Tips for camping in the rain are a must-have in any camper’s arsenal. If you spend time closely connected with nature, you’ll have to camp when the weather isn’t as fine as you hope at some point. That’s a natural part of camping and exploring.
If you do it right, it can become a rewarding experience. The soothing rhythm of raindrops and the transformation of landscapes just hit differently. You will discover experiences you didn’t know you missed when it’s all sunshine and rainbows.
Camping when the skies weep doesn’t necessarily a bad thing. To make the most of your rainy camping adventure, we've compiled practical tips and tricks to keep you dry, comfortable, and happy. So grab your rain gear, and let's dive into the world of camping in the rain!
1. Be Well-Prepared And Well-Informed
Before you go, prepare and check everything carefully. Unless you love camping in the rain (we hear you pluviophiles), a rain or thunderstorm can catch any ill-prepared campers off guard. You may have to change your schedule and spend time indoors against your will.
Check the weather forecast, and pack accordingly. Even if something doesn’t go as planned, with a positive mindset and the right adaptability, anyone can enjoy time in the woods. It’s all about the perspective. Venturing into the wild with the pitter-patter raindrops as your companion has a charm to it.
Is it safe to camp in a tent in a storm? No, it’s a bad idea, and we don’t advise you to do so. The raging thunderstorms are nothing alike your friendly and comforting rain. The storms could blow you and your tent away, no sweat. There’s also the risk of lighting, trees falling, hypothermia from being drenched, etc. Seek shelters immediately when a thunderstorm is imminent.
2. The Right Spot Can Make All The Difference
This is the foundation for your whole experience. If you want to wake up all dry and happy, don’t pitch your tent near a river or low-lying areas like depressions or valleys (more so when you camp on the shorelines). Instead, go for the high ground and slopes where water naturally runs off and leave your quarter alone.
Paying attention to the ground is essential, too. Compacted soil or clay is your biggest enemy for any camping trip in the rain. When the unfortunate happens (a little puddle of water pools around your tent), simply use your shoes to dig a ditch on the ground to drain the water away - note that you should only do this when the campsite is gravel or sand.
CabinZero tips: Here’s a piece of advice: Try to spend a few minutes more on securing your tent. Do you think it’s good enough? Check again. 10 minutes of checking can make a mediocre trip a great one.
3. Stay Dry, Stay Happy
A quality backpack can be the key to keeping everything dry when camping in the rain.
While this seems obvious, but yes, keeping your gear completely dry is an important task. Be it clothes, sleeping bags, foods, or medications, investing in dedicated dry bags is always a sensible thing to do.
And there’s also the good'ol fashion way of hanging everything on a clothesline for a few sun-kisses. You should do this to even dirty pieces to undermine the bad smell before putting them where they belong (that reminds us, bring several plastic or laundry bags to store your dirty items).
CabinZero tips: You can invest in a rain cover for your backpacks for additional protection against the elements, even if it’s not raining or snowing.
4. Weatherproof Your Home Away From Home
You may have seen or heard the term “hydrostatic head” when shopping for camping gear. In short, it tells you how well the tent can withstand rainfall and keep the water at bay. A 3,000-5,000mm value is a safe bet for camping in the rain in the UK.
That said, while your tent will be OK in the rain, no fabric in the world can completely block off the water. You can improve the tent's waterproofing ability with seam sealer and waterproofing spray (DWR). A great tent for camping should be good for about 4-5 years in terms of waterproofness.
5. Tarp For More Territory
More dry space is always a good thing. Even if it’s small, you will at least have more places to put your gear, cook, hang your clothes, or just breathe in the outside air. This is especially true if you are in a bear country, where you can’t cook near your tent. We recommend putting your tarps before setting your tent to keep everything dry to the maximum.
6. Rainfly And Vestibules To Keep You Covered
A rainfly fits like a glove to the top of your tent, while vestibules cover a small space of the tent’s entrance. They both have the same job: shielding your shelter and providing more dry space. Using them with tarps works wonders, as another layer of protection is always welcome.
That said, be sure to keep an eye out for ventilation. Leave your tent’s windows, flaps or doors partially open. You should open or unzip them to let some fresh air in when it stops raining.
7. Get The Fire Going
Once your tarps and tent are set up, it’s time to find some heat. A campfire is a surefire way to keep you warm, but there will be safety concerns. Setting a campfire under tarps is possible, as long as you are extra careful.
If you worry, you can use alternatives such as portable heaters, stoves, etc. While they can’t compare to the real thing atmospherically, they provide peace of mind.
Gather firewood when you arrive, and keep them dry in a sheltered storage area. Besides dry branches, you can opt for waterproof matches or lighters to start the fire.
8. Groundsheet/Footprint For The Win
With a solid tent must come a great groundsheet to enjoy the following morning in the best condition possible (both physically and mentally). It acts as a protective shield for the bottom of your shelter. Ensure it fits or is slightly smaller than your tent, or else the water will barge in. The tarps make for a great footprint, too.
9. The Golden Rule: Layer Your Clothes
A shelter and a fire can keep you warm, but to truly get toast and all cosy, you need to layer. Three layers of clothes will retain heat better than one thick layer. One for wicking the moisture, one for insulation, and one for sheltering you from the rain and elements:
- Base layer: What you wear on top of your undershirt/undergarment. Should be made of moisture-wicking materials like wool, synthetics, and even silk. Avoid cotton like the plague.
