How to Camp in the Rain: A Beginners Guide

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Let’s be honest, no one wants to camp in the rain. But the reality is that sometimes it is impossible to escape the wet weather – especially in England!

While it may be a wet experience, camping in the rain does not have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, some of my favourite camping experiences have been in the rain; the key is to embrace it and be prepared.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to camp in the rain, including all of the great things about it, and how to cope with the conditions to have an incredible time out there in nature.

It’s vitally important that you’re prepared before you set off. We all know what it’s like getting caught in the rain without the necessary gear and equipment – it can be miserable.

So, have a look at these tips to give you an idea of how you can get the most out your time camping in the rain. Using these tips will brighten up your adventure, and allow you to go camping much more often; there’s no need to fear the rain anymore!

Let’s get started! 

How To Camp In The Rain: A 7 Step Guide

1.) Before You Set Off

Understanding how to tent camp in the rain begins before you start your adventure. It goes without saying that understanding what you’re in for is an unmissable step in your journey. It is vitally important to be prepared before you go camping in the rain. So, here are some fundamental things to consider before you go:

Check Weather Forecasts

It’s obviously helpful to know what kind of weather you are about to immerse yourself in before you embark on your adventure.

Understanding if you are in for a quick, light downpour, torrential rain or everything in between will dictate how prepared you need to be.

Ensure Your Tent Is Built To Withstand The Forthcoming Weather 

The type of equipment you have will make or break your trip. With light, cheap, flimsy gear you are always running the risk of not being completely waterproof or the tent poles coming out in extreme wind. 

To enjoy your experience, you will need a good quality, waterproof tent and extra tarpaulin/oversheets to create extra cover.

We’ve got a full in-depth guide on the best waterproof tents that you can check out for some great options.

Pack Waterproof Clothing

Having suitable, waterproof clothing is just as important as a waterproof tent. Most campers will intend to integrate a nice walk or hike on the trip – doing this in the rain can be very uncomfortable and impractical if you’re not protected from the elements. 

Waterproof clothing, hats and shoes are a must to enjoy your experience despite the gloomy weather. 

Be Prepared To Get Wet 

This goes without saying when talking about how to tent camp in the rain, but you should definitely be prepared for your belongings to get wet. Be sure to bring plastic bags, microfibre towels and newspaper to deal with your wet gear.

how to camp in the rain

2.) How To Set Up Camp In The Rain

Once you’ve made it to your campsite, there are few essential tips you can follow to make your time spent camping as enjoyable, and as dry, as possible. Keep the following things in mind before deciding where to place your tent: 

Find high ground 

The worst thing you could do in rainy weather is to set up your tent on low, flat ground. If possible, search out a spot that is high up, or at least not the lowest point around. This should prevent rain from gathering around your area, as it will be wettest at the lower points.

Aim to find a gentle incline

Flat ground and steep hills will be your enemy in rainy weather. Rain will collect on flat ground and make it a very unpleasant experience. On the other hand, sleeping on a steep incline will be extremely uncomfortable. So, all you want to be looking for is a gentle incline.

Place the entrance facing downhill

Not doing this may be the quickest way to get yourself, your belongings and the inside of your tent very wet. It is a simple step that will give you the best chance of staying dry.

Don’t Camp Under a Tree

One thing that might surprise you when considering how to camp in the rain is the importance of staying away from trees. 

It may be your natural instinct to take cover from the elements. And, while trees will help to cover you from the downpour, once it stops the trees will continue to drip on you and your tent for a long time. 

Also, if the sun does come out again you’ll be shielded from it, making it that little bit harder to dry. There also are the dangers of falling branches and, in lightning weather, trees are serious hazards to be around.

Dig a trench

This may seem like an extreme step, but digging a trench in a heavy downpour will divert the flowing water from around your tent. Be sure to dig a large area around your tent and a path flowing down hill to allow the water to flow around and away from your tent.

3.) Staying dry

Once you’ve discovered how to set up camp in the rain, the next step is to keep dry. Staying dry in the rain may sound impossible and, well, it mainly is. But, keeping as dry as possible is the key to having a great time. You should obviously bring waterproof coats and tent flys, but here are some tips for keeping the rest of your gear as dry as possible.

Construct an overhang

Setting up a tarpaulin cover or an overhang is a masterstroke; it shields you from the rain, dries quicker than your tent and provides excellent protection. You can also use a tent fly to create an area outside of your tent that is under shelter, allowing you to set up some chairs and enjoy being outside without getting soaked!

Pack dry bags/ziploc bags

These are ideal for electronics and valuables, especially if you plan to go out into the elements – a jacket pocket may not be enough protection for your phone, for example.

Extra water protection

Ponchos, bag coverings and umbrellas are a few extra things you could bring along to keep dry. These should all pack up quite small and be very light; packing smart is essential.

