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December 21, 2020

Camping In The Rain - Is It Safe?

Written by

Daniel Wade

verified-author
Camping In The Rain - Is It Safe? | Today I'm Outside

Camping is an activity that most anyone can enjoy. You can find camping sites throughout the country and probably close to where you live.

However, weather is something that is on the mind of everyone before they go camping. One of the biggest concerns being, will it rain?

I would bet more camping trips are ruined or cancelled, due to rain than any other event.  Outside of Covid-19 of course.

Is Camping in the rain safe? I would argue yes, along as you plan accordingly, pack accordingly, set up a good camping site for rain, and finally, know when to call it off.

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time camping has been caught in the rain.  Although it can be a fun adventure and good story, it gets old fast, especially when you are not prepared.

Table of Contents:

Planning Accordingly

Before you decide to do anything, you need to spend some time looking at the weather. Watch the news, radar, or download a weather app, but you need to have a general idea of what the weather is going to look like.

There will be situations and weather concerns that will bench even the most avid camper.

Situations To Avoid When Camping In The Rain

  • Camping with young children (keeping kids occupied in a small tent is torture)
  • A trip in the winter, spring or fall, when temperatures are cooler
  • High winds
  • Lightening
  • Any weather conditions, where you wouldn’t go outside of your home
  • Multiple days of rain (more on this later)

A few years ago my wife and I went on an ATV camping trip.  We rode the dusty trails all day and finally got to our campsite. As we were setting up our site, it downpoured, mercifully on us.

All our gear, food, clothing got soaked.  The worst part is I broke my first rule and never looked at the weather. Despite this happening in July,  we were cold and wet all night.  It was absolutely miserable and ended our trip early.  

We planned on cooking over an open fire, but that was out and we had no means of having a hot meal, so we ate protein bars.  

The only plus, mother nature cleaned our ATVs.

Situations Where Camping In The Rain Is Enjoyable

  • Light Rain
  • One day of Rain
  • Warmer weather
  • No serious weather conditions

On the flip side, camping in the rain can be a great experience and something that can be fun.  One of my favorite camping trips was when I was a young kid. My father and I hiked to a spot and camped for the day.  He knew it was going to rain at night,  but it wasn’t anything too severe.

It was enjoyable and made it feel like we were “roughing it” with our technologically advanced gear.  

Packing Accordingly

This is equally as important as planning accordingly. If the weather is supposed to be nice or crappy, you should always pack the right gear.  

Gear Needed For Camping In The Rain

  • Rain gear (this is obvious)
  • Waterproof bag and storage containers
  • Waterproof boots
  • Cookware/vessel that is safe to use inside a tent
  • Extra trap or E-Z Up
  • Plastic bags
  • Umbrella
  • Extra line and rope
  • Extra blankets and warm sleeping bag
  • Cards, books, or some form of entertainment

Storing Your Waterproof Gear

When my wife and I were stuck out in the woods, during heavy rains, we had very few of the items listed. We had rain gear, only because it is always in our ATV gear and the Kindle App on our phones, however both our phones died (another mistake).

Now when I go camping I have a waterproof storage trunk that I got at Cabelas for $40.00.  Inside I have an extra set of rain gear, a Jetboil cooking set, clothesline rope, a large tarp, and some plastic bags.

Most of my camping is done while ATV or UTV riding, so I have the room for the storage box.  However, most of this equipment fits comfortably in my hiking bag, I would maybe need to tinker with and omit some things.

If I was going to do more backpacking camping trips, I would pair down some of the items, but overall I would have the same kit.

Setting Up A Campsite For Camping In The Rain

Well, now that you have decided to go camping and you suspect some rain.  Let's talk about how to have a good campsite that will be safe.

Before you start to set up your tent look for an area, where you can suspend a tarp over it.  Make sure the tarp is large enough, where it provides you an overhang by the entrance of your tent. This is commonly done, by tying the 4 corners of the tarp to 4 different trees.

If I am camping near my vehicle, I have and will usually use an E-Z up for this.  I find them easier to assemble and that they offer more protection.  This won’t be an option if you are backpacking to your campsite.

The overhand serves you two purposes.  First, it will act as a mud room.  This will prevent wet and muddy gear from entering your tent.

Second, it is going to allow you to have an outdoor fire, to start the drying process, cook some meals, and have that hot cup of campfire coffee in the morning.

Gathering Firewood

Nothing is more symbolic to camping than the campfire.  When your gear is wet and you are too, then nothing is more important.

How to get firewood when it is wet out.  If you are camping near you vehicle, then you can of course buy firewood and pack it in,

However, if that is not an option then you will need to get dry wood from outside.  The easiest way to do this is to locate wood with bark still attached.  Just peel off the bark and pat it dry. It doesn’t hurt to carry some fatwood and dryer lint with you to easily spark the fire.

Finally, When To Call Off The Camping Trip

You can do everything right, watch the weather, pack accordingly, and make an awesome rain proof campsite.  However, there will be times when you just want to call it off.

If the rain keeps up for several days, preventing you from drying out your gear.  Then you may want to pack up and head home.

If the rain brings in cool weather, then just go home and camp another time. Hypothermia is always a concern when you are wet and cannot get dry.

If the rain brings in heavy winds, this could be a bad position to be in.  Heavy Winds can knock down trees and limbs, which could get you and your party hurt.

If light showers look like they are turning into monsoons, then get out of there. Being in the woods during heavy rains is just an uncomfortable and often dangerous activity.

Let’s just say the meteorologist was wrong and you didn’t plan for rain- then you may want to ditch the woods.

With that said, camping in the rain can be done safely and can be enjoyable, just use common sense. The average person should know when camping gets dangerous. When you know, you know, and you should avoid it. Afterall, misery loves company and it is often a great bonding activity.

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Camping In The Rain - Is It Safe?

About THE AUTHOR

Daniel Wade

From a young age I was introduced to fishing, hiking, camping, and more through family, friends, and scouting. After 20 years of learning and participating in these outdoor activities, I share what i've learned (and continue learning) with you.

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