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).



Need advice on building a campfire in the rain?

Read:     How to start a fire in the Wilderness



Extra shelter


medium_5694792483

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




Image: seatosummit.com


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.


Cooking



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

What to do if you get sick when camping - 6 tips


6 tips on what to do when camping and you get sick or ill



Being sick at anytime isn't fun but when you are camping, then it just seems so much worse. 

You don't have your comfortable bed, and you don't have your bathroom right next to you (unless of course you are in a caravan with that feature).  The days and nights (especially) can seem very long when you or someone you know is unwell.  I don't think you appreciate your health until you are unwell and away from home.

So what do you do? 

Firstly, it's going to depend on where you are camping.  If you are camping in big resort-like campground in a big town/city, you will have many more options than when you are off the beaten track.


This story is more for those of you who are a little remote where you are camping and come down with the typical sort of illness such as gastrointestinal problems or cold/flu like symptoms.




Here are our tips based on personal experiences.



1.  Go home


If the illness is going to affect the entire trip, pack up and go if this is an option such as weekend break.  There is no point in hanging around hoping for a miracle recovery when you only have a short time to be camping. 

Depending on the illness, being in close quarters with the sickly one, could also mean that its contagious.  eg.  gastro is notorious for spreading quickly through families. 

Your camping trip is now going to be cut short, but really, with someone who is unwell (and I am not talking about a common cold), but someone who is really poorly, the best place for them would to be home and close to a doctor, if one is required.

If you have any doubt over what is actually wrong with a person or symptoms increase, you should leave and seek medical attention.  




2.   Have a well stocked first aid kit


6 tips on camping when sick



Always bring along a first aid kit.  That should be part of your camping trip anyway. 
(Don't have one?  Buy one here)

Apart from the usuals in a first aid kit (bandages, scissors etc), we take over-the-counter medications with us.  And with kids, this is definitely something you should look at closely.   



  • Always use these medications as directed and if in any doubt how they could conflict with existing medications, ask in advance of any trip away!!

  • Keep all medicines in cool and dry place and away from children.


Extra items you should want included:


  • Pain relief   eg. Panadol/Nurofen  etc.  If there is a fever, you will need to control it and these would be of help.  
  • Child appropriate medication.   If your child can't take tablets, bring along pain relief in syrup form.
  • Hayfever medication.  Great for allergies which can make you feel totally miserable. 
  • Electrolyte sachets/tablets.   When diarrhoea starts, your fluid intake is very important. Add to water to keep nutrients in system and your hydration up.
  • Anti-diarrhoea medication.  This is handy to have because if you can't get to the toilet easily, this can slow down your toilet visits.  It's not going to treat the cause of your diarrhoea but just ease some of your discomfort.  I have personally had to rely on this to make a camping trip bearable.  
  • Thermometer (optional but handy)


3.    Rest up



what to do when sick and camping


So you have decided not to go home?  Then rest up.   Don't push yourself to do activities or anything that could exacerbate your illness.

It might mean lying in tent/camper/hammock for the day, sleeping when your body needs it.  Relax and get comfortable. 



4   Keep your fluids up



6 tips for camping when sick


No matter what the illness, your fluid intake should be kept up.  

With gastro related illnesses, this is vitally important.  With fevers, sipping cool drinks can help.  When ill, you don't want to make yourself worse due to dehydration.   Sometimes it can be really hard to drink fluid (and I don't mean alcohol) when ill, but dehydration can sneak up on you, and children are especially vulnerable.

Know the symptoms of dehydration and monitor yourself or the other sick camper closely.   



5.     Practice Good Hygiene



what to do if you get sick when camping


If you are staying at the campsite with your sick camper, then practice good hygiene.   Have your hand sanitiser close by where everyone can use it regularly.

No hand sanitiser - then wash hands with soap thoroughly and regularly.

Cough and sneeze into a tissue which you can dispose of. 




6.  Monitor the ill person


If you are the unwell person - get someone to check on you regularly.
If you are caring for the unwell person - monitor them regularly.

You want to make sure there is no deterioration in condition eg. increased fever, change in symptoms, dehydration, pain etc.   

Based on this monitoring, you may have to go back to Point 1 - which is to leave your campsite and seek medical attention.  



The final word


As a camper, I have been ill when camping as have my children.  It's not fun but thankfully, nothing serious.   We have managed the illnesses at the campsite, but sometimes packed up a bit earlier than we had planned. 

  • With illness, sometimes you may have to use your common sense and your instinct.  If something doesn't feel right, then trust your instinct and do something about it like leaving the campsite.     If you are a parent, you know your child better than anyone else, and know when the illness is something mild and manageable (like a cold), but be alert for changes.


