After the hustle and bustle of your day job, spending the weekends outside isn’t optional. A little wilderness does wonders to recharge your batteries.
While rain in the forecast can discourage some campers, many have discovered that foul weather camping offers remarkable experiences you just can’t get on clear nights.
With the right gear, there is no need to cancel your plans. Instead, you can relax in cozy comfort, listening to the hypnotic sounds of rain on your tent.
Staying Comfortable When the Weather Is Wet
The difference between being miserable when hiking and camping in foul weather and being perfectly content is preparation. There are 10 bad weather items that makes hiking and camping in inclement weather a breeze.
- Tarps: Your tarp collection can make or break a camping experience. These versatile sheets of waterproof material can create shelter over your food, fire, tent and supplies. In many cases, placing a tarp under the tent makes a big difference in the warmth and level of moisture inside.
- Waterproof bags: Select waterproof camping bags in a variety of sizes. At the first sign of rain, make sure that things you want to keep dry are covered. Your socks, matches and sensitive electronics should be first on the list.
- Anything but cotton: Cotton clothing cannot keep you warm when it gets wet. Be sure you have plenty of layers made from other materials. Many campers swear by the power of wool, but there are also plenty of affordable synthetics to choose from.
- Rain gear: Lightweight emergency ponchos provide protection without taking up too much space in your pack. If you are pretty sure you will face rain during your trip, invest in a quality rain jacket and pants.
- Portable urinal: No one wants to talk about it, but the truth is that going in and out of your tent to relieve yourself on a rainy night is the number one reason your gear gets soggy. Consider a portable urinal to solve this problem — particularly if you aren’t sharing a tent.
- Waterproof matches, lighter and/or other strike igniter: Tarps make it possible to create dry space for your fire, but this won’t help if your matches are ruined by rain. Choose wind and waterproof matches or lighters, and keep them in a waterproof container to be safe.
- Emergency fire starters: It can be a challenge to get flames to catch on damp wood, and there is a limit to the amount of time you can hold a lit match underneath your kindling. Consider emergency fire starters, which will create flame under most circumstances. As they burn, damp wood dries and catches.
- No-cook meals: Your camping stove is handy for a hot meal in most situations, but wet weather is not usually one of them. While you might be able to heat water for a warm beverage, trying to cook a full meal can lead to frustration. Consider carrying some food supplies that don’t require cooking — and make sure that the packaging is plastic or foil, rather than cardboard.
- All-weather blanket or waterproof bivy sack: Camping in the rain requires special attention to sleeping supplies. You need to have covers that resist water and keep your body heat in, while still releasing the condensation from your breath, sweat, and any dampness than remains in your clothing. Standard sleeping bags don’t have all of these qualities, though they can be combined with all-weather blankets and bivy sacks. You are at greater risk for hypothermia while you sleep, so shop carefully for your wet weather sleep solution.
- Hand and foot warmers: Even when you keep your core warm and dry with synthetic clothing and rain gear, your hands and feet are easily chilled. This occurs most frequently when you expose your hands to the elements so that you can handle matches, tools food and similar. The fastest way to