Camping in the Rain
Your going camping in the rain huh? Umm…wait! Is that something you are really going to do? On purpose? Hmm, are you sure? OK. I guess we better get to informing you about the ins and outs of this type of camping. Follow along as we run down our list of Camping in the Rain Guide.
Camping when it’s raining isn’t super ideal of course. That would hinder the amount of time we can spend outside. We would all rather it be warm and sunny. This guide will set you up for an ideal trip rain or shine. But if it does rain, you will be ready. We will look at setting up camp and tent locations, items to bring in your gear to stay dry and warm, and other tips and techniques to make you forget that the heavens have poured out all along the forest floor.
Watch the video below!
Tent and Campsite Location
When looking to set up camp, try to stay up and away from water. Lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans all rise very quickly with big rainfall and if you are near bodies of water there is the possibility of getting washed out during the night.
Do not set up camp right in the middle of a valley or a dried up stream or river bed especially in desert areas because these formations are hotspots for flash floods and can be very deadly. Instead, look for elevated areas at least a hundred feet from water areas. I like to try and face my tent toward the sunrise if possible. It gives you a little bit of resolution to get up and face the day after a cold, wet night. If you can find an area that has trees and is elevated, even better.
Try to set your tent in between a few good sturdy trees so you can tie up cordage to hang some tarp overtop of your tent if needed. However, you don’t want to be in the direct path of a falling branch in the middle of the night either. So be aware and if you can avoid being directly under large branches, maybe think about it. Check out the waterproof tents on Amazon here. /p>
Setup A Dry Area
Tarps and Paracord
Tarps are a camper’s best friend even in dry weather. I have always used a large 20 x 20 tarp doubled up under our family tent. Not only does it help with padding, but it keeps sticks and sharp rocks I have missed from penetrating the base of our tent. So when it comes to helping you stay dry, they are a mandatory accessory in my mind.
If you come prepared with a few tarps and some cordage, you will be so much happier. Coming from experience, being out in the rain in a dry tent at night only to wake up in a completely soaked tent kind of sucks, to be honest.
If you need paracord I picked up a 500ft spool here but they have many new colors now and I think you can buy smaller amounts. And tarps you can get at your local harbor freight or Maynards if you dont want to wait for amazon delivery. More| Campsite Essentials
Dried in Outdoor Space
Once you have reached your campsite destination and have picked your tent setup areas, the next area of business is comfortability in the camp. You want to create an outdoor living space for cooking and working the fire along with any other activities you will want to enjoy while having it drizzle down on you.
The size of your camping party will determine how large of an area you will need. If you have the whole family and some friends, this could be a pretty big area and need some time to set up. On the other hand, if you are soloing out in the woods, a small 10-foot area will do just fine.
Tarps come in some good kits these days.
Start by stringing up a couple of overhead tarps by hanging them from a couple of trees across from each other. Making sure they are angled to a drainage area that is lower than the area you are trying to keep dry. Done wrong and the water will drain off and hit the high ground and then just run right through the camp. Not good!
After the tarps are in place and all are draining correctly then you can start on the mingling area. A place to hang out drink some warm beverages, eat some dinner, play a game, or just relax. Since you are already dry overhead, you might want to think about the ground and staking down a couple of tarps that will let the water stay beneath them.
Then set up your tables chairs and anything else you brought along. Now if you are by yourself or a couple, this is going to be way less intensive, but the exercises are the same on a smaller level.
(First and foremost check that you have a waterproof, good working tent with rainfly. If your gear is weak and broken, your struggle will be rough.)
As I said before, I have always laid a tarp under my tent for protection. I still do that when it rains even though some people say that it is not needed. Whatever, I like it, and I will keep doing it.
This is your decision to set up as you seem it necessary. Although I do set a tarp under my tent, I also lay one down on the inside floor of my tent. This will help with any pooling or seepage from the ground and the sides of the tent.
