Camping in the Rain

So the day for your annual family camping trip has finally arrived, only to realize that rain is expected over the next few days. We’ll admit that it can quickly dampen your mood. But does that mean you have to cancel the trip? The good news is not necessarily!

Don’t let the rain ruin your plans. All you need to do is take the necessary precautions to ensure you go ahead with the trip. And above all, enjoy it. Who knows? It might be your best camping trip yet.

In this article, we’re going to reveal a few handy tips for a successful and fun camping adventure regardless of the rain.

woman feeling rain drops

Choose the Right Campsite

The first thing you want to do when going camping on a rainy day is to select the right campsite location to pitch your tent. And here we mean staying clear from lakes and riversides. We get it; the view from your tent may be nothing short of magical if you pitch near the lake—but only if it’s warm and sunny. On a rainy day? Not so much. You need to prioritize safety over the scenery.

Rather opt to pitch your tent on an elevated platform. The idea here is to prevent the formation of puddles of water right outside your tent.

pitching a tent

We’ll quickly point out that you don’t necessarily have to look for the highest slope. By pitching your tent on a slightly inclined slope, water will flow downhill and that’s what you want. Sure, flat ground is ideal for more comfortable sleeping but unfortunately, it won’t allow for water to flow downwards. In addition, pitching your tent near a lakeside puts you at risk in the event that a flash flood occurs.

Alternatively, you can opt to pitch your tent under a group of trees. Think of it as ‘killing two birds with one stone.’ Not only will the trees act as a cover from the rain but it makes it much easier to hook up your tarp. Plus, you’ll also be surrounded by beautiful green scenery.

Also, avoid pitching your tent in valleys as they’re known to be the coldest areas.

Do Some Digging

Camping is meant to be a short break from your everyday busy lifestyle. We understand that it’s time to relax in the outdoors and simply enjoy nature. But if it happens to rain, then, unfortunately, you’ll have to be prepared for a little digging. However, rest easy knowing it’s a necessary task for the greater good—a dry and fun camping experience.

Dig a small trench around your tent. This trench serves to catch any flowing water near your tent. Either that or you risk allowing water to slowly enter into your tent through the bottom.

camping shovel

You can even take it a step further by digging a water outlet for your trench. This will prevent water from filling up the trench which may find its way into your tent.

Seal Your Tent

Your best bet in such a situation would obviously be to have a waterproof tent. But what happens if it’s not waterproof? Not to worry.

There are some things you can do to keep water out of your tent. Because let’s face it; even if some tents are labeled water-resistant, that doesn’t necessarily mean that water is kept out entirely. In most cases, it merely means that the tent allows for slow penetration. As a result, you still need to take a few extra steps to make the tent waterproof, and sealing the seams is one such solution.

Here you apply seam sealer on to your tent’s seams. This is important because if the water is to ever penetrate your tent, it usually occurs via the seams. Some manufacturers claim that their tents are pre-sealed. While this may be so, it’s not uncommon for leakages to still occur. So, to eliminate leaks completely, you might want to go ahead and apply your seam sealer anyway.

Place a Tarp Over Your Tent

Again, we’re going to put special emphasis on keeping water out of your tent. After all, a warm and dry tent is crucial for a comfortable camping trip on a rainy day.

Another way of ensuring water doesn’t find its way into your tent is by placing a tarp over your tent. Even if the tarp isn’t sizeable enough to completely cover your tent if it still covers a portion that’ll go a long way in making sure you’re kept dry.

placing rainfly on tent

But don’t just pack one. Pack a few extra tarps. You can use these to cover your other supplies including food and clothing. And whatever you do, don’t forget the necessary reinforcements needed to secure your tarps. A paracord or extra rope will suffice. These will keep rain or harsh winds from blowing your tarp away rendering it ineffective.

Create a Rain-Free Area

After sealing and pitching your tent, we still advise you to create a dry area that can act as your cooking area and ‘living room.’ Compartmentalize your tent by making one area for sleeping and the other for social interactions.

During the day, there’s bound to be many movements in and out of your tent, and this may result in you bringing water inside. By the end of the day, you can’t guarantee a dry sleeping area.

