How To Enjoy Camping In The Rain

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Don't let the rain prevent you from having a great camping trip. Here are some helpful tips, tricks, and hacks to staying dry and having fun on your next rainy day in camp.

Rain. It can bring even the most seasoned fair-weather camper to their breaking point. But never fear, we've got tips and tricks to help you enjoy your next rainy camping adventure.

Prepare for Rainy Conditions

1. Make sure all your gear is waterproof.

Nothing will make a wet trip more miserable than finding out your rain jacket is no longer repelling water. If rain is in the forecast, check all your camping gear for waterproof-ness. You can do this easily by spraying water on the surface of your gear. If it beads up and rolls off, you're good to go. If it soaks in, you'll need to clean and re-waterproof.

How to rewaterproof your tent.

How to rewaterproof your rain jacket.

How to rewaterproof your hiking boots.

2. Pack the right layers.

Pack clothing that will repel rain (your rain jacket and pants), but also pack clothing that will dry quickly, and be warm even when wet. Merino wool layers are the best for this. Leave the cotton at home. Side with synthetic insulated jackets over down-filled. If you only have down, make sure it is waterproof with Nikwax Down Proof. Down will not keep you warm if it gets wet.

3. Bag it!

Pack all your clothing, and anything else you don't want to get wet, into waterproof bags. You can use drybags, or dry duffles if you want a bomb-proof, waterproof solution. If you don't have any, get a box of big burly trashbags. You can line your backpacks and other bags with them to create a waterproof barrier. You can also use them for other things around the campsite. Impromptu seat? Check.

4. Know before you go. Do a test run.

Set up your gear in advance. Make sure you know how to put up your tent, and brush up on your knot skills. It will make setting up your rain-proof campsite a breeze once you're there. The Taut line hitch is a key knot for this:

Make a rain-proof campsite

1. Be cautious camping under trees.

It may seem like a nice plan to set up under a tree; the branches might provide extra rain protection. However, the extra weight of the rain, and the potential for wind during rain storms, can cause branches to fall more readily than usual. If you must set up under a tree, check for "widow-makers", or dead branches before you chose your site.

2. Don't pitch your tent in a river.

Or rather, potential rivers. If you're near water, understand the possibility of flash-flooding. On a less apocalyptic note, check the ground of your camp site. Where and how does the ground slope? Is it possible water might pool in a certain area? Make sure your tent will be on the driest ground possible.

3. Make a tarp "living room"

If you think it "might" rain, set this up in advance. Use a tarp or two, and string them up using their grommets and the rope you practiced tying knots with earlier. Make sure to create a nice slope so rain will run off and away from any areas you want to keep dry. Then add camp chairs, a table, and any other creature comforts you deem necessary.

4. Prep a cozy haven.

Set up your tent and then proceed to set up the interior. Lay down (and inflate if needed) your sleeping mat. Roll out your sleeping bag. Bring a change of clothes into the tent (including some warm fuzzy socks). If you return to camp wet and cold, having a change of clothes ready, and a nice warm sleeping bag to crawl into will feel heavenly.

Plan Rainy Fun Times

1. Pack games & entertainment.

Rain sometimes means your intended activity will no longer be feasible. Have a backup plan. Bring a waterproof deck of cards. Run to the thrift store before your trip and grab the weirdest game they have. Paying $1.99 for a game of Hungry, Hungry, Hippos will be very much worth it when the rains roll in. You can also bring some musical instruments and have a rainy jam session.

2. Make delicious (warm) food.

If it's raining, nothing will perk you up like tasty camp food and delicious drinks. Make fancy hot cocoa, (or adult hot cocoa or Irish coffee). If you're able to start a fire, that will help too. Pack dry wood and kindling. Or use a camp stove for a more dependable heat source. Just be sure you're able to create heat.

Stay dry and have fun!