Rain is a fact of nature, whether we like it or not. There’s no reason you should let it stop you from going camping.
In hindsight, a little difficult hiking and camping in the rain can be a lot of fun, as long as you’re prepared.
Have no fear though! If you’re wondering exactly what being prepared for camping in the rain will entail, or you just want to double check that you’re ready, then read on.
How to Dress for Camping in the Rain
How you dress is going to be one of the more integral things to consider when out camping while it rains. It all comes down to making you as comfortable as possible.
Following are some tips for how to dress while camping during a rainstorm.
Consider Wearing Merino Wool Socks
When it comes to camping, what you wear on your feet suddenly becomes a big deal.
Consider merino wool socks – their fibers are much finer than other types of wool, making them more comfortable and flexible for a start.
Merino wool also reacts to changes in your body temperature. It allows your skin to breathe much more efficiently than regular wool and wicks moisture away from your body to help keep you dry.
Merino wool socks also, as if by magic, stay cleaner for much longer. The wool has a protective layer, so stains and dirt and dust will have a hard time penetrating it.
Avoid Wearing Cotton Clothing
For a start, cotton is great at absorbing moisture. As much as 2,700% of its own weight in moisture can be absorbed, to be precise.
Obviously, that that’s the last thing you want to wear while out in the rain. Cotton also takes forever to get dry, due to how much water it will absorb. It is also one of the heavier materials around, especially when soaked through with water or sweat.
Cotton is also not particularly good at regulating temperature. If you’re taking a rest while hiking in cold conditions this can be a problem. Any moisture and you could see a rapid body heat loss.
Use Waterproof Outerwear
At the very least you’ll want to have a waterproof jacket, pants, and boots with you. A waterproof jacket is probably the most important piece of clothing you can bring.
Ideally, you’ll want to find a jacket that has a Gore-tex outer coat. Gore-tex is a waterproof coating. What makes it excel is that it breathes so you won’t get too sweaty during physical activities.
Also, if you can find one with vented armpits this will help prevent you from overheating.
Choosing a Tent Site for Wet Conditions
One of the best things to do if you’re going to be camping out in the rain is to think long and hard about where you’ll set up your camp. Use your common sense, and consider where water will collect if there’s going to be heavy rainfall. In short, don’t set up right at the bottom of a hill or a valley.
For the best chances of staying dry, pick a spot that’s high, and far away from any lakes, rivers or streams. The last thing you want is for bodies of water to overflow and wash you away.
If at all possible, try to set up on a gentle upwards slope, and point your entrance down towards the bottom of it.
Don’t pitch up on a steep slope, and try to avoid totally flat ground. You want a middle ground between the two. Totally flat ground will provide no opportunity for the rain to run away.
I actually have noticed a side benefit to camping on a mild slope. I find that I sleep better with my head slightly elevated.
Rain Ready Tents
It could be a long, sad trip if you find out after setting up camp that your tent can’t handle rain.
Cheaper tents won’t be built as robustly as some more expensive options, especially when it comes to waterproof ratings.
So, the more run-of-the-mill pop ups or multi-purpose tents may allow some rain to soak through.
Some tents will leak terribly if you just touch the inside while the outside is wet. Make sure that a good rain fly is included with your tent. This will help keep moisture out.
The majority of tents today are constructed with a “tub style.” This means that the fabric of the floor will continue up the wall for a few inches with taped seams. This creates a completely watertight structure as far as the floor is concerned.
To get the best protection from the rain, your best bet is a double walled tent due to their additional protection. Double walled tents also keep levels of condensation down. This is what you want when the rain comes hammering down.
Also, any tent with a sewn in groundsheet will be able to handle inclement weather even better. Another option is having a footprint, a second layer of fabric on which your tent lies.
Tents featuring a vestibule will also do better in the rain, for several key reasons. Firstly, the actual entrance to the tent will be kept clean and dry.
You can store your muddy boots in the vestibule to keep them dry and out of the rain. Whatever you do though, don’t use a stove or start any fires in the vestibule.
As a final point, make sure that your tent is in good condition before you go. Inspect the tent for tears or holes that will allow the rain to get in.
Bring a Tarp
There are many practical reasons to bring a tarp while you’re camping. Make sure you also bring a roll of paracord. Find a few well positioned nearby trees. Then, with a sturdy piece of tarpaulin, you can create the perfect shelter to keep dry.
Even if you’re not caught in the rain, a tarp can be a great addition to your campsite. It helps to create a shared lounge area, somewhere where everyone can congregate and keep the sun away on sunny days.
Additionally, for those rainy days, there are many great reasons to put up a tarp. By placing one over your tent, you can keep your tent dry both during set up and take down.
If you don’t have a fabric footprint for your tent, you may want to use a tarp. It can create a sturdy layer of protection between the bottom of your tent and the ground. This can help to prevent any tearing or ripping to the floor of your tent and it will put a huge roadblock in the way of any water that might try to find its way in.
With two tarps, you could even place one on the ground of your communal area. This will go miles toward helping you have a cleaner, tidier area during any rainstorm.
Drying out Wet Gear
When your clothes are all soaking wet, whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of just throwing them onto a pile in the corner and forgetting about them. There’s no way they’ll dry like this, and they’ll only get moldy and stinky, too. And will stink out your entire tent.
What you need to do is to make sure to hang out any wet clothes or gear and let them dry off. You can get creative if you didn’t bring anything to hang your clothes on.
If you have a tarp, you may have paracord with you that you can use to make a clothesline.
If not, then you can sacrifice some of the guy wire from your tent and use that if it’s not all needed. If you are under a tarp, or even if you’re not, any fire you have going can help with drying your gear more quickly.
There’s a special trick you can do if all else fails. Place slightly damp clothes inside your sleeping bag. Try not to seal up your bag to tightly and you can dry them out overnight with your body heat.
Use Dry Bags
There will always be some items that you just don’t want to get wet. We all know what can happen to electronic devices such as phones and cameras when they get wet. So, bring a few dry bags with you to keep important belongings safe. Dry bags are designed for use on boats, so they’re well-equipped when it comes to keeping things dry.
It won’t be just electronic items you’ll want to worry about. It could be your sleeping bag, some spare clothes, food, or even medical supplies. You’ll want something waterproof to protect these items. Water is one of those particularly belligerent things that will always find a way when given a chance, so it’s not wise to fully trust your tent or hiking backpack 100% to keep the rain out.
You can also bring some plastic zipper bags. These are great for storing small items that you want to keep dry.
Start a Campfire
There are obvious upsides to starting up a good campfire, such as keeping warm for a start.
In addition to heat, a good campfire will provide a source of light for your camp. It can also provide one vital thing that you’ve probably not yet thought of: morale.
If camp members are frustrated and not having fun due to rain, a fire can turn it around.
Try making some hot drinks, some food, roasting some marshmallows together. You can build a real sense of community and lift everyone’s spirits back up with a good campfire.
I hope that after reading this guide, you’re inspired to go out there even if there may be a little rain in the forecast. Keep in mind that safety is paramount. If lightning is predicted you may want to reconsider your trip. Another option is to have a car nearby in the event of more severe storms.
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