“Into every life a little rain must fall.” But don’t let that keep you from camping! While it may not sound like fun, even camping in the rain can be refreshing and cozy if you’re properly prepared. Yes, anyone can learn to love that liquid sunshine!
How to Camp in the Rain?
Choosing Your Campsite
While camping next to the river or in a low flat place may seem like a good idea, thanks to gravity, water will always flow to the lowest point. Knowing this, you don’t want to wake up with inches of water inside or outside your tent area. Find a spot that is flat and with a little elevation, up a hill for example.
Also, on a hot summer day you may want to set up under the trees, but when it’s raining you won’t want to do that because the trees will continue to drip rain onto you. If it gets stormy, tree branches and debris may fall on you as well.
Find an open space to camp, instead. If possible, it would be nice to wake up with the sunshine in your face, so set up the tent entrance to face east to get warm first thing.
What to Wear
A wide variety of amazing synthetic materials designed for hiking and camping are available to you. These will help you regulate your body temperature, keeping you cool when you’re active and warm when you’re resting. You’ll want dress in layers to help regulate temperature as well. Polyester or wool are good base layers for keeping you warm and dry. You should also wear a waterproof jacket as an outer layer, preferably with a hood to keep your head dry, too.
Consider packing gaiters or rain pants. Gaiters help keep the bottom of your pants dry, the place where you are most likely to get wet when hiking in the rain. There is a term for cold weather called ‘cotton kills.’ Since cotton is a natural material, it doesn’t wick moisture as well as synthetic materials. So, if you’re wearing cotton, it will keep you cold and wet. There are blends that have wool and artificial fibers, to ensure that you stay warm and dry. This is especially helpful for socks.
Keeping Your Clothes Dry
At the campsite, you’ll probably want to change into some dry clothes. Be sure to pack some extra base layers and wool socks, and store them in a waterproof bag. Dry clothes will help you warm up immediately. If you hiked in the rain and your clothes got soaked, be sure to change into a dry set and to hang up your wet clothes to dry. You could even bring a clothesline to hang under a tarp so that you’ll always have dry clothes available.
If you really need to dry out some clothes, put some damp clothes in your sleeping bag. Your body heat will help dry them overnight.
One of the worst things about camping in the cold or rain is waking up and trying to dress into cold, damp clothes. You can avoid this by preheating them to 98.6 degrees by placing your clothes for the next day in a little dry bag at the bottom of your sleeping bag. They’ll be warm and ready to go by morning.
When it’s cold outside, you may experience poor regulation, so be sure to have some hand warmers to put into your clothes and boots first thing in the morning.
Keeping Dry at Campsite
If you’ve been out hiking in the rain you might be tempted to crawl into your camping tent to get warm. But if you’re camping with friends or family, you can make an outdoor living room for everyone to enjoy. You can do this by bringing a pop-up shelter/canopy or you can buy a large family camping tent with a front extension or screen room. Another idea for rainy campsites: make your own shelter by putting a tarp on the ground and hanging another one overhead, adding a few sides if you’d like. This arrangement makes a nice area for your camp stove and for getting some warm water going for tea or hot cocoa.
You can plan your meals ahead of time, with rain in mind, by prepping food at home and heating it up at camp. Warm chili or Dutch oven recipes work well. You’ll stay warmer on the outside by keeping your insides warm, with hot food and liquids. When you’re cold, you need more calories to maintain body temperature. Eating carbs is a good way to get the extra calories you need to stay warm.
Making a Camp Fire
If you plan on cooking, you’ll want to pack a camp stove or decide how you’ll make a fire. Though you may camp in the rain, that doesn’t necessarily mean rain will be falling the entire time. So, a toasty campfire makes for a great camping experience. You’ll want to check ahead of time to know the fire restrictions for your campsite.
You’ll need waterproof matches and/or a lighter and waterproof tinder. You can either pack your own tinder or find some outdoors by looking for dry pine needles or other flammable natural materials. Even after rain, there may be dry pine needles under the first layer of wet ones. You can make easy turning small wood into kindling with the help of a portable camping hatchet.
Sleeping Dry and Warm
When you set up your tent, use an extra tarp on the ground and don’t forget the rainfly! On the other hand, don’t forget to ventilate your tent when you have an opportunity, to prevent moisture inside your tent. You might also like to use a sleeping bag liner or bevy bag for extra warmth at night and for sleeping warmly. In getting ready for bed, you’ll want to make sure not to get any additional moisture from the ground.
Once you’re in your sleeping bag, sleep with your face exposed. If you breathe into the sleeping bag, it will get damp and cold later on. You can also keep yourself warm and dry at night by choosing a synthetic sleeping bag that won’t retain moisture. Having another sleeping pad underneath will also help insulate you from the cold and moisture of the ground.
Bonus video for backpackers:
Now that you see that camping in the rain isn’t so bad, we bet that you might be planning your next trip for a spring or fall adventure, to take in the scenery and to skip the summer crowds. Just keep these tips in mind and you won’t mind the rain at all.