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What would you do if you were all ready for your big camping trip when suddenly the weather called for rain? You may be tempted to cancel the trip, thinking you won’t have fun and your plans are now ruined. Although camping in the rain is certainly less than ideal, there are ways to still have an enjoyable experience. Follow these tips to stay dry even when it’s rainy and wet outside.
So how do you stay dry and warm while camping in the rain?
There are several steps you can take to help stay dry while camping in the rian. Always camp on high ground as this will keep water flowing away from you. Make sure your shelter is waterproof. Wear clothing that is made to wick moisture away from your body.
Tip #1: Choose Higher Ground
Before you even set up your campsite, you’ve got to be very strategic about where you’re going to place your tent. Although you may want to rush and get your tent up quickly, don’t make the mistake of putting it in a place that could easily be flooded.
Instead, choose a location that is a little higher up than the surrounding environment. Look for looser soil instead of packed dirt which water often pools on top of and can flood the area. Check around for any indicators that the location previously flooded or got washed out.
Also, don’t put your tent up too high, like on the peak of a mountain. This could be dangerous due to lightning. Instead, find a happy medium that will keep you drier and safe. You will also want to avoid putting your campground near any body of water, whether it’s a lake, pond, stream, or creek which could overflow.
Tip #2: Set Up Your Tent ASAP
If rain is coming, it’s absolutely necessary to get your tent set up before the storm hits, so the tent stays as dry as possible. If it’s already started raining, try to put up the tent in as little time as possible. Choose a spot that isn’t out in the open, so you have a little extra shelter or protection from the rain while you get things together.
If you also have a tarp, consider using the tarp to create a covered area to erect your tent underneath. Tarps can dry quicker and aren’t as important to keep dry as a tent is because you’ll likely be spending a lot of time in the tent as you wait out the rain. Once the tent is set up, you can also use the tent to cover a picnic area so it stays dry and can be used once the storm passes.
Tip #3: Waterproof Everything
If you have gear or clothes that can be easily waterproofed, definitely take the time to do this. You can buy sprays like Nikwax or Scotchgard that can be used for everything from your backpack to your boots. Just make sure to read the directions because many sprays can only be used on synthetic gear.
Waterproofing does limit the breathability factor of certain items, so you may want to have an extra jacket to change into once you’re inside the tent, so you don’t overheat.
Tip #4: Use Dry Bags
Although dry bags are popularly used when boating, they are also invaluable for hiking. A good dry bag seals when folded and is watertight. If nothing can get in when it’s submerged in water, then it can easily protect from a thunderstorm or rain shower. Most dry bags can easily be clipped onto the exterior of your backpack, so they won’t take up valuable space inside.
Bring a few along and pack your clothes, food, or other sensitive items inside, such as a camera or cell phone. Anything that you really don’t want to get wet can be double bagged or put inside a Ziplock bag before being placed inside a dry bag for extra protection.
Tip #5: Pack Waterproof Fire Starter
Even though it’s pouring rain, don’t forget about starting a fire. It might not be possible if you can’t find shelter, but you should still have some fire starter with you. Once the rain stops, you may need to warm up or dry out your gear. It’s important that the fire starter be waterproof or weatherproof.
Matches can be packed in a stormproof container or a high-quality lighter, especially one that can be easily used with just one hand, will be invaluable. In addition to a fire source, bring some fuel options, such as newspaper, to help ignite your kindling in case all the nearby branches and twigs are soaking wet.
Tip #6: Start and Keep the Fire Going
Once you’ve started your fire, try to keep it going at all times, even during the rain. It is far easier to keep it going than deal with the hassle of starting a new fire. Once the rain ends, you can throw on more fuel and build it back up to stay warm. It will also save time if you need to cook a meal or dry out gear nearby. If possible, grab some firewood before the rain starts and store it in a dry place to use afterward.
Tip #7: Wear Warm Clothes
Chances are you’re camping during warmer weather when a storm hits. However, even a light rain shower can mean lower temperatures. Plus you’re more likely to feel colder when it’s humid out, even if there’s not a drastic drop in temperature.
To stay warm and dry, wear warm clothes and layer up. Wear natural layers such as wool closer to your skin because they are able to wick moisture and breathe better than cotton or synthetic fibers. Bring along an extra pair of socks and at least one extra jacket in case the one you’re wearing gets wet. It’s also a good idea to invest in a waterproof shell to wear as a barrier between undergarments and a waterproof coat.