What happens is the water that does make it into the tent will follow gravity and end up under the tarp along the floor, allowing my sleeping bags, gear, and myself to stay dry on top of the tarp. More | Camping with a 2-year-old
The final prep for keeping the rain out from my tent is light trenching if I am going to expect a lot of moisture. What I do is grab my campsite hatchet and use the backside to carve in some trenches on the high side of my tent. Diverting any water that may try to come under my tent.
Usually, I have been able to get away with 4-6 inches deep and maybe 3 inches wide. Of course, this will vary due to the area you are camping. It rained more than the trenches could handle a few times and honestly, the tarps kept me dry enough.
Tarps are somewhat bulky and can be a pain to hike with. Pick and choose your gear accordingly.
Staying Dry Away From Shelter
Best way to stay dry while camping is not to get wet, right? Well, if you stay in camp and do not venture out at all that might be an ok scenario. Most people who do go out and camp tend to venture and like to go and explore the wonderful outdoors. Doing this can and eventually will leave you out away from camp without the proper gear to stay dry.
Having the proper protective outerwear or shell layers is going to make the difference between getting soaked and the situation becoming dangerous to getting from “point A” to “point B” and enjoying every minute of it. Great set of outer shells! With such a vast selection of weather gear, someone might get overwhelmed. There are types for the extreme cold to desert heat rain gear.
Know the area you will be going and bring the set that is suitable for the condition. If you bring the wrong one you could overheat and become dehydrated or get so cold and wet that you get hypothermia.
It is very important to pack the right raingear set. Gore-tex or E-vent are very breathable and have a waterproof membrane. There are many brands out there, and most are very durable and comfortable but be aware the prices can be high for the big brands.
I have found many lesser known brands that do just as good. Lighter items and more of an emergency type gear are available at a big box store and online. Ponchos, PVC rain suits, and cheapies are good in a dire situation but not recommended for day hikes or long-term use. They will fail you.
When you get wet, and you will, eventually. You need to get dry, especially in a cold weather environment, as fast as you possibly can. Hopefully, you have warm dry clothes back at camp in a drybag. If you don’t, things can go bad if the right steps are not followed.
The first thing is to get the wet clothes off. Hopefully its warm enough where a little birthdate suit time is going to be ok. You will need to get your skin dry and warm so it can start helping the body rewarm itself. Jump into your sleeping bag until you are warm enough to start drying things out.
If there is a fire already going, great! Use that to your advantage and get close to it if possible. Hang a tarp over one side creating a heat reflecting wall to help radiate the heat toward you. Hopefully, you do have warm clothes and are able to get changed right away. Awesome, tragedy diverted, and off you go to your next adventure.
How To Dry Wet Gear
Assuming the rain does saturate you and your clothes, you are staring down a tough test ahead. Drying items in a high moisture area is a crappy thing to try and do. If you are lucky and set your campsite up the right way you already have a dried in the area and fire is going or at least an area you can have a fire. In that case, a dry line strung underneath the tarps can keep you wet items hung up to dry overnight and hopefully be ready for use the next day.
If a tarped area or fire is not in the cards for you, the task you face is a much more difficult one. I have searched and found the driest limbs or sticks I could find and make a log cabin style layered frame and laid wet shirts and socks over them so they could air dry. It does work but it takes time, and you can’t do a lot.
I also have cut holes in the top layer of my tent near the poles and strung a para cord from one tent post to another making a mini dry line inside the tent. It works but depending on your style of the tent could swing either way. Again getting wet sucks and if not prepared for it can be very devastating to your camping trip.
Fire in the Rain
Having a campfire is the main priority when camping in the rain. It provides warmth, cooking, and good spirits. Having the ability to dry your thing if wet is priceless.
The process of starting a fire is challenging to many in dry weather. To do it in a wet environment with very little to no fuel and the surroundings soaked is a monumental feat carried out by very few outdoor enthusiasts. This is so freaking cool. A lighter and flashlight in one on Amazon
To begin the process of starting a fire, you will need starting fuel known as tinder. A lightweight extremely flammable substance usually made up of a fibrous thin cut wood. Sometimes moss or needles can be used as well.
