Last Updated on 22/05/2023
In this list of the easiest hacks and camping in the rain tips, we share the ultimate guide on what to do if it rains when you are camping. You will learn about staying dry, entertaining yourself, cooking, and if you are reading this before your trip, you will have time to prepare.
30 Hacks and Tips for Camping in The Rain
If you have been planning a camping trip for weeks or months only to have some bad weather fall on the exact same date, you will be looking for all the ideas you can to help you enjoy camping in the rain. These hacks and rain camping tips will hopefully give you one or two new ideas as well as teach you the basics if you are a beginner:
1. Be Careful Where You Pitch Your Tent
In heavy rain, you need to be mindful of where you are camping and pick a location that is unlikely to flood. High ground is always a safe bet, and if you can find a spot that is sheltered from the wind, this will help.
If you camp on a mountainside in the rain, be aware that runoff rainwater can catch even the best of you out. So can flash floods. Avoid moss which holds water like a sponge, and don’t camp underneath any widowmaker branches that could fall on you in the night.
2. Leave All Your Wet Gear at The Door
Avoid bringing any wet clothing, footwear, or backpacks into the internal tent, and leave them as close to the door as possible until you have a chance to settle in and hang things up to dry. This will keep your sleeping bag and dry clothes clean and dry and allow you to stay as comfortable as possible inside your tent.
3. Use a Sponge to Dry the Inner Walls
This little hack for camping in the rain is one of my all-time favorites because a sponge weighs next to nothing and can pack down to the size of a grape. Using a sponge to wipe down any condensation on the walls of your tent and then squeezing out the moisture is the most effective way to deal with it (in my opinion). You can do this to prevent any condensation from dripping on you at night or when you start to move around, as well as before packing your tent away. The bonus of a sponge is that you can also use it to wash the dishes
4. Check the Weather Forecast
Even if you are expecting rain during a camping trip, it’s good to know how much and when you might get some breaks in the clouds to get out and make the most of it. Two apps I use for this are XCweather and the Apple Weather app. The more you know about the upcoming weather, the easier you can prepare and plan to either wait it out or go find someplace indoors to hang out.
5. Use a Double-Layer Tent
We have spoken about the benefits of double-layer tents vs. single-layer tents before, but when it comes to camping in the rain, you most definitely want a tent with an outer and inner layer. This is because condensation on the inside of your tent in heavy rain is almost inevitable, so by creating a second barrier of defense, you stay much dryer.
You could look for tents with a full rainfly, tents designed for heavy rain, geodesic tents for 4-seasons, or maybe you already have one that is suitable. Most pop-up tents are only single layers which is why I strongly advise against using a pop-up tent in heavy rain.
6. Rewaterproof Your Tent
To make sure your old tent stays waterproof when camping in the rain, you should get into the habit of regular maintenance and waterproofing the tent shell at least once a year. Waterproof tent sprays are the easiest way to treat your tent, and I recommend only two: Grangers Waterproof Spray and Nikwax Waterproof Spray.
7. Take an Umbrella
Umbrellas come in so handy when camping in the rain for two reasons. They let you get in and out of the tent without letting any rain in (if you are quick at opening and closing the tent door). They also let you nip out for toilet breaks at night in your pajamas, which is no fun in the rain without an umbrella.
If you pick a strong umbrella that can withstand wind and is compact/lightweight, then it can also be a valuable addition to your hiking gear.
8. Good Waterproofs
If you are expecting rain on a camping trip, then a good set of waterproofs is a no-brainer. I like Goretex Pro jackets and Goretex Paclite pants with plenty of ventilation. There are plenty of other options out there, like Patagonia H2No, Pertex, or eVent, which all work just fine too. These will enable you to go out still and do things on rainy days instead of being stuck at the campsite in your tent.
9. Waterproof Footwear
Waterproof footwear is a priority when camping in the rain, especially if it is cold too. The most waterproof kind of waterproof footwear for camping is gumboots which is what I wear, especially on wet camping holidays. If I am hiking and camping in the rain, then I will wear my most waterproof boots, which are full leather outer with a Gore-Tex lining and Vibram soles. You could also wear flip-flops or Crocs when out in the rain and then dry your feet when entering your tent.
