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Camping In The Rain (11 Tips & Hacks For Staying Dry)

If you’re heading out on an adventure, chances are you’ve been obsessively checking the forecast for days. Sadly, no matter what the weather app on your phone tells you, luck isn’t always on your side. The good news is, camping in the rain doesn’t have to ruin your trip.

11 tips for staying dry when camping in the rain are:

  1. Check the weather forecast
  2. Buy a waterproof tent
  3. Rig up an outdoor shelter
  4. Put electronics into dry bags
  5. Air out your tent to minimize condensation
  6. Prepare indoor activities
  7. Pitch your tent carefully
  8. Bring dry newspaper
  9. Only pack quick-dry clothes
  10. Invest in a portable camping stove
  11. Bring a bivy sack

This list of hacks for staying dry will transform any grim, drizzly camping trip into a comfortable experience. However, until you learn how to apply these tips, they are just words on a page. Below, we’ll dive into each hack and tell you how to pull off the perfect camping trip — rain or shine!

11 Tips For Staying Dry When Camping In The Rain

1. Check The Weather Forecast

You’ll have to take this advice with a pinch of salt because we all know that it isn’t a good idea to rely solely on the weather forecast. However, having a rough idea of what conditions you should expect on your trip can be very useful when it comes to packing for your adventure.

Knowing what to expect from the weather can help you plan your activities and get the most out of your trip. Do you have a sunny window in the morning? Make the most of it and head out on that hike you’ve been itching to do before the clouds roll in.

Making The Most Of It

Knowing roughly when the rain is due means you can cram a good mixture of outdoor and indoor activities into your trip. This will save any little campers from getting bored!

When it comes to checking the weather, make sure that you are looking at your exact location because the weather can vary greatly even just a few miles away. If you are in a particularly mountainous area this is even more important as high-altitude areas often trap clouds, producing unique microclimates.

If you have a bit of flexibility in your schedule and there is some terrible weather forecast, it may be worth postponing your trip by a few days if you can. But if you don’t have time on your side, don’t worry. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to make the most of your trip, even if the weather isn’t playing ball!

2. Buy A Waterproof Tent

The most important piece of kit for any camping trip is undoubtedly your tent. Although it can be tempting to seek out the cheapest model to save a few bucks, trust me when I say you don’t want to do this! A high-quality, waterproof tent will be one of the best investments you ever make.

When it comes to buying a tent that will withstand drizzly nights, look for one with a double skin. These offer additional protection against the elements when compared to pop-ups and other types of single-skin tents. They also help to keep condensation inside the tent to a minimum.

Extra Protection And Storage

A tent with a vestibule is a great investment if you are likely to be camping in wet environments. This protected area along the front or side of your tent provides additional shelter from the weather and allows you to keep the entrance of your tent clean. It’s also handy for storing your belongings, while at the same time keeping them dry.

If you are heading out on a camping adventure but don’t have the budget for a new tent right now, there are still things that you can do to keep your tent as dry and as waterproof as possible. Although most new tents have a water-resistant membrane or have been treated with a waterproofing spray during manufacturing, this wears off over time. 

Get online and grab some seam sealant and some durable water repellent too. You can apply these to your tent before your camping trip and reinforce the seams and skin. You might need a couple of coats and it is unlikely to be a perfect fix, but this should mean your tent will hold up better during showers.

3. Rig Up An Outdoor Shelter

In the great outdoors, the rain can feel like an oppressive force. You’ve hastily set up camp in the rain, quickly munched some food and now everyone is about to retire to bed. It’s only 7 pm and everyone is already on a downer. Time for plan B!

Part of what we all love about camping is the shared sense of purpose and community. This is hard to find if all of your group are zipped away in their tents! To make sure you’re still able to get together in relative comfort, bring a tarp and additional groundsheet with you and set up an outdoor shelter where you can all gather.

It won’t be perfect, but after you’ve got everyone gathered around, looked out the camp chairs and cracked open a few drinks,you might even forget that it is raining!

4. Put Electronics Into Dry Bags

Even though we all adore the rustic nature of camping, it wouldn’t be the same these days without a few home comforts. After all, can any of us be relied upon to find a specific location without GPS anymore?

We might leave the laptops and tablets at home, but many of us will still want to carry our phones on a camping trip in case of an emergency. However, these will be of little use to us if they get wet in a downpour! To ensure that your electronic devices are protected from the elements, make sure you put them in dry bags.

A Cheap Solution

Dry bags can be bought in any outdoor store or online for cheap, making them an ideal choice for campers. Most dry bags are roll-top in design with fully tapered seams, meaning your valuables are kept dry and free of dust. They come in a variety of sizes and are easy to compress so they won’t take up much room in your pack.

Remember to pack your electronics in your dry bags before you leave and not when it’s already raining. It will be hard to limit the damage if your stuff is already wet!

5. Air Out Your Tent To Minimize Condensation

It isn’t just rain that you need to worry about when you are camping. Condensation can also prove to be a problem, no matter the weather. To minimize condensation in your tent, you’ll want to opt for a tent model that has good ventilation.

Condensation comes from three sources when you are camping:

  1. The humidity outside
  2. Moisture from your breath
  3. Moisture from wet items stored in your tent

This naturally indicates that the wetter it is outside, the more you will struggle to control the amount of condensation inside your tent. If you can, try to dry your wet gear outside your tent to minimize the buildup of moisture inside. If you have rigged up an outdoor space, this can be a good area to leave clothes and other damp kit to air dry.

To keep condensation to a minimum, you need to keep your tent well ventilated. This can be difficult to do in the rain but is still achievable. When you stake your tent, make sure you tension the fly to maximize the space between it and the tent wall. When the rain eases, open the doors and rollup sections to allow air to circulate through the tent.