To avoid this, you can either use a pop-up canopy to create a rain-free area. Alternatively, you can use one of your tarps. Having dry spaces is extremely important when camping in the rain.

Place a Rug on Your Tent’s Entry Point

There’s nothing like being over-prepared if you’re camping in rainy weather. Make sure you pack everything you feel is necessary to make your camping trip much more pleasurable in the rain, and if that means packing a rug, then so be it.

You don’t have to purchase a new rug for this. Look for an old dirty rug—or towel—to place inside your tent’s entry point. This rug will serve as an excellent way of soaking up excess water from your shoes and minimizing mud inside your tent. The end result? The inside of your tent is kept relatively dry, clean and mud-free.

Pack Waterproof Clothing

camper in raingear

If it’s expected to rain during your camping trip, packing waterproof clothing goes without saying. You want to carry clothes that are designed to keep you dry at all times.

Shoes matter too. Forget your stylish hiking boots; waterproof shoes are the way to go. If you’re one of those people who think that getting your feet wet isn’t so bad, you might want to reconsider. That’s something you’ll deeply regret once you come down with a cold. If your budget won’t allow for a new pair of waterproof shoes, purchasing waterproof socks is the next best alternative.

Other clothing items you want to bring along include rain jackets and brimmed hats. You want to make sure that you and your family are kept as dry as possible for the duration of your camping trip.

Pack a Few Extra Clothes

If you’re a fan of traveling light, you’ll have to make this camping trip an exception especially with the incoming rain. Fill up your suitcase with a few extra pieces of clothing just in case you get wet. You want to change into dry clothes as soon as you get wet to keep colds and flu at bay.

Granted, you may have taken the necessary precautions and packed raincoats and waterproof clothing, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Call it being prepared for unforeseen eventualities.

Still, on the subject of clothes, consider packing less cotton clothing. Here’s why: Cotton clothing, unfortunately, takes longer to dry when it gets wet. In addition, when wet, cotton clothing ceases to act as an insulator so you’ll no longer be kept warm.

Rather opt for wool clothing. Wool does absorb all the moisture, but compared to most fabrics, it still stays warmer—even when wet.

Another worthwhile option is fleece clothing. Not only does fleece dry quickly, but it’s also light but very durable.

hikers in the rain with raincoats on

Dry Your Clothes

You might want to hang your clothes out to dry as opposed to throwing them in a pile. Not only will this give them a chance to dry but you minimize the possible stench that results if damp clothes are left in a pile.

Set up a clothesline under a tarp and hang your clothes if it’s still raining. If the rain has stopped, hang them out to dry near the campfire.

Another option is to stuff newspapers into your damp clothes as it’s also known to quicken the drying process even in wet weather.

Pack Hand Warmers

During your camping expedition, your hands are likely to suffer the most if it’s raining, and understandably so, considering that you’ll be using them for pitching, cooking and handling a lot of items.

To keep your hands warm and dry, make sure you pack hand warmers. Keep these warmers in your pockets where you can easily access them when needed.

Packing hand warmers will make the difference between an enjoyable and miserable camping trip.

Invest in a Bivy Sack

Any outdoor enthusiast must have a bivy sack in their closet. This sack is known to effectively keep you dry if you’re faced with bad weather—rain included. A bivy sack will come in handy especially if you’re planning to sleep on the ground during your camping trip.

All you need to do is to place your sleeping bag inside the sack. This way, your sleeping bag won’t get wet if water happens to enter your tent. Alternatively, you can eliminate the sleeping bag entirely by sleeping directly inside the bivy sack with just a few blankets. But of course, we only recommend this option if it’s not too cold.

Zipper-Lock Bags Are a Good Idea

You want to purchase a few zipper-lock bags especially if you’re going to be packing a few of your valuables. An extra layer of protection on a rainy day is crucial if you’re taking electronics or medicine on your camping trip.

Use these bags to pack anything you consider valuable including extra clothing. This way your important items are kept dry during your trip.

Go with a Quality Backpack

Some people might find hiking in light drizzles quite invigorating. Just be sure to carry a high-quality backpack that’s not only waterproof but durable and lightweight. You want one with an ergonomic design that will allow for comfortable carrying while keeping your belongings dry.

