10 Tips & Tricks for Camping in the Rain

Even if you love the great outdoors, there’s no denying that Mother Nature often has her own plans for your vacation. Tent camping in the rain is not always ideal, but that doesn’t mean it has to ruin your trip completely. In the following article, we’ll outline some tips for camping in the rain to help ensure you and your family make the best of your experience.

Tips and tricks for camping in the rain

Camping in the rain offers unique challenges that can frustrate even the most experienced campers. Luckily, with a little planning and some on-the-fly innovation, you can learn to make the most out of any weather conditions. Below, we’ve listed some camping in the rain tips that will help keep you and your equipment dry as well as keep your family happy.

1. Pick your site carefully

Camping in the rain and camping in a mud puddle are two different things. If rain is a possibility, you’ll want to carefully choose your tent site to ensure water runs away from your equipment and sleeping areas. Avoid being beside creeks, lakes, or ponds, and try to find an area with a slight elevation to avoid puddling water. Lastly, trees will retain water long after the rain stops, so try to find an open space.

2. The fire still burns

If it’s cold and wet already, you’re not going to increase your enjoyment by skipping on the fire every night. Not only will this help dry your clothes and warm your hands, but it will help keep the camping vibe alive despite the crummy weather.

When camping in the rain, it’s a good idea to make sure you always have the ability to start a fire. Invest in waterproof matches or a magnesium starter to get a guaranteed spark. For tinder, check under pine trees or peel the wet wood off of thicker logs. 

3. Use the right lights

Dark, rainy nights can be quite beautiful with the addition of a little ambiance – this is where LED string lights come in handy. Battery-powered and bright, these can make up for the lack of natural light by playing off the raindrops, illuminating the entire campsite. They also last a long time, won’t short out, and are more often than not built to be waterproof. 

4. Keep your sleeping area dry

If it’s going to be wet and rainy outside, you’ll want to make sure your own personal “inside” is as dry as possible. Keep any wet clothes from getting into your tent whenever possible, and consider investing in a bivy bag to provide a little extra insulation. On top of that, you can use an outdoor sleeping pad to provide an extra layer between you and the ground and to help retain body heat. (Check out our guide on how to waterproof your tent.)

5. Wet and dry layers

 Layering is essential for camping in the rain. Since you and your grip won’t be spending the entire time in your tents, so you’ll want to have “shell layers” to protect your clothes. A waterproof jacket or poncho is perfect for the outer layer, while polyester or wool is excellent for the inside. Once you get back to camp, you can take the shell layer off and still be dry as a bone.

6. Keep it social with a large tarp

The last thing you want is for a bunch of tired, wet people to retreat to their tents at night. Keep the social element of camping alive by setting up a large tarp as a “living room.” Make sure your canopy is angled to prevent rain from puddling in the center, and then enjoy the pleasant, dry space with a game of cards or other classic camping activities.

Check out our picks for the best camping tents.

7. Keep the mold at bay

Now that you have a tarp in place, you can use the shelter it creates to dry any wet clothes. This daily process is essential to avoid the unpleasant experience of putting on wet clothes in the morning and keep mold and mildew from infecting your favorite plaids. Bring a few good clotheslines and plenty of clothespins whenever you head into the outdoors.

8. Comfort food

If your friends and family are “belly-aching” about the rain, try to ply them with some good, old-fashioned comfort food. From cocoa and marshmallows to creamy campfire mac and cheese, keeping your fellow campers fed is a great way to keep them happy. After all, if you can’t have a warm glow in your tent, you might as well have one in your stomach.

9. Pre-heat your clothes

One of the “pro-level” camping in the rain tips is to use your sleeping bag to “pre-heat” your clothes. If you’ve been out in the cold and wet, there’s nothing quite like a pair of warm, comfy jammies to slip into at the end of the day. Use a breathable mesh bag and pack it deep into your sleeping bag when you’re out to have a toasty reward waiting for you when you get back.

10. “Feets” of strength

Nothing sends a camping trip downhill as fast as wet feet. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also be dangerous once the weather gets below freezing. To prevent this, layer warm, wool socks and invest in waterproof boots. If the latter is not an option, use a few plastic shopping bags to keep moisture from reaching your socks. Also, be sure to dry any wet socks out overnight – every night. 

FAQs About Camping in the Rain

What are some essential items to pack when camping in the rain to stay dry and comfortable?

Essential items to pack when camping in the rain include waterproof clothing and footwear, a waterproof tent and rainfly, a tarp or groundsheet, a waterproof backpack cover or dry bag, and extra towels or blankets for drying off.

What are some tips for choosing a campsite that will be less affected by rain, such as avoiding low-lying areas and setting up under tree cover?

To choose a campsite that will be less affected by rain, avoid low-lying areas where water may collect, look for areas with natural shelter such as trees or cliffs, and check the weather forecast for any potential flood or landslide risks.

What are some safety precautions to take when camping in the rain, such as avoiding lightning-prone areas or keeping electrical devices dry?

Some safety precautions to take when camping in the rain include avoiding setting up camp in lightning-prone areas, keeping electrical devices and cords dry, and being aware of potential flash flood risks in the area.

How can you keep your gear and clothes dry while camping in the rain, such as using dry bags or hanging wet clothes in a sheltered area?

To keep gear and clothes dry while camping in the rain, use dry bags or waterproof backpack covers to store gear, hang wet clothes in a sheltered area to dry, and avoid leaving wet clothes or gear inside the tent.

What are some activities to do while camping in the rain to stay entertained and make the most of the experience, such as playing card games or reading books under shelter?

Activities to do while camping in the rain include playing card games or board games under shelter, reading books or listening to music, exploring nearby trails and waterfalls, and enjoying hot drinks or comfort food cooked on a camping stove or fire.

Get ready to go camping

If you follow these tips and tricks for camping in the rain, it will be nearly impossible for a bad experience to creep up on you and your campmates. Above all, it’s important to remember to stay as dry as possible, especially if the weather is cold. Though it’s possible to have fun camping in any weather, it’s never worth risking your health.

Aside from that – stay dry, have fun, and enjoy the great outdoors with our tips for camping in the rain.


About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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