Camping in the rain: Tips & tricks for staying dry (and fun)

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If you’d ask us what a perfect camping trip is, camping in the rain probably wouldn’t be the thing we’d mention. But does rainy weather necessarily ruin the camping experience? With proper camping gear – certainly not!

Whether you’re caught in a storm while camping or you’re just trying to make the most of wet weather, there are some things you can do to keep your camp fun.

We’ve gathered some handy tips and tricks for camping in the rain – let’s get started.

Prepare for camping in the rain

Preparation is the key to enjoying tent camping, no matter rainy or cold weather. If your goal is to keep dry and enjoy your camp (even if you’re not expecting rain), the rule of thumb is to think about it before you get out of the house. Using a camping checklist is a good way to kick-off your trip.

rain gear

1. Take a decent tent with a proper rain fly

To stay dry while rain camping, consider investing in a decent quality tent with a waterproof rain fly. The rain fly should cover all the mesh vents and windows in the best-case scenario.

Some tents might only cover the top of the tent, letting the water pour inside through the windows. Or, if it’s a cheaper tent, even with all covered space, it might leak the raindrops through.

2. Explore a tent with a vestibule option

If you’ve been in a situation where opening the tent door accidentally lets all the water pour on your shoulders, you shouldn’t want to repeat the same experience again.

Some types of tents include vestibules. It’s a great way to cover the entrance to your shelter; in some cases, they’re even big enough to store gear and shoes there.

3. Waterproof your tent

Depending on your tent’s quality and age, you can waterproof it by sealing the seams, refreshing the fabric, or using a waterproof spray.

We’ve covered all the ways on how to waterproof a tent in our article.

4. Check the weather in advance

It’s one of the first steps you should take when it comes to camping safety.

Always see the weather forecast for your camping location. Don’t forget to check for severe weather, too.

Camping in severe storms isn’t recommended. We know, forecasts might not be accurate, and some storms can end in minutes. Common sense is much-needed here.

5. Find the right camp spot

When camping in the rain, waking up in several inches of water is zero fun. You’ll want to find a spot that’s a little bit elevated and well-drained.

Avoid camping in low-lying areas, as the rain water will run down there.

Bonus tip

Don’t set up a tent under a tree. Even after the rain stops, drops will keep dripping. What’s even worse, falling branches may injure you.

car camping

6. Put extra tarps under and over your tent

Place a large tarp as a tent footprint (but no bigger than the tent bottom) under your tent to prevent water from seeping in from the web ground.

Some campers prefer putting an extra tarp on the floor inside the tent.

Also, put one tarp over your tent to keep the rain off, especially if you’re unsure how waterproof your tent is. If it’s huge enough, this might also serve as a covered area to enter the tent.

7. Take a bivy bag

A bivy bag is a small, waterproof sleeping bag that can be used in place or inside of a tent. It can help you stay warm and protect your sleeping bag from moisture.

It’s an excellent option for camping in the rain because it’s lightweight and easy to set up.

8. Bring waterproof storage for your gear

Make sure all of your gear is stored in waterproof bags or containers. Even if you hope your tent will keep your equipment dry, better be safe than sorry.

Simple trash bags also work if you don’t have designated totes or dry sacks.

9. Place a mat outside your tent

A mat placed outside your tent can help keep the inside of your tent free from mud and dry. It’s also a good place to store wet or dirty shoes.

tent floor

10. Keep tent doors and windows closed until the rain stops

This will help keep water from getting into your tent. Once the rain has stopped, you can open the door and windows to let some fresh air in.

11. Bring a pop-up canopy

Canopy will help you create a “living room” to hang out and cook food while it’s raining. A decent example is Crown Shades Pop Up Canopy which packs into a convenient storage and is very easy to assemble.

An extra tarp might also work if you don’t have a canopy.

12. Collect (or buy) firewood the first thing you arrive and keep it dry

If you plan on starting a campfire, gather dry wood as soon as you arrive at your campsite. If you’re planning to bring your own firewood, ensure it’s allowed by the area (some have restrictions due to diseases and pests).

