The camping trip you’ve been waiting for all year is finally here, but when you check the weather, guess what? It is scheduled to RAIN!  Your hopes are dashed. You’re probably thinking, “How can a camping trip be fun if it rains?”  But what if the rain could actually enhance your experience? We tend to think that camping is only enjoyable when there are clear skies.  When we come back from camping in the rain most of the time we feel cold, wet, and miserable, and the last thing we want to do is give camping another try.  But by simply taking the appropriate precautions and making the necessary preparations, you can turn a miserable and wet camping trip into a beautiful experience you’ll always remember.

During the spring, Rock-N-Water has a living history program called 49er fun.  This program offers 4th graders and their parents an opportunity to have an overnight camping trip as they learn about the California Gold Rush.  Often when we have campers come out for these spring trips, it rains.  But the rain doesn’t put a damper on all the fun we have planned. In fact, many of the rainy trips we’ve had at our camp ended being full of more meaningful memories than on the days when the sun was shining high in the sky.

If the weather says it’s going to rain for your camping trip at Rock-N-Water, or any other camping trip you plan, fun is still possible! Here are some great tips that can help prepare you to make the most out of your trip in the rain and actually have FUN while camping in the rain!

Check the Weather: If Possible Reschedule

First thing’s first: It is always a good idea to check the weather before you go camping.  I know I’m stating the obvious here, but it is an important step to remember.  If you check the weather and you see that it’s forecast to rain then you can take the appropriate precautions to be prepared. Checking the weather before your trip allows you to know what to expect and what you should bring.

After checking the weather, and if you find out it’s going to be raining, it may be possible to reschedule your trip.  If camping in the rain is an adventure you really don’t want to try, there’s no shame in putting the trip on hold until the weather cooperates with your plans.  If you can reschedule your trip – great!  But if you can’t reschedule your trip, don’t worry, there are still plenty of great ways to make the best out of camping in the rain!

Make Sure Your Tent is Rain-Ready

A wet tent makes for a soppy trip.  Having a tent that keeps the rain out while keeping you nice and dry is a must-have for camping in the rain.  Most tents come with a special feature, called a rain shield, which keeps the water out of your tent.  As you pack your tent, make sure that your tent has a rain shield. It’s always a good idea to double-check and make sure the rain shield gets packed with your tent before leaving the house.

Another great thing to include when packing for camping in the rain is a tarp.  You can use a tarp to create a barrier between your tent and the wet ground.  Setting up your tent on tarp will help keep the wet muddy ground from seeping into your tent. When you set up a tarp under your tent make sure to tuck the edges of the tarp in to be flush with the tent bottom (or else you’ll create a “lake effect” and find your tent floating in a big puddle of water when you wake up).

If you ever come to our camp when it’s raining, you can ask any of the staff for a tarp and we will happily provide you with one.  We’ll even help you set it up under your tent if you need any assistance!

Wait for a Break: Set-Up Under Shelter if possible

Setting up a tent in the rain can be one of the most miserable parts of camping in the rain.  Not only are you wet but your tent is now wet and muddy along with you.  But wait, there may be a way to avoid this.  Often times rain comes in shifts.  If you don’t need your tent right away, consider waiting for a short break in the weather.  You just might luck out and get a break of sunshine and blue sky before the next weather system comes in.

Also, if you have the option, consider setting up your tent under shelter if possible.   Sometimes you don’t have any choice but to brave the elements and set up in the rain.  At our camp, we have large overhead tarps set up to keep certain areas of our camp dry.  On a rainy day some of these places are a great spot for setting up your tent and escaping the rain.  Just make sure you check in with your guide before setting up your tent under one of our tarps or you may find your tent in the way of a fun activity we have planned for your visit.

Be Strategic in Picking Your Campsite: Avoid Puddling Water

Picking out the perfect spot to set up your tent is one of the many delights of camping.  But when the rain comes it can turn a once-perfect spot into a not-so-pleasant spot. When you set up your tent, be sure to pay close attention to the ground and the way water settles on the ground.  Notice how the water puddle in some areas.  On uneven surfaces, the water will make tiny rivers in the dirt and it will puddle in certain spots.  If you sent up your tent in the way of the water you are inviting these tiny little rivers to run through your tent and make you miserable.  Simply avoiding setting up your tent in areas where water is flowing or where there is puddling can go a long way in making your trip drier and much more enjoyable.

Position Your Sleeping Bag Carefully

Your tent is meant to keep you dry but when the rain comes down hard, sometimes it’s impossible to keep the wet and cold out of your tent. Here is a tip that can help: When it’s raining, be aware of where you put your sleeping bag in your tent.  If you sleep with your sleeping bag touching the edge of your tent the water from outside can seep in and make your sleeping bag wet.  Simply moving your sleeping bag so it’s in the middle of your tent and not touching any of the outside walls of the tent will help you stay warm and dry as you sleep.

