Keys to successfully camping in the rain

Posted on: September 11, 2018 | Bob Frye | Comments

Camping in the rain can be an adventure.

Camping in the rain can actually be fun if done correctly.
Photo: Pixabay

The weather around much of the country lately has been absolutely wonderful.

If you’re an ark salesman, that is.

But for the rest of us? Not so much.

We’ve endured tremendous amounts of rain in a short period of time. And things figure to stay wet for a while, too.

Now, rain in and of itself is not enough to keep you out of the woods under normal circumstances. But at the same time, it can absolutely wreck any outdoor adventure, especially an overnighter, if you’re not ready for it. That’s especially true for any novices in the group.

The idea is to have fun, after all. And wet campers are often cold campers are often unhappy campers.

The key to avoiding that, and camping in rain successfully, lies in preparation and planning.
With that in mind, here are a few suggestions on how to survive and even thrive in the kind of less than ideal weather conditions you might encounter.

Choose your campsite wisely. Veteran campers know to look up for “widow makers,” tree limbs that could come crashing down onto your in bad weather. But when it’s raining or likely to, it pays to look down, too. Meaning, avoid depressions. A low spot will puddle, swamping your tent. Instead, choose high ground, not too close to a creek that could overflow, with no overhanging branches.

Tarp your floor. Most tents these days are constructed to be tub-like, with water-resistant flooring that extends a few inches up the side walls. But placing a tarp underneath the tent adds another, often critical, level of protection. Just be sure no portion of the tarp extends beyond the tent’s footprint or it will collect water. If need be, roll or fold it up – with the rolls turned downward – so that it sheds water.

Tarp your roof. Likewise, consider using paracord and a second tarp to cover your tent, even it if has a rain fly. If it’s large enough, the tarp will give you a porch underneath which you can take off wet gear before climbing inside.

Create a living space. You aren’t going to want to spend all your time “outdoors” in a tent. So take a tarp – are we getting how important these can be – and paracord and give yourself a dry place to cook, eat, sit and just relax. Just be sure to peak the roof. Otherwise, the tarp can fill up with water and collapse, giving you an unexpected shower.

Cover up. Rain gear – a jacket and pants – are a no-brainer if you expect rain. They’ll not only keep you dry and comfortable, but potentially safe as well, as they can help keep hypothermia at bay. But don’t forget a rain cover for your backpack, too, if you’re hiking in to your spot.

Bring some bags. Plastic bags – good, heavy duty ones – are great for keep dry clothes dry and wet clothes separate. Carry an assortment of bags, from freezer-size bags up to contractor-style garbage bags.

Bring extra shoes and socks. Wet feet are just plain miserable. So whether you’re hiking to your campsite or just going from the truck to the tent, waterproof shoes are super important. But even those sometimes lead to wet feet. So pack spares. Dry shoes and socks are nice creature comforts.

Be ready to make fire. Maybe you’re the kind of woodsman or woman who can get a fire going, every time, in the wettest conditions, using just what you find in the woods. If so, great. If not, it doesn’t hurt to cheat, so to speak. Take fire starters – commercially available ones or homemade – to camp with you, along with several methods of starting fire, from matches to lighters to fire-starting tools.

Eat well. A cold dinner — lunch meat sandwiches if you’re car camping, or energy bars if you’re backpacking – might be fine when the weather is pleasant and the sun is shining. When it’s wet and cold, though? Think high energy, hot foods. A mug of hot cocoa, chili or soup goes a long way to keeping morale high.

Dress for success. Cotton clothes lose their ability to provide warmth when wet, so if there’s a chance of rain, leave the cotton at home. Instead, dress in layers of polyester or wool. Tuck some of those clothes in the foot of your sleeping bag when you go to bed at night, too. Then, when you get up in the morning, they’ll be warm as soon as you put them on.

The, the rest is up to you.

This wet weather we’re seeing right now is going to go away, eventually. Bluer skies are ahead.

But there will always be rain, and sometimes it will fall without a whole lot of warning.

Those who are ready – and keep a good attitude — need not let it ruin their campout. So pack right, set up correctly, and have fun out there.


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Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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