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How to stay dry in the rain while camping

Perhaps the weather forecast changed for the weekend you planned to go camping or a freak rain store comes through unexpectedly.  The good thing is,  rain does not have to ruin your camping trip.  Following these tips for camping in the rain will ensure you enjoy your camping experience.

Pack Extra Tarps:  Tarps come in handy during any type of weather on a camping trip.  If a rainstorm does invite itself to your camping weekend, then having an extra tarp will be a blessing.  Tarps can be used to cover supplies, create an additional shelter area, or as an extra layer to the bottom of your tent.  You can even hang a tarp over your tent as another layer of protection from the rain.

Tighten Guidelines on Your Tent:  Tension on your tent will prevent water from pooling on the surface on your rainfly, allowing for proper dispersal.

Pack a Bivy Bag:  Putting your sleeping bag inside a bivy sack will keep you warm and dry when the ground gets wet and cold.  The extra layer of insulation will also prevent your bag from getting wet if any water gets in your tent.

Create an Outdoor Living Space:  If you are expecting rain, then use an additional tarp or a pop-up canopy to set up a dry-zone.  This common area can serve as the “living room” to prep food, lounge, and hang out with your friends.  This will also prevent people in your group from just hunkering down in their private tents when it is raining.

Set Up a Clothesline:  Just don’t throw your wet clothes in a ball in the corner of your tent.  Create an area where you can hang your wet clothes before going to sleep.  String up the clothesline under a tarp or inside your tent’s vestibule.  Additionally, placing damp clothes at the bottom of your sleeping bag helps them dry quicker overnight.

Make the Most of Ziploc Bags: If you know there is a chance of rain, then plan ahead and store important items such as clothing, medicine, or electronics in ziploc bags.  This extra layer of protection will limit the likelihood of any additional problems from the rain.

Keep Dry Wood Under Your Car:  If you don’t have a tarp to cover the fire wood, store wood under your car.  Ensuring that you have dry wood is a priority if you want to have a campfire.

Choose the Right Campsite:  Finding a suitable location to pitch your tent is one of the first things you’ll do when arriving at the campground.  If the weather is calling for rain, you will want an area at higher elevation since water runs downhill.  You don’t want to pitch your tent in an area that will puddle easily.  Though not ideal, a slightly sloped area will help decrease the chances of a water puddling under your tent.

Be Mindful of Your Tent’s Door:  Placing the door of your tent opposite the direction the wind will lessen the chance of rain coming in when you open the tent door.

Keep Power Food Handy:  When we get wet, we tend to get cold.  Our bodies need extra calories to stay warm.  Pack foods that are high in carbs such as nuts, sunflower seeds, beans, and raisins.  Let’s not forget the power of a nice mug of hot chocolate to warm us up at the campsite.

Pack a Few Old Newspapers:  Dry newspaper can be placed inside your wet shoes to speed up the drying process; the newspaper will help suck out the moisture. Newspapers also work well for getting a fire started if you’re having trouble finding dry kindling.

Stay Positive:  Like any activity, the more positive you are the better the experience will be.  Keep a good attitude and don’t let the rain ruin your camping trip.  Enjoy the sounds of nature from a different perspective.  Also, break out your camera, rain does wonderful things to the forest.

Quick tips for cold weather camping

Just in case the weather forecast changes for your weekend camping trip, we want to offer a few basic tips for keeping warm on a cold night in a tent.

Get off the Ground:  Sleeping on a cold ground causes our body temperature to drop.  Be sure to use a sleeping mat or an inflatable mattress under your sleeping bag.  Add an extra blanket underneath you, not just on top of you.  You can also use your sleeping mat to sit on when hanging around the campfire to stay warm.  

Pack Fire Starters:  Starting a fire can be a slow process, especially for beginner campers.  Bringing along easy-to-use and waterproof fire starters will help you get the campfire going to warm you up.

Make Use of Extra Clothes:  Other than wearing extra layers to keep you warm, pack unworn clothes into the bottom of your sleeping back to increase insulation.  This reduces the amount of space in your bag, which better traps your body heat.

Eat Food for Warmth:  Increase your calorie intake to keep your body warm.  So snacking often and eating hearty meals provides your body with the fuel it needs to generate heat. High-fat and high-protein foods burn slower than high-carb meals, and keep you sustained longer throughout the night.  

Fill a Bottle with Hot Water:  Holding the bottle of water water or tea close to your tummy or between your legs will really heat you up, but be careful—the bottle will initially be quite hot.

Position your Tent for Early Morning Sun:  We all know how great it is to feel that warm morning sun on our face.  When you pitch your tent pay attention to where the sun will rise and if there are any trees blocking the sunshine.

