I haven’t done as much camping as I’d like to over the last couple of years, but the times that I have gotten out with nature it’s been on some pretty wet days. I certainly enjoy camping on mild days in the late summer when lakes are warm, but evening temperatures are low enough that you still enjoy the warmth of your sleeping bag. However, camping in wet rainy weather is a different type of enjoyment. When wet camping I enjoy the challenge of trying to make it comfortable despite the elements. Here are 5 things that I’ve discovered to help immensely when camping in the rain.
Nothing is more useful when you get to your camp site and it is raining… or pouring. With some creative positioning and helpful tree placements, you can get some water shed for your tents and even for your fire area (just make sure the smoke has an outlet). Be aware of the slope of the ground you’re on. Try not to shed water onto a slope that will drain back into your main camp area.
I can’t express how useful a good length of rope can be while camping. Aside from normal uses – Tying food in a tree away from animals, hanging trash bags, tying up larger cords of firewood to carry back to camp, line for drying clothes or shoes – It is essential for creating good water sheds for your camp by tying well-placed (and properly angled) tarps.
I say hatchet only because they’re smaller than axes (allegedly) and thus easily to tote along. I don’t suggest cutting down trees and chopping up the forest with your trusty hatchet, but hacking off a couple bushy pine branches can be a great fire cover if you’re needing to cook or keep warm in a heavier rain.
Also, hatchets can be nice to have in case all you can find as far as firewood goes is some larger dead branches lying around. Remember, a well-built fire stays lit, burns evenly and doesn’t need constant readjustments. Cut your wood to suit your fire.
4. Waterproof Footwear
Whether it’s sandals, flip-flops, lake shoes or Vibrams Five Fingers just get some kind of footwear that isn’t going to weigh 10lbs when it gets wet. Take in to account your environment. If you’re in more of a rocky terrain, I’d suggest something that will protect your feet a bit better (ie – something closed-toed). Just realize that in most wet camping conditions, slip-on waterproof footwear will save you a few headaches. Tennis shoes are possibly the worst. They get water logged and heavy. If they get muddy there’s no easy way to clean them. You can get caught in the rain longer or letting rain into the tent longer if you’re messing with getting shoes on and off.
Caution: Combinations of Hatchet and Open-Toed Shoes is not advised.
5. Dry Fire Ingredients
It is sometimes overlooked, but if your camp area has gotten a lot of rain you will be hard-pressed to find dry wood anywhere. Rather than spend $10 on a cord of dry firewood at the convenience store 15 miles down the road – you can get a fire going if you have something dry to start it with. I don’t suggest soaking your wet firewood in lighter fluid, but I’m not going to say that wouldn’t work – It’s just cheating in my opinion. Bring along a newspaper and you’ll be able to get started. If you can find some dead grass or leaves they can do ok as kindling even if they’re a little bit wet. It’s important to build your fire right though. You want to protect your kindling and try to harness all the flames that it gives off. First to help dry out the other wood and then to get it burning. One large piece of wood that has started burning will help you more than 20 newspapers.
Bonus: Blanket or Towel
Although packing a blanket or towel can take up some precious space in your gear, when wet camping – you won’t regret it when you’ve got something to dry your head and feet once you’re snuggled into the tent.