Rain soaked tents. Flooded campsites. Water-logged sleeping bags. When people go camping, a soaking rain can turn a special adventure in a water-logged predicament. Camping has become a vacation of choice for families and friends who like to take time to unplug and enjoy nature. Once the rain hits, if you are not properly prepared, the vacation can go from a family dream to a quick nightmare. To insure that your camping trip stays fun, manufacturers have created durable products designed to outlast the rain. From investing in rain proof tents to learning how to keep dry in a storm, there are several useful tips for camping in the rain that every camper should know.
It is no secret that the weather can be unpredictable. Even if your local meteorologist expects that the rain will stay away, it could pop up at anytime. With the right preparation, your camping trip can be fun, even if it rains.
Tip #1: Buy a waterproof tent and prepare it
Tent manufacturers sell a wide variety of waterproof tents at a variety of price points. But, once you buy the perfect tent for your situation, you must prepare it. This means you have to set up the tent and seal the seams. No one wants any water to seep through the seams. Be sure you read through the instructions for the tent and the seam sealer so you are properly prepared. Most seam sealers need to have time to dry, so seal the seams prior to getting to the campground.
Tip #2: Set up your tent properly
Sealing the seams is not enough to keep rain out of your tent. You have to set it up at the site so rain cannot get in. The opening of the tent should be up off of the ground so you have to step over it to get in. Stake your tent so the fabric is tight; this way, water cannot pool on it. Click on the picture to see how to seal your seams successfully.
Tip #3: Analyze the land before you pitch your tent
The last place you want to put your tent is at the lowest spot of the campsite. If it rains, that low spot will fill up with water. The best spots are high up and away from areas that show signs of erosion. A completely flat spot might seem like the perfect place, but that flatness most likely occurred from puddling.
Tip #4: Put a tarp under and another one over your tent
Having a tarp under the tent will keep water from rising up under the tent. And, having one over the tent will provide extra protection from an unexpected rain storm. The tarp you put under your tent should be placed so water does not get between the tarp and the tent. If the edges of the tarp extend out from under the tent, rain can land there and you will have unfortunate puddles between the two layers. Getting rid of this water involves too many steps – so getting it right the first time is important. The tarp you put over the tent should also be placed so water falls away from the tent rather than right on top of it.
Tip #5: Keep your matches and kindling in a dry spot
Sure it might make for a good story if you actually had to make fire with nothing more than a few twigs, but why not just use matches? If your car is nearby, keep an extra pack of matches in it. Otherwise, keep the matches in a closed plastic bag. If you have collected sticks and twigs for your campfire, you can always put them under a tarp (but not in your tent). If you have chopped wood or other large items you want to keep dry, there is nothing wrong with bringing several tarps or using a very large tarp. Campfires are one favorite activities at campsites, so do what you can to keep your precious firewood as dry as possible.
Tip #6: Use a doormat
Another helpful technique to keep water out of your tent is to use a doormat. Not the one you use at home, but one made from a tarp. It is also helpful to have that doormat covered. This gives you added protection from rain getting into the tent and it gives you a place to keep your boots, shoes, and other gear that you do not want to keep in the tent.
Tip #7: Pack plenty of newspaper and plastic bags
These are two tools that can help keep things dry. Newspapers are perfect to use to dry out the inside of shoes that get wet. Plastic bags are useful for keeping things dry. Even if rain is not in the forecast, it is helpful to keep your campsite ready for rain. Keeping everything in plastic bags will not only keep things dry if it does rain, but it also keeps bugs out of your belongings. If you can invest in waterproof dry-bags, you can keep your most valuable items protected at all times. That dry bag can hold an extra pair of clothes, some matches, hand-warmers, and an extra blanket.
Don’t forget to keep your feet warm by checking out this quick tutorial to make a unisock.
You can keep the things you want to keep dry in a hanging storage set like the one in this picture
Tip #8: Keep the items in the right place
There are some camping items that should never go in your tent, but there are plenty that should. It is a great idea to keep your raincoat in your tent and a pair of flip flops right outside of it. If your camping situation allows it, use an inflatable mattress to keep your sleeping bag off of the floor of your tent. It is also helpful to have a small broom just outside of your tent. If you have food in cardboard boxes or paper bags, those items should be put under tarps or in plastic bags. Anything that can be damaged by rain should be kept inside or under plastic. It never hurts to have an umbrella or two nearby. And always have your flashlights in an easy-to-find place. If you want to make your tent more comfortable, why not add a durable rug or easy-to-pack interlocking pads for the floor.
Tip #9: Stay warm
The weather in the wilderness can be cooler than the weather in the city. Concrete and steel will retain heat, but the woods cool down. So, be prepared to need warm clothes. And if it rains, those warm clothes will vitally important. Bring along hand warmers, warm socks, waterproof gloves, camping blankets, and hats. When it comes to bringing warm clothes, don’t worry about overpacking. You do not have to spend a fortune and buy all new gear, but planning for all types of weather can make your vacation more enjoyable. No one feels good when they are cold and shivering – especially if they are wet from a rainstorm, too.
Tip #10: Bring things to do
If you are stuck in a rainstorm that lasts all day, your outdoor plans will be changed. Bring games, cards, books, and other things that you can do inside of the tent. Camping is about hanging out with family and friends and a deck of cards can certainly bring people together. There are camping pads that can convert to camping chairs that can be used inside of a tent; these are perfect for rainy days. If you have good rain gear for the whole family, why not use it to have an outdoor adventure in the rain as long as there is not any thunder or lightning. If you forget to bring games, you can always make your own mancala game with an egg carton and small stones, jelly beans, popcorn, or whatever you have nearby. The quick game is made by using the top of the egg carton to collect the beans, seeds, or rocks. The cups are used for the action of the game.
With all of the tricks and tips for camping in the rain, there is no reason for anyone to struggle through a rainy vacation. With rain proof tents, seam sealer, some tarps, and smart packing, it can actually be fun to share a rainy day with your friends and family. Like any vacation adventure, planning can help turn the event from a disaster to an amazingly memorable event. Share your ideas for surviving camping in the rain?