Make camping in the rain enjoyable

Make camping in the rain enjoyable

This isn’t the first time someone has written about camping in the rain. I have read so many blogs which tackle the issue but one of the first things they often say is “if the forecast looks bad, cancel the trip”. I agree that wet weather camping is not something that the inexperienced camper should go chasing, and avoid it at all costs on your first time! But I reckon the sound of rain on the canvas is one of the most magical sounds you can experience when camping, and seeing as most people hate it; you could have the entire camp to yourself!

So how do you turn it from a negative experience to a positive one? Firstly you need to accept it. You have to know that you WILL get wet. Your clothes, shoes, tent/swag along with all the rest of your gear is going to get at least a little bit damp. If you embrace the fact and stop trying to dodge every rain drop you will have much more fun!

Camp Fire on Wellington Dam Caming Near Collie I consider the fire to be a necessity when it’s rainy as it improves spirits and keeps you warm. But lighting a fire with wet wood in the rain can be tricky sometimes. Try and get twigs to start the fire from the tree’s where they are more likely to be dry. If you still have trouble; a little kerosene or more readily available diesel (no petrol please!) will help your fire along. Once you get the fire going, stack the remainder of the wood around the fire in a ring to help it dry, and throw it on as you need it. If you are lucky enough to have one of those national park fire rings with the BBQ plates over the top you can swing the plate over to stop the rain quenching your fire.

The fire will help you dry out a little, but how about we try and minimize how wet you get in the first place. A good waterproof Goretex jacket is awesome here. My wife has one of these and while she looks soaked through from the outside, never a single drop ever gets through! A lot of people swear by the Driza-Bone jackets too, these are great for their length; helping keep your legs dry as well. Both these options are expensive though, and so my solution is to purchase a can of waterproofing spray from the camping store and soak my jacket and hiking boots in it. So far it repels light showers very well, but if you want to go wading through rivers in your boots you should bring some gumboots along.Rain Camping under ARB Awning in Margaret River, WA

Keep a set of rules in place. I have two sets of clothes on rotation when it’s rainy; one which I stay dry in at all costs, and one which I throw on if I have to venture out from cover whether they are still damp or not. If you get all of your clothes wet you are going to have a bad time. On that note, have an area in the car (perhaps a tub or large plastic bag) to keep all the wet and dirty gear away from the dry and clean gear. I also have a no wet or muddy clothes and boots in the tent rule. That one is obvious, but Alanna likes to break it anyway.

Toyota Hilux and Nissan Patrol shelterShelter is understandably the most important bit. We have an ARB awning on the Patrol which is great for a lunch stop or just a quick overnight camp. But if you are settling in for a bit longer or with a group of friends there is one thing you will need. Tarp City. A collection of different sized QUALITY tarps is ideal, lots of different length ropes or straps and a monster tarp (mine is 5mx5m) is awesome although it needs a decent team to set up. Position Tarp City as close to your fire as you can without being over the top of it. Now you all have room to sit around in camp chairs and relax, chat, cook meals, play games and stay warm and dry! If everyone does get bored, why not jump in the 4wd’s and spend some time exploring the area?

rain-camping-tarp-wellington-dam-collieAs for sleeping arrangements; this is the part that’s going to make or break the trip. Before you set up, take a careful look to avoid any low points or potential water runoff. Apart from cheap and nasty material leaking, the biggest problem is water pooling on the top or around the base of your tent/swag/camper and coming on in. If you are doing this in a tent, you can’t use a K-mart cheapie. Good heavy canvas, a PVC base which comes up the sides of the tent and an awning to leave your muddy boots and gear outside are essential to doing it comfortably. If you use a ground sheet, don’t leave any part of it protruding past the outside of the tent. This will collect water and direct it under your tent with nowhere to escape. Camper trailer and roof top tent owners have it the easiest being off the ground already, just make sure there is no slack spots in the canvas where water can pool. As for swag owners, read my tips for a comfier swag Here to get yourself off the ground and comfortable.

Of course, all of this advice comes from the perspective and experience of a man with no children. I can appreciate that camping in wet weather with children is an entirely different kettle of fish, but any advice from me would be coming from a position of inexperience. If you have a few ankle biters, and have been through a rainy camping experience with them I would love if you could share your tips and tricks from your own perspective in the comments.

Keep dry out there!


Alex Garner



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  1. Aaron Schubert
    August 02, 14:41 Reply
    The last few times we've been camping its rained for most of the weekend. As long as you are prepared there's no reason why you can't have a good time. It really makes you appreciate when the sun does show its face!
  2. Levi
    September 08, 21:22 Reply
    Love the article! The term "tent city" is perfect! Rugged Comfort has come out with a 18ft x 18ft fly tarp that can be set up with or without trees. It includes two 7/8" diameter poles to set the ridge line on top of and has proved itself over and over as the shelter to keep in a storm. Best thing about it is: packs down to the size of a 2-man tent. Super compact, easy to set up, keeps you dry in the wettest of weather. Great content Levi
    • Alex Garner
      September 27, 18:56 Reply
      That sounds like a good bit of kit mate! Tarp city is a common build for us, as we camp rain, hail or shine!

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