No matter if you're an experienced camper, or are just starting out, there's nothing like a sudden rain shower to make you miss your home comforts.
Camping can be a great way to de-stress, unwind, and spend time outside - but dealing with unexpected weather can definitely put a 'damper' on things! If you're concerned about camping in the rain, making sure you stay prepared and have the right knowledge can make a huge difference - whether you're headed to a rainy area or simply trying not to get caught out. Even the best air tent can't guarantee good weather!
Luckily, this little guide has everything you'll need to make sure that sudden showers don't get in the way of your camping trip. We've got all the right tips to help you choose the right camping spot, pitch your tent in the rain, and keep you gear as dry as possible! If you'd like any further information, scroll to the bottom for the answers to some key FAQs about camping in the rain.
Top Tips for Camping in the Rain
When you're camping in the rain, staying prepared is key! Here are our 10 top tips to help keep your rainy camping trip as fun as possible!
1 - Check your Gear
Regardless of where you're headed for your camping trip, it's always a good idea to make sure that your gear is in good condition before you even leave the house. You don't want to be woken up by rain falling through a tear in the roof, so checking your tent for holes or weak spots can help you and your gear stay dry.
When you check your tent, pay extra attention to any seams or zips. These areas often carry the most strain, so they're more likely to get damaged and let water in. If you do find a hole, it's easy to repair using a good quality mesh tape, which you should apply to both the inside and outside of your tent for extra protection.
If you use your tent often, or are expecting heavy showers, it's also a good idea to replace your tent's waterproof coating on a regular basis. Using a waterproof spray that's specially formulated for tent fabric is a quick way to make sure that your tent's outer layer is in perfect condition, and will resist as much moisture as possible.
2 - Pack Carefully
Checking you've got the right gear before you head out will not only put your mind at ease, but it can really boost your camping experience, too!
Firstly, make sure you're got enough clothing to keep you warm and dry. Waterproof outer layers - such as rain pants - are a must, and you should try to pick high-rise shoes that won't let water in if you step in a puddle! Keep in mind that cotton garments tend to hold on to moisture, so they won't be the best option for camping in the rain. Select lightweight, breathable fabrics that will dry out fast - and remember that a few spare pairs of socks are always handy, too!
You should also ensure you're bringing waterproof storage items. Plastic garbage bags are a cheap solution, and they're excellent for keeping your gear dry, and even acting as a makeshift tarpaulin. You can also use sandwich boxes or other containers, which are perfect for protecting more delicate gear. Using larger plastic boxes is also a great way to transport gear from your car to your tent, without getting it wet on the way!
3 - Choose the Best Spot
Selecting the right area to pitch your tent is one of the best ways you can ensure that you stay warm and dry throughout your entire trip, so it's definitely worth taking the time to find the perfect spot.
Firstly, whilst camping next to a stream may seem picturesque, it's not the best idea when you're trying to stay dry in the rain. Bodies of water can be unpredictable, and excess rain water can cause them to flood, which will get your gear wet, and can even be a safety concern.
Not only this, but you should avoid pitching your tent in low ground, where water can run down and into your tent. Always try to pitch your tent at the highest point you can, so that you don't wake up in a pool of water, and can stay dry for longer.
Areas with natural cover from trees and other plants are always a good idea, but make sure you stay away from older trees that may drop branches in the wind.
It's also worth considering how you position your tent. Try to ensure that your front door is not facing directly into the wind, so that extra rain isn't carried inside your tent. Keep in mind that the wind direction may change, so it's best to check the weather forecast so that you can plan your tent pitch in advance.
4 - Don't Forget Your Groundsheet
Remembering your groundsheet may seem obvious, but it's actually a very effective way to keep your tent dry in all weather.
Many tents incorporate a seamless bottom layer, to reduce the number of weak spots that could allow water to soak in through the ground. If your tent has this feature, it can be really effective - but if it's older or has some wear and tear, it may not always be reliable.
