“Anyone can camp when the weather is nice…but you understand who you are as a backcountry traveler if you can not only survive but thrive in inclement weather”, says Marco Johnson, 35 years old instructor at National Outdoor Leadership School. Camping sounds fun in clear skies, starry and clear nights, moderate temperature and sunny days. Despite all our choices, nature has its own plans and cannot be altered as a matter of fact. So even if the weather sounds downer, the right attitude and skills can help you have a great experience when everyone else decides to head to the car. In fact, part of the beauty of camping is that you can only plan so far in advance for the inevitable curveballs that Mother Nature is bound to hurl at any camper.
Here are some tips that would help you enjoy camping in bad weather and not be miserable:
1. Check The Weather Forecast:
The most spruce thing one can do before planning a trip or camping is to check the weather forecast. 50% or higher chances of rain suggest that it’s a pretty safe bet that it will rain. So, it may be better to reschedule your trip to a non-shower day if possible, or if you have some other outdoor plans involved as well. Nevertheless, rain in the forecast may sometimes just be occasional showers, so don’t be absolutely put off by an erratic forecast!
Be sure to check for a few major things in a forecast: wind speeds, temperature highs and lows, precipitation chances and amounts, and lightning as these increase the dangers of hiking and camping. Each of these have specific dangers and precautions that may require you to alter your plans. You should always be prepared for high winds, low temps, high temps, rain, and lightning, even if the forecast is beautiful.
2. Buy A Good Tent With Taped Seams
The first thing to consider before going on an outdoor family trip is to have a decent tent, that prevents leakage, is durable and high performance. Your tent choices can vary by use case. You may want to look for the best family tents for bad weather if with your family, or if you are by yourself and backpacking, you may want to look for a budget backpacking tent. Look for a tent with taped seams, a double skin and waterproof outer layer. Do check the hydrostatic head range and opt for the one having anything more than 3000. We go into detail about what to look for in a tent in our budget backpacking tents article.
3. Have Waterproof Clothing
Camping is not as easy as staying at a hotel or or AirBNB. Before you go camping, make sure to have proper preventive measures and gears to stay waterproof. Tarps, Ziploc bags, waterproof boots and jackets serve as the best option. While the waterproof shoes and waterproof boots can be expensive, you can appreciate that if you have ever walked with waterlogged feet, the extra cost is certainly worth it if you intend to camp purposely in the rain.
4. Line Things With Trash Bags:
The least expensive trash bags and air-tight Ziploc bags are easy to pack and are great backups for gear and items that aren’t waterproof. These can not only prevent drenching of items but can help store already wet items such as soaking shoes or clothes, reducing chances of other things getting wet. Also, place an extra layer of lining inside and underneath your tent to keep any moisture from seeping through. Tent footprints are always recommended, but a tarp or trash bag can work.
Bonus tip: Line your backpack with a trash bag on the inside and suddenly you have created a large waterproof compartment.
5. Set Up Your Tent On High Ground
As a natural fact, rainwater moves down to lower ground areas when it rains, so set up your camp as high as possible in order to avoid sudden surprises such as waking up in a puddle. Do not camp near a scenic babbling brook or in that low area near the lake. Else, ran will cause the water level to rise and surely you would not like sharing your tent with fish.
Even a hill side next to your tent can cause a lot of runoff and make your night miserable. Find high spots, or where water isn’t likely to run. Be extra careful about camping near rivers where water levels can rise.
6. A Sleeping Pad Is A Must
Camping in bad weather is all about keeping a keen eye on what you do to keep yourself warm and cozy for a night of better sleep, because lack of sleep may disrupt the joy of camping. To keep you snug, make sure that a barrier exists between your sleeping bag and the ground. Also, add some extra clothing layers and hot drinks and warmers to avoid any sort of inconvenience. A sleeping pad is an absolute must, really for any weather, but especially for bad weather camping.
7. Embrace The Wetness:
Regardless of the instruments and gear you have, commit to enjoying in this bad weather and understand that it is okay to get wet. Do not let this rain refrain you from making smart choices. Believe that sometimes storms can be good as well. Moreover, the pitter-patter of rain hitting the tent can be incredibly relaxing. Just grab a hot drink and enjoy the beautiful adventure of life.
An unexpected downpour can happen anywhere, anytime as per nature rules. So preparing yourself for the worst-case scenarios is the best option. Keep your wits about you, sleep well, prepare yourself well, pack useful and sit back while enjoying the sudden surprises of nature.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about