Camping in the Rain: Planning for a Wet Camp

Let’s go camping in the rain

If you think all experienced campers cancelled their camping weekends because of rainy weather, nothing could be further than the truth! Veteran, hard-core experienced campers don’t let a little or even a lot of rain dampen their camping plans. Most experienced campers pick up their tents and gladly go “Camping in the Rain”. I’ve always said that a day (any weather day) of camping totally beats sitting home thinking about camping.

While camping in the rain requires a different attitude, with having to endure sloppy puddles and wet socks; it can be fun if you carry along the right attitude. Think of every puddle you step into as an amusing story to regale others with at future campfires. The slipped tie-down as “you should have seen it when” tales for future campfire brags. Soaking wet fireside stories sure beat pitching a tent in the dark stories any day.

Choosing the right tent and packing the right gear can help make your rainy camping trip a bit drier, at least a little more comfortable while you sleep at night.

Choosing the Right Tent

Choosing a good quality, rain-proof tent is most important. You may be able to endure anything a rainy camping trip throws up at you while you are awake, but there’s nothing faintly amusing or interesting about a tent that sprouts a leak when you are tired or fast asleep. Read the label carefully and ensure the coating of the tent is waterproof; not water-resistant.

Most tents available today come with waterproof floors that are designed for camping on wet areas and when its raining. The entrance of these tents is usually a few inches above the rest of the floor. They also have a full rain fly to protect the tent from morning dew and rain. You should require those features when looking for your new tent.

Packing the Right Gear

Always carry one or even two spare set of clothes, a towel and a change of shoes. Wrap them all up in waterproof dry bags so that they stay dry no matter what. Other handy necessities are the same as for any camping trip in dry weather and would include a first-aid kit, flash light and most important of all, a lighter. Soggy matches do not a bonfire make.

A word about cotton and cotton blends.  Cotton has a bad reputation for staying wet and cold, read “hypothermia-potential”, that makes is a poor choice for wet weather gear.  Be careful about cotton gear, except for towels. We’ve found that the newer dry-tech exercise materials work best in wet and also sweaty weather. They will wick water away from your body and dry amazingly fast.

A pair of flip-flops or beach shoes will come in really handy if you need to make short trips to check on something outside the tent. They are easy to slip on and off at the front door.

Though an umbrella may sound like a strange choice for a camping trip, it is invaluable for keeping things dry when moving them from the car to the tent. They can keep the water out of your eggs when you cook breakfast too.

Consider packing a tarp to lay on the ground under the tent. This helps protect the floor of the tent from tearing on roots and rocks. We cut the tarp to be about eight inches smaller than the floor of the tent so it stays completely underneath it. A tarp that is larger than your tent’s footprint will do just the opposite of what you want. It will collect the water that runs off your tent and direct it nicely under the tent floor.

And, take a small rug to put down in front of your door. Even if it gets a little wet, it will help you keep the mud out of the tent and off your clothes, sleeping bag, and other gear. And, since it’s really nice to have a large area at the door that is out of the constant downpour, a second tarp, 6’ by 8’ or larger can be rigged up over the threshold of your tent, and extend 6’ or more in front is really a good option to have.  This helps you open up the zippered entrance without getting a bunch of rain too.  If you go 8’ by 16’, you can cover the picnic table and have a nice, cozy, vestibule, dry and ready for your enjoyment.

Don’t dismiss the satisfaction you receive when you’re snug under a dry tarp or tent, listening to the rain pitter-patter, while you sit dry and warm, enjoying a hot cup of cocoa or coffee, reading or even just watching the campground as it adjusts to the weather.

One last note. When you go car camping in the rain, toward the end of the weekend you tend to use the shelter of your car or van more than usual. It’s a nice dry place to keep things out of the weather. On a recent rain-soaked trip we learned the hard way that after a weekend of opening doors to put things in and out etc. the battery wasn’t able to start the van anymore. Make sure you have jumper cables or some other plan to start things on Sunday afternoon. I now carry one of those portable battery packs to jump start the van.

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