Keep wet gear out of your tent

Presuming you get wet setting up your tent, be sure to complete all other outdoor tasks, like filling water bottles and going to the toilet, before you take off your wet clothes for the night. 

Ensure you enter the tent dry 

It’s very awkward and uncomfortable to be wet, or even damp, inside your tent and get changed. If you can’t build yourself an area of shelter outside your tent, try your best to remove as much wet gear as possible before you enter the tent.

4.) Cooking

One of the greatest perks of camping is cooking on your portable stove out in nature. Unfortunately, this should be avoided during a downpour. Using a stove indoors or undercover is an accident waiting to happen. So, you may have to get creative with your meals if you intend to camp in the rain.

Bring food that does not need cooking

Clearly, if you can’t use a stove, you’ll need food that doesn’t require cooking. Be prepared for the poor weather conditions and pack cold food – salads, sandwiches, fruit, etc.

Bring plenty of snacks

This is a great rule for camping in general. But, given that you can’t heat up your food, snacking will be fundamental to ensure you’re fuelled up for your adventure and don’t go hungry!

Use a flask

Given that you may be cold and a little damp, having hot drinks or hot food stored in a flask, perhaps tea or soup, will really lift your mood. It’s a great way to warm yourself up, and you’ll be very grateful that you were so prepared!

Give yourself an eating area

Use extra tarp and poles to expand your covered space and allow you to have an area to sit in comfortably while, most importantly, remaining dry.

5.) Activities

Here are some ways to have fun on your camping trip. Whether you decide to brave the rain or wait it out undercover, there are plenty of ways for you to enjoy your time.

Walking

One obvious attraction of camping is walking or hiking out in nature and seeing the amazing natural world around you. 

This doesn’t have to change in the rain. Yes, you have to be more prepared with the clothes you wear and take extra precautions to keep your valuables safe. But, you shouldn’t let the damp conditions get you down. Embracing the rain and being immersed in nature is the perfect way to overcome the weather and have a great time!

Games

For those who don’t want to get soaked and would prefer to wait out the rain, playing games is great fun. Be sure to pack a deck of cards or any travel-size games that you love. Just remember to pack light in all cases when planning how to camp in the rain.

Get creative 

Sitting in your tent or under your cover may be the perfect opportunity to get creative; drawing, painting or writing are great ways to relax and make the most out of the weather. 

If you are up to it, you could use the nature around you as inspiration and create some lasting, tangible memories for you to look back on!

Or, if that’s not your cup of tea, maybe use this time to start the book you’ve been waiting for the right time to read.

6.) Drying wet gear

Whilst you get reading to leave your campsite, you may realise that carrying and packing away a whole host of wet belongings can be very unpleasant – especially if you’re putting on wet clothes from the day before! Below are ways for you to dry things to make your experience more enjoyable:

Fill boots with newspaper

Overnight you should stuff some newspaper, or anything of that ilk, into your shoes to help soak up the rainwater and, hopefully, make your shoes nice and dry again.

Act as quickly as you can

As soon as the rain stops, hang up your wet equipment to dry and leave it there for as long as you can before you have to set off. 

If you’re confident that it won’t rain overnight, use this time to dry out your wet clothes. 

Drying your tent

When you have left your tent in the morning, dismantle it and hang it up to dry until you intend to leave. Even if it’s only a few hours, it will prevent your future self from opening up a smelly tent that didn’t dry properly after its last use! 

A key tool in these instances is your microfibre towel – they are very light and can soak up the rainwater from your tent. Microfibre towels are a versatile and practical piece of camping gear that will prove very useful during any outdoor adventure! 

7.) Packing away your wet gear

Once you’re ready to head home, it’s possible that some of your gear and equipment will still be wet, despite your best efforts. It’s very important to keep the wet stuff away from the dry! Here are some ways to organise your wet and dry things into the same area:

Use plastic bags

Use these to store wet clothing or equipment to contain them and avoid making any remaining dry things wet as well.

Pack things away smartly

It may sound trivial, but you should definitely keep your wet and dry things away from each other. If you’re in a car, it will be easier to put your wet belongings in plastic bags and keep them clear of your dry things. 

If you’re on foot, consider using a barrier to separate wet from dry clothes in your bag – perhaps newspaper, towels or anything else you think could be useful.

Final Thoughts on How to Camp in the Rain

Most people wouldn’t consider camping in the rain, for obvious reasons. However, we hope our guide has shown you how to camp in the rain like a pro! Camping in the rain is definitely a viable option if you follow our tips and tricks! 

It’s really very easy to embrace and enjoy otherwise gloomy conditions. As we’ve said, the key is being prepared before you set off. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on any pricey equipment; all the things in this article are very easy to come by but will revolutionise your camping in the rain experience.

One final tip: consider making a list of things to bring before you set off. Take a look at our other article, What To Bring Camping & Backpacking, for a helping hand.

Now, start your preparations, embrace the rain and get out there!

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