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You wake up in the morning you’re all set for the big camping trip, only to face gray skies and a depressing drizzle. Is it time to call the whole thing off? Why would you waste one of the best times to be in the woods? There’s much to be said for true peace, quiet and solitude. Plus, the sound of the drops falling on your tent’s roof presents the ultimate cozy lullaby. However, you do have to work harder to stay comfy. Here are nine rain camping tips to keep secure and dry.
1. To Build a Fire
Probably the trickiest part about rain camping is building a fire in a downpour. Is it tricky? Yes. Can it be done? The answer is also yes, but it takes some skill.
First things first: you need cover. Hopefully, you prepared for your rain camping expedition by bringing some extra tarp. If not, look for natural protection, like a rock overhang. However, you must use caution starting fires in enclosed areas like caves, as the smoke can leave you fleeing and carbon monoxide poisoning poses risks. If you must, stick toward the center of the opening to minimize fume exposure.
Rainy weather can mean wet matches and non-functioning lighters. You can find waterproof containers, but it’s best to double down with cotton balls dipped in Vaseline or flattened milk cartons or cigar-sized newspaper logs dipped in paraffin to make resistant firestarters.
What about finding wood? Your best bet is to look for fallen branches still trapped in trees or dead-standing numbers that haven’t had time to get damp on the wet ground. Barring that, look for fallen trees with branches extended and cut down to the dry inner core. Tree species high in resin burn the longest and are more water-resistant.
Pro-tip: Look for birch trees. Although they aren’t particularly resin-rich, they have an oily, water-repellent bark that lets them take a flame, even if you just pulled them out of a puddle.
2. Socks and Undies
Damp clothes can make rain camping miserable. However, those closest to your body bring extra dangers when wet. Moist conditions allow bacteria to flourish, making it more likely that you’ll develop a skin infection. For example, trench foot can result in the blackening or death of foot tissue — it comes from standing around in soggy socks for too long.
Your solution? Bring plenty of dry socks and underwear. Although plastic is evil to the planet in many aspects, here’s one place it comes in handy — wrap your clothes in plenty of it. Just be sure to pack your wrapping out when you depart.
3. Tarps and Hammocks
A hammock is the next best thing to an RV when rain camping. Why? When you enclose that puppy with an overhead tarp, you’re elevated off the damp ground where the cold can’t seep through overnight.
However, you need to insulate all sides — most hammocks consist of netting that can leave your backside shivering by midnight. Pack an extra comforter for beneath you and a spare tarp for good measure. Suspend another tarp above your hammock to keep rain from getting you wet overnight, letting the sides hang below the netting to prevent blowing droplets. Just leave sufficient gaps for air at either end, and you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug.
4. Use Your Ride
You have to get to the woods somehow. Assuming you drove, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of car camping to keep you protected against the damp. Longer-bed models like the Chevy Tahoe let you move the rear seat forward and insert an entire air mattress if you so desire.
Another idea? Why not mount your tent to the roof of your car to keep it off the wet, soggy ground? You’ll also enjoy superior protection against snakes crawling in to share your body warmth during the night — which isn’t the best part of waking up, by any means.
5. Against the Wind
Pay attention when parking or setting up your hammock. Why? If your tent opening faces into the wind, you’ll enjoy an icy cold shower all night long. That’s probably not going to inspire good rest.
Instead, place your tent’s opening away from the wind when rain camping. You’ll prevent water from blowing inside, soaking your bedding and belongings.
6. Doff Your Dog Covers
It’s always smart to kick off your shoes before entering your tent, but it’s an absolute must as a rain camping tip. Otherwise, you’ll track mud all over your belongings, which takes longer to dry than mere water.
You might feel overburdened by tarps — but most weigh next to nothing. Placing one in front of your tent’s opening provides a place to take off your shoes before crawling inside. Please, always ensure you shake out your shoes to let critters escape before putting them back on in the morning.
7. Be Sure to Bring Many Towels
Another rain camping tip is to roll some extra towels up inside those waterproof tarps. You’ll need them to dry off after setting up camp.
Towels can also double as extra blankets in a pinch. You might look a bit silly, but wrapping one around your head like a turban makes a decent beanie alternative if you forgot your hat.
8. Look a Bit Silly
Here’s a goofy suggestion — but it makes a big difference on rain camping trips. However, you will look a bit silly. Why not try an umbrella hat? Will you look like a tourist? Probably. Still, remember the woods will likely be relatively empty, and the convenience of having your hands free while preventing droplets from blinding you will help you get your camp set up much faster.
9. Prevent Mold
Perhaps the ultimate rain camping tip is to protect your equipment after you leave. That means drying everything thoroughly to prevent mold and decay.
Here’s another place where all those extra towels come in handy — you can use them to wipe excess moisture from your tent. Hanging a lantern from the roof inside your shelter can also help dry it faster. Once it is as rain-free as possible, hang it out somewhere to dry.
Part of rain damage prevention starts before your trip. Use a repellent sprayed liberally on all tent surfaces before you depart.
Rain Camping Tips
Don’t let the rain spoil your camping fun! This weather pattern is often the best for escaping the crowds and enjoying true peace and quiet.
Simply follow the above rain camping tips to stay secure and dry. You’ll enjoy a peaceful retreat listening to the pitter-patter of drops as you sink into slumber.
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.