This article on camping in the rain was inspired by the Hell’s Gate flash flood tragedy where 7 hikers lost their lives. Once more, Mother Nature showed us how savage she can be at times, for the less prepared.
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You can read about this tragic event on this link.
Hell’s Gate National Park is in Kenya, East Africa. I have never been there, but it is a gorgeous place. Located 125km from the capital city Nairobi, it makes a great rendezvous for outdoor lovers looking for time outside the bustling city.
But in September 2019, tragedy struck. What was supposed to be a fun weekend turned into mourning, as flash floods swept away a tour group.
May the souls of these brave outdoor enthusiasts rest in eternal peace.
But I digress …
Camping in the rain is no joke. It requires meticulous planning, good choice of the place to pitch your tent, the right gear and so on.
30 Tips for Camping In The Rain
Here are 30 camping in the rain hacks to employ:
1. Buy the right tent for rain camping
I always say that you should take with you the best tent for camping in the rain even when all signs indicate that it will not rain. The reason for this is that when camping, the weather has this habit of turning with no notice at all.
In the morning, the sun could be brazenly hot. In the afternoon, a light shower can come from nowhere. You know how rainfall is formed. Evaporation occurs, then condensation, clouds become too pregnant and bang – rainfall! Just like that.
Look for a three-season tent. If it rains in the night while you are in your la la la land, you should stay dry. Even a 4-season tent should suffice.
2. High ground is better when you camp in the rain
Camp in the rain on high ground. This is not the time for you to camp beside a river. Ok, the scenery there is a lot better and the gurgle of the stream will lure you to sleep. But you do not want to sleep your way through a drowning.
Rivers are always downwards, so there will always be runoff water flowing to the river. Find a higher ground for camping in the rainfall.
How much elevation are we talking about here? Just minimal. Not too much, just a small one. If you set tent on a real slope, the runoff could sweep your tent away if it rains seriously in the night.
3. Make a rain-free common meeting area
Bring a popup canopy or a tarp that you can use to create a rain-free area. If it rains during the day, you will find the tent space a bit cramped for everyone.
You need to create a dry living area, where you will all sit swapping stories when it is raining. This can also be the area that you make and eat your food. It keeps bits and pieces of food out of your tent, so you do not attract ants, other insects and rodents.
4. Do not camp under a tree – camping in the rain hacks
If the rain is heavy, stay away from pitching your tent under a tree. Long after the rain is gone, tree leaves will still carry a lot of water, and they will keep dripping onto your tent all the time. You do not want that to happen.
Again, heavy rain can cause dry branches from the tree to plummet down on your tent if there is wind. If the rain is light, well, that is ok, you may camp under a tree.
5. Do not forget your tent floor print
You may have a nice all-weather tent that really does a fantastic job of keeping the rain out. However, the ground under the tent will be sodden through. The floor of the tent can allow water in, making you cold and uncomfortable.
A tent footprint will keep you dry. It is designed to be waterproof. It is a good way of ensuring no moisture gets to the tent floor.
6. Do not forget your tent rainfly
Tent rainfly is a pretty standard addition to any tent today. Make sure that the rainfly extends to cover the awning of the tent fully. It should also cover the windows fully so there is no water getting in through there. If you do not ensure of these, you will have trouble like the guy below 🙁
7. Stretch a tarp over the tent
A tent rainfly may not be enough to keep you dry. In that case, bring a large tarp, way bigger than your tent. When it rains, you can stretch it over the tent. You can use tall stakes for that, or if you are camping in a wooded area, stretch it between trees. Make sure it slopes to one side where you want all the water that it collects to go. It will keep all the raindrops from getting to your tent.
8. Find a windbreak when you camp in the rain
If it rains, there is likely to be some wind. Now, nothing is as frightening as having 20 miles per hour winds threatening to bowl your tent over when it is raining cats and dogs.
Be smart! Find a windbreak. I propose you find a big rock. That should shelter you well from the wind. At the same time, you can find a crump of brush or a groove of trees and camp some distance away from them. You just need to note the direction the wind is coming from.
9. Stay in one family tent if it rains in the day
If you are camping as a family, take a family camping tent. When you are all bundled into one tent, it is easier to keep warm. You can play indoor camping games since you will not engage in many outdoor activities when it is raining outside.
