Rainy Camping Trips: 8 Must-Do's to Stay Dry

News & Tips: Rainy Camping Trips: 8 Must-Do's to Stay Dry...

Even though the weatherman may be right more often than not, weather patterns can be unpredictable. So that camping trip that was supposed to be dry and beautiful can turn into a soaked mudfest in the snap of a finger.

camping roasting
Properly setting up your tent is key to staying dry in the rain.

Can you stay dry when you’re camping in the rain? Here are eight easy tips to help you stay as safe and dry as possible.

1 arrow point Tip: Primitive Camping: How & Where to Camp for Free

1 arrow pointTip:  Watch video how to waterproof your tent

1. Know Where to Set Up Your Tent

Pitching your tent at a low spot in the middle of a rainstorm is a recipe for disaster. Look for the highest spot you can find in the area, and pitch your tent there. Low spots may become puddles of water if it starts raining.

2. Take a Tarp (or Two) for Extra Protection

Your basic tarp – the exact kind you’re thinking of – can come in incredibly handy. You can pitch your tent on top of a ground tarp, and if you want extra protection, throw one on the floor inside your tent, too. Keep an eye on how much water is collecting on top of the outside tarps. You don’t want rainwater to collapse the tarp and your tent.

3. Proper Tent Setup in Good & Rainy Weather

If you're a first time camper, it's always a good idea to practice setting up your tent before you go camping. Most tents today come with rain flies, but even if yours doesn’t, it’s a good investment. Often, tents are vented near the top to let heat escape. Unfortunately, that means in the case of a storm, they let rain in, as well. Even in the case of extreme heat, it’s a good idea to keep your rain fly on, just in case a storm blows up.  

Setting up a tent in the rain is a pain, but it’s still worth taking your time to do it right. Skipping steps in the setup process can mean leaks, tears or worse – a collapsing tent. It might be beneficial to throw up a tarp or rain fly above the area you’re planning to set up the tent before you start assembling it. You can work underneath the tarp and keep you and the inside of the tent dry.

tent cot
Kamp-Rite Oversized Tent Cot with Rain Fly 




1 arrow pointTip: Get off the cold, damp heat-stealing ground with an elivated tent cot with rain fly like the Kamp-Rite® Oversized Tent Cot with Rain Fly





An important thing to know about being outside in an electrical storm is the "lightning position."

4. Protect Yourself and Others From Storms and Lightning

If you’re dealing with a downpour or high winds or lightning, attempt to get into a building or car. If no structure is available, get to an open space and squat low to the ground as quickly as possible. (If in the woods, find an area protected by low clump of trees – never stand underneath a single large tree in the open.) Be aware of the potential for flooding in low-lying areas. Avoid tall structures such as tall trees, fences, telephone lines or power lines. Stay away from natural lightning rods such as fishing rods, bicycles or camping equipment. Stay away from rivers, lakes or other bodies of water. If you are isolated in a level field or prairie and you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike), drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

1 arrow point Tip: Help protect yourself and others from storms and lightning and know when to seek shelter or cancel a camping trip with the AcuRite® Instruments® Portable Lightning Detector.


5. Stay Dry With Proper Rain Gear

Being wet and cold can make you miserable. Invest in some good-quality rain gear – a jacket and waterproof shoes, at least – and keep them handy. Ponchos are fine, but they don’t breathe very well. In the case of a summer storm, you could end up just as wet from sweat as you would have from the rain.

It’s a good idea to keep some clothing made of synthetic fibers in your pack as well. Cotton soaks very easily and takes forever to dry. If you’re forced to be in the rain, synthetic fibers won’t be quite as heavy and will dry faster once the rain stops.

6. Building a Fire in the Rain

camp fire rain graphic
Graphic by: ScoutingMagazine.org

Knowing how to start a fire in the rain is an important survival skill. First find a spot for the fire, ideally in a location guarded from the rain. Laying down a layer of rocks or criss-cross sticks in a fire pit can help keep groundwater from your kindling, which is critical when you’re building a fire in the rain.

Finding dry wood for kindling to use may prove difficult, but your best bet is to check under trees (especially pines). Pine sap is a great accelerant for outdoor fires. Using tinder— birch tree bark, cotton balls and dryer lint are great examples for fire kindling. Be sure to pack waterproof matches or a striker bar.

1 arrow pointCheck out these additional tips: effective campfire building in the rain. Tips from the USDA Forest Service on building a safe campfire.

7. Keeping Camping Gear and Supplies Dry

From trash bags to giant freezer bags, plastic bags are a great way to keep things dry. If you want something more reusable, there are dry bags designed to keep your gear and clothing dry as well.

1 arrow pointTip: Great Camp Gear & Gadgets for Any Type of Camper


8. Air Your Tent Out to Prevent Mold

If anything does get wet, it can mold or mildew easily and can permanently stain and damage tent walls if it stays packed up. Take an opportunity to air it out and let it dry once the rain passes. And after you get back from your trip, set up your tent in a shady spot and let it dry before you pack it up and put it away. Otherwise, mold and funky smells will greet you on your next trip. 

1 arrow point Tip: How to clean a tent with mildew on it


Looking for more camping tips? Check out the blogs and tips at Bass Pro Shops 1Source.