10. Overnight Boot Drying
Stuff wet footwear with newspaper or tissue a night to absorb any moisture while you sleep. Other things you can do that might help are to drive two sticks into the ground inside your tent so that you can put your boots on them to air out and dry overnight. Something I have always thought about doing but never actually have is using those little sachets of silica gel you get in boxes of new shoes to dry your boots out overnight.
You can also get boot-drying balls and inserts that help to improve air circulation and speed of drying.
11. Camp Shoes or Slippers
Even on ultralightweight thru-hikes, I always take a second pair of footwear to wear once I make it to the night’s camping spot. I use them inside the tent and to move around outside so long as the weather isn’t too cold. I personally like Crocs, Tevas, or Sanuks when temperatures are reasonable, but in winter, I always wear camping slippers to keep my feet warm inside the tent when it’s raining or snowing outside.
12. Dry Your Clothes
If it is raining day after day while you are living out of a tent, then your clothes are probably going to get wet at some point. The best way to elevate this problem with camping in the rain is to make a miniature washing line inside your tent to hang wet clothes from. If you have a large porch space or tent with a vestibule, then you can run multiple lines at different rights. Just be careful not to overload them and damage the structural integrity of the tent.
13. Use a Groundsheet
A groundsheet is the same thing as a tent footprint, which is a layer of waterproof fabric that sits underneath your tent to add an extra barrier of protection against wet ground. In heavy rain, water can travel over the surface of your campsite and soak the ground you are pitched on. The groundsheet protects you and your gear from getting wet and allows you to stay dry as you sit inside.
14. Use a Tarp Over Your Tent
Just like using the groundsheet underneath your tent, you can use a rainfly or tarp over the top of your tent. If done properly, you can double the waterproofing of your tent and also create a little overhang by the door to store gear or cook. To use a tarp over your tent properly, you need to use tarp poles and guy lines to pitch it tightly and not compromise the structure of the tent by draping it over.
15. Create a Tarp Shelter so You Can Sit Outside
As you are hopefully now realizing, tarps and rainfly are valuable resources to have when camping in the rain. Instead of putting a tarp above your tent, you can create a shelter outside to sit under, make a fire, cook, and socialize. A communal area with overhead cover is incredibly important when camping with groups or on solo bushcraft trips. For this, you don’t always need tarp poles and can instead find two trees close by to use instead.
16. Pack Some Group Entertainment
Group entertainment is always a good idea when camping with friends in the rain. A simple deck of cards is enough to create hours of entertainment. Other small games like dominoes, chess, card games, and travel versions of board games will often get used hard on camping trips spent sheltering from the rain.
17. And Some Personal Entertainment
As well as group entertainment, you should also include something to keep yourself busy during periods of solitude on a rainy camping trip. Things like books, bushcraft tools, maps, journals, sketch pads, and electronic devices are things many people choose as their personal entertainment. If you are into your music or social media, then don’t forget your headphones so that other people don’t have to listen to it too.
18. Take a Power Bank
Long periods inside a tent while it rains outside often result in your phone and electronic devices getting used more than perhaps normal, which leads to batteries draining faster than usual. A power bank with charging cables can often double, triple, or massively increase the battery life of your phone, tablet, headlamps, or devices.
While they are getting harder to find, look for a waterproof power bank that can withstand wet conditions without becoming compromised.
19. Use a Tent with A Bathtub Floor
Bathtub floors on tents are when the waterproof flooring extends up the side walls for at least a couple of inches. Most tents have them on the internal tent, which prevents any moisture from outside the tent from finding its way in while you are sleeping. That is, unless the water outside rises above that level, in which case you are in real trouble.
20. Use Waterproof Bags and Dry Sacks to Keep Your Gear Dry
Dry bags are lightweight and durable waterproof sacks that use a roll-top closure to keep the contents inside completely dry in heavy rain. You can use separate dry bags for your food, clothes, sleeping bag, and toiletries to help keep everything organized at the same time as preventing them from being spoiled by the rain.
