You can imagine those treasured days: sunny, slightly breezy, a high of about 72 degrees, not a biting bug within a mile. But if you wait for that absolutely ideal weather before heading out, you’ll miss out on too many trips. The good news is that with the right gear and a little know-how, you can camp comfortably even when it’s rainy, windy, buggy, cold, or hot. Read on to prepare for any camping conditions—and open up a lot more opportunities to get out there.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Key gear for camping in rainy, windy, hot, cold, and buggy conditions
- Secrets of choosing the best campsites for challenging weather
- Skills for setting up your shelter in all conditions
It’s true that staying dry in a rainy campsite takes some skill—but then again, there’s nothing quite as soothing as the pitter-patter of raindrops on your tent. Here’s how to deal with the inevitable rainy day.
Any tent worth its salt will keep the rain out, but some shelters are better for wet conditions than others. If you expect rain, pack a double-wall tent, which produces less condensation than a single-wall tent. A model with a large vestibule(s) is helpful, too; it provides a sheltered spot for your boots and pack, as well as a place to crouch to take rain gear off, thereby keeping your inner tent dry.
A tarp is great in wet weather, too. Pitch it to create an extra dry space for cooking, eating, and hanging out.
And a packable, quick-dry camp towel comes in handy for mopping up any drips that make their way into your sleeping space.
You always want to pitch your tent on a flat surface, but that’s extra important in the rain because water will pool in any depressions (you don’t want to wake up in a puddle). Look for a campsite in a stand of trees for extra coverage if possible.
Raining when you’re setting up camp? If you have a freestanding tent, pitch it under the cover of trees, then drape the fly over it and move the whole thing to your campsite. Alternately, rig your tarp first, then set up your tent under it.
There are a couple of ways to set up a tarp. Pitch it like an A-frame (draped over a central line and staked down on both sides) for the most protection from the weather. Or rig it like a lean-to, with two corners tied off to trees or poles, for more room to move. Use the space to dry wet gear, cook, or hang out outside of your tent.
Make sure you get a taut pitch on your tent to prevent the wet fabric from sagging.