Stay dry while camping in the rain

Stef Zisovska
Rain over Sawtooths - Author: CorrieRosetti - CC BY-SA 2.0

A rainy day during your hiking trip is not always so romantic. Few hours of pouring rain can result in destroyed electronic devices, wet clothes, hypothermia and a ruined vacation. But, water does not have to spoil your wilderness experience if you are well prepared, have the right gear and know what to do. You should be aware that rain showers can pop up at any time of the while you are in the woods, even if there is no rain in the forecast. Here are some useful tips that will help you prepare in case you find yourself camping in the rain.

Observe your surroundings

Camping in the rain

If you notice that the weather suddenly calms, there might be a chance of a rainstorm soon. Also, if you are fishing and the fish start biting more, it will rain for sure. If you are a dog owner, see if your dog changes its behavior. Follow all the signs that surround you to predict if you’re going to be camping in the rain soon.

Bring a lot of plastic bags

A cheap, light-weight solution for all your problems while camping in the rain. Make sure to bring plastic bags of all sizes that you can reuse over and over again. Use big trash bags to cover all the items that need to be kept outside of your tent. Also, use a big plastic bag to save some dry firewood for the night or the next day. The small bags are perfect for keeping smaller items like your camera dry. Put some on the bottom of your tent to avoid the moisture from the ground seeping in.

Collect the water

Boil the water

Camping in the rain also has positive sides like for example collecting drinking water for your water bottle or cooking pot.

Bring newspapers

Newspapers can be very handy during a rainy camping session. First of all, you can read them if there’s nothing else to do. Always keep a dry newspaper handy because it’s a great firestarter. When you go to bed, fill your damp shoes with newspapers and leave them overnight. It will absorb all the humidity from your leather shoes, and you can wear them in the morning.

Put the tarp inside your tent

Put the tarp inside

Tarps are usually used to stop any moisture from getting inside the tent, and people sometimes put them between the ground and the tent bottom. Actually, you will get better humidity protection if you place the tarp inside the tent. This way you will be prevented from sleeping on a wet surface, and no moisture will penetrate your sleeping bag.

Keep the coals hot

Keep in mind that the storm won’t last forever and soon you’ll be back to regular camping activities like making a fire, cooking and enjoying the fire’s warmth with a tasty meal. If the rain starts when you’ve already set the fire, try to keep the coals dry and save them for later when the storm is over. It will be much easier to start a new fire with hot coals, than with wet ones.

Be aware of lightning


You must be very careful when camping in the rain because of the possibility of a lightning strike. If you are swimming in a lake or fishing, get out and away from the water immediately. If you are on land, avoid standing on hills or other high spots, and also avoid being near trees and large boulders.

Air out your wet things

If you were caught by rain while camping you probably have all of your clothes, shoes, and tent wet. When you arrive back home, air out all your belongings, especially the tent and the tarp. If you don’t, they will start smelling awful and you can never get rid of the smell. Good luck!

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