How do you set up a camping tent in the rain?

How do you set up a camping tent in the rain?

Weather forecast calling for rain? Here's what you need to stay dry.

The weekend of your camping trip has arrived and the forecast calls for rain. You’ve planned, you’re prepared, and now it’s raining?!

You may be tempted to scrap the trip altogether, but that’s not necessary. With a few pieces of gear and an adventurous spirit you can rock this weekend, rain and all. Read on to learn how to camp in the rain.

How to Keep Your Tent Dry

There are two places water can leak into your tent: through the walls, and through the floor.

Look for a place to set up your tent that is draining well. Never set up your tent in a puddle, as the water will continue to pool in that spot. Most campgrounds provide well-graded tent pads, designed to shed water.

To keep water from coming in through the floor of your tent, set up your tent on a ground cloth. Many tents have custom-sized ground cloths that you can purchase. If you don’t have one, a tarp will do. Buy a tarp that has similar dimension to the floor of your tent.

Lay down the ground cloth or tarp then set up the body of your tent on top.

This next step is crucial: make sure no part of your ground cloth or tarp is visible around the edges of your tent. You do not want the ground cloth or tarp to pick up rain and direct it under your floor. The purpose of a ground cloth is to keep your tent floor from touching the ground, allowing water to flow under the cloth. If you have an imperfectly sized tarp, fold over it’s edges and tuck it underneath the tent floor.

Now it’s time to attach your tent’s rainfly. A rainfly is essential for keeping water off the walls of your tent. Full rainflys – ones that go all the way to the ground – are best for rainy days. Be sure to put a tent stake in every available tieout on the rainfly, and pull the tieouts as taut as they will go. This will allow the rainfly to shed water quickly.

How to Keep Yourself Dry

Do you plan to hike or explore during your camping trip? Rainy days can be awesome for this. You may get lucky and have the trail to yourself, and pictures in the rain can be moody and beautiful. Plus, think about the cool story you’ll have to tell when you’re back at work on Monday!

Keep yourself dry by investing in rain gear. Great rain gear is waterproof and breathable, allowing you to stay dry from both the rain hitting you and your sweat trying to escape. Goretex is a well known brand of waterproof and breathable rain gear, but many companies have proprietary fabrics that also work well. Examples are “Dryvent” by The North Face and “Omni-Tech” by Columbia.

If you’ll be out for awhile in the rain, I recommend both a rain coat and rain pants (and a rain hat, if you really want to rock it). This doesn’t have to be a major investment: a rain jacket and rain pants from Columbia can cost under $100.

Tip: pack extra socks! Feet always get wet, and cold, wet feet are the worst.

How to Have a Rainy Day Attitude

Not every rainy weekend is meant for camping. If it’s going to rain buckets for 48 hours, postponing your trip isn’t the worst idea. Rainflys and rain gear can only shed water for so long, and being stuck inside a tent for two days isn’t likely the nature experience of your dreams.

During a week long camping trip it rained so much that I had puddles inside my tent. I spent hours absorbing the water into a camp towel and wringing it out outside. A good story? Yes. Super fun? No.

But if it’s going to rain off and on, water mixed with a little sun, then take it in stride. Bring a good book, a few games, maybe download a movie or two onto your tablet. Enjoy the sound of rain hitting your tent, then get out an explore when the clouds clear.

Rainy days often make for the best camping stories. A little adversity creates a richer tale, and a more vivid memory.

So, what are you waiting for? You’ve got this!

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