Pee When You Need To Pee:  Staying hydrated will keep you comfortable throughout the day but will lead to an increase in bathroom trips, especially at night.  Extra fluids in your body actually keep your cool so going to the bathroom will actually warm you up.  So, if you need to go at night, don’t wait, just go. It will prevent the rest of your body from cooling more and you will sleep better during the rest of the night.

Further Reading: 9 Winter Hiking Tips for Your Next Cold Weather Adventure

Activities to do while camping

Camping activities don’t just include collecting firewood, cooking, eating, and cleaning. Sure a majority of your time may be spent simply relaxing and enjoying nature, but if you are camping with friends and family you may need some activities to keep everyone entertained. 

Here are some camping activities that you can do around the campsite:

  • Conversation Games are a great way to get to know one another. Some common games are: Never Have I Ever, Two Truths and a Lie, Would You Rather.
  • Classic Games are your traditional card games, board games, and the like. These include: Charades, Slapjack, Bullshit, Spoons, Spades, Taboo, Scattergories.
  • Explore the surrounding areas of your campsite.  No matter how many times you’ve been camping, you are sure to be entertained by the natural environment. Climb a tree, wade in a nearby stream, look for signs of wildlife; the possibilities are endless. Perhaps bring binoculars along and go bird watching or search for frogs at night with a flashlight.
  • Active games allow you to burn off energy in a fun and exciting way. Play Capture the Flag, release your inner child with a game of Hide and Seek, or set up a slackline.
  • Whittling is a great pastime for those who want to be creative and craft something. Consider carving your own walking stick or wooden utensils to be used around the campsite.
  • Stargazing is one of the most rewarding and relaxing activities when camping. Most campsites are far enough away from light pollution, allowing the stars to illuminate the night sky. Lay down, relax, and simply enjoy the quietness. For additional learning, print out a star map (or download an app on your phone) and start spotting constellations.
  • Read a book or write in a journal. Take advantage of this downtime and bury your nose in a cool novel. Reflect on your experience or jot down notes in a journal about your current state of mind.
  • Practice photography. Get creative with your camera and learn about different exposures and nighttime settings. You can get some really cool photographs with the night sky and the light of the campfire.
  • Storytelling and singalongs are a great way to bond with friends. Bring a musical instrument or share your favorite scary story around the campfire.

Camping guidelines all campers should follow

Whether hiking and camping in National Parks or overnighting in a private campground, we as travelers must do our best to preserve the locations we visit. Fortunately, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has formulated 7 Principles that provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. These principles can be applied anywhere – from remote wilderness areas to local parks, to Under30Experiences hiking and camping trips.  

Some common guidelines that all campers should follow are as follows:

  • Always plan ahead
  • Always prepare
  • Camp and travel on durable surfaces such as rock, sand, gravel, and dry grasses
  • Always dispose of waste in proper containers or pack out all your waste
  • Leave your campsite the way you found it or better if possible
  • Minimize camp impact by camping on established campsites and walking only on trails
  • Be respectful of wildlife, and never fed or attempt to touch wild animals
  • Respect other campers and visitors

Following the unspoken rules of camping, including respecting both the natural environment and fellow travelers, will help ensure you not only have a great experience but that you will be playing your part in helping others enjoy a similar experience.

As we close this beginner’s guide to camping we want to share a few additional guidelines, more of the “Dos and Don’ts” of camping:

  • Don’t be overly ambitious. If you step too far out of your comfort zone, you may end up having a disastrous experience and never gain the courage to give camping a second try. Keep it simple on your first trip. Maybe even camp out in your backyard for a night.
  • Do allow enough time to set up and breakdown camp. Arrive early to your camping destination with enough daylight to organize everything properly. On the flip side, no need to rush home on the final day. Enjoy the scenery and take in all that you can before returning to your normal daily grind.
  • Don’t expect the comforts of home. Some camping locations may lack the facilities you prefer. To avoid complaints and disappointment, try to be more positive. Think of practical solutions to make your camping experience an enjoyable one.
  • Do check the campsite policies and facilities. Never bring things that are not allowed into the campsite such as alcohol or pets, and don’t build a fire if it is prohibited.
  • Don’t keep busy with your smartphone. Our attachment to our tech devices should be left at home. You come out to nature to get away from it all. Leave the phone in the car and put it on silent or turn it off.
  • Do explore the area and take advantage of the natural resources nearby. Turnover logs and look for critters, skip stones in the lake, climb a tree, or bushwhack up the mountain. Let the adventurer in you come out!
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