If rain was in the forecast and you prepared well for it, you may have brought your tent heater.
10. The right clothing for camping in the rain
Hopefully, you packed a waterproof rain jacket for everyone. Your camping footwear should also be waterproof. Today, we have excellent rain gear that can really help you stay dry even when it rains for hours on end.
Help everyone layer up well to keep their body warm and then throw a raincoat over themselves or a rain jacket. If you are caught outside in the rain, there will not be much water getting through to your skin.
11. Seal those seams for the camping tent
Be a bit cynical here. Even if the tent manufacturer says that their seams are sealed and they cannot let in water, buy a seam sealer and use it. It is better to err on the side of caution. Your camping rain shelter, that is, the tent, will never be complete if the seams are not sealed.
You know what is the good thing about the tent seam sealer? It is a one-off deal. If you apply the sealer today, you could take a long time before you need to apply it again.
12. Eat well for your body to generate heat
I have seen people keeping dry yet shivering in their tent when camping in the rain. Now, my next camp in the rain hack for keeping dry and warm is to eat. When it is cold, the rate of metabolism rises so that the body can get more heat. This is the time to make your camping coffee.
You may also bring your coffee mug for keeping coffee hot. If you do not have one, you can order on amazon.com. Help your body generate more heat, eat well and take hot drinks. It may mean having to go outside to pee more often in the rain but it is better than staying hungry.
13. Bring a cooking stove for camping
In line with eating well when camping, you need to bring a means to cook your food. Nothing is as comforting on a rainy camping night or day as a piping hot meal. Buy a propane camping stove. This means that you will have to carry a propane canister that can last you some time.
You can also use a wood burning camping stove, and use wood in the stove. Also bring enough food, specifically camping food which is easy to prepare and store.
14. Dig a trench, trap water coming into your campsite
Dig a trench around your tent. That way, you trap all the water that would otherwise have come right under your tent. When going camping, always carry your camping shovel.
Just how deep should this trench be?
It depends on the amount of rainfall. If it is a drench, make the trench about 6 inches. If it is a shower, make it a couple of inches deep. At one end, break the trench so that the water can flow away, at the lowest point.
If you did not bring your shovel, use anything that has a pointed edge to dig. I have used my camping hatchet myself, and a sharp stick. Thankfully, when it rains, the ground softens.
15. Carry more clothing than you would carry on a hot camping day
There is no doubt that you will be caught in the rain once or twice when camping in the rain. Thus, pack extra camping clothes so that you can change into dry ones. For some of the gear such as waterproof hiking boots, one pair is enough. Carry waterproof socks.
16. Hang the wet clothes outside
One mistake that people make when they camp in the rain is that when they get wet, they dump all of their wet clothes on the floor inside the tent. Big mistake! You should hang these clothes outside the tent, under a tarp. If you bring them into the tent, they will just make you colder.
Buy a tarp that you can stretch over an area outside the tent. Under the tarp, you can make your clothes line where you will hang all of your wet gear.
17. Carry a tent heater
Pack a tent heater. It can be a battery powered heater because such is flexible and easy to use. Besides, it gives off no emissions to worry about in an enclosed space. If it gets too cold, this heater will help you stay warm, at least a few minutes when preparing for bed. You can then switch it off when you snuggle into your sleeping bag.
18. Bring a camping cot when camping in the rain
A cot for camping is going to be bulky but tell you what – it is worth it! When it rains cats and dogs out there, if the water gets into the tent, you will be glad that you are sleeping elevated from the hard cold ground.
When it is daytime and raining outside, you can sit on the camping cot. They are made with weatherproof material making them perfect for hacks to camp in the rain.
19. Bring a waterproof sleeping bag
This can be a down fill sleeping bag or a synthetic fill sleeping bag. What matters most here is the shell. It should be waterproof. When you camp in the rain, chances of having the sleeping bag come in contact with water is high. Thus, you want to be sure that the moisture will not penetrate to the fill inside the bag.
If you are camping with your spouse, bring a double sleeping bag so you can sleep together and feel warmer faster. If you are camping alone, a mummy style sleeping bag is best as it keeps the cold away even from the head area.
