This protip is organized into 2 sections: 1) gear and 2) practical advice for how to camp and hike in the rain. Thanks to the good folks at Hipcamp, who helped greatly with this protip! Check out Hipcamp, the easiest way to book your next camping adventure, here.
Good campers and backpackers should always be prepared for inclement weather. Some popular trails and wilderness destinations are criss-crossed by microclimates, such that literally it can be raining in one square mile and sunny in another. Here are some important gear considerations
- Rain clothes: rain jacket with hood, rain pants, waterproof hiking boots, (gaiters are also great if you’re expecting a ton of rain)
- Synthetic layers: just like we mentioned in the protip for gear you need for skiing, cotton stays wet
- Extra clothes: so you can change into something dry at camp
- Sandals or flip flops: wet feet & socks is not fun and can lead to blisters
- Rain cover or water-tight bags for your camera/electronics (speaking from personal experience, even if you have a professional rain cover, there is condensation risk, so you may want to put nice devices away for good once the rain picks up)
- Backpack rain cover: keeps your gear and clothes dry
- Large tarp(s)& extra ropes: string high across tree branches and provide overall camp shelter
- Rainfly for your tent
- A larger tent: since you might spend significant time indoors
- Gas stove: a warm meal and/or beverage like hot tea or coffee does wonders for wet weather morale & hypothermia prevention
GOOD TO HAVE:
- Towels: preferably the lightweight, microfiber kind since they also dry quickly
- Plastic bags: a million uses to keep things dry, bring sturdy ones!
- Reflective blankets: helpful whenever there’s a risk of hypothermia
- Newspaper: good for kindling when the forest is wet
Of course, if you’re renting from Last Minute Gear, we help you stay prepared as much as possible; so our backpacks include rain covers and our tents have rainflies.
Tips for camping and hiking in the rain
What if you're suddenly caught without gear and it starts raining? Honestly, find you way home as soon as you can. A mildly unpleasant scenario can become dangerous in the backcountry.
If you haven't left yet, seriously consider whether or not you want to go. I get it, you planned so long for this trip. But honestly, depending on the weather, you may end up being cooped in a tent with nothing to do. Staying home and dry is probably more fun than that!
For the more adventurous (and prepared!), camping in the rain is also one of those experiences where once you’ve done it, every other kind of camping feels much easier. So if you’re going for it it, here are our tips:
- FIND A GOOD CAMPSITE
PITCH A DRY TENT
- Do find high, flat ground: you do not want to set up camp in an area that could turn into a puddle or on a slope where water will just roll right in
- Don't set up on a slope where water can roll in, a depression that can turn into a puddle, or in areas near rivers/ streams, which may flood
HIKE WITH EXTRA ATTENTION
- Set up a tarp overhead, preferably over the entire campsite if possible, or hold the tarp overhead. If you don’t have a tarp, do this with the rainfly
- Consider tying guy lines in advance, at home, to minimize time exposure to the rain
- Keep the rainfly taut and away from the walls of the tent, and avoid accidentally pushing the tent wall out from the inside. If a wet rainfly touches the wall of the tent, water will seep inside from the contact
- Ensure the tent is well ventilated to prevent condensation from building inside the tent
- Don’t set a ground cloth; water may pool and seep into your tent, which is not good. Instead, consider bringing the ground cloth inside and using it as an extra layer of protection from the damp floor
- Water crossings: both because of flood risk and because the water will be running much faster
- Rocky trails: rocks can become very slippery when just a little damp
- Bare, dirt paths: if trails become muddy, this also will make them extra slippery
- Hypothermia: know the signs and watch out for one another
- Drinking water: as with being in the cold, being in the rain often makes us forget we’re thirsty
When you get back, remember to air out your gear immediately (set up a tent and let it dry off that way, don't just spread it out on the ground) to prevent mold or mildew from ruining it.