Tips for Camping in the Rain

how to go camping in the rain

Have you ever camped in the rain? And I don’t mean a sun shower. I mean rain, that doesn’t ease up.

Good or bad experience?

Generally, most people will say its far from ideal, and many just pack up and head home early.     And if that is possible, then do it.  Because it is not fun.     Sometimes, ending a holiday is not possible, and you are going to have to just deal with it.

Important disclaimer before you read further:   I do like rain on the tent at night.   It’s a great sound to hear when you are warm and dry.  So a little rain, is not going to kill you, and doesn’t mean a ruined holiday.    Stay calm and keep camping.

So, here are some tips for camping in the rain  (ie. not sun shower)  

Don’t go - if it's an option

Now this might seem like an obvious thing to say.

But if you do have the option to cancel, you might want to do it.    If your camping trip is just a weekend away, not planned with military precision, you might find that staying home could be a better way to spend your weekend.

Yes, it can be disheartening that planning and preparation are put on hold.   Yes, the kids might whinge and moan at the plans being thwarted.

But ask yourself this – would you much rather have the kids upset at home (and with lots of distractions and options available) or have them miserable and trapped in a tent/caravan with you for 2 days?

There will always be another time.

Location Location Location

Think about where you set up each and every camp trip.

So even if it's sunny when you arrive, think about what it's going to be like should it rain.

Where will the water run?

When it runs off your accommodation, will it run away from the tent, or pool in the indentation where you set up?

We camped in pouring rain, and as it ran off the annexe, it was running straight to the tent entrance (in a dip).   Our son ran out in the rain and dug trenches away from the tent (which he still talks about today!).

If you need more advice on this, read our how to choose a campsite tips (might just save your gear)

Tent Footprint

If you are tent camping and using a footprint beneath your tent (which you should be doing every time), you will need to take a bit of care with how you set it up.

Do not have the tarp/footprint sticking out from underneath the tent.  Water will pool on this tarp, and then funnel the water underneath your tent.

Setting Up in the Rain

You arrive at your campsite, and it's still raining.   You may choose to wait it out and hope that there is a break in the weather, or you may have to set up your campsite in the rain. 

Extra shelter (see tip below) will be very handy.  

You might want to set up a tarp or something that is easily put up and place your key gear items in there, away from the rain.

You will get wet doing this.  There is no avoiding that.   But it's not about you!  It's about getting your camp set up.   

Of course, you will be wearing appropriate gear (see tip further down on that).

Depending on the size of your tent, if you can manage to put a tarp up successfully and high enough, your tent could be erected underneath the tarp.

The tarp (or whatever significant shelter is nearby) can also be utilised to start putting together some of the camping gear you need.    So use that time under the shelter, to put together any tent poles, get your stakes ready, and if using a fly, have it ready to be thrown over the tent when the time comes.  

Speed and confidence with your camping gear at this point is recommended.

 If you don't have a tarp or some sort of shelter available, you won't have a lot of options when it comes to setting up your camping gear.    It has to be done, so if you can't wait for a break in the weather, you will just need to move fast, and  have lots of towels ready to wipe down anything that gets too sodden. 

Do all of your outside chores first, and only enter the shelter when that is all done (because you don't want to be taking off your wet gear to go in the tent, and then putting it all back on).

Extra shelter


photo credit: knowinspiration via photopin cc

If space allows, bringing an extra shelter (apart from where you are sleeping) is VERY helpful.

You can use it as a space to wait out the rain and not be trapped indoors.   See the above tip on why we recommend always carrying at least 1 extra shelter/tarp.     It can provide protection for other camping gear, plus provide an area to cook and eat in (because you should avoid having food in your tent).

And if there is a leak in your accommodation, you can always use this tarp/extra shelter, to provide much-needed protection.

It does not need to be a massive pop-up shelter either.  A tarp can do a great job. 

The site Camping with Charlie has some good ideas on ways to set up tarps if you don't know how to do so.

And the important point, a shelter, provides an opportunity to set up a clothes line to dry off wet clothes.

If you have children – this might just save your sanity.  It allows them to be outside, not in the camper trailer/caravan/tent and keeping dry.  Just remind them about no shoes inside!

how to go camping in the rain tips
photo credit: Pig Monkey via photopin cc

Appropriate Gear

camping in the rain tips
photo credit: via photopin

Bring wet weather gear.

This gear isn't expensive, and readily available at many stores.

Look at jackets with hoods, and buy jacket that are a bit long on you and cover your bottom. 

The good brands will have more features on them which will make them more reliable in wet weather.    Things to look for in your wet weather gear

- lightweight (if you have to carry it any distance, weight will be an issue)
- breathability (because you don't want to end up soaking from the inside due to perspiration)
- fully taped seams
- zip flaps
- wrist cuffs
- adjustable hoods with a stiff brim (to stop the rain pouring off the hood, and down your face)

Synthetic materials are good for wet weather camping.  Look at nylon, polyester or wool.  