Tip #8: Pack Strategically
When you start packing your backpack, put everything that needs to stay dry at the bottom of your pack. Things like clothes and a sleeping bag, as well as perishable foods, should be protected by keeping them far from the rain. This means they will be the last thing you unpack and, hopefully, you can unpack them in the safety of your tent.
If you have waterproof items like a coat or poncho you’ll be layering up with once the rain starts, store those at the top of your backpack. This will mean you only have to open your backpack once, grab the item, and close up quickly. In theory only the waterproof item will get wet and everything else will stay cozy and dry down at the bottom.
Tip #9: Use Your Best Gear
If you have several options to choose from, make sure to take a tent that has all the bells and whistles to help stay dry. A good tent should have waterproofing to prevent water from leaking into the seams. It should also have a rain fly so minimal water enters when you go in or out.
Invest in a rain cover for your backpack and some waterproof clothes, especially pants and a good rain coat. Truly waterproof boots can be expensive and, if you can’t waterproof your boots yourself, make sure to choose a pair that is good quality, stays relatively dry, and has a good tread to prevent slipping.
Tip #10: Pack Some Plastic Bags
The great thing about plastic bags is they weigh mere ounces and take up very little space in your backpack. You never know when they’ll come in handy, so it’s always a good idea to have one tucked away. In a rainy situation, you can use them to double bag sensitive items, store wet clothes in, or even put over your shoes in a pinch. Bigger bags like trash bags can be used as a makeshift poncho and can be cut open and spread on the ground too.
Tip #11: Keep Everything Secure and Nearby
Once the tent goes up, it’s tempting to want to crawl inside as soon as possible and get comfortable to wait out the rain. However, resist the temptation to leave everything outside. Although you do want to keep the interior of the tent as dry as possible, you should still bring your boots and backpack inside with you.
Put shoes into a plastic bag or at least set them on top of a bag, so they don’t drip everywhere. Your backpack can be put into its pack cover to protect it, so you don’t have to wear a damp pack the next day. Don’t leave anything outside even if you have a tarp or lean-to area set up because it could always blow over. Plus you never know when you’ll need access to your gear if the storm lasts into the night.
Tip #12: Dry Things As Soon As Possible
It’s almost impossible to avoid getting wet while setting up camp but, once you’re able to get into a shelter, take off wet clothes and start drying them. If you have space inside your tent, lay them out or hang them up to dry. A good tent should have plenty of ventilation even in wet weather so the air flow will help. Not to mention keeping them laid out instead of balled up in your pack will help them keep from smelling bad or developing mold and mildew.
As soon as the rain is over, create a makeshift clothesline with some string or lay out clothes on logs or dry bushes and let the sun dry them out. Then you’ll be able to continue wearing them later on in your trip. Put boots in the sun so they can start to dry out too before you put them back on.
Needless to say, once you get home, make sure to thoroughly clean and dry all your gear. This will mean it lasts longer and works well to keep you warm and dry during your next camping trip.
Tip #13: Pack Fast Drying Towels
Bring along some towels to use to clean off any damp areas or dry chairs down after the rain. Quick-dry towels similar to what swimmers use are very lightweight yet absorbent and dry very fast. Many camping specific towels also have a little loop on them so you can easily hang them up to dry or dangle them from the back of your pack. Some even have an antimicrobial coating to prevent mildew.
Tip #14: Heat Clothes In Advance
There’s nothing worse than having to wear the same wet or damp clothes the next day. Take the dry clothes which you stashed at the bottom of your pack and fold them up tightly. Then stuff them inside your sleeping bag at night. Your body heat will get them nice and toasty so you can slip into warm, dry clothes the next morning.
Tip #15: Pack Convenient Foods
One way to stay warm is to make sure you’re eating enough. If it’s pouring rain, you may not be able to go outside of your tent to cook a meal. Make sure to bring along plenty of snacks and other foods that don’t have to be cooked or reheated. Granola bars, dried fruit, jerky, and other prepared meals that can be eaten without leaving the tent will make sure you stay dry and full of fuel for whatever the day brings.
Tip #16: Cook If Possible
If you have a picnic table, put a tarp over it and set up your portable stove. You’ll be able to stay dry under the cover, and if the rain isn’t coming down too hard, then you can sit outside and eat. Heat up some water and make tea or coffee to keep you warm from the inside out.
Before the rain starts, cook some extra meals to take inside the tent with you. In case the storm lasts a long time, you’ll have some warm meal options and won’t have to get wet by going back outside to heat up more. Keep some warm drinks in a thermos to retain their heat and then drink them later as the day wears on.