Plan appropriately for your next hiking journey

Some manufacturers even include rain covers on the backpack to protect the contents. Be sure to pick a comfortable size that you’ll find easy to manage without causing shoulder strain.

Be Sure to Change Clothes Before Bed

Make it a point to change into dry clothes before going to bed every night—even if they’re only slightly damp. And this also includes changing into dry socks. Damp clothing is enough to cause discomfort during sleep and keep you cold and awake throughout the night. In worst-case scenarios, you may end up getting sick.

Aside from keeping your body dry, clothes will also keep your sleeping bag dry. A wet sleeping bag will pretty much spoil your entire camping trip. Remember, once it’s wet, drying your bag is next to impossible.

Keep Your Wood Dry

This may sound like a tall order especially on a rainy day, but it’s possible and highly necessary.

It’s no secret how starting a fire with damp wood is extremely difficult. It’s doable but hard. Make things easy for yourself by keeping your wood dry. Now isn’t the time to take chances by keeping the dry wood in your tent in case if leaks occur. Rather keep them under your car. This is an ideal place to keep your wood dry for the most part.

If your car is too small or too low, then fitting all your wood under it may prove to be a challenge. If that’s the case, make use of your additional tarps to cover the dry wood to keep water out.

How to Start Fire in the Rain

Despite your efforts to keep your wood dry, we can’t completely disregard the fact that your efforts may be in vain. If your wood happens to dampen, all hope isn’t lost. We will list a few tips that can make life a little easier for you:

If you follow our previous tip, we’re certain that you’ll still have a few pieces of completely dry wood. Use these pieces to get the fire started.

Next up, you’ll need a pack of fire starters. Opt for a brand that’s specifically designed to light damp wood regardless of the weather conditions; Instafires is one such example. You’ll have your fire blazing in as little as 20 minutes if you use these products.

Whatever you do, avoid using the regular firelighter or matches as they’re less likely to yield positive results. Rather opt for stormproof matches that are designed to still work in wet conditions

Try and Keep the Fire Going

Once your fire is up and going, it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep it burning provided that the rain isn’t too much. Your first thought may be to place a canopy over your fire but rather don’t. Not only can it melt, but it can also catch fire leading to disastrous consequences.

Instead, you can consider setting up a windbreak to prevent strong winds from blowing out your fire. You can tie a tarp between a few trees to act as the windbreak. Alternatively, you can act as the windbreak by sitting in front of the fire.

Consider a Propane Camping Stove

If the above-mentioned process seems too daunting for you, take the easy way out; pack a portable camping stove. Sure, cooking over a fire while camping is lots of fun, but consider the drawbacks. You don’t want to spend most of your time trying to get the fire started and worse still, struggle to keep it going. Where’s the fun in that?

Using a propane camping stove will have you cooking in no time. You and your family can gather around a hearty meal in a matter of minutes.

MSR Windburner stove system

Bring Board Games

Camping in the rain doesn’t have to be boring. There are many fun games and activities you can do as a family while it’s raining. This can be anything from playing a board game to playing cards.

If you have toddlers, be sure to pack a few of their favorite toys to entertain them so that they don’t get bored.

Use this time to catch up and share stories & make it an effective bonding session. You might leave the trip knowing a little more about your kids than you did before—thanks to the rain.

If you run out of stories, read a few interesting books; another way to effectively pass time.

Pack Snacks and Drinks

Make sure you pack a few snacks and drinks that you can have while sitting in your tent. Just be sure not to pack large amounts as this may leave a mess especially if you have young kids.

But make sure you don’t sleep with food in your tent overnight. That’s important if you don’t want unexpected visits from your wildlife neighbors. If you stay in a country with bears, eliminating food from your tent altogether is in your best interests.

Final Words

Don’t let the rain ruin your camping trip. Follow the above-mentioned tips and you’re guaranteed an enjoyable camping experience. But even if you incorporate these tips, the most important thing you need to have is a positive attitude. Make sure you and your family members look forward to what’s coming. That is ultimately what will make the difference of it being a FUN or miserable camping adventure.

Just remember that camping in the rain isn’t all bad. Take this time to enjoy the relaxing sound of rain and get in touch with nature. If not that, use the time to create even stronger bonds with the people you love.

Here’s to the best camping experience if your life.