6. Prepare Indoor Activities

If it has been pouring all day and you’ve just set up your tent, you don’t want to retire to bed just because you have nothing else to do. If it’s still raining, chances are your usual camping activities are off the table so you’ll have to get a bit more creative to keep everybody occupied.

If you prepare for rain, you can bring along some great camp games which will really brighten up a dull evening. Whether you’re a pro at Rummy or fancy a game of something more risqué like Cards Against Humanity, card games tend to be fairly compact and easy to transport.

If you’re camping with kids, maybe have a go at stone painting or drawing. This doesn’t have to be messy and is a great way to keep the kids entertained when they are confined to the tent. For older campers, a few pre-downloaded episodes of your favorite show on your phone and a good book are ideal camp companions.

7. Pitch Your Tent Carefully

One of the most important contributors to staying dry when camping in the rain is where you pitch your tent. A bit of forward-thinking and logistical knowledge will help limit the moisture that your camp is exposed to and make for a better overall outdoor experience.

Firstly, you should always aim to pitch your tent on higher ground. Stay away from large bodies of water and ditches because these can be prone to flooding in bad weather. After heavy rainfall, water always collects in valleys which is an important factor to bear in mind when choosing your spot.

Choose Your Spot Carefully

It is best to look for a gentle upwards slope, as this will afford you the most protection from excessive rainfall. Make sure that you angle your tent doorway away from the rain direction. It’s no fun opening your tent door first thing in the morning to a wave of water!

Although it can be tempting to haul up in a forest in bad weather, this is not a good idea. Trees that could easily fall in high winds are known as ‘widow makers’ and pose a potentially fatal threat to campers in bad weather. Even if there are no widow makers around, if you camp underneath the trees in the rain, chances are you will be dripped on all night, even when the downpour eases.

8. Bring Dry Newspaper

Surprisingly, bringing a dry newspaper on your camping trip is one of the most useful wet weather camping hacks you can find. Although there are many discomforts that come from camping in the rain, potentially nothing is as bad as having to wear soggy shoes, especially if you have been on the trail all day.

Wet shoes are not only uncomfortable, but they can also do real damage to your feet. Skin is far more likely to blister and crack in wet shoes, meaning that if you are combining your camping adventure alongside a hiking trip, you may have to pull off the trail earlier than expected. Waterlogged boots also make your feet smell – not good news for your fellow campmates!

The quickest way to dry out wet shoes is to stuff them full of crisp newspaper. Simply wait for the newspaper to soak up the moisture and then replace it with new newspaper. You will be amazed at how well this works and wonder why you never thought of it earlier!

9. Only Pack Quick-Dry Clothes

It is important to remember that the campsite isn’t the catwalk. While it’s always nice to look good, you need to be practical when it comes to packing clothing for a camping trip, especially if the weather forecast isn’t looking promising.

When you are camping, it’s best to avoid clothing made from cotton as this holds moisture and takes ages to dry out. Instead, opt for sweat-wicking and quick-dry clothes which are easy to freshen up if you get caught in a downpour.

Go For Polyester

Thanks to the boom in fashionable sportswear, there are now plenty of options on the market for image-conscious consumers, and many of these double up as great camping clothes. Look for clothing made from polyester as it is the quickest fabric to dry.

If you do have clothes that you need to dry, rig up a washing line outside and hang them. The perfect place to do this is in your outdoor shelter area, ideally under a tarp. This will allow them to air and means that you can avoid bringing them into your tent, something you definitely want to avoid to keep condensation levels down.

10. Invest In A Portable Camping Stove

When it comes to camping, little compares to the authenticity of grilling a few steaks over the campfire with your friends. While this is the idyllic camping experience that we are all aiming for, camping in the rain brings with it a whole new rulebook.

In wet weather, it’s going to be nearly impossible to start a campfire and very difficult to maintain one. This can result in campers going to bed hungry if they haven’t been able to sustain a decent fire for cooking.

A Must-Have Item

Nothing results in misery like an empty stomach, so going to bed hungry is something that is bound to spoil your trip. To plan for any incidents resulting from hangry people, invest in a portable camping stove and a few bags of freeze-dried meals.

A camping stove isn’t dependent on the elements as it’s powered by gas. It also guarantees that even without a traditional campfire, you won’t go hungry at mealtimes and can still enjoy a hot cup of cocoa before bed.

Portable camping stoves are now more lightweight than ever before, so even if you are hiking through the backcountry, they won’t take up much space or weight in your pack. Freeze-dried meals are also light and easy to make. Just add boiling water to the mix and allow it to steam. This is quick and hassle-free, so it’s perfect for a drizzly night!

11. Bring A Bivy Sack

If you’ve been forced to pitch your tent in the cold and wet, a bivy sack, or bivouac sack, can provide an extra layer of warmth while you sleep. Many campers are unlikely to have heard of bivy sacks, but they are essentially waterproof bags that you can slip over your sleeping bag to shield you from the elements.

They are traditionally used by ultra-lightweight campers instead of tents, or those on expeditions who want to rig a shelter in case of an emergency. A bivy sack will help to protect your sleeping bag from moisture in the tent and help to keep you warm on a chilly night.

Once you’re all wrapped up in your sleeping bag and bivy sack, try to keep your face outside it. Breathing into the bag will cause the fabric to get wet which defeats the point of the gear.

Final Thoughts

Camping in the rain can be a drag, but your next drizzly trip is guaranteed to be brighter now that you’ve read our tips and hacks! These tips for staying dry during a downpour will mean that camping in the rain is no longer a thing of dread. In fact, it can actually be quite fun!

A bit of pre-planning combined with a sprinkling of imagination will provide everything you need to get the most out of your next camping trip. No longer will you have to wait for the two days of sun forecast. You can get out right now and start making memories in the great outdoors!