If you’re going camping, you’ll eventually need to make plans for camping in the rain. You’ll need to know how to stay dry, when to get wet and how to best store gear in the rain.
Camping in the rain can actually be a lot of fun! Worm collecting, puddle splashing, rainbow watching, blanket snuggling, there is a lot you can do with your family while waiting out a rainstorm in your tent!
We’ve collected a lot of tent camping in the rain hacks over the years and we’re excited to share them with you!
Tips for Staying Dry
First things first, tent camping in the rain is much more fun when you control when you choose to get wet. Trying to snuggle or sleep in a leaky tent is not any fun. So spend some time figuring out what gear you’ll need to stay as dry as possible.
Keep Your Tent Dry
Keeping your tent dry should be your top priority. If you have a good tent that’s taken care of properly, your gear should stay nice and dry during rainy weather.
1. Pitch Your Tent on High Ground
If your campsite is on a slant, you’ll want to pitch your tent at the top to prevent a wave of water trying to get in if it rains.
You’ll want to look at your campsite and avoid valleys and depressions when you’re choosing where to set up your tent.
2. Seam Seal Your Tent
If you have a cheaper tent, you may want to waterproof it and seam seal it before you go camping. Buy a seam sealer and go over all of the seams with it, especially the ones on the roof of the tent.
Read your tent’s instructions on whether or not it needs to be waterproofed or not.
Then once that is dry, spray a waterproofer onto the whole tent. The Coleman tent Momma Critter started out camping with was seam sealed but not waterproofed and never leaked in the rain.
The 2 Marmot tents we own now have never been seam sealed or waterproofed by us and have gone through some intense storms and haven’t leaked.
Test your tent in the backyard with a sprinkler if you’re not sure if it’s waterproofed.
3. Get a Quality Tent
Your tent is the most important piece of camping rain gear.
Our suggestion would be to spend the money on a quality tent (Marmot, North Face, Kelty) that is already seam-sealed and waterproof. These tents also tend to have a full rainfly instead of a partial or no rain fly.
We stay nice and dry in our Marmot tent even in a heavy rain storm.
4. Bring Rain Fly and Tarps
If you have a tent with a good rainfly, you’ll be amazed at how dry you’ll stay during rainstorms. We love our Marmot 6p Limestone tent, the rainfly is amazing.
Be aware of items touching the edges of the tent, but if you have a good rain fly this isn’t as essential. You never know when you’ll end up camping in the rain, so always bring the rainfly.
If you don’t have a rainfly I’d suggest putting a tarp above your tent to keep rain off your tent. Angle the tarp to the downhill side of the tent so when the water rolls off of the tarp it’s not going to go under your tent.
Make sure it’s not touching the top of the tent or it will quickly leak inside your tent.
If your tent doesn’t have a footprint, you can always fold a tarp underneath your tent to keep the tent floor dry. Always fold any excess tarp all the way under your tent. If you leave it sticking out, it will just pool water and funnel it under your tent.
Using some kind of tent floor padding is also a good way to make sure your feet stay dry and cozy in your tent.
5. Look at the Weather
It’s best to know before you leave if you’re going to have a gentle shower or a full-on thunderstorm. If it’s going to storm 3 out of 4 days, or rain with cold weather, we’d probably cancel the camping trip.
If you’re going to get 2 gentle showers while there, we’d still go as we’ve had some awesome times camping in the rain.
Have a plan for inclement weather before you go, that way you can either stay home or go and make the best of a rainy camping trip.
Momma Critter is still bitter about the time fellow campers opted to leave before breakfast because of a slight sprinkle of rain.
6. Bring an Extra Shelter
Being cooped up in one tent the whole time it’s raining can make any family a bit trapped. It’s best to have another dry area that isn’t the sleeping tent.
We use our screen tent with the sides folded down, but any other pop up shelter or tarp shelter would be great.
We love our Clam screen tent. It’s huge, it can fit a picnic table inside it and with the sides on it keeps the rain out no problem. We take it car camping because it is so large, but it’s an amazing piece of gear.
- SPACIOUS CANOPY SHELTER: 12.5 x 12.5-foot canopy, 7.8 feet at center height; Accommodates up to 8 people or can fit a picnic table and a few camp chairs.
- ADAPTABLE SHELTER: Heavy-duty removable floor and built-in wind panels that roll up, down, and zip on the sides.
Screen tents are great for many fun family activities during a light shower.
7. Buy Good Quality Rain Gear
The saying goes: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”. If you’re going to continue camping in the wet weather, you’ll need quality rain gear.
We have rain jackets and pants for the adults and a regular raincoat, rain pants and rain boots for the Tiny Critter.
In a pinch a dollar store poncho or trash bags will keep your child dry in wet weather.
Camping in the Rain Hacks
Most people aren’t excited to camp in rainy weather, but we see it as an adventure! If you’ve never tent camped in the rain before, here are our favorite tips and hacks to help you stay dry and have fun!
8. Plan Rainy Day Camping Activities
If you get cooped up in the tent all afternoon, you’ll need some games or activities to get you through.
Simple “would you rather” or story telling games can easily be played with no extra gear.
Snuggling up and reading is also an amazing way to pass the time on a rainy afternoon.
