How to Camp in the Rain – 8 Helpful Tips

Do you love to camp, but live in a wet climate? Does the rain keep you from exploring the outdoors as much as you’d like?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, you could benefit from learning how to camp in the rain.

When I first moved to New England, I was astounded at how much it rained. I didn’t go camping for months at a time, and I started to miss it terribly. That’s when I began doing research on how I could stay dry while camping in the rain. The following is what I discovered. Enjoy!

1. Have a Plan for Foodbagging and boxing the food

If you plan on rain, chances are you won’t want to build a fire. The confined tent space also means you won’t be able to use your camp stove safely, either. So, what do you do? The answer is pack foods that are ready to eat!

Here are a few of my favorite edible items for a rainy trip:

  •      Beef jerky
  •      Blocks of cheese
  •      Summer sausage
  •      Sandwiches
  •      Granola bars
  •      Fruit
  •      Veggies and hummus
  •      Potato chips
  •      Chips and 7-layer dip
  •      Anything you want to make ahead of time

If you do want to build a fire, the best kindling to bring along are Vaseline-soaked cotton balls. Shredded pieces of duct tape are a great second!

If you want to cook on a stove outside, check out these tips on doing it in the rain.

2. Waterproof Your Tent

Rain drops on tent

Before going out, it is important to waterproof your tent. There are a variety of products on the market, but I recommend Nikwax Concentrated Tent and Gear Waterproofing Spray. It can even be applied when the tent is wet!

In addition to tents, you can also use this product on tarps, backpacks, and your tent fly! As long as the gear is synthetic, apply to your hearts content without feeling guilty. It is water-based, biodegradable, and protects your stuff from UV damage as well!

3. Bring Fun Indoor ActivitiesScrabble game to play when its raining

What you can do in your tent in the rain is only limited by your imagination, space, and cell phone/internet services. Some campgrounds such as KOA’s offer a variety of amenities that can be enjoyed even in bad weather.

Other campsites are on the edge of the world. These are referred to as off the grid, and are frequent in the American Southwest and BLM land. If you’re lucky, you will get some cell phone service. So what are some things you like to do indoors that don’t involve technology?

These are a few suggestions from my own rainy days camping:

  • Puzzles – Although it seems basic, puzzles can pass the time and provide a finished product you can be proud of! Just make sure your tent is big enough for the jigsaw you choose!
  • Games – Whether you are going solo or sharing your tent with 12 people, there is a game for you. Some of our favorites are Life, Scrabble, UNO, and anything we can play with a deck of cards!
  • Paints – If you want to remember the beauty that surrounds you, do it the old school way. Bring out some paper and paints! The perfect time to paint the landscape is right before, during, and after the rain. Feeling fancy? Bring wine and cheese!

4. Bring Weather Appropriate Clothingthermal base layer

If you think you can get away with normal camping attire, you are wrong. In fact, this kind of thinking will insure you have a horrible time camping in the rain! You want to prioritize bringing waterproof, water-resistant, and extra clothing.

Here is a list of what we recommend:

  •      Waterproof jacket
  •      Rain pants and/or gaiters
  •      Waterproof boots
  •      Multiple pairs of socks
  •      Base layer top + 1
  •      Base layer bottoms + 1
  •      Mid-layer top + 1
  •      Mid-layer bottoms + 1
  •      Heavy layer top +1 (freezing temperatures)
  •      Heavy layer bottom + 1 (freezing temperatures)
  •      Poncho
  •      Extra pair of waterproof shoes

When your clothes do get wet, change out of them as soon as possible. Don’t forget to monitor the inside for sweat. If you have the materials, hang a rope between 2 trees and underneath a tarp to avoid mildew. Use clothespins if the wind is whipping.

5. Bring Some Tarpsrf tarp fixing the cords

Tarps are great to have on hand when it’s raining. In fact, you can make a fire and/or cook with a stove as long as you hang up enough tarps to protect yourselves from the downpour! Just don’t forget a tarp for inside the tent. Even if you have a footprint, a tarp comes in handy just in case.

6. Pick a Good Spot to Pitch Your Tentcouple in a tent with shoes off

High ground is the best marker of a great location! In addition, stay away from bodies of water. They could flood! If you plan on hanging a tarp for protection, you will want to choose an area with trees. Always choose an area that’s as flat as possible.

7. Bring a Sleeping PadSleeping mat

The bottom of your tent is going to be wet, cold, and uncomfortable. This is regardless of whether or not you have an air mattress. To combat these side effects of a rainy night, bring a sleeping pad. Place them under your air-filled mattress or sleeping bag for optimal warmth.

8. Ventilate

Most people are so concerned about getting wet that they forget to ventilate their tent. If you don’t do this, moisture will condense on the inside walls of your tent. At that point, it doesn’t matter how much waterproofing is on the outside!

One Last Word About How to Camp in the Rain

Camping in the rain is fun and easy when you know how to do it! The keys are to stay dry, pack extra clothing, have a good plan for food, bring entertainment, and stay warm. Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to try it for yourself!

We want to hear from you. Do you camp out in the rain? If so, what are some of the ways you stay dry? If not, what’s holding you back? Comment below with any comments or questions!

Previous articleWhat is Minimalist Camping?
An outdoors enthusiast who runs this website. As a kid I got to go on many family camping holidays. As an adult I still enjoy camping and hiking but also spend a lot more of my free time mountain biking on the local trails and snowboarding when I can afford it.