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Your camping trip shouldn’t be canceled just because of rain. Most tents are waterproof, meaning you can stay dry despite the storm raging outside. But there are things you can do to increase how dry you’ll be. Just follow these tips and you’ll be safe, and have fun, camping in a tent in the rain.

Can You Camp in a Tent in the Rain?

Rain should not scare you away from sleeping in a tent. There are a few things you can do to ensure you stay nice and dry, no matter how much rain is coming down. One thing you should remember about camping is to always be prepared. Don’t trust your weather app when it says 100% clear skies with zero chance of rain.

I’ve been caught in some gully washers while camping. It taught me a few lessons. One, nothing is worse than being soaking wet with no way to dry off. Two, always be prepared. Make sure you have stuff that you can use to set up a shelter in case an unexpected rain shower pops up. 

Extra tarps are essential when camping, regardless of the weather. Tarps can be used for covering the ground, keeping your feet from getting dirty. This is smart as you don’t want to track sand and dirt into your sleeping bag. You can also use tarps to create a makeshift shelter to shield you from the rain, or if there’s no shade, the sun. And it can help prevent water from getting into your tent if it does rain. 

Keeping your tent floor dry

When you’re out camping, you will have limited access to modern comforts. This means you’ll have to go old school if it starts to rain. The last thing you want is for all of your clothes to get wet on the first day of your four-day camping trip. There’s a few ways to keep water from soaking your tent floor.

There are some ways to waterproof your tent before you camp. Use a high grade sealant, purchased from any sporting goods store, on the bottom of your tent. Apply at least two coats, without waiting for the first layer of sealant to dry. You should repeat this procedure on both the inside and outside of the tent floor.

Once you get into the wilderness, there are some further things you can do. Before you even set up your tent, you should survey the campsite to find the best location. You’re going to want a spot that’s higher. Putting your tent on lower ground could cause you to get flooded out from drainage. If possible, find a spot close to or directly underneath trees. This helps provide you with some shelter. And it gives you a way to hang up tarps as makeshift roofs.

Tarps are Your Best Friend

Spread a few tarps on the ground where you’ll be camping. Each tent should be placed on top of a tarp. And it’s smart to have one in the middle for your living area or makeshift kitchen area.   By placing tarps down, you’re reducing the amount of water that will be able to seep through your tent floor. 

This means you’ll still have dry clothes, bedding, and luggage, even if it rains. And even if it doesn’t rain, you are reducing the chances of your tent floor being damaged by sharp rocks or twigs. An extra benefit of tarps is that you can use them as makeshift roofs to protect you from rain and the sun. So pack a bunch!

How do you pack a wet tent?

It is not recommended to pack a wet tent. Experts recommend waiting until the tent dries out. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. If the bottom drops out while you’re packing up, your tent might get soaked. Since you’re already leaving, you don’t have time to wait for it to dry. 

The method for packing your tent will depend on the type you have. If you have an outer fly layer protecting the inner wall of your tent, it’s easier to 

disassemble. The fly layer will protect you from the rain while you disassemble the inner part. This is usually easy to do while being inside the tent.

Because it’s protected from the rain, this part of the tent will be dry and easy to store away. The fly is where it gets tricky. A light rain doesn’t cause too big of a problem. You can just shake the water off the tent and store it in a separate bag. Shaking the fly won’t do any good if it’s pouring down. Just fold the fly and put it into a separate bag until you can get to a dry area.

But dry it as soon as you can. Keeping a wet tent can affect the standard factory waterproofing. And it could promote the growth of mold, which can be harmful to your health. When storing your dried tent, keep it in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight.

Should You Use a Tarp Over Your Tent?

Hanging a tarp over your tent is a personal choice, but in my experience, it’s a great idea. Regardless of what the weather conditions are like, a tarp can provide a lot of benefits. Not only does a tarp protect you from the rain, but it also shelters you from the sun. When you’ve been hiking all day, you’re going to enjoy the cool shade your tarp provides.

If you are getting rained on, a tarp above your tent will keep water from falling on the top of your tent. For those of you who are light sleepers, this could be a welcome benefit. Some people can’t handle the sound of the water hitting the vinyl top. It might take some getting used to. And it’s useful if you aren’t sure how waterproof your tent actually is. 

Are All Tents Waterproof?

Not all tents are waterproof. Most tents are water resistant, which is different than being waterproof. Resistant means the tent will be able to slow down the rain but some might still get inside. If a tent is waterproof, it means that the tent has been covered with polyurethane. As well as having the seams taped. 

If you’re in the market for a waterproof tent, consider the rating of the tent. It ranges from 800 to 1500 mm. The higher the rating, the more waterproof it will be. A 1500 mm tent, which is considered professional grade, can withstand 75 mph winds. This means you should have no problem staying dry in a 1500 mm rated tent. 

Don’t Forget Your Paracord

If you’re planning a camping trip, there are certain things you should remember to pack. Extra tarps are one such item. Paracord should be your second essential must-have.  For those of you unfamiliar with this 8th wonder of the world, paracord is a thick nylon rope that you can use for numerous things. 

You can use it to secure extra supplies to the outside of your pack for easy access. Don’t have a water bottle holder? No worries. You can make one. Strap broke on your backpack? No problem. You can use paracord as an alternative strap. Shoelace snapped? Paracord has your back.

When you need to secure a tarp to trees so you’ll have a roof, paracord can handle the job with ease. And if your clothes get wet, don’t fret. Paracord can double as a makeshift clothesline. Simply string it up outside, if the sun is out, or inside your tent, and place your clothes across it. This allows your clothes to dry faster than if you had them laying flat or crumpled up.

If there’s a possibility that you might encounter wild animals while camping, you can use paracord to secure your food up off the ground. This makes it less accessible to roaming animals, like bears or coons. And if you’re fishing, you can use paracord as a fishing stringer, allowing you to secure your catch until you’re done.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

As long as you are adequately prepared, a storm shouldn’t deter you from camping. There are some easy ways to ensure your campsite is prepared, just in case it does rain. Don’t risk believing the weather predictions. They aren’t always right. You don’t want to get caught in the rain without being ready. It makes for a miserable trip. Prepare properly, and even the rain won’t ruin your playtime.