If you plan well, you can have an excellent time even if you end up with a camping trip in the rain. We’re from North Yorkshire, so we know all about rain, even in the summer! In our daily lives, rain’s not a problem. After all, it keeps our stunning countryside lush and green, but a soggy tent and damp kit are not on my wish-list for a camping trip!
I’m a bit of a ‘Southern Softie’ fair-weather camper type, but the teen is game for camping in all weathers, so we’ve worked out how not let a little rain (or a lot) spoil our camping trips.
We learned the hard way how to ace camping in the rain
We had a very wet, windy camping trip to Scarborough, North Yorkshire which we (OK by we, I mean I) didn’t plan for at all. It was one of those “spur of the moment, I need a break now” types of holiday. As in “buy the tent in the morning, rush home to throw a few things in a bag and head off to the campsite that same afternoon”.
What could possibly go wrong?
The weather was horrendous when we arrived, but we survived to tell the tale. We had a few wonderfully hilarious mum/son evenings in our little tent, where we just laughed and laughed, and eventually, the weather brightened up. A little water doesn’t have to ruin your camping fun, but these seven tips for camping in the rain will keep you (mostly) dry and make your trip much more enjoyable.
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1. Check the Weather to Avoid a Camping Trip in the Rain Disaster
Our first mistake was assuming that the sun would be shining just as brightly in our destination as it was at home. We only lived 30 miles away from Scarborough at the time, and the sun was cracking the slabs at home, but England is famous for its changeable weather!
With the sky turning darker by the minute as we sped towards our campsite at the coast, I regretted not checking the weather forecast before leaving home. Then we heard an announcement on the radio that a major storm was brewing, with gale-force winds predicted.
Right on cue as we turned into Scarborough, big fat raindrops started to pelt down.
Lesson #1 learned: Check the weather forecast before heading off for a camping trip
2. Practice Putting Your Tent Up
It’s not much fun to arrive at a camp-site in the pouring rain with a gale fast approaching, just as evening is drawing in. And we had a spanking new tent in the car. Oops! Unfurling any tent in howling wind and torrential rain is challenging at the best of times, but a brand new tent? Sheer madness.
Picture the howling wind blowing half the tent across the site and the paper instructions ending up in a puddle.
Picture the very grumpy teen boy scampering hither and thither chasing down rogue tent parts.
Picture the rude words that were muttered. A lot. Once they’d had their fill of laughing at us, other very amiable campers came to our rescue. They’re probably still dining out on the story of the hapless single mum and her son camping in Scarborough!
Lesson #2 learned: If you’re treating yourself to a new tent:
- Don’t buy it the day you’re going on your trip (oops!)
- Have a go at putting it up at home first
- Make sure you have all the bits you need (and that you have extra tent pegs)
- Pop the instructions into a clear plastic pocket, then attach the pocket by string to your tent bag
- Feel super smug knowing you didn’t make a total pratt of yourself as I did
3. Pack The Right Camping Stuff
Packing the right stuff is essential to having a successful camping holiday. But what is the right stuff?
The right tent makes a camping trip so much better! Ask a tenty boffin type in an outdoor living store for advice or check out this great guide to help you buy the right one.
Something comfortable to sleep on
Yes, I fell for the complete lie that self-inflating mats are comfy (total rubbish) and that roll up camping mats are OK once you get used to them (Pah! Also garbage). I quite like functional vertebrae and soon learned that the ONLY way not to end up doing the walk of the tin man to the loo in the morning is to splash out on a decent air bed. Buy the best one(s) you can afford and your back will thank you for it. A lot.
Something to sleep in
Sleeping bags are great if you have them, but your duvet from home might work just as well (worked perfectly for us). If it’s going to be cold, your sleeping bag needs to be suitable for the season, and whatever you do, don’t forget to take a pillow!
Something to sit on
Fold up camping chairs work in and out of your tent. On rainy days when you’re holed up inside, you’ll want something vaguely comfortable to sit on, as the crossed-legged yoga pose on a cold floor gets old very fast.
Something to cook on and something to cook with
You don’t have to go crazy and blow the budget, but a teeny tiny ultra-cheap camping stove like the one we bought takes ages to warm up food. It was fun for a few days, but a stove like this wouldn’t be great for a more extended trip, especially when you’re cold, wet and hungry!
4. Pack the Right Clothes
When you’ll be out in the elements, preparation is vital!. The right equipment will make all the difference in the world. Here’s what you need to think about packing for a camping trip in the rain:
Waterproof Jacket: Even if you’re going camping in the summer, you’ll need a waterproof jacket you can wear over layers. If it’s a cool-season, you’ll need your jacket to be both warm and waterproof. Imagine that early morning/late night trek to the bathroom and then plan your coat!
Moisture-Wicking Layers: If you get wet when you’re wearing cotton clothes, you’ll get cold fast as cotton soaks up water like a sponge. It takes forever and a day to dry too. Do yourself a huge favour and leave your cotton clothes at home. Stick to fabrics which wick moisture away from your skin to keep you dry. The best
Walking Boots and Wellies/Crocs: If you want to avoid the misery of cold, wet feet and soggy socks, packing the right footwear is essential. Take it from a girl who loves shoes – camping is the time for substance over style!
Wellies/crocs are ideal for slipping on for a dash to the toilet block or shops when it’s wet. Wellies will keep your feet dry and warm. Crocs won’t, but they’re quick to kick off when you get back to your tent so you can warm up your toes fast. Walking boots are the heavy-duty option, but essential for those longer treks outside the camp when it’s wet weather.
5. Pack The Right Way
Number 1 rule: Don’t let your kit get wet! A water-resistant bag/rucksack is an essential piece of equipment. If your bag isn’t waterproof, line it with a large bin bag (and take spares to stow dirty kit in). Then pack your stuff into compression packing cubes or dry sacks for extra protection and to keep everything organised and easy to find.
6. Keep Your Warm Clothes Warm!!
Have you ever dreaded getting out of your toasty bed on a camping trip, because your clothes feel cold and damp in the morning? We did, and it’s not a good feeling. I’m shivering right now at the thought of trying to wrestle into a damp t-shirt!
You can keep your clothes lovely and warm by slipping them into your sleeping bag (or under the duvet) at night. Bingo – toasty warm clothes to wear. They might be a bit creased, but that’s so much better than damp in my book.
7. Pick the Right Pitch For Your Tent
It feels obvious to say to find a good pitch, but this can make or break your trip, especially if you end up camping in the rain.
Look for a pitch that’s on flat ground, away from any flowing water. If the site is sloped, pick the highest spot you can as water flows downhill and you shouldn’t end up camping in a puddle.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is your essential protection in case of illness, injury, theft, or cancellation on your trip. I’ve had to claim against my travel insurance several times and can report that it’s so much easier and less stressful when your insurance company has top-notch customer service. Having shopped around at first, I now only use World Nomads for their great value and excellent service. Older family members (aged 70+) swear by Insure My Trip.
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