Illness when camping doesn't have to mean the end of your camping trip, but being prepared and aware of illnesses, is a good idea for every camper.



camping when you are sick tips





The First Overnight Hiking Trip: what was packed



hiking overnight


Many of you started your camping by getting to your location with a car.  Having everything you want packed up in the car, with plenty of necessities and luxuries ready to make that camping trip relaxing and comfortable.

It’s become the way I camp – I know that every camping trip, there needs to be a fair amount of prep work done before we leave; ensuring everyone has everything they need for the trip and planning for all sorts of contingencies that could arise.     Consequently, the amount of gear that we as a family take, is quite impressive, even if its only for one night.

But when hiker husband wanted me to hike in to a campsite (with no kids), just carrying whatever I needed for the overnight trek, it meant re-thinking the way I had camped previously.     





hiking

Planning was the key


When you have to carry all your gear in a backpack, you do question what is really necessary and what is not.

Just because we travelled light, didn’t mean there was no organisation leading up to the trip.  On the contrary.

The trip was planned with precision!

Meals and snacks were discussed, cooking methods pondered and clothing options reviewed.  Trial packs were done to see if I could bear the weight and strategic packing of the backpack to maximise all available space.

Hiker hubby has trekked The Overland Track and other hikes before, so this was to be a simple stroll for him, but for me, a first-timer, it was an epic trek.

Because of his previous treks and our love of good gear, we did have all the gear we needed to take on an overnight hike.  Some of the gear we take car camping is considered lightweight, so that was lucky that we didn’t need to buy gear especially suited to backpacking.  Typical car camping gear would have not only increased pack weight dramatically, but the size of the pack would have been enormous!

When purchasing camping gear, you might want to think further than the next camping trip you have planned, and think to the future and the way you might want to camp later on, and buy accordingly if possible.     



Key considerations before heading out:


I knew my limitations – I was no hiker.  Anything uphill was going to be a big challenge.
   
The overnight camp we were staying at,  was a walk which many hikers do, as part of a longer walk, and was an established route.  It was very hilly; not something I really wanted to hear, but taking my time, I believed I could manage.

The weather was checked, and revisions made to our intended destination.   Warm weather meant the hiking trail had been closed because of bushfire risk, so we had to re-think our hiking options, and find a hike that could be done without me expiring from heat exhaustion.


What was packed


Shelter


overnight hiking


Our shelter was  MSR Hubba Hubba, a 2 person tent, which we think is a tent that is suitable for good warm weather, and easy to set up.    It’s not the lightest tent to carry, but for this walk, it suited our needs.  Our model has now been discontinued though you can still get variations on it.

If we were going now, we would take something like the Big Agnes Copper Spur Ultralight, which is a good light choice for us.

Another option instead of the MSR Hubba is the Big Agnes Blacktail 3 person (which feels a bit roomier!) 


If it had been Hiker Husband alone, a hammock or something Ultralight would have been taken.

We could have saved weight not taking the fly (pictured on the tent above), but just in case of rain we did take it.   The photo below, shows the tent in its naked state.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Sleeping Mats

 


overnight hiking sleeping mat


A comfortable night sleep is so important, and this is one area where I wouldn’t skimp on getting a good sleeping mat - whether you car camp or not. 


We had the Exped SynMat UL 7 and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Ultralight.     Both of these mats are comfortable, lightweight and pack up to a very small size.            




Sleeping Bags


If you are not sure what to look for in a sleeping bag, here are tips to choosing a sleeping bag that you should read before purchasing.

I used my Marmot Plasma 15 sleeping bag as the night was to be cool plus its lightweight (864g).  Down sleeping bags are the best to purchase if you are going to be going hiking, as they compress greatly and really keep you warm (I had to sleep with it unzipped on this hike to prevent overheating). 


  • A good alternative to this bag in Australia (the Marmot mentioned came from overseas) is the Sierra Designs Nitro 800 Fill DriDown.   You need to look for something light, so down is the most common choice.
  • If you have a lot of money to spend on your 3 season sleeping bag, then the North Face Blue Kazoo is one you could consider. 
  • North Face too much?  Have a look at the Sea to Summit Traveller which is considerably cheaper, but still lightweight and down.


Husband used a top quilt by Hammock Gear.   He was originally going to hammock camp, but I thought it would be easier to share a tent for that night.



Backpacks


osprey pack


I got a new backpack by Osprey, and was keen to see how comfortable it was.   Maybe I should have tried it out a little more before I left – but it didn’t matter in the end, because it was comfortable and I wasn’t too weighed down.

If you need a good backpack (men or womens) we do use and recommend Osprey.  They are comfortable, affordable and quality (far better than some of the big name brands you find in shops with the same name as the backpack - be cautious when going to those stores in case you end up with backpack that is just not suited for you and very heavy). 

Check out the full range of Osprey here - lots of different sizes available to suit you and your needs.

Clothing


As we had checked weather, we could see that the night was to be cool but not so cold I would need thermals.