Tip #17: Utilize Natural Protection
If you’re camping without a tent, then you’ll need to be creative when the rain suddenly comes. Make the most of the natural surroundings and look for areas that will offer the most protection, such as large trees or outcroppings of rock that can act as an umbrella. Other possibilities include caves or grottos tucked away behind waterfalls. Anything that gets you out of the rain can be utilized for a short period of time to stay dry.
Tip #18: Bring Blankets
Having extra clothes is absolutely essential anytime you’re camping, and you should always have a lightweight reflective blanket in your backpack in case of emergencies. When the weather is wet, though, pack some extra blankets to stay warm and dry. Getting wet is not only unpleasant but can significantly lower body temperatures.
To avoid getting hypothermia, strip off any cold, wet clothes and get under a blanket or into a sleeping bag. A high-quality space blanket will trap body heat and get you warmed up in no time.
Tip #19: Bring Extra Shoes
While setting up a tent in the rain or just hiking through wet trails, your hiking shoes or boots will undoubtedly be sopping wet by the time you call it a day. There’s nothing worse than wet shoes which can drench socks, cause blisters, and be all-around uncomfortable.
To keep your feet dry while camping in the rain, take off wet boots and allow them to dry. Then take out some camp shoes like flip-flops or slippers to wear inside your tent. A lightweight pair can easily be tucked into your backpack and will let your feet dry out before putting on a cozy pair of thick socks.
Tip #20: Bring Activities to Prevent Boredom
So you have a dry tent and enough food, but the forecast looks like it’s going to be raining for quite a while. What to do? If you’re going to be stuck inside your tent in order to stay dry and wait out the storm, then you’ll need something to keep you occupied.
In addition to all the essentials, bring along something to help you pass the time. Whether it’s a book, game, deck of cards, or just some fun apps on your smartphone, you’ll be happy to have it when cabin fever sets in. Having enough entertainment inside the tent will prevent you from getting stir crazy and going out into the rain where you’ll just get wet all over again and have more problems to deal with.
Tip #21: Use Hand Warmers and Pain Patches Creatively
If you get drenched in the rain and need to warm up quickly after putting on dry clothes, try using hand warmers or hot patches that are more commonly used for pain relief. These are small and don’t weigh a lot so you can easily toss one in your backpack for just such an occasion. Even if you have a fire built up, you may want to stay in your tent where it’s drier and get warm there instead. Having a little boost of warmth will help you warm up in no time.
Tip #22: Double Up on Sleeping Pads
Sleeping on wet ground is no fun but if you have a quality tent or tarp to put down, make sure to use it, so your sleeping back stays as dry as possible. Another tip is to use two sleeping pads underneath your bag. Not only will this keep you warmer, but it puts you further away from water as you’re sleeping. If the bottom sleeping pad gets wet somehow, you’ll have a second barrier to prevent water from seeping into your bag and spoiling your sleep.
Tip #23: Use a Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Even if you love your down sleeping bag, pack a synthetic one instead when you’re sure to encounter wet weather. Synthetic bags are able to retain more heat when they are wet and are much more comfortable than a down one which loses all its insulation when it becomes wet. For extra protection, add a sleeping bag liner to not only provide warmth but act as another barrier against water.
Tip #24: Consider a Larger Tent
For camping trips where rain is a guarantee, take along a bigger tent than you would usually use. This will ensure there is enough space for everyone, including pets and gear. Because you’ll be spending a lot of time in the tent, it’s helpful to have additional space to move around and breathe.
The added square footage is also helpful to seclude wet items in one are of the tent or lay out damp clothes to dry. You’ll also need to change into dry clothes in the tent, roll out your sleeping bag, and possibly even eat meals there. Not to mention it’ll give you and your camping companions additional personal space, so you don’t drive each other crazy.
Tip #25: Be Careful When Hiking
The rain may be a slight mist or drizzle and not heavy enough to keep you from hiking or enjoying other outdoor activities. While a raincoat or poncho may be enough to keep you dry, take extra precautions, and be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for slippery rocks, logs, or anything covered in moss. The last thing you want is to slip and fall into the water or a puddle that will soak your clothes through.
If you’re hiking prior to getting a tent set up, then be extra careful to prevent falling into the water and slipping or tripping and getting hurt. If an injury happens, it’s best to have a shelter nearby to keep you warm and dry while you rest and recover, especially if the weather gets worse.