9. Don’t Use The Tent Bag
The one time our tent was still soaking wet when we left camp, we rolled it up in the moving blankets we’d put on the floor of the tent.
There is no point in attempting to wrestle a wet tent back into the tent bag only to wrestle it back out when you get home.
Wrap it in a blanket you’re ok with washing or put in into a plastic bag like a garbage bag.
10. How To Set Up A Tent In The Rain
If you have to set up your tent in the rain, set up a tarp first. Make the tarp higher than your tent and then set up your tent under it.
Even if you don’t want to leave the tarp over your tent for the whole trip, this is the best way to set up a tent while it’s already raining.
The best option for quickly setting up a tent while it’s raining is to get a instant tent or a pop up tent. They literally go up in minutes.
11. Bag Everything
Keep a roll of garbage bags on hand if you think it might rain. You can bag up everything, bikes, chairs, firewood, you can even use a large garbage bag as a poncho in a pinch!
A simple plastic bag can have so many uses, we always keep some handy when we’re camping.
12. Start a Fire
We try to start a fire as soon as possible if it’s going to rain. It’s much easier to keep a fire going in the rain than to start one after the rain is done.
If you can get a bed of hot coals going, that will hopefully help you when you start the fire once the rain has passed.
If you can’t start a fire, at least try to gather some dry wood if it’s not a heavy rain yet.
13. Use Dry Bags
If you think it’s going to rain a lot on your trip, pack your clothing and sleeping gear in dry bags. They keep your gear and electronics safely dry as you ride out the storm.
14. Avoid Cotton Clothing
“Cotton kills” is a saying for a reason. Get quick dry clothes or good rain gear if you’re going out in the rain.
Cotton clothes hold onto moisture for a long time and hypothermia can be a real concern, even in the summer.
15. Have Fun
If you keep a positive attitude, even camping in the rain can be fun. Go splash in puddles, collect worms or snuggle in the tent reading stories.
We’ve made some amazing memories tent camping in the rain.
16. Drying Out Wet Camping Gear
After wading through high rivers (water runoff), crossing vast lakes (puddles), fighting sea serpents (earthworms), and wrestling gnomes (kids) you have arisen from a glorious adventure triumphant! The good news, you’re home and you survived camping in the rain!
The bad news, all of your camping gear is damp, wet, or soaked. And, if you want to go on a camping adventure again (without mold/mildew/smell that is), you need to take care of that wet gear.
Below is a list of what you need to do. We’ve put it in an order we tend to do it in because it seems more efficient but work it all in however makes sense for you.
*Warning: Don’t wait on this. It doesn’t take long for things to smell, mildew to set in, etc. Please do this the day you get back. You’ll never regret it. If you don’t… there may be regret in your future.
Taking care of wet clothes is easy, just get a load in the wash. Thankfully you can toss a load in and walk away for a bit which gives you time to get on to the next thing.
We always wash our wet clothing before putting it in the dryer because everything tends to be muddy as well.
Get a load in the dishwasher. Sure you may not do this every time but take it as an opportunity to air out that camp kitchen and keep it nice. Again, toss it in and move on!
Drying Out Your Tent After a Rainstorm
If you can, you want to set up your wet tent as soon as you get home. If it’s still raining, consider setting it up in the garage or even the house. You don’t even have to put it all the way up (although we usually do) because you’re just trying to dry it out.
If your tent is muddy, you may want to wash it quick before the mud gets dried on.
Regardless of how you do it, just make sure it’s fully dry when you put it back and you’re set to go for the next camping trip. If you can get the tent out in the sun, they dry quickly.
Also, you don’t have to stake it all down (but don’t let it blow away either) because you’ll want to flip it so you dry out the bottom too! When you flip the tent to dry the bottom, make sure you have one edge staked down.
Check the instructions, some hiking boots can be washed in the washing machine. If not, use a cloth to wipe off any mud and then lay your boots on their side to fully dry out.
If you’re storing your sleeping bags correctly you are already at least pulling them out of the compression sack and putting them into a bigger bag so you don’t over compress the fill to keep the bag in good condition.
We tend to hang ours up so, if you do this too, you probably only need to put your gear away as normal. If not, hang the bags up for the day, hang them outside if it’s dry, in a closet, or even over your shower rod.
If you don’t have space to hang them and it’s still raining, lay them out on the floor and flip them after a couple hours. (Hint: You can put a fan on any equipment so it dries faster).
Sleeping Mats & Pillows
Easy. Do the same thing you’d do for your sleeping bag. Hang it, lay it out, get it dry, put it away and you are good for the next one.
Other Camping Gear
Get all your gear dry. The only way to keep things nice (in spite of the tiny critter… we can’t have nice things, I know… but we never stop trying!) is to take care of it. If the flashlights are wet, open them up. Dry it out, all of it.
The last thing anyone wants is to start packing for the next adventure only to find something doesn’t work or is in major need of a deep clean. That kind of surprise will wreak havoc on the excitement for the next trip.
17. Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know all of our rainy camping hacks, you can check out our top picks for kid’s rain gear and go scurry around!
I’m Molly Foss, aka Momma Critter. I’ve been camping since I was 9 years old and I always wanted to be Robin Hood and live in the forest when I grew up. I’m excited to share my love of camping with my son as he grows up. My favorite thing to do while camping is roast marshmallows over the fire.