     
The clothes I wore on day 1 would also work on day 2, and a rain jacket was packed just in case there was a light shower.    When hiking, its all about layering your clothes - you can read more about how to do it at this site:   www.hikinglife.com

All clothing was quick drying and breathable (avoiding cotton).
  
I did sneak in extra underwear and a clean T-Shirt for the next day, which was a little luxury, and I didn’t care if it meant a few more grams!



Water


diercon water filter bottle


Keeping hydrated is vital and our Osprey packs had bladders which we could utilise if necessary, but as the walk wasn’t that long, we did not fill the bladders.  Instead we took 2 bottles with filtration devices, as we knew that the campsite had a dam – where we could use the bottles to safely filter the water.

Not every place is going to have that option available, so taking plenty of water with you is very important part of any hiking trip.   We were lucky to have some water options available to us.

We were also able to use the Platypus® GravityWorks™ water filter which we took, which allowed us plenty of clean drinking water when at camp.     This filter doesn’t take up any room, and is so handy!



platypus gravity



Just remember to take plenty of water with you on your hike and have a method to get clean water should you run out.




Cooking Stove



camping stove for overnight hiking


Having a hiking stove is a key item to consider.

We have a few to choose from, ranging from the complicated to the simple, and in the end we took the Evernew Titanium Burner and Stove, which runs on methylated spirits.
 
We were looking for a simple stove, that could boil water predominantly.    We were not doing any cooking over the stove, so some of other stoves would have been too big or too much for such a simple task  eg. Trangia





Food


camping and hiking food



I wanted to keep the food easy and fast.   I had tried some recipes out at home, but they hadn’t been a huge success so we took the very easy option, and got a dehydrated meal for 2 for our evening meal (and we had brought along bowls, mug and spork each).   See some of the range of yummy options here - cottage pie or spaghetti bolognaise 

Plenty of snacks too to keep energy levels high, but I didn’t eat much, as I was more thirsty than hungry.    I know how important it is to eat well on a hike, so I would need to consider that as an area needing improvement by myself for future walks.

And naturally coffee and milk (powdered and in small bag).      We did use the MSR Mugmate to get our brewed coffee.  Just because we are hiking and going lightweight, didn’t mean we had to drink instant.   For a full range of what sort of coffee makers you could take on your trip, read our story on the top 10 coffee makers for camping and hiking.  

A luxury item was packed – red wine.     We decanted a bottle and poured into this bladder and it was nice to sit around the campsite, and have a mug of red with our dinner.   

Purchase a wine bladder here and enjoy the good life when camping!


Hiking Poles


hiking poles


If you don’t have hiking poles, I would think about getting them for any trek.     They are a worthwhile purchase and they really helped me climbing down the hills, helping stabilise me.  When not in use on a hike, our packs have spots where they are stored.

You can see the hiking poles we used here if you are interested.


 black diamond hiking pole



Toilet items


i Pood



If you are going to go to the toilet in the bush, you need to be responsible.       In some places you are going to have take out everything – and that means your toilet waste!  Thankfully, I didn’t have to do this on this trip (not sure I am ready for that), but you do need to take a trowel and toilet paper. 

No toilets where we were headed, and when you gotta go, you gotta go…..

Never near a campsite, away from all water sources, and in deep holes, well covered up.  We used the Sea to Summit Pocket Trowel, which definitely does the job its meant to do!



Not so necessary items


chocolate for hiking


Lucky we were not weighing our packs religiously for this trek.    We were carrying excess weight in chocolate.     Have no idea why Hiker Husband packed so much, but was obviously thinking that I might have a chocolate craving of mammoth proportions and was afraid of my reaction should he fail to provide it in a remote location.

And of course the wine, mentioned in the Food Section above!   Wine is not a necessity apparently.


platypreserve



Another luxury we allowed ourselves was a comfort item….a Helinox Chair One.

Sitting around the camp at the end of the day (and for me, recuperating after the trek), we could have sat on the ground or a piece of Tyvek.   But we had each brought one of these chairs, and whilst they added to our pack weight, how great was it to sit in one of these and relax?


helinox chair



Overall, the first overnight hike by me was a success – I actually had a good time, and not having so much gear to think about, made the camping trip all about simplicity and getting back to basics (for me anyway).

I am under no illusions that I am some sort of experienced hiker - it's going to take more than 1 walk to do that!     There is no "Wild" book in my future where I hike the Pacific Crest Trail hike for self discovery..... though a subsequent book and movie deal is a highly appealing aspect.     No, that level of hiking is not for me.  


The above list of items that we took is far from comprehensive, so if you are considering starting out on an overnight hiking trip, use our key items as a guide, but do build on this list by further reading.   Additionally, I  had the benefit of going with an experienced hiker, which allowed me to relax and not worry about every single thing needed, as I had someone who was prepared.



Please note:  This story was first published in 2015 but has had updated links added to maintain accuracy.