One of the benefits of camping is reconnecting with nature, and rain is part of it. If you love to go camping, you have two choices for dealing with a soggy forecast: Cancel the trip or forge ahead. Unless meteorologists are predicting severe weather conditions like hurricane-force winds and lightning, there’s no need to let rain put a damper on your plans. With the right equipment and a good plan, the trip can go on. Just ahead, we’ll share seven tips for camping in the rain that will allow you to unplug and reconnect while staying cozy and dry.
Before heading out for a wet weekend, assess your equipment. High-quality rain gear is critical for extended exposure to the elements, especially when rain is combined with cool, windy conditions. Waterproof footwear, one or two changes of synthetic or wool socks, and a rain suit will keep you comfortable.
Also, remember to pack an extra set of dry clothes in a waterproof bag inside your backpack. Avoid absorbent cotton clothing. Choose water-wicking synthetic fabrics or wool instead. Use heavy-duty trash bags and zipper bags to protect clothing and gear as you pack, and bring a few extras just in case.
It is impossible to keep a dry camp in wet weather if the tent leaks. Seal the seams on the tent and rainfly a few days before packing. Bring a heavy-duty tarp to use as a ground sheet beneath the tent. It will protect the tent floor from sharp rocks and roots that could cause pinhole leaks. Pack extra tarps to create dry zones in the campsite: One for the eating area, one for the cooking area, and one over the tent entrance will make camp life much more comfortable.
One of the unique challenges about camping in the rain is drainage. A beautiful, clear site at the base of a slope becomes a nightmare when it starts to rain. The best gear in the world is no match for a flooded campsite. Set up camp on high ground that slopes away. Avoid depressions where water may puddle, even on high ground.
Nothing elevates the mood in camp like a toasty campfire after a soggy day. Choose a high-ground location that is protected from prevailing wind, or use tarps to create a windbreak if needed. Bring dry tinder or a fire starter from home in a zipper bag. Natural cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly will ignite easily regardless of weather. You can create dry kindling by splitting firewood, even if it’s wet on the outside, with an axe and shaving thin strips from the inner surfaces with a knife.
Create a generous supply of kindling (dry twigs and split wood between match and pencil thickness) and another supply of fuel (split wood between thumb and wrist thickness). Be very careful to keep the materials out of the rain and elevated from the wet ground as you prepare to light the fire. Using your homemade tinder, along with kindling and fuel made from split firewood, a toasty campfire is a great way to end the day.
When you go camping in the rain, your body burns more calories staying warm and dry. It’s a good time to perfect your outdoor cooking skills. Cook up a steaming pot of chili for dinner. Break out the Dutch oven for a delicious peach cobbler. Save a step in camp by cleaning, chopping, and measuring ingredients at home. Pack and label meal ingredients together in zipper bags. Cooking together builds camaraderie, and eating good food always lifts the spirits. After a long day, a good meal and a toasty fire, sleeping on the ground will feel great.
When you are surrounded by precipitation it’s easy to forget to drink water. Many campers are more active in the field than they are in civilization, but they drink the same amount of water or less. Dehydration leads to fatigue, headaches, muscle tightness, and cramping. It is also more difficult for the body to stay warm when you haven’t had enough water. Be sure to bring a water bottle and use it often.
If you want to be comfortable when you go camping, you have to keep the inside of the tent dry. Set up a tarp over the tent entrance to keep the rain out while entering and exiting. Take off wet shoes and rain gear outside. Hang wet clothing on a line (under a tarp) to drip dry outside. If wet gear must come into the tent, place it in a dry trash bag before bringing it inside. A layer of plastic sheeting inside the tent can be a helpful bit of insurance against moisture coming through the floor.
With a bit of planning and the right gear, you can confidently and comfortably go camping when rain is in the forecast.
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