A birds nest is a name they call a small bundle that you shape tinder into. It allows oxygen in but has wind resistance built into the design.
Making tinder is sometimes done by using a campsite hatchet or survival knife and running it down the length of the driest piece of wood you can find, carving off pieces about 1/8 of an inch wide. Creating a pile of these will hopefully be able to get a fire going once ignited.
My favorite and really the simplest is to have and make your own char cloth. This can be anything from pieces of bandanas, old shirts, or chunks of rope. Shoot, I have even seen old gloves in there and they actually worked really well.
What you do is take a tin can of a sort. I like the large size smelly candle cans they hold a little more and are almost airtight. I put about ten holes in the top with the head of a nail or knife. Put the cloth of your choice in there. Do not pack it real tight. Seal it up with the lid and put it on the fire. You want to wait until you see smoke to start pouring out of the hole.
This will not take long a few minutes depending on the temperature of the fire. Watch the smoke and wait until it stops. When it stops, you need to let it sit because if you open it it will catch on fire and you will need to start over. I flip it over and let it completely cool off before opening the can.
Ignition can be a tricky part as well. If you rely on only a lighter bought from the store and you get wet out hiking or boating or just getting rained on, you are screwed. They are so worthless you might as well had left them at home. Don’t get me wrong. I usually have 3 or 4 in my gear for emergencies.
Another style to start thinking about is flint and steel ignition. There is also a Ferro striker style. Both of these styles need a metal striker that kicks off sparks onto your tinder. Then you can get into your more primitive ignitions. Hand drill and bow drill are a friction based fire starting technique.
Gathering wood is the biggest chore there is when camping. You need to go out find dry wood and bring it back to camp. It is tedious and physically tiring sometimes. When its wet out, that makes it even more challenging, because everything is soaking wet. That means its heavier than normal and chances are you won’t be able to burn it anyway.
If you can find burnable firewood, get it to camp and keep it dry. Gather as much as you think you will burn than get another few loads. We always burn more than we think.
Stay away from trees that are alive they won’t burn well, and it will be a smoke fest. Now that your wood is back to camp you will need to buck it up to fire length size with your campsite hatchet or ax. Do you have one right? After you buck it up, stack it next to the fire so it can start drying out.
Keeping Your Gear Dry
Bring Waterproof Bags
If you are counting on being in the rain, you better get your gear in some waterproof bags, then put them in your camping bags or backpacks. Sleeping bags, clothes, food, electronics, maps, and whatever else that can’t get wet, should be put in a waterproof bag when heading out. If you don’t have any waterproof bags, thick black garbage bags will do just fine for a trip, but that’s probably it. One trip.
Waterproof Backpacks and Stuff Sacks
Having one of these waterproof backpacks saves you so much trouble. If your hiking into camp or doing a day hike, if it rains and all your stuff gets wet, you’re going to want to go home right away.
Be prepared! I can’t say that enough. Don’t get a cheap water resistance backpack! Go out and pay for something you know is going to keep your gear dry. Get some stuff sacks too. Put everything in a waterproof sack and then the problem of getting wet is almost eliminated. They come in all sorts of sizes. And you can get them in so many places.
Camping in the rain is not everyone’s cup of tea. I understand that. If you get caught in a rainstorm and were not expecting it, it can be awful and turn you away from this recreation. Please don’t let that happen. It is nature and she will throw everything she has at us. As long as we are prepared for it, our adventures and family outings can be enjoyed to the fullest.
One thing I did not discuss in this article is clothing. I figure clothing is pretty much common sense and I don’t know where anyone of you will be going. I could have covered every region and temperature but decided against that. It is too large of a topic. I hope you can use this to help you decide how to set up your next outing. Comment below if you think I need to add some other things.
Enjoy. Relax. Have Fun.
Hi, Dennis and Shelly Jackson here, we are the faces behind Campsite Planning. We are parents of 4 great kids and a little dog. And we are sharing some of our experiences with the site. I hope you enjoy and please do not hesitate to contact us for any reason.
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