Camping in the Rain

A good tent can keep you nice and dry, even in a major rainstorm. However, it is also possible for water to pool on the floor of a tent, getting everything sopping wet. I’ve done this to myself, and it isn’t so pleasant. Here are some tips for setting up a tent if it’s going to rain.

1) Put your tent on a high area of the ground. Low areas tend to collect water, and even if the floor of your tent is waterproof, if you put it in a puddle, the water will find a way in.

2) Put a tarp under your tent (or use a tent “footprint” which can be purchased with many tents now). The extra layer of fabric helps keep the moisture from the ground away from your tent floor. HOWEVER, the edges of the tarp need to be completely tucked under the tent. If the tarp extends beyond the edge of the tent, it can funnel water between the tarp and your tent floor, making an artificial puddle under your tent. The water will find a way in, especially if your tent is a little old and the floor is no longer waterproof.

3) Put on the rain fly for the tent. This allows the tent to shed water off the sides (and hopefully NOT onto the tarp under your tent ;). Some summer tents do not have very good rain flies, and it’s harder to stay dry in them. Thus, as for most things, having appropriate equipment is best – although that just isn’t always the case.

4) Stake out the rain fly. If the rain fly is tight and away from the inner surface of the tent, any water that gets through the fly or condenses on it, is more likely to run down the fly and onto the ground (and hopefully NOT onto the tarp under your tent) rather than get the tent material wet. When the tent material gets wet, it is likely to drip on you.

5) If you are worried that your tent is not sufficiently waterproof for the weather, it is wise to put things you want to keep dry in waterproof bags (or in the car). Garbage bags work.

6) If water is coming into your tent, it is best if you can get it to pool in one corner and then stay away from that corner. Water flows downhill, so it can help if your tent is on a little bit of a slope.

7) Keeping your sleeping bag dry is important. Unfortunately, this can be hard to do if the inside of your tent is very wet. If your tent is dripping a lot, putting something waterproof over your bag can help (like your raincoat or a garbage bag). Having a synthetic sleeping bag that stays warm when it is wet is nice.