For this reason, it's also worth bringing an extra groundsheet to provide another layer of protection between your tent and the wet earth. Not only will it make it harder for water to enter through any weak points, but it will actually provide more insulation, which will help you to stay cosy throughout your trip.
5 - Pitch Your Tent the Right Way
Pitching your tent isn't the most enjoyable part of camping, and trying to compete with the rain can make it even more tricky. If you're trying to set up your tent in the rain, here's a few pointers to help you get things done without your gear getting wet:
- Once you've chosen your spot, try to find something you can attach an extra tarp to. A tree or car will often work well, or you can even ask friends to help hold the tarpaulin up. The idea is to use your tarp to create a canopy that will cover you as you work. A marquee may also work well, if you've got one to hand.
- Next, aim to construct your tent as quickly as you can. Prioritize keeping the inner layers dry, because the external layers are generally fairly water resistant. Try to assemble the framework first, so that you can easily slip in into the tent's shell, and create a solid, waterproof structure.
- Once your tent is assembled, keep the canopy overhead as you carry in your gear. Bringing wet gear into your tent will get your living area wet, and make it far colder than usual. If you've managed to attach your extra tarp to a tree, it may be beneficial to leave it up for the entire camping trip, so you've got extra protection from the rain. Try to use garbage bags when you transport your gear, too!
- That's it!
6 - Use a Tent Lining
If you're going to be camping in the rain for a long period of time, or are experiencing unusually heavy amounts of rain, it's worth considering a tent lining.
You can invest in a lining that's tailor made for your tent's specific make or model, which is a good way to ensure you'll be as protected as possible. However, you can also create your own tent lining, for a cheaper and more convenient option.
Try using a clean, dry tarp, or even some spare garbage bags to line your tent floor or any weak spots. Both of these materials are naturally water resistant, and they'll add a handy extra layer that will not only keep moisture out, but will also trap heat inside. Keep in mind that you should leave your tent vents uncovered where possible for the best effect.
7 - Make Use of Your Porch Area
A porch area isn't just a good place to store your camping chairs overnight - it's also for ideal for helping you to stay warm and dry.
Once you've been out in the rain, you're very likely to have wet clothes and gear. Bringing them into your living space will not only get your sleeping bags wet, but it can expose any valuables to moisture, and will also bring your tent's temperature down, too.
Therefore, try to leave as much gear as possible in your porch area. Whether it's your rain jacket, boots, or even spare trash bags, do your best to store them in your porch area, and take as little inside your tent as possible. Your porch has greater air flow, which will allow your things to dry off sooner, and it will help keep your sleeping area dry and cosy.
8 - Ventilation is Key
When you're camping in the rain, you spend much more time trying to stay warm. For this reason, opening your vents is probably something you're trying to avoid. However, it's actually a key way to keep you and your tent dry in wet weather.
No matter how careful you are, water will always find its way into your tent. Whether you're exhaling moisture as you breathe, or tracking it in on your boots, it's impossible to keep tents totally dry.
In order to combat any excess water, you'll need to ventilate your tent. Opening your vents will boost air flow, which will help any moisture to evaporate and leave the space.
It's also a good idea to air out your bedding where possible. As you sleep, you exhale water droplets that can soak into your sleeping bag, clothes, and tent. Airing out that moisture each morning will help to prevent it from building up, and will keep you warmer in the long run!
Don't hang your sleeping bag outside if it's raining, but if the rain stops for a moment, or you have a marquee, you should definitely take the opportunity. The best approach is to leave your sleeping bag over a chair for an hour or so, but if you're worried about surprise showers, shaking the bag out for a few minutes will do the trick!
9 - Keep Your Clothes Separate
When you're rushing to get out of the rain, or are tired from a long day's hike, it can be tempting to get into your sleeping bag as quickly as possible. However, it's important to get into the habit of keeping a separate pair of dry clothes that are only used inside the tent, as it can make a big difference to your comfort levels.
