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Preparing for a Rainy Camping Trip

Campsite on a rainy day

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – you make plans months in advance with your friends or family to do a weekend camping trip filled with hiking, fishing, swimming, grilling, s’mores, and tons of fun. You picked a time of year when the days are warm and the nights are cool. You found the perfect campgrounds that give you privacy and access to all of the activities you want to do. Then, the week of the scheduled camping trip, you see the forecast calls for rain throughout the weekend.

Some people may call it a wash and cancel the trip or reschedule. But if you have been looking forward to this weekend and can’t or won’t reschedule, the inclement weather does not have to ruin your camping trip.

Here are some things you can do to prepare for a rainy camping trip.

Pack multiple daytime outfits for each day.
Camping trip gear

You are going to get wet and you are going to get dirty. It’s inevitable. You can wear rain boots, a rain jacket, walk around with an umbrella, and do everything in your power to cover yourself. You are going to get wet. The best thing you can do for your sanity and to enjoy the experience, is embrace it.

Consider what activities you plan on doing throughout the day and pack clothes that are specific to each activity that will keep you warm and you don’t mind getting wet and dirty. Then, when you return to the campsite, you can change into your dry clothes. You may even consider reusing your dry clothes if they stay dry.

Be sure to pack even more pairs of underwear and socks. Wet underwear and socks can cause irritation and blisters on your feet. And, let’s face it, a fresh pair of dry underwear after sitting in wet underwear is one of the best feelings.

Pack an appropriate tent or tent materials.
Campsite Setup

Most modern tents include a rainfly, which is a piece of fabric that goes over your tent to protect it from the elements. Otherwise, water would get into the tent through the mesh openings, like a screen window or door. If your tent does not have a rain fly, you can purchase one separately or you can make your own.

You can use a tarp with rope and poles to fashion your own rain fly. Make sure it is large enough to extend beyond the size of your tent. Also, make sure you install the tarp at a slight angle, so the water runs off and does not pool and collapse in on your tent.

Lay a tarp or ground cloth down under your tent as well. However, make sure it is NOT larger than your tent’s footprint. Otherwise, it will capture water and allow it to pool around and under your tent. This tarp or ground cloth will add an extra barrier between your tent and the wet ground, which is necessary because the wetness will seep through the tent fabric.

You may also consider bringing a tent with a “vestibule” area that separates the entrance from the space where you sleep and keep your belongings. This will allow you to keep wet clothes, shoes, and other items separate from your dry area.

Bring waterproof bags or containers for your gear.

Although you may take all of the necessary precautions to keep your things dry, water seems to find its way into everything. Placing your dry clothes, toiletries, electronics, and other items in waterproof bags or other containers will keep your gear safe and dry. If you don’t already have dry sacks or other waterproof bags and don’t want to purchase them, you can use trash bags or large sealable bags for your things.

Bring a pop-up canopy or tarp for your cooking, eating and lounging areas.

Camping site tent

You don’t want to be confined to your tent or vehicle to get out of the rain. You also need shelter for your cooking area if you plan to use a grill or fire pit. Bring a large canopy or tarp to set up in the area(s) that you want to keep dry outside of your tent. If you want to keep multiple areas dry and don’t want to set up multiple canopies or tents, you can have one or two and move it to different areas as needed; including by your tent so you can remove wet clothes and gear before going inside.

Pick up dry wood and sticks prior to the rain.

Many people plan on gathering wood and sticks for fires when they arrive at the campsite. If there has been a recent rain or if it’s raining when you arrive, that won’t work very well. You can purchase wood and kindling prior to your arrival, or many campsites have wood available for purchase.

Covered wood in rain

Be sure to check local rules before bringing your own wood, as many areas prohibit this to avoid transplanting foreign pests and diseases.

Stow your wood and kindling in a dry place, either by covering it in a tarp or keeping it in a waterproof container. If covering the wood with a tarp, lay the tarp down first, put the wood on top of it, then fold the tarp on top of the wood. This way water will run under the tarp and not get the bottom of the wood pile wet.

Don’t let a rainy forecast ruin your planned camping trip. Embrace the outdoors and what nature has to offer, even if it seems a bit inconvenient. You will create memories that will last a lifetime.


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