Cotton clothing is really useless in rain.  It gets wet and stays wet.   Whilst it can be great on a warm day, for rainy weather, it's bad news.     See more on why cotton and rainy weather are not best friends, in this article about why cotton kills.

Umbrellas can work in the right situation, but not ideal especially if you are moving around the campsite and need hands to be free.

Some rain ponchos might be sufficient if you don't have the wet weather gear.  

Dress appropriately, with layering is the best option.

For children, the same sort of gear applies - get them a jacket with a hood, and better to buy big so you get more use out of it.   And good Wellington boots or any shoes that are are waterproof.    Wet socks for a little one (and big ones, is miserable).    Pack extra!

And if you are camping in winter, you need to know how to stay warm when camping.   Important info to know!

Bags and more bags

camping in the rain tips


Keeping your “stuff” dry is paramount.

Don’t let wet gear into your sleeping area, because that is an area you need to remain pristine. 
If transporting your bedding from a car to the shelter, put your bedding in a garbage bag as you move it around, to minimise water on it.

All wet gear stays outside and store it a plastic bag to keep it touching anything else.  Dry sacks are great for keeping wet and dry, apart.

Ensure all clean clothes (and dry) stay in a bag that won’t let water in.    Use garbage bags if you don't have stuff sacks.

All equipment especially cameras/phones should be in dry sacks when not in use.   Water getting into them can be fatal to them.      In your tent at night, keep them in waterproof bags too – if the accommodation lacks adequate ventilation, condensation can build up on them.

Lack of ventilation in your sleeping area will mean condensation that makes everything damp.

Avoid letting bedding touch the walls of the tent.


tips fo camping in rain

The meal on the campfire might have to wait due to rain.      Bring at least one backup meal that doesn’t require a roaring fire.   Pasta and a bottled sauce is a good one to have in the supply box.

But just don’t try to cook inside your tent – ever.

A good campfire stove is recommended for those times when a campfire is not an option.    We have a variety, but the Trangia is a very multi-functional stove and is lightweight and portable too.      Just ensure if you are cooking under your tarp/shelter, that there is a large distance between the stove and the shelter.

And there are lots of articles on how to start a fire in the rain – but for me, it all sounds too hard when camping is meant to be fun.     If you are into Man Vs. Wild style of camping, then read up on how to do it here.

Want some easy camping recipes?    

Then read food to cook over a campfire on a stick  and also these easy camping recipes, that don't need a campfire (but a stove is required).

Hopefully, some of these tips will help make your next rain-filled camping adventure a little easier to cope with.

And if you do hang in there, and not head home because of the rain, don't let a bad experience colour your opinions on camping.

It's all these little, not-so-perfect moments, that can make your life one big adventure.

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This story was first published in 2013 and has been updated and amended to be more informative and accurate.

Lead photo credit here

Sleep Naked Everywhere with this Electric Heated Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleep Naked Everywhere with the Electric Heated Sleeping Bag Liner

Do you feel the cold when camping?

If you do, you are not alone.

A successful Kickstarter campaign is underway, which produces a sleeping bag liner that allows you sleep naked.  Everywhere.

That's if you want to.

Sleeping naked is not a mandatory requirement to use this liner.....

Sleeping naked is possible when camping with the electric heated sleeping bag liner

Created by the company, Ravean,  a company that also ran a very successful campaign with a heated down jacket, they have decided "why stop at a heated jacket?"

This sleeping bag liner comes in 2 designs - the traditional liner for a mummy bag and a wearable long jacket.        Now, we have seen before a wearable sleeping bag which keeps you warm,  the Selk Bag but this product by Ravean is more about being a liner within a traditional sleeping bag.

Feeling a bit confused?

Then see the image below to see what the wearable sleeping bag liner does (or can do):

Sleep Naked Everywhere with the Electric Heated Sleeping Bag Liner

Both come with heating elements in key areas such as your core and feet, and you adjust with a touch of a button on the item itself.     The heating comes from a removable battery pack.



See it in action

The video below describes it and shows this concept in greater detail.


Who will it suit?

I think it's aimed at the car campers, the more casual camper who may not want to go out camping in winter as they don't have all the right gear.

Cold sleepers (like myself) who do take a long time to warm up, no matter whether camping or not, might find either of the two items (liner and wearable liner) another option to try to help with the warming-up process.

Who won't need it?

The camper who has all the gear already - you probably have invested in quality sleeping bags (maybe down-filled), and already have standard liners and thermal sleeping gear.      Anyone watching weight limits, would probably not want any more grams in their pack either.

Anyone who camps in very cold climates could possibly be wary of relying on a form of  warmth that needs a battery.

