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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


  • if 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
  • 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 i 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 goods in two layers of waterproofing

keep yourself warm

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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 cloth under the tent as they just collect water
  • ensure tent has a bath design so waterproofing extends up the sides - many augment this by lining it with builder's plastic sheet
  • 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 - 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
australia/camping_rain.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/08 19:14 by gary1

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