Don’t forget to cover it properly – place it in the tarp, wrap it up, or store it in a strong garbage bag.

13. Bring a fire starter & waterproof matches/lighter to start a fire

For a fire starter, use wood shavings, dryer lint, cotton covered with petroleum jelly balls, or simply a piece of paper. Pine needles from under the trees also work; if they’re dry, just dig a little deeper. You can also buy ready-to-use campfire starters at the store.

And, of course, take waterproof matches and/or lighter with you.

cooking gear

14. Pack a paracord or rope-made clothesline to hang wet clothes on

Packing a paracord or rope-made clothesline is a great way to dry your wet clothes after the rain stops.

Simply string the cord between two trees and hang wet clothes on it. The sun will help dry them out in no time.

dry clothes

15. Take your camping rain gear

This is one of the most important things to feel comfortable camping in the rain.

Pack a waterproof jacket or rain suit, waterproof pants, and waterproof shoes.

In terms of clothing fabrics, choose polyester or wool base. Note that cotton clothes aren’t a great idea – when it gets wet, it stays wet.

Dry clothes are a must to keep your body heat.

Bonus tip

You might use hand warmers to keep your feet warm (especially if they were wet feet before)! Whip them out, put a few in your shoes, and enjoy the coziness.

rain pants

16. Light up your campsite properly

Rainy weather is also darker weather. Bring enough flashlights, camping lanterns, and batteries.

This will help you avoid trip hazards and make finding your way around in the dark easier.

17. Bring some entertainment items

When camping in the rain, it’s essential to bring some entertainment items. This will help keep you occupied and prevent boredom. More about this in the next section!

camping trip

Rainy day camping activities

Even if it rains, it doesn’t mean your trip can’t be fun and rewarding. Here are some proven activities that’ll shush the boredom away (you’ll find ones for a group and camping solo):

  • Play board games. Be it Monopoly, Alias, Bingo – whatever you like, works.
  • Play cards. UNO, Blitz, Go Fish, or just old-but-gold traditional cards.
  • Read a book. We bet you know the power a good book has to catch your attention and make the time fly. Or, if you’re not a fan of books – maybe it’s time to flip through the magazine?
  • Play conversational/hypothetical questions. Would You Rather?, I Spy, think your own or just Google in advance some hypothetical questions – this won’t only entertain you but also bond!
  • Tell stories. Live, adventurous, sentimental, fun, or scary stories will do.
  • Study a map for your next hiking trip. Use your rainy time to examine the trails and plan where you’ll go next.
  • Have a picnic lunch inside your tent. Comfort food is always a good idea. The best thing – it’ll taste as good inside your tent!
  • Go for a hike. If the rain doesn’t scare you, put your rain clothes on and go for a walk around. Just make sure to follow the trails.
  • Take a nap. Really, just rest. Rain comes in handy when trying to relax and just get back the energy you’ve spent camping.

We’ve also made a complete list of 42 fun activities for camping – check it out for more ideas!

sleeping bag

Bonus tips: What should you do after camping in the rain

Last but not least, there are still things to do when you return home after a rainy camping trip. It’s as crucial to take care of your gear afterward.

  • Pack your tarp and canopy up last.
  • Chances are big your tent and gear will still be wet even if it quit raining a while ago. Help them dry! Never leave wet gear packed. Tent dry
  • Use trash bags to pack your tarps, tents, and equipment for the trip home.
  • At home, hang your tent or pitch it in your yard (or even room, if possible) to dry.
  • Sleeping bags might be damp as well.
  • Dry off all the camp kitchen gear – camp stoves, campfire cooking items.
  • Rearrange your camping supplies to be prepared for the next trip. Especially if it was one of the hurry packings at the rainy campsite.

Bottom line

Camping in the rain can be just as fun and adventurous as camping in fair weather conditions. Just remember to take some extra steps to prepare for the rain, such as packing the right gear and clothing.

With a little bit of planning, you’ll indeed have a great time camping – no matter what the weather brings!

Have you ever been camping in the rain? What tips would you add to this list? Share in the comments!

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