21. Open and Close the Vents as Needed
Tent ventilation is there for a reason; make sure you make full use of it. When you are trying to trap heat in or prevent heavy rain from entering through a vent, you should close up the vents. At all other times, I recommend leaving them fully open to allow air circulation and reduce condensation.
22. Avoid Camping Too Close to A Creek or River
In periods of heavy rain, streams can turn into torrents of water, and flash floods happen all the time. Avoid camping too close to scenic creaks and rivers just in case something upstream causes an influx of water from washing you away. You are much safer camping further back from the water’s edge on higher ground.
23. Pack Warm Clothes
Wet weather often comes along with colder temperatures. Compounded by the fact that you can’t really move around much inside of a tent, you will need some warm clothes to help you get through the evenings. I love a pair of joggers as well as some base-layer pants on the lower half and a base-layer top with a hoody on my upper body. These also make the perfect pajamas for camping in the rain.
24. Use a Hiking Pole to Prop Open the Door
You can create a mini awning outside almost any tent by using a hiking pole, tree branch, or tarp pole to prop up the door. I do this on my small 1-man tents as well as on my giant 9-man tunnel tent. In summer, it creates a nice patch of shade as well as maximizing airflow, and in wet weather, it acts as a rain cover so you can easily come in and out of the tent. Just so you don’t struggle, the camping in rain tip is to use a guy line to secure it up.
25. Try Not to Brush Against the Inside of The Tent
Brushing against the inside of your tent after a couple of hours of heavy rain will no doubt leave a big wet patch where you touched it. Similarly, if you knock the tent or even open the door first thing on a morning after heavy rain, all the condensation can drip down and soak you and your sleeping bag. This is why I always carry a sponge when camping to remove all the water droplets before they can fall on me.
26. Take Ready-To-Eat Food
Food that you don’t have to cook or that is very easy to heat up using water is the best kind of food on lazy camping trips that end up being wet and miserable outside. Snacky food is always welcome in my eyes, but if you want something warm, then things like noodles and soups that just need hot water make life so much easier when cooking is hard due to the weather.
27. Avoid Down Sleeping Bags
Down sleeping bags are incredibly warm, but if they get wet, they can take days to dry and become very inefficient once soaked. Synthetic sleeping bags are better for camping in heavy rain because they keep you warm even if they get wet. Many down sleeping bags are now treated to be hydrophobic, but they still are vulnerable to wet conditions. You can use a bivy bag over the top of your sleeping bag if you are determined to use down insulation.
28. Keep a Large Supply of Dry Firewood if Having a Campfire Under a Tarp
If you are using a tarp as an outdoor shelter when camping, then it is possible to have a small campfire underneath it if you are careful. The hack for camping in the rain is to keep a massive supply of dry firewood undercover so that you don’t have to worry about running out on those long cold nights. This might mean taking an extra tarp to cover your wood or stuffing the wood inside every spare space inside your tent vestibules.
29. Use a Bivvy Bag
A bivvy bag is basically a waterproof bag that you and your sleeping bag slot inside to stay dry. They can be used on their own without a tent, but in heavy rain, they can be used inside a tent as an added measure of protection and safety. They can become quite sweaty inside, though, so the only time I would use one inside a tent would be in very wet conditions, and if I was using a down sleeping bag, I didn’t want to get wet.
30. Invest in A Tent Carpet
If you have a large tent and are camping with a group during a bad patch of weather, the addition of a tent carpet can really help to improve the internal comfort of a tent. Instead of the cold and glossy finish of a waterproof floor, you get the soft or protective layer of flooring to help keep you warmer, dryer, and more comfortable. Because you end up spending so much time inside a tent when it’s raining, its in everyone’s best interest to make it as comfortable as possible.
I hope you have enjoyed these hacks and tips for camping in the rain, and they weren’t all too obvious. Let us know if you have any ideas we missed or you have found useful on wet camping trips.