Camping in the rain is a great way to relax and engage with nature. For some, it may sound unappetising at first (it'll be cold and wet, after all) but being one with nature is a part of the camping experience and that includes dealing with unpredictable weather.
You don't have to be an experienced camper to make the most of camping in the rain, though it certainly helps. You'll be much more clued up on what to bring if you're expecting a few showers and just as importantly, how to keep yourself entertained. Don't worry though, if you've never had to camp whilst it's pouring down outside, you've come to the right place.
In this post, we're going to explore some of the ups and downs of camping in the rain, as well going over a few handy tips you can use so that the rain doesn't put a dampener on your next camping adventure.
Camping In The Rain: Checklist
Before we begin, here's a handy checklist of some of the essential things you should bring on your camping trip if you know it's going to be raining.
- Waterproof Tent & Tent Repair Kit
- Tarpaulin & Ropes
- Sleeping Bags & Sleeping Mats
- Camping Chairs & Tables
- Waterproof Clothing
- Suitable Lighting
Waterproof Tent & Tent Repair Kit
This is fairly self explanatory, but your tent is the most important piece of camping equipment in your arsenal. It's crucial to make sure that it's going to prevent water from seeping in, so that you don't wake up in the morning inside a newly formed paddling pool. Not all tents offer ample waterproof protection, so you'll need to check the hydro-static head rating of any prospective tents before you buy. Ideally, you should be looking for one with a rating of 3000mm at the minimum.
You should also be wary of any holes accidentally being punched in the lining of your tent, this typically happens during the process of pitching however one of your companions can just as easily trip on a guy-line and cause small tears. Tent repair kits are inexpensive and therefore definitely worth bringing along.
Tarpaulin & Ropes
If you've already bought a tent and don't fancy splashing out on a brand new one for the sake of some extra waterproofing, bringing along some tarpaulin sheets can do just as good a job. In an ideal world, you'll want to position your tent close enough (but not under, in case of lightning & widowmakers) to nearby trees in order to rope up your tarpaulin on an angle in order to allow excess water to travel away from your tent. It's also wise to place another sheet underneath your tent if you're having to pitch your tent on wet soil, as this will cause the base of your tent to become damp over time.
You could also consider bringing a gazebo instead of some tarpaulin, but they're not always as cost-effective as tarp, nor are they as lightweight to carry around.
Sleeping Bags & Sleeping Mats
Sleeping mats will serve as a barrier between the base of your tent and where you're going to sleep. In the event that the base of your tent does end up getting damp, you won't be effected in your sleep thanks to the extra ground clearance from a sleeping mat, not to mention the added comfort benefits. You could also opt for a camp bed, but if you're trying to pack light they aren't always feasible.
In terms of sleeping bags, there are plenty of different styles suitable for camping in the rain, but we'd recommend bringing a mummy style sleeping bag if you have the option. It'll keep your body covered right up to your shoulders, preventing you from getting cold overnight and waking up with a shiver.
Camping Chairs & Tables
Usually, you could get away with sitting around the campfire on some nearby logs, but since they're all going to be completely sodden it's best to bring your own camping furniture. Your own furniture is still prone to getting wet, so you may want to make a designated living area covered by tarpaulin as opposed to sitting directly by a central campfire.
Chances are you'll already have a waterproof jacket, but a decent pair of waterproof trousers are also worth bringing along, especially if you're planning on going for a walk. A reliable pair of waterproof walking boots wouldn't go amiss either, they'll prevent your socks from getting wet if you misjudge a few puddles. Speaking of puddles, your kids will love them! Consider bringing along a puddle suit and some kids' wellies so that they can have fun splashing about - you're definitely going to need to find ways to keep them occupied, after all!
As the night gets darker, the rain will also aid in decreasing the visibility of your surroundings. So, if you happen to need a quick bathroom break deep into the night, you'll need something to help you see. Most people would be tempted to just use their smartphone's torch to light their way, but it's much better to invest in a cheap head torch to avoid the risk of water damage to your phone.
If you fancy reading a book before going to sleep, you'll also need a way to see inside your tent. Lots of tents come with tiny hooks along the roof which are designed to hold up a camping lantern, but you don't need to rely on hooks as lanterns are just as effective when placed in a nearby corner.
Tips For Camping In The Rain
1. Don't Place Your Tent At The Bottom Of A Slope
Guess where all of the pouring rain is going to collect? That's right - at the bottom of any nearby hills. Ideally, you want to position your tent at the top of any raised terrain in the area, so long as it's even enough to sleep on. If you don't have much choice in the matter, you can slightly mitigate things by positioning the door side of your tent downhill.
2. Don't Take Anything You Don't Mind Getting Wet
This might be an obvious one, but things can and will end up waterlogged if you don't look after them, and accidents do happen. Additionally, things will also get muddy if they're not looked after - food in particular - so you'll need to be conscious of where you're leaving things, what you've got in your pockets and whether surfaces (such as the bottom of your tent) are definitely dry.
3. Bring Enough Clothes To Stay Warm
You can't rely on campfires to keep you warm all the time. You'll need to layer up your clothes to keep warm around the site, but also consider bringing multiple pairs of socks and underwear just in case pesky water manages to soak your main pair. For more information on how to properly layer your clothes, have a read of our layering guide.
4. Bring Some Games
Most games like board or card games will be suitable if you're planning on playing them inside your tent, but if you're sat in an outside living space you can also bring along some dominoes or anything with a bit of weight to the pieces so that they aren't blown away and ruined by the wind.
5. Air Out Your Camping Equipment When You're Done
Don't just pack away your camping gear and forget about it once you get home, that's a good way to ensure that Mildew spoils any plans of another camping trip until it's disposed of. Mildew is a white fungus that forms as a result of humidity and is just as detrimental to your health to inhale as mould. It'll continue to grow on your tent unless it's removed, so it's better to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
6. Bring Fire-starters
When it's raining and you're trying to make a campfire, all of the natural resources nearby are going to be too damp to easily light. Firelighters will take lots of the stress away from making your own tinder, so do yourself the favour.
7. Learn How To Pitch Your Tent Before You Get To The Campsite
If it's pouring down as soon as you arrive, you aren't going to want to spend much time reading the instructions. Plus, if you've got kids accompanying you, they're going to get impatient. Fast.
You could consider bringing multiple pop-up tents rather than one big family sized tent, that way you can let the kids get involved in setting up their own tents and learning how to pitch one on an easier model.
8. Pack A Roll Of Black Bin bags
Aside from being able to store your litter, black bin bags are great to house dirty clothes as well as keep other clothes dry, you can even use them to wrap around your rucksacks either en route to the campsite or to store your backpacks inside for added water protection. They're also versatile in that they can be converted into DIY ponchos.
9. Enjoy It!
The atmosphere, the smell, the sound of the rain pattering against your tent - it's the little things that make camping in the rain enjoyable. Take some time to chill out with a nice cup of tea and be conscious of your surroundings.
Thanks for reading our guide to camping in the rain. If you enjoyed this post and want to read similar posts, check out the rest of our great camping related content.