How to get?

Currently a Kickstarter campaign but fully funded.   Expected shipping in October 2016.

RRP when it launches $249

Need more traditional ways to beat the cold?

Read these stories

How to stay warm when camping
13 Winter camping gadgets & gear
How to stay warm when backpacking

All images taken from the Kickstarter website.

27 Things You Will Learn When You Go Camping For The First Time

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

I didn't grow up camping.   It was sort of forced upon me when I was a bit older.   It was either go camping or not go on a holiday.    The idea of being stuck home every weekend didn't appeal much, so I chose the camping option.    And as they say, the rest is history.

It's been a big learning curve.

I think every trip, I learn something new.  Pretty sure, there is still a lot left to learn.

But enough about me!   What did you learn on a camping trip when you were new to camping?   

If you are a regular camper, you might need to think back to your first trip.   Does any one memory jump out at you as something you didn't know about beforehand?    I remember how dirt just gets everywhere, and how grotty I felt by the end of the trip!

For the new campers (or those just thinking about heading outdoors as a beginner) reading this story, well, there is a lot you are about to discover.

We give you a heads up on what could await you.  And some further reading advice if you need guidance.

We have a list of 27 things you will learn on your camping trip.     It might not all happen on the first trip, though,  it just might!!   Be prepared.

You will learn:



1.    The closer you get to nature, the further you are from idiots.

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Getting away from it all, going bush camping, is a great way to experience camping.   Finding a quiet spot, chilling out around the campfire with no-one nearby is relaxing and typifies the Australian camping experiences for many.

You may still have some people nearby, but if you have chosen your campsite with a bit of care, you might not have even noticed them!

Now, if you have chosen your local caravan park down the road, then I can't guarantee that you will be free from idiots.  You have to travel further and more remotely to secure an idiot-free zone.

Further reading:

How to choose a campsite - 7 beginner tips
Camping Etiquette - How not to be the camper everyone hates

2.    You don't need a lot of gear to enjoy yourself.

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

It's easy to think you need every gadget and bit of camping gear in the shop to have a happy and successful  trip.   You can just get by with the basics and still have a great time.

Remember to not go crazy with shopping for gear when new to camping (it's also one of our 10 mistakes beginner campers make).

Further reading to help:

10 items beginners should take camping

3.    Your car fills up fast

Despite point 2 above, it's amazing how fast your car fills up with "stuff".

By the time you get all the gear laid out before you, it seems like half the house is there.     Travelling light might be the idea, but it doesn't always work out that way.

Apart from food, there isn't much difference between camping for 1 night and camping for  7 nights - you need pretty much the same amount of gear.

Further reading to help with packing your food for a trip:

Beginner camping food and preparation tips

4.  Going to the toilet takes planning

When at home you take your nearby toilet for granted.

Camping means planning ahead, especially if you have children.    If you have no toilet, then finding a suitable spot might need some forethought.

A drop toilet might be some distance away, so last-minute dashes aren't recommended (and at night, well, that's a whole another story!)

From what we have found, lack of toilets is a big reason why people don't camp.

Further reading on toilets:

How to Wee Outdoors (for females)
31 portable toilets for camping
Going to the toilet when camping (its not that scary)

5.  How you look becomes less important

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Makeup, hairstyles, and skin care are sadly neglected for the trip.   Too much effort to maintain.   But it's a little liberating too.

Showering, hair washing and just being clean are not easy tasks when camping (less hassle of course if you are in a caravan park).      Don't worry about it too much, especially if it's only one night.

Further reading to help:

Camping Makeup - 11 things you should bring
Beginner Camping tips on how to stay clean 

6.   Your comfort zone is changed

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Nothing is like your home.

It's not meant to be.

You will probably do things out of your comfort zone, and that can be a good thing.  Enjoy it.

7.    It's more work than expected

Setting up camp and packing up at the end of the trip can be a bit of work.   If the weather has turned bad, it's also more of a challenge.    All that gear you brought along with you, now needs to be returned to your car.

And until you find your rhythm, then working out your food and preparing meals can be a bit labour intensive at a campsite.  It does get easier.

Further reading:

Beginner camping food and preparation tips

8.  It's very dark

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Living in the city, we get used to lots of lights around us.    In the bush, it's incredibly dark, and just walking around needs you to have good lighting at all times otherwise you fall over everything.  You appreciate good lighting far more.

9.  The night time sky is amazing

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

The beauty of the night sky is something you won't be prepared for.     You may have seen lots of stars at home, but nothing like the night sky far away from cities and towns.

10.    Food tastes better outdoors

The food you have when camping seems more delicious.   A toasted sandwich at home is so-so.   When camping, it's a gourmet delight.

Not sure why, but it does.

