If you decide to go camping for a weekend or find yourself in the situation of having to camp due to a crisis situation, one thing is sure: there is no way to avoid rain. You can’t order a “no rain these days, please” to Mother Nature, which means that you’ll need to handle the weather as it is.
The key element when camping is that you stay as dry as possible. Properly prepping a plan and having the right equipment are crucial elements and I am going to detail everything for you.
Choosing a Campsite
When choosing the campsite, having either a professional tent or an improvised one won’t make a difference. However, the place that you choose does:
- High Ground: If you decide to set up low down or in a depression in the ground, you are going to find yourself in a large puddle when it rains. Choosing a high ground is what you need to do in order to avoid a damp and unpleasant situation.
- A Site That Has Good Drainage: this way, the water will run away from your tent and you will be able to remain dry
Choosing a Shelter
If you are planning ahead and looking for a tent (or maybe you already have one), make sure that the quality is good. Spend that extra money on a tent that has a decent fly net and a base designed to keep water out.
However, if you are making an improvised shelter, you will need to take rain and wind into consideration even more. The ideal one needs to be as enclosed as possible. If you can make sure that it has all sides enclosed, except for the door, such as a teepee-style shelter or a mostly enclosed one-person example, this is best.
Position it so that the door is away from prevailing winds (if possible). This way, the rain won’t blow inside the shelter.
If you are making a shelter using a tarp or a lean-to style and you only have one wall, then put that wall between you and the prevailing winds, keeping the rain out. No matter what type of shelter you have, be sure to cover the outside of it with brush and leaves to help insulate it and keep the inside dry.
Sleeping in the Rain
If you are on a slope, then set your tent or improvised shelter so that the door is facing downhill. This can be tricky when it’s windy, as you do not want the wind to be able to blow the rain into your shelter.
If you are putting a tarp under your tent/shelter, make sure that you fold the tarp in such a way that the edges aren’t sticking out. If they are, then water can collect on them and run underneath your tent.
Moreover, digging a trench around your tent/shelter to make sure that any water that does come near can be directed away from it is a tremendously useful thing to do. Here’s what you need to do:
- Start the edge of your trench just past the edge of your tent
- Make sure that the side of the trench closest to your tent goes straight down and that the farthest side of the trench is sloped. DO NOT make the trench in a V-shape, as you will be more likely to have water reach your tent.
- Make sure that the trench is between 3 and 5 inches deep.
- You want the trench to slope toward the lowest point in the area around your tent.
- At that lowest point, create an opening so that the water can flow out, rather than backing up.
- If water can come from uphill, then dig a ditch that will direct water away.
- When digging, make sure to throw all the dirt away from the tent. If dirt rests against the tent material, it can cause it to rot.
Regarding your sleeping area inside the tent, make sure that you have some sort of padding underneath you. This will help keep you dry and insulate against the cold coming from the ground. If you do not have a pad or a blanket, you can collect dry leaves, grass or boughs.
Daytime in the Rain
If it happens to rain during daytime, which it will, the last thing you want to do is spend your entire day (or even more days) sitting inside your dry tent and eating in the rain (keep in mind that no food is allowed inside the tent, as it can attract the wildlife).
To solve this problem, you are going to need tarps. The best thing you can do is to have a large tarp that you can suspend over your dining area, right over the table, if you have one.
You can also suspend a tarp over the fire pit, which will give you a nice spot to sit and enjoy the warmth of the fire on a rainy day.
When you set up the tarps, make sure that you give them a peak, just like you see on a roof. This way, the water will run off the tarp. If you don’t do this, the water will collect in the middle and the tarp will sag right onto your table or seating area. Ideally, you should peak the tarp right in the middle so that there are four sides, rather than an A-frame.
What to Pack/Prepare
I’m sure that you already know what the first thing to pack is: tarps! If you can plan ahead, you will need a minimum of three large tarps: one for the tent, one for underneath the tent and one for your dining area. Moreover, having extra ones is always a good idea so you can cover more of your campsite.
Aside from tarps, you should pack the following:
- Plastic Bags: they allow your food and equipment to be stored away so that they stay dry
- Rain Gear: No matter how waterproof you think your shelter is, water always finds its way in. Having a good rain jacket or poncho and good rain pants is a must.
- Proper Clothing: Even if your shelter is dry at all times, the air will still be damp. Avoid cotton clothing and opt for nylon and synthetic underwear. Cotton tends to suck up the moisture and it doesn’t dry quickly, leaving you cold and damp. If the weather is cold, then use wool or polypropylene layers.
- Bivvy Bag: If you plan to purchase one or if you already have one, make sure it is qualitative.
- A Good Stove: You need one that is easy to light in the rain and that runs on gas or propane. A wood stove also works.
As long as you are prepared with the right equipment and skills, you will be able to survive any kind of situation. Will you get wet? Of course you will, but as long as you are prepped, you are out of the danger zone.
Do you think you could survive camping in the rain? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.