Wet-Weather Camping Tips
By angelamontana

Posted: May 16, 2018

Let’s face it–sometimes we plan camping adventures months in advance, and the weather doesn’t always end up how we prefer it, but that doesn’t mean you have to cancel your trip!  Here are some tips from Hipcamp.com (which is also a good site to find campsites while you’re traveling) that can help if you end up pitching a tent in the rain:

1. Pick your campsite location wisely:

Good: high, flat ground
Bad: a slope where water could just roll on in; a depression that could turn into a puddle; areas near rivers/streams that may flood; under large branches that could fall in a heavy storm

2. Pitch a solid tent and keep it dry:

Set up a tarp overhead, preferably over the entire campsite if possible, or hold the tarp overhead. If you don’t have a tarp, do this with the rain-fly
Keep the rain-fly taut and away from the walls of the tent, and avoid accidentally pushing the tent wall out from the inside. If a wet rain-fly touches the wall of the tent, water will seep inside from the contact
Ensure the tent is well ventilated to prevent condensation building inside
Don’t set a ground cloth; water may pool and seep into your tent. Instead, consider bringing the ground cloth inside and using it as an extra layer of protection from the damp floor

3. Hike with extra attention to:

Water crossings: both because of flood risk and because the water will be running much faster
Rocky trails: rocks can become very slippery when just a little damp
Bare, dirt paths: if trails become muddy, this also will make them extra slippery
Know the signs of hypothermia
Remember to drink water! As with being in the cold, being in the rain often makes us forget we’re thirsty
Tips for Wet Weather Camping (Or, Please Let it Rain!)

Let’s say it’s really coming down and you’ve followed our advice above. Still, a mildly unpleasant scenario can become dangerous in the backcountry. Wet and cold can cause hypothermia, so it’s super important to be able to dry off quickly and stay warm and dry. Some gear that’ll help you fight the damp:

Packing List

Super-must-have:

Rain jacket with hood, rain pants, waterproof hiking boots, (gaiters are also great if you’re expecting a ton of rain)
Rain cover for your backpack
Rain cover or water-tight bags for your camera/electronics
Synthetic clothing. Make sure you bring at least two sets so you can always change into something dry when you get to camp!
In-camp shoes like sandals or flip-flops (keeping your feet in wet-boots/socks is not fun and can lead to problems)
Large tarp(s) and extra rope(s) that can be strung high across tree branches and provide overall camp shelter
Rainfly for your tent (you might consider bringing a bigger one since you could spend more time inside it than on a sunny trip)
Gas stove: a warm meal and/or beverage like hot tea or coffee does wonders for wet weather morale and hypothermia prevention

Nice-to-have:

Plastic bags (a million uses, bring sturdy ones!)
Towels (preferably the lightweight, microfiber kind since they also dry quickly)
Handwarmers
Reflective blankets (helpful whenever there’s a risk of hypothermia)
Newspaper: building a fire can be the fastest way to warm up and dry your clothes, but hard to accomplish in a wet forest, so newspaper could serve as perfect kindling

Depending on how bad the weather is, the trails may be completely un-walkable, and you may be cooped up in a tent together with nothing to do. That said, if you plan ahead and adventure with the right group of people who make the best of any situation, I promise that you can return from a rain-soaked adventure with wide smiles, happy memories, and awesome stories. Plus, camping isn’t supposed to always be easy – that’s what makes it fun!

(feature photo via Blain’s Farm & Fleet)