- Mid-layer: Trap heat between the base and outer layers. You can wear a lightweight fleece or down jacket.
- Outer/shell/waterproof layer: Things can get chilly, so you need an additional layer to survive. You can wear anything waterproof such as a rain jacket or rain pants.
A poncho or rain jacket also helps a ton, so pack one. Don’t forget about water-resistant camp shoes, hiking boots, and gaiters also. And while you are at it, top everything off with a wide bream hat.
10. Snug As A Bug In A Rug
As any camper will tell you, the ground is cold, and you don’t want to lie on them without any layer in between. We have a groundsheet and a sleeping bag for that purpose. But you can throw in a bivy bag and an additional sleeping pad.
On the topic of keeping warm, hand warmers and thermal pads are your best friends. Put them in your shoes or gloves if you are feeling extra chilly.
11. Keep A Change Of Clothes
Keep an emergency change of clothes, underwear and socks. This one simple trick can save your sanity in the worst-case scenario. When the water/rain finds its way to all your stuff, at least you wear a fresh set of clothes, which can mean a lot in this kind of weather.
We recommended keeping a pair of socks tugged in a plastic bag inside your tent and dedicated to sleeping only. Trust us, a fresh pair of socks can make a rainy night more comfortable in unbelievable ways.
12. Towels And More Towels
Bring several lightweight and quick-dry towels. You’ll need them when you get drenched or want to take a shower. They are also helpful in wiping off anything or surface that gets damped. Towels also make for a great makeshift doormat. Places them at the entryway, and you get yourself a way to prevent all that dirt, mud, and water from getting inside.
13. Establish A Common Area
Set a tarp to increase the dry space, then put a table and chairs and gather everyone to spend quality time together. A living room in the middle of a camp epitomises cosiness, an essential for camping in the rain. Nothing beats gathering around and having a good time together during a downpour. These are the moments that will last a lifetime.
14. Set A Hammock To Get Away From It All
While this is more of a niche, hammock camping offers different but equally enjoyable experiences. All you need is two big enough trees that are close together. You don’t have to deal with the damp and wet ground as you hang in the air.
However, we don’t recommend sleeping in one if you are not used to it. If you are not used to it, your back could potentially be hurt for hours or even days after.
15. Magic of Rainy Day Camping Activities
Is camping in the rain just a bunch of people hanging out at a place to avoid getting wet? That’s true to some extent, but let’s not stop there. It’s a chance to get close, to make memories. If you want to know how to enjoy camping in the rain, here are some fun pastimes:
- Play a board game or card game: The traditional ways of having endless fun.
- Play campsite games: If you have to deck of cards or board games, a simple Truth or Dare or stories-telling session can do wonders.
- Hiking in the rain: It’s a fun adventure with the right gear. Make sure you have dry clothes when you return to your campsite.
- Visit local attractions: Take a drive to the local towns and visit their museums, shops, theatres, etc. A chat or two with the locals is priceless.
- Throwing on a movie: Just like watching in a cinema is not the same as watching at home, the atmosphere makes all the difference.
- Picnic: Snacks and foods taste wonderful when eaten together in a dry and cosy tent.
- Napping: Some shut eyes with the comforting sounds of rain are always lovely.
- Be in the moment: Set back, relax, do nothing and just listen to the sounds of nature. Enjoy the company of each other.
16. When It Rains It Pours
We’ll be honest, no adventure is 100% safe-free, clear weather or not. Someone may get cut by a knife or a rock, or everything may get wet despite your best effort. Equip yourself with the right gear and know-how, and you’re golden.
Hypothermia is a serious health hazard. Learn how to recognise and treat those who suffer from this condition. Get them medical treatment from the hospital as soon as possible.
Research to know the ins and outs of how to prepare for camping in the rain or in any conditions. Know your physical and mental limits and takes the right action with a calm mind.
Here are some safety tips for surviving camping in the rain. They are the bare minimum you should know when venturing out into the wild.
- Carry at least one camping emergency kit
- You can never have enough extras of everything, from tarps to clothes and towels
- Be aware of the surroundings, from wildlife to rivers and branches potentially falling off
- Wear bright colour outfits such as Neon orange, yellow, and bright red
- Carry a fully charged cell phone, a map of the area, and a GPS
- Have emergency contacts at hand and know where help is available
- Similarly, let people at home know your location
- Beware of water and slippery surfaces
- Be fire safe
- Stock up on foods and snack to keep yourself energised
- Stay hydrated
- Maintain personal hygiene by packing extra outfits, biodegradable soap, baby wipes, towels, etc.
Let’s be honest here, camping in the rain can be muddy, wet, and dirty. But there’s joy to be had. Don’t let the inclement weather stop you from having fun and making the most of your time. Life is short; enjoy it.
Did you find these tips for camping in the rain helpful? If you have any more tips and tricks for further enjoyment, don’t hesitate to share your wisdom in the comments.
And while you are at it, be sure to share this article with any campers (or someone who loves rain) in your life. It’s a chance to invite them to make memories together.