Bring Rain/Waterproof Gear: Improvise if You Have To!

If it’s going to rain, having the right gear can make all the difference.  Warm clothes are important, but warm clothes won’t do you any good if they’re soaking wet.  The best way to stay warm and have a fun time in the rain is to stay dry.  Make sure you bring any waterproof gear you have.   A rain jacket and rain boots are essentials for camping in the rain and staying warm.

If you don’t have any waterproof gear with you when it’s raining, there are some ways to improvise in order to keep yourself dry.  You can make a poncho out of a trash bag if necessary.  It may look silly, but it keeps you dry and if you’re dry you can be happy.  Many places sell disposable ponchos for super cheap.  They are small and compact, and a great addition to include on your list of things to bring for camping.  If you come to Rock-N-Water and it begins raining on your trip you can ask your guide for one of these ponchos and we can give you one.  We want you to stay warm and dry when you come to visit us!

Pack Extra Dry Clothes: Layer, Layer, Layer!

It doesn’t matter how hard you try; if it’s raining, you’re bound to get wet.  But that’s okay!  Getting wet and experiencing the rain is one of the greatest joys of camping in the rain.  But no one wants to be stuck in those wet clothes for the whole day–especially as night comes and it gets colder.  Make sure you pack plenty of extra clothes to change into when your clothes get wet.  Pack more than you need because as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Also, if it’s cold outside, the best way to stay warm is to wear layers. Pick something warm for the first layer, like a cozy flannel.  Make sure when you pick your outside layer you pick something waterproof. If your outer layer is waterproof than your inside layers don’t have to be waterproof.  Also (pro-tip here!), if you have any wool clothes, wear wool as your base layer.  Unlike cotton which makes you cold when it gets wet, wool wicks moisture and won’t make you cold when it gets wet.  I have a pair of wool socks and I am amazed at how well they do in keeping my feet warm on cold rainy days. You can head on over to REI to find a great selection of wool socks.

Dry Clothes for Sleeping: Wear Socks and a Hat!

Even if your clothes aren’t that wet, you should always change into fresh dry clothes before sleeping. Why are fresh clothes important for sleeping?  Whether your clothes are wet from rain or from sweat, when the morning hours come, the wetness that is on your clothes from the day before will make you cold and will probably wake you up.  No one wants to wake up cold and find that they aren’t able to stay warm, so put on some dry clothes before going to bed.

Another great way to stay warm when sleeping is to wear socks and a hat as you sleep. Studies have shown that the two places in our bodies that let out the most amount of body heat are our head and feet.  Sleeping with a hat and socks keeps the heat from escaping, which will keep you nice and toasty warm as you sleep.

Warm Drinks: Yes, Bring The Coffee!

Nothing warms the soul more on a wet day than a nice warm drink.  Who says you can’t have this luxury while camping?  If it’s raining, then that’s all the more reason to make something warm to sip on.  If you need coffee or tea in the morning, pack it!  If you have the whole family with you, plan on ending the day with hot chocolate around the campfire (or inside the tent if it’s still raining out). Make the best of the rain and camp in style by packing all that you need to make warm drinks and warm food.

At Rock-N-Water we provide hot coffee for our campers each morning!  On cold rainy days, we’ll even break out the hot chocolate! All you have to do is ask and we will make sure hot coffee is available for you during the day.

Attitude is Key: Rain is FUN!

The last and most important thing to bring when you camp in the rain is a good attitude.  If you tell yourself you are not going to have a good time, then guess what?  You aren’t going to have a good time.  But if you strive to see the silver lining and make the most out of the circumstances, you will most likely end up having a good time.  Of all the things you can pack in preparation for rain, the most essential is a good attitude.

We can all agree that drier weather would be nice, but even if it rains,  you have the power to make it a fun experience everyone will remember.  If you are a parent, your attitude about the rain will often dictate how your child feels about the rain.  When camping in the rain, look for the little things each day that makes the day special. After all, splashing in a puddle, playing in the mud, and seeing a rainbow are things you can only do on a rainy day.  One day you’ll be able to look back and reflect on this experience and hopefully, it will bring warm smiles and laughs to everyone.

Rain or Shine, Get Out There!

Don’t let a rainy weather forecast scare you anymore.  The next time you look at the weather and see that it’s scheduled to rain, don’t panic.  With these great tips, you can have an amazing time camping, rain or shine.

Do you have any great tips or stories about camping in the rain?  We’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments below.