How to Camp in the Rain

Whether you’re camping for the weekend, or trying to stay alive in the bush, rain can definitely make your time in the woods less comfortable. In a survival situation, getting drenched is bad. I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that. When you get wet, you put yourself at risk for hypothermia and trench foot (among other things). When camping in the rain, the goal should be to minimize your contact with water. In the following article, I’ll show you some tips how to camp in the rain safely.

Choosing a Campsite

The goal is to stay as dry as possible, and it all starts with choosing a good campsite. Even if you’re able to build an improvised shelter, it means nothing if you’ve picked a poor location to do it. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • High Ground: This may sound like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised by how many people forget it when in the wild. Don’t build your shelter where there’s a dip in the ground (since puddles will readily form here). When camping in the rain, focus on finding high ground to build your survival shelter.
  • Drainage: Modern day cities have drainage systems that funnel water away from homes and buildings. In the wild, the concept isn’t any different. Find a camping spot that offers sufficient drainage so that the water will flow away from where you’re sleeping. This is a key fundamental to learning how to camp in the rain.

Don’t make the mistake of building your shelter first. That’s the wrong way to do it. Even if you build a textbook survival shelter, it means nothing if you’ve chosen a poor area. On a side note, if you’re able to find a cave, then take advantage of it. It will provide you with natural protection from the rain that a DIY shelter couldn’t provide.

Choosing a Shelter

If you’ve had the luxury of planning ahead, make sure you buy a quality tent that can keep the water out. The Semoo Waterproof Tent is a quality model that I’ve personally used, and can say without a doubt that it will keep you dry. If you’re lost and don’t have a tent, you’ll need to build one yourself. There are a few options I recommend for camping in the rain:

Wedge Tarp

Although designed for windy conditions, the wedge tarp shelter can also help protect you from the rain when you don’t have a tent. Note, you don’t have to build it exactly like you see it in the video. You can make adjustments based on your location, how hard it’s raining, etc. What I like about this shelter is that it’s relatively easy to build as long as you have some tarps. When you’re in a survival situation, and it’s raining, you’ll be glad that you learned how to make one. Here’s a video that will walk you through the exact steps:

Poncho Tent

For camping in the rain, the poncho tent is another quality option to consider. Although you won’t have a lot of space to move around with this shelter, at least you’ll be protected from the rain. To build it, you’ll need some sticks, rope, and a poncho (a tarp will also work). Similar to the wedge tarp, it’s pretty easy to build, and won’t take up a lot of time. Here’s a video that does a good job at showing you how to do it when in the wild:

Sleeping in the Rain

There are a few nuances that you must know when learning how to camp in the rain. Firstly, the opening of your shelter should face downhill. This only applies if you’re camping on a slope. By having the opening towards the bottom, it will minimize your exposure to wind and rain. The second tip to remember is to dig a trench around your shelter. Why? So that water gets directed away from where you’ll be sleeping. Here are some tips for digging a trench:

  • Begin your trench just past the edge of your shelter/tent.
  • The trench should be at least six inches deep.
  • Dig the trench all the way around your shelter/tent.
  • Don’t connect the trenches in a “V” pattern. Instead, keep them separate.
  • Build a separate trench that will prevent uphill water from reaching you.

When camping in the rain, it’s also recommended that you have some sort of padding underneath your tent/shelter. This will provide you with insulation against the cold that’s coming from the ground. If you don’t have anything soft at hand, you can build makeshift padding out of grass, dry bush, or boughs. When it’s raining, the colder can be considerably colder than the surrounding air, so keep this tip in mind.

Camping in the Rain

What to Prepare/Pack

If you’re going on a camping trip in an area that’s prone to area, always pack a lot of tarps. Tarps are by far the most effective way to keep yourself dry when camping in the rain. At a minimum, try to have at least three tarps with you- one for your dining/cooking area, one to place underneath your tent, and one to place over your tent. In the unfortunate event that you get lost, tarps serve a variety of purposes-they can help you build shelters, collect rain water, and insulate you from the cold. When learning how to camp in the rain, here are some other items to bring with you:

  • Rain Gear: Bring a poncho or rain jacket since these will provide you with immediate protection from the rain (and they’re portable). Ponchos tend to be very cheap- around $3-$5 depending on where you buy them. Rain jackets are more durable, but they’re also more expensive. Still, I’d recommend having both.
  • Plastic Bags: These includes Ziploc bags and garbage bags. The purpose? To store equipment and keep your food dry. If you have fire-starting tools like matches, lighters, or magnesium sticks, these should all be placed in plastic bags while camping in the rain. Otherwise, you run the risk of them not working when you need them.
  • The Right Clothing: As a rule of thumb, avoid cotton clothing when learning how to camp in the rain. The reason is because cotton is a material that soaks up moisture, so it won’t dry as quickly as other materials. Instead, it’s recommended that you invest in nylon since this resists water better and dries more rapidly.
  • A Quality Stove: You’ll need to buy a stove that won’t have trouble lighting in the rain. If it runs on gas or propane, that’s recommended. Having a stove will allow you to make hot food, as well as brew hot drinks, which when it’s raining, can be a huge psychological boost for you and everyone else in your group.

It all comes back to being prepared. When camping in the rain, having the right gear can make all the difference between a fun trip and a terrible one. Plus, if you find yourself lost, you’ll be glad that you had all this stuff. If you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember that tarps are the most important items you can have (bring at least three of them).

Semoo Waterproof Tent

Don’t Fight the Rain – Enjoy It!

Unless you’re in a survival situation, there’s something truly majestic about camping in the rain. Not to sound too corny, but it’s almost as though you’re able to connect with Mother Nature that much more deeply. If you’re camping for fun, and it happens to be raining, don’t consider your trip “ruined”. Consider it an experience of a lifetime. Granted, it will be much more enjoyable if you follow the tips mentioned above.

How to Camp in the Rain – Bottom Line

When learning how to camp in the rain, tarps are your best friend. They do an excellent job at repelling water, and can be used to build shelters, or even be placed underneath your shelters for added insulation. If you’re in a survival situation, try to keep yourself as dry as possible. The more wet you become, the more susceptible you are to hypothermia and trench foot- two things that can potentially kill you. With that being said, what do YOU do when camping in the rain? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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