20. Waterproof ziplock bags help a lot in the rain
There are items that you must keep absolutely dry. These include your portable charger, smartphone, iPad, laptop and other electronics that you may bring with you. When it rains, unless you are using them, switch them off and insert them in ziplock bags. That way, they will stay dry through the entire rainy ordeal. Pack small and big bags. The big ones can take some of your clothing and the small ones can take the food and electronics.
21. Make a fire when camping in the rain
A campsite without a fire does not feel complete. However, first find out whether open fires are allowed at the campsite. If they are, you can proceed to make a nice fire.
To make a fire in the rain, you need wood. Even more than that, you need to make the fire in a sheltered place or the rain will put it out. when setting up the tarp that we said you can use for the living area, set it high up.
If you brought your matchsticks with you, you should keep them in a waterproof pouch. If not, you can read here to find out how to make a fire without a lighter or matches.
22. Keep your wood dry
Keep your wood dry. You do not know how long the rain will last. One of the best ways is to keep the wood under the car. You can also wrap it up in something and keep it inside your tent or your car. You also need to keep the tinder dry. Tinder is light, easy to light material that is used to light up heavier wood. Whether it is store-bought or you collect it in the woods, store it right, in waterproof bags or in a dry place.
23. Create a windbreak to protect the fire
You have made your fire, it is protected from the rain by your tarp. However, there is some wind blowing from the side and it is blowing your fire out. You should create a windbreak for your fire. This is very simple. All you need to do is take an extra tarp and make a wall with it, blocking the wind. This is why you should bring extra tarps when you are going camping.
24. Never sleep in wet clothes
Do not sleep in wet clothes. If you need a comfortable night in the tent, you will need to sleep in dry clothes. Even if a light shower caught you outside, you should change before going to bed.
When you sleep in dry clothing, your sleeping bag will stay dry. Also, you catch sleep faster. Be careful about the feet especially because it is hard to catch sleep when you have wet or cold feet.
25. Take a waterproof camping backpack
You should always choose a waterproof hiking or camping backpack so that even when it is caught in the rain, your things will stay dry. There is a difference between waterproof and water resistant backpack.
If it is waterproof, it means it cannot let in water even during a drench, not even through the zippers. If it is water resistant, it can only resist to a certain point and then the water starts to get in.
26. Carry a sleeping pad for more insulation
An inflatable sleeping pad is not only the best insulation for your sleeping bag, but it is also waterproof. Remember, you have used a tent footprint, the tent has a floor and now you add a sleeping pad. It will be hard for water to penetrate the three layers. Besides, a sleeping pad is also good for your back. Even if you take a foam sleeping pad with you, it is better than no sleeping pad at all.
27. Carry a camping toilet
When you want to commune with nature when camping in the wild, you can always dig a small hole in the ground, do your business and then cover it up with dirt. However, when there is a lot of rain, some of the waste may get into the runoff which would then get to the river or another water source. A camping toilet with a detachable waste tank is a good option. You may also carry a toilet bag so that you can tie up the waste and dispose of it properly when the rain is gone.
28. Bring some form of entertainment
If rain is in the forecast, then you know that you will spend some time in the tent, even during the day. Thus, you need something to keep you busy. This can be a game, a game of cards, chess, or any type of camping game. You may also bring a good book along and read when it rains outside. Do something nice to pass the time until the rain is gone so you can engage in different outdoor activities.
29. Look forward to making camp in the rain
Making camp in the rain does not have to feel like a punishment. It is indeed a pleasure if you decide so in your mind. This is a great bonding time for you and your family or friends. You will love the time that the rain forces you to spend together.
You can share stories and experiences, and crack jokes. So, even if the rain comes uninvited to your camping vacation, keep a great attitude about it. Look forward to it. It is also a good opportunity to teach the kids how to prepare for the unforeseen.
30. Dry your gear when you are finished camping
When you have been camping in the rain, you are going to feel very fulfilled. In fact, for many camping enthusiasts, camping in the rain and in the snow are some of their must-do things.
When you are finished, air-dry your gear. Clean what must be cleaned and dry it thoroughly before storage. You may read my article on how to clean a tent after camping. That way, you do not have to put any wet gear in storage after camping in the rain.