When you've been outside all day, your gear is going to be fairly wet - both from the rain, and from sweat. Wearing your rain gear or used clothing to bed will make your sleeping bag wet, dirty, and can even damage it over time. Therefore, keeping a spare set of dry clothes to sleep in will not only make your trip more comfortable, but it will actually keep your camping gear in better condition.
10 - Put Your Tent Down Carefully
You may think that keeping your tent dry only matters when you're assembling it - but it's important to be aware of rain when you take everything down, too.
Storing your tent whilst it's still wet can cause a lot of damage. The tent isn't able to dry out correctly, which can cause the fabric to wear out more quickly, and can even encourage mold or mildew to grow. For this reason, it's vital to properly take your tent down once you've been camping in the rain.
Ideally, it wouldn't be raining whilst you're breaking camp, but sometimes you will have to compete with an unexpected shower. If this is the case, it's best to use a spare tarp or marquee to protect you and your tent as you work. You should also do your best to shake off as much water as you can before you pack away your gear, although this might not always be possible in severe weather conditions.
Once you've returned home, you'll need to fully unpack your tent and leave it to air out. Placing it outside is ideal, but hanging it up somewhere warm and well-ventilated inside your house will also work well. The main aim is to ensure that your tent, rain gear, and any storage materials are all fully dried out before you pack them away again.
It may seem simple, but taking the extra time to correctly store your camping rain gear will help to extend its lifetime, and ensure it properly protects you the next time you're camping in the rain!
1. What should I do if it rains while camping?
If you're camping and unexpectedly get caught in the rain, follow these tips for staying dry:
- Gather as much of your gear as possible, and store it under a marquee or in your tent porch. This will prevent it from getting too damaged by excess moisture, and will ensure it dries off more quickly.
- Take shelter inside your tent, and remove as many of your wet clothes as possible, especially things like your rain jacket and boots. Leave your wet rain gear in the porch area.
- Once you're inside your tent's living space, change into clean, dry clothing This will prevent extra moisture from entering the tent, which can significantly lower the temperature.
- Store all of your valuables, especially electronics, in a watertight container. A plastic bag will work fine, or use a lunch box for extra protection.
- Have fun passing the time! There are lots of great activities you can do while you're camping in the rain, including card games, chatting with friends - or even checking the weather forecast!
2. Can you use a tent when it's raining?
You can use a tent while it's raining - but it's important to consider whether you've got the right equipment for camping in the rain.
It sounds simple, but it's vital that you only use a waterproof tent for camping in the rain. Some canvas or older tents may not have adequate water resistance, so it's important you double check your things as you pack, and make sure you know how to waterproof tents as well as possible.
You should also make sure you have the right camping rain gear. Warm clothing items - such as rain pants that wick moisture - are a must, and spare tarps and garbage bags are also really handy. Remember to bring a marquee or porch attachment if you have one, and don't forget your ground cloth!
Keep in mind where you're going to set up your campsite. Never pitch close to bodies of water, especially when you're camping in the rain, and try to avoid low level ground. Use spare tarps to cover your pitch as you set up your tent, so the inner layers don't get wet while you work. This way, you'll make sure your tent is as protected from the rain as possible, and you'll be able to stay dry for longer!
3. How much rain is too much for camping?
The answer to this question will depend on your camping experience levels, and also your personal preferences.
Those who are new to camping may not have the correct supplies for staying dry in adverse weather. It's vital to have items such as a ground cloth, wet-weather clothing, and a tent porch or marquee. This will boost your experience, and also keep your belongings safe. Knowing how to clean your tent properly after a wet trip will be useful too.
More experienced campers may be able to enjoy camping in much heavier rain, but it's important to keep an eye on the weather forecast in order to stay safe. Generally, anything up to one inch of rain per hour should be manageable, but anything more is likely to become unpleasant or unsafe.
If you're in doubt, it may help to discuss your plans with the campsite manager or park ranger, so that you can make an informed decision on your camping trip!