Further reading:

Beginner guide to foil pack cooking
Cooking with a stick - easy recipes
How to make Australian S'Mores
Gourmet Jaffle Recipes
Ultimate Camping Desserts

11.    Good bedding is crucial

If you bring along crappy bedding, you will regret it.    In fact, it could cast negative thoughts about camping for a long time.      A bit of money needs to be spent  on  comfortable bedding (sleeping bag, stretchers or self-inflating mats) to give you the best chance of a good night sleeping.

Further reading:

How to choose a self inflating mattress
How to choose a camp stretcher 

12.   Coffee in the morning is the best

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Sometimes, you may not have had the greatest sleep ever, especially when new to camping.  Despite your bedding (see point 11).

Your morning coffee will never taste better than it does when you wake up when camping.

If you can, get someone to make it for you and bring it to you in bed (especially desirable  on a cold morning).  The coffee will taste even better if you don't have to move around to make it.

Further reading:

10 clever coffee makers
6 clever coffee makers - the sequel! 

13.   Good shoes should stay home


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Love those new expensive Nike Jordans?   Then don't bring them camping.   Your good shoes won't stay good for long when camping.

14.     Bugs are inevitable.

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Mosquitoes, flies and bugs you may never have seen before are part of the experience.  Be prepared (mentally and also with the Aerogard).

15.    Rain on the tent is a great sound.

Hearing the rain on the tent at night is a great sound, though it's going to sound a lot louder than it actually is.     Rain on the tent during the day isn't as great because its stopping you from doing a lot of things you may want to do.....

As it pours down, you might also be praying that your tent is waterproof.

Further reading:

Tips to camping in a thunderstorm
Camping in the rain tips 

16.   Campfires are mesmerizing


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

You can stare at the campfire for hours, transfixed by the flames.  No conversation necessary.

Further reading:

How to put out a campfire properly

17.   Campfire smell permeates everything

It's a great smell until you arrive home, and everything will smell of the fire, including you.



18.    Duct tape is your friend


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips
Photo source:

Duct tape will fix nearly everything.    Enough said.



19.  You do more


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

There is more to do than sit around camp (though that is perfectly OK if you want to).    Camping out in the bush means you can go hiking, exploring and seeing and doing things you just wouldn't do at home.

Plus there is always something to do around the campsite!

Further reading:

Camping activities for kids

20.   There's always 1 camper.............

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

In your camping group, there will be at least one person with Obsessive Campfire Adjustment Syndrome (OCAS).

They will constantly adjust the fire with a large stick or shovel,  decide when a new log must go on, not be happy when someone else attends to the fire (ie. prone to criticise their choice of wood added to the fire) and not just be able to sit there, relax and appreciate the fire.

Regular campers probably can name someone right away if you ask them who they know who has OCAS.    I know who it is in my family.....

21.   Unplugging feels good

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

Technology addiction is a real thing, and by going camping you might not have access to what's going on in the world for 48 hours or so.    You will get through it and come out of your camping trip unscathed.   Leave your devices at home (or just for emergencies).

Further reading:

Do you need wifi when camping?

22.    Birds are loud

Those birds in the morning are LOUD.   They always seem to begin their morning squawking or screeching right outside your tent.

Very early.

Never that loud at home......



23.    You learn to be grateful

You will appreciate this beautiful country and the experience you have had, but part of you will be grateful when you return home to hot showers and your own bed.

24.   Camping gear can be tricky

Setting up your camping gear for the first time when on the camp trip itself is a dumb idea.   Trying all your  gear out before you leave home will make life a bit easier for you.   Some tents are more complicated than they look.

Further reading:

How not to look like a beginner camper



25.     Damn, it's cold


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

The nights can be very cold, and it's easy to be underprepared for this.   A tent, in winter, can be a miserable experience if you aren't prepared for the conditions.

Sitting around outside as the night draws near, you really can feel the cold.   Dress appropriately and layer and layer!

Further reading:

How to stay warm in winter when camping
How to choose a sleeping bag 

26.   Noisy nights

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips


It's surprising that when you are in your bed on your camping trip, the noises you can hear.    Insects and animals can keep you awake (or wake you up in the middle of the night).

Some sounds will make you bolt upright and say "what the hell was that?"    (for us, it's normally been an inquisitive possum or kangaroo).    Earplugs might be an investment.

Further reading:

How to get a good nights sleep in a tent 

27.    No zip is quiet

Zips on tents and sleeping bags are deafening in the middle of the night.   You will try to be quiet, but it's futile.   Everyone around you  will hear you getting out of the sleeping bag, and tent, and then of course, you have to get back in the tent (which is after you fell over a few things outside the tent, and tripped over a guy rope or two).

That is just 27 things you can expect to find out on your first camping trip (or at least one of your early camping trips).     Actually, some of these things will continue every time you camp!!

But what is missing from this list?      We want you to share below.