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tips for camping in the rain

be safe

  • practice survival skills in good weather
  • be prepared
  • tell people where you are going and when you will be back
  • take a radio beacon EPIRB device or a satellite phone if this works better
  • don't be stupid
  • cancel your trip if severe weather is forecast
  • don't camp under large branches as they can drop without warning
  • remember that creeks may become impassable after heavy rain

avoid lightning injury

choose your tent site carefully

  • leave no trace (LNT) principles
    • off trail site gives others space and reduces impact on trail
    • flat site with mild convexity for natural drainage if it rains
    • in the breeze to reduce bugs but not too exposed
    • avoid bottom of valleys or dry creek beds where air is coldest and risk of flooding in heavy rains
    • avoid topography likely to become wind tunnels
    • avoid hilltops where exposed to storms and lightning risk
    • avoid under large branches which may drop without warning
    • avoid being next to lightning targets (and if lightning is possible, avoid open spaces too)
    • avoid being near habitat paths
    • avoid cliff faces with hazard of rock falls or in the snow, avalanches
    • choose dry ground as it is warmer and you will have less condensation
    • granite or gravel is usually good
    • if possible select a site with a natural windbreak
    • ensure your site is not going to allow a large pool of water under your tent - choose well drained higher ground
    • AVOID need for digging trenches - these should not be needed with modern tents with floors and conflict with Leave No Trace principles


  • if hiking solo, one or two 7'x 7' tarps preferably one of which can act as a poncho is very useful
    • tall people may prefer 8'x8' but this is a touch more weight
    • this could also be used as additional floor protection INSIDE your tent with edges going up the walls of tent so groundwater wont get on top of it (just in case the tent floor fails - you dont want your sleeping gear wet!) - many use a tarp under the tent as a footprint (ensuring it does not protrude beyond the tent otherwise it would collect water under the tent) - this may help prevent damage to the floor of your tent but may not otherwise reduce water ingress if the tent floor is no longer fully waterproof
  • many prefer a 3x3m (10'x10') tarp which can be used to cover your tent, provide greater shelter amenity in the rain, or even replace the tent if it gets damaged
  • for groups, consider two 10'x16' tarps
  • 2 tarps allow for a chimney over a fire which is very handy in wet weather
  • take at least 4 plastic stakes and plenty of rope such as paracord

keep everything dry

  • rain coats and rain gear generally have a DWR coating which repel water
    • eventually this will need to be re-applied otherwise the outer becomes saturated and it will lose breath-ability resulting in the inner also getting wet
  • make sure your backpack has a waterproof cover even if it is said to be weatherproof, and ensure the bottom is waterproof for when you set it down on wet ground
  • set up tent under a tarp if raining then relocate the tarp, or at least have a tent you can set up fast or set up the fly first although this option is not ideal and the tent may still get wet
    • pitch the tent/rainfly as taut as possible so it'll shed water properly
    • if it is a single wall tent do not touch the wall of the tent - water will seep through
    • if a double-wall tent, don't touch the inner wall of the tent to the outer wall – the rain will seep through
    • leave wet gear and outer layers in the vestibule
    • adjust the tent's vents to allow some airflow
  • carry everything in plastic bags such as recycling bags and zip-lock sandwich bags for smaller items
  • carry your sleeping bag and dry clothes inside a dry bag inside your pack as extra insurance
  • carry goods in two layers of waterproofing
  • pack your fly / tent on the outside of your pack so you don't have to open the pack in the rain and you don't put wet gear inside your pack (don't keep it there for long periods in the sun though as UV will damage it!)
  • bring an absorbent towel to mop up inside the tent

keep yourself warm and dry

  • no cotton (unless you are car camping and can change when it gets wet) - use synthetics in warm weather or wool in colder weather
  • consider synthetic fill for sleeping bags as down loses insulation when it gets wet
  • carry a spare set of dry clothes including sleep socks and a spare pair of socks for walking
  • when hiking
    • light weight rain jacket with hood and rain pants will generally keep most drier than a poncho but in humid conditions you are still likely to get wet from perspiration
    • gaiters help keep you dry and provide added protection
    • consider an umbrella if it is not too windy as this will not make you sweaty as would a poncho and it will keep your upper body warmer
    • broad rimmed hat will help keep rain out of eyes, and help reduce the hoods on ponchos making your head and neck sweaty
    • if you feel chill then add layers
  • it is OK to go to sleep in wet rain gear if your sleeping bag gets wet as wet and warm is better than being cold and dry BUT if possible at least change your socks to dry socks when you go to bed

wear appropriate footwear and prevent blisters

  • many prefer to wear a pair of sturdy, waterproof hiking boots or hiking shoes although whatever you wear, your feet are likely to get wet
  • hence you need to pro-actively manage pressure areas to avoid blisters - eg. use Vaseline
  • take a pair of sandals or wet shoes as an extra item as these are handy around camp site and for crossing streams
  • bring blister first aid kit

try to keep the inside of tent and your camping gear dry

  • the inside of the tent will develop some condensation even if it is not raining, this is reduced with use of a double wall tent and mesh but mesh means a colder night and potential dampness from the inside of the fly
  • buy a tent with good ventilation and with vestibules
  • do not set tent up in a water course as it may quickly become a river
  • set tent up under a tarp initially, or at least set the fly up first
  • generally no need for ground sheet under the tent as they just collect water BUT a tarp or builder's plastic sheet under the tent which can be lifted up as an extra tub layer inside the fly so water does not get on top of it can be a worthwhile extra waterproofing aid, or perhaps better still put this inside the tent
  • ensure tent has a bath design so waterproofing extends up the sides
  • choose a tent with good water resistance
    • Dyneema / cuben fibre is pretty much water proof as long as the seams are sealed and there are no holes in the fabric
    • Nylon tents are only water resistance and are rated with waterhead ratings - choose a tent with high ratings of at least 5000mm for floors and 1500mm for flys
  • choose a tent with double wall rather than single wall
    • if you touch the inside of a wet single wall tent, it may start leaking water into your tent at that point

regularly check tent during storm

  • guy out all lines
  • make mid-level guylines at least 6' long
  • place big rocks or logs on top of stakes
  • wake up at regular intervals to check guyline tension and staking
  • if tent is being compromised consider reducing risk of tent poles breaking by supporting the walls with your hands
  • if very high winds, consider taking tent down and wrapping yourself in the tent fly


  • be careful, sparks can melt / burn tarps and tents
  • never cook inside your tent (unless it is designed for this - see hot tents (tents with wood stoves inside)) - fumes or flames will kill you or risk burning the tent
  • avoid cooking in the vestibule
  • cook under the extra tarp you have set up as long as tarp is at least 6' from flames

car glamping approach to enjoying camping in the rain

  • if a severe storm with very strong winds, tornado risk or severe flooding is forecast then DON'T GO CAMPING!
    • if caught in such a storm, better to pack up the tent and stay in the car - then set up tent AFTER the damaging winds have passed

basic requirements for enjoyment in prolonged rain periods

  • shelter that offers excellent wind and rain protection from all directions whilst still being able to be opened for viewing out
  • shelter that is waterproof
  • shelter that has lots of space and head room to relax in while riding out a prolonged rain period
  • shelter in which one can use a wood stove - see hot tents (tents with wood stoves inside)
    • allows provision of warmth without need to go into the rain to keep a camp fire going
    • allows drying out wet clothes or mattresses
    • allows boiling water for drinks, cooking or hot showers
    • allows cooking facilities especially if it also has a chimney oven
  • comfortable chair(s)
  • table for playing cards with other campers
  • shelter is not too heavy when wet and does not take a long time to dry out
    • under 15kg and relatively compact to pack

suggested solutions

    • lack of a floor is important to reduce chances of tent burning down with the stove which will make a floor very hot indeed!
    • ensure careful site selection so that a lake will not be forming inside it from rain run off
    • ensure you guy out the sides so they will not hit the stove
    • ideally the tent should have at least 2 doors to give ventilation options, wind direction options and escape options in case the tent does catch fire
    • a great option is the Mobi Garden Guan Tu V (On The Road V) hot tent / gazebo only 13kg and 2 smallish bags
    • bring some flooring to make your life more comfortable and less muddy inside the tent
  • a wood stove with oven and, importantly, have a triple layered chimney heat shield and a spark arrestor so you don't burn the tent down
    • carbon monoxide alarm is a good idea for safety unless you are happy to keep two doors open while using the stove
    • do NOT close off the chimney damper when using it inside a tent as risks smoke and carbon monoxide coming into tent - just adjust the stove's air dampers as needed
    • the stove will need stoking with dry seasoned wood every 30-45minutes so it is not going to keep you warm overnight
    • you will need about 1kg/hour of dry seasoned wood kindling
    • a heat protective floor mat is a good idea as occasionally embers will fall out of the stove when you open the door
    • optionally consider a wood stove fan to provide some convection heat into your inner tent in addition to radiant heat
  • an inner tent or stretcher bed:
    • this could be a 2P hiking tent or mozzie tent (BUT ensure it will not sit on flooded ground, or if there is a risk of this, supplement its waterproofing by using a 1.8×2.4m tarp or plastic sheeting inside it to cover the tub floor), or a swag with a tarp under it
    • if insects are not a problem such as in winter then a stretcher bed may be a better option as this gets you off a potentially wet ground surface and closer to the warm air from the stove
  • spare towels to dry things off such as your dirty feet
  • emergency tarp, guy ropes and pegs just in case
    • if it is likely to be really windy - a spare tent for use after the storm may be an added insurance
  • rain gear
    • thin rain jacket and over-trousers
    • “waterproof” hiking boots or runners, or perhaps neoprene diving boots for wearing around the camp site
    • umbrella
  • bucket(s) to collect rain water
    • this can also be used as thunderbox toilet with a garbage bage inside it
    • if you need drinking water then cover the collection bucket with a mesh to reduce debris falling in or animals such as dogs drinking from it
  • optional rubber mats
    • these can be very handy as supplements inside the tent or as a floor in your en suite
  • optional en suite
    • allows you to have a nice warm shower and also set up a “thunderbox toilet” if there are no nearby toilets
    • you will need a 2-3L pot in which to boil the water on the stove
australia/camping_rain.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/02 04:31 by gary1

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