Can you believe the old man died?! It’s crazy what darkness hides in our old nursery rhymes.
Sorry, what a dark way to start a blog about camping…maybe I should’ve gone with Africa by Toto…especially since that Weezer cover is all over the radio these days.
No matter. Whether you’re concussed or stuck in the rains down in Africa, if you’re sleeping in a tent you don’t want to get washed out.
I’m here to talk about how to keep your tent dry in the rain. There are many different techniques for keeping your tent dry during a rainstorm and unless you’re camping in California this should be useful information for you!
Sorry, I shouldn’t make fun of the draught but Californians don’t know what rain is and they don’t know how to drive in it.
However, most of the country does get rain! So hopefully you find this blog full of useful information whether you’re camping in the North East, the Midwest, the North West, or the South!
As I keep mentioning–being prepared is the key to enjoying a great camping trip. You don’t want to be out and about, enjoying your weekend in the wilderness when a rainstorm sweeps in and ruins your trip.
Keep Yourself Warm and Dry
One of the most important reasons for keeping yourself and your sleeping quarters dry is because your warmth is important. You don’t want to be stuck out in the wild, shivering or stricken with hypothermia.
The best way to keep yourself warm and dry is by layering your clothes. If you dress correctly then you can regulate your body temperature, prevent yourself from soaking through and keep the wind out of your clothes.
There are great brands of clothing to choose from that are made specifically for camping during inclement weather. Now, whether you’re looking to build a new camping wardrobe or not, the important thing to do is to pick a wool or polyester base, add some layers on top, and then end it with a waterproof jacket or poncho. The jacket will block out the wind and keep your undergarments dry which, therefore, keeps your precious skin dry. Wetness equals coldness, and dryness equals warmth. It’s simple math kids!
I recommend that you bring at least two rain outfits so you can change if one becomes compromised. Just make sure to keep it in a plastic bag so it stays dry while it’s off of your body!
If your clothes do get wet make sure you hang them up! Bring some rope and pins so you can create a clothesline. Trust me, you’ll be thankful when your clothes are dry and don’t smell of mildew. If it’s still raining you can set up a tarp above your clothesline. If it does get sunny make sure to lay your wet clothes out in the sun! They’ll dry much faster and they’ll be warm like they came out of a dryer.
One important note I have is to avoid leaving your wet clothes in your actual tent because they will create moisture and condensation. Like I said above, put them under a tarp or out in the sun–if the sun is available.
While we’re on the subject of clothes and keeping warm, tuck your clothes for the next day into a mesh bag and stuff it into the bottom of your sleeping bag. Come morning time they’ll be nice and toasty warm. No one wants to shiver all day and then put cold clothes on.
Speaking of sleeping bags, grab yourself a bivy sack to put over your sleeping bag. It will add insulation and will keep your sleeping quarters free of any moisture. You should also double up on your sleeping pads to add extra insulation. The ground holds the temperature of the air so if the air is cold then the ground is cold. Put that extra sleeping pad between you and the ground to keep yourself extra protected.
Keeping Your Tent Dry
First things first, location, location, location! Pick the right camping spot to prevent flooding or heavy rainfall from violating your nesting site.
It’s important to pick a site that is a little higher up and far from any bodies of water. That way you don’t get flooded. No one wants to wake up in a puddle.
Another important thing to pay attention to is trees. You should avoid trees because the water will continue falling long after the rain has ceased. Trees are overdramatic so don’t get stuck underneath one dripping on you while the sun rises high elsewhere.
Plus, rain and winds could weaponize the trees and cause branches to fall on top of you which is a big camping no-no… well, let’s be honest it’s a no-no for other life reasons as well.
After you’ve found the perfect spot for your tent, you can begin using the proper products and techniques for keeping your shelter dry.
Most tents are hand-sewn and have a few patches of mesh, like windows and doors, which are only kept together with a zipper. That means that your tent is easily penetrable by any water infiltration.
You can buy a seam sealant which seals all of the small holes in the hems of your tent. You should do the first coat at home on a very dry day, but always bring extra in case you spring a leak.
Another, lightweight, spray-on solution is water repellent. Spray it onto your tent because this will help protect the outside of your shelter just like the seam sealant helps protect the inside.
Like I mentioned before, the ground is as cold as the air and it’s just as wet during a rainstorm. Make sure you place a tarp underneath your tent. The most important thing to remember when using a tarp is to make sure it isn’t sticking out around your tent. It needs to be at least 1” shorter than the circumference of your shelter.
If you let your tarp spread around the outside of your tent you will be singing “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas in your sleep.
As much as I’m never against singing Disney songs, I wouldn’t want that to happen to me and I’m sure you don’t want it happening to you.
You have to keep in mind that condensation exists, and we’ve all seen it (if you haven’t had an iced coffee before then you are LYING). Your body temperature and breath is warmer than the air and will cause condensation to drip all over you and your belongings–which basically means it’s now raining inside. So, while you’re singing Disney songs, open up a vent or “crack” a window. This way any moist air can circulate and exit your tent which will help keep your tent dry.
If you’re like me, and everyone else in the world, rain makes you a little lazy. It’s cold and wet and everything around you is cold and wet. Personally, it makes me want to curl up in bed with hot cocoa and a good book (not a bad option but you might be stuck there all day).
One great tip is to face your tent toward the East so you can grab any morning rays of sun that may peer through the rain clouds.
You can also use the rain to your advantage and create some ambiance for yourself. String up some LED lights around your campsite, light candles (or battery powered candles) inside mason jars or use lanterns and flashlights.
This way your darker day will be surrounded by some soft lighting, like your house when the power goes out during a thunderstorm. It was always peaceful to live in a grey world surrounded by candlelight–unless it’s due to a snowstorm, then it’s just cold and awful.
Set up an outside area with a tarp. You can set up your table with games or cards and snacks. That way you’re not stuck “indoors” while you’re on your “outdoor” vacation.
The tarp will provide you shelter, a way to air out your tent, by not being inside it, and a way to hang out together.
If curling up in your sleeping bag with hot cocoa and a book sounds too introverted for you, make some comfort food. Bring along some mac and cheese. If you bring the boxed version you can use coconut oil instead of butter, and a plant-based milk that doesn’t need to go in the fridge as quickly as regular milk does…just make sure you don’t use a vanilla flavored one because it’s legitimately the worst.
You could even do a pizza or lasagna. Or you can simply drink hot cocoa and hang around your lanterns with some friends and a deck of cards!
No matter what, try to stay as warm and dry as possible while you’re out in the wild. Rain can surprise us sometimes and you don’t want to be caught unprepared.
In conclusion, bring on the comfort foods, activities, tarps, sprays and layers to keep your camping trip rolling and don’t ever let the rain dampen your good time!
Photo by brandon carlsness on Reshot