensure that your fire will not be blown out by a strong gust of wind. A windbreak could be as simple as sitting on the correct side of the fire or could be more substantial like a tarp tied between a couple of trees.
Bring a Propane Camping Stove
While cooking over a campfire while is a lot of fun, if rain is expected make sure you bring a propane camping stove. You don’t want to end up at your campsite, planning on cooking all your food over a fire and not be able to start a fire because of rain.
We personally like the Camp Chef 2 burner stove but other camping stoves like the Coleman Classic Propane is also a great option. Whatever you decide to go with, having a propane stove will ensure you are still able to cook your food.
Bring a Rug for Your Tent Entry
Bring a rug or an old towel and lay it down right on the inside of your tent door. You will want to soak up any water that is on your shoes as well as control any mud that you might track in. Having this entry map is super easy and will keep the inside of your tent a lot cleaner and dryer. If your tent has an awning over the door of your tent, it might be a good idea to bring an additional rug for the outside of your tent as well. This will allow you to keep the worst of the mud and water on the outside of your tent.
Dry Your Wet Clothes
Even though it may be tempting to throw your wet clothes in a pile or in a bag, it will be beneficial in the long run to take a few minutes to hang up your wet clothes. Soaked clothes will end up smelling like mildew. Setting up a clothesline using some para-cord when you first set up your tent will make this easier and will save you a headache when you are ready to lay down for the night. Stuffing newspapers in your wet clothes will also help dry them out faster, even in wet weather.
The easiest way to create a dry place for a clothesline is to use an extra tarp to create a covered area. You can then set up a clothesline under the tarp where you can dry your clothes. After it stops raining, you can even dry some of your clothes around the campfire. If you don’t need the clothes right away, we recommend setting up a clothesline somewhere where the sun will hit it (if the sun is shining at all). This will allow you to dry your clothes without having to put all your clothes around the fire.
Bring Games and Plan Indoor Activities
Make sure to bring games and other activities to do while it is raining. These can be as simple as a deck of cards or even more elaborate board games. Additionally, books are another good way to pass the time. Whatever you decide to do make sure you have activities planned especially for younger kids. As all parents know, younger kids can get bored quickly and it’s not going to be a lot of fun sitting in a tent with a bored toddler or younger child.
Bring a Few Snacks and Drinks in the Tent
Having some snacks to munch on and maybe even a small meal in your tent is a good idea. This allows you to stay comfortable and dry in your tent while it is raining outside. With that being said, it’s probably not a good idea to try and have larger meals in your tent. Ultimately too much food in the tent usually ends up in a mess, especially if there are kids in the tent.
With all that being said, do not leave food in your tent overnight. It is unsafe to keep food in your tent at night. You don’t want to attract unwanted attention from wildlife. So having some snacks in the tent is a good idea but make sure you don’t keep it in the tent over night. Additionally, if you are in bear country, it’s best if you don’t bring any food into the tent at all.
Have a Good Attitude
Really the best piece of advice we can give you about camping in the rain is to have a good attitude about it. Don’t let the rain ruin your camping trip. It can actually be really fun to camp in the rain. Enjoy the experience and the different aspects of nature. Simply sitting and enjoying the sound of the rain and be very relaxing. If you think positively about the whole situation, everything will end up being a lot better.
We hope these tips will help you have a great camping trip so you can enjoy your time in the great outdoors. Do you have other tips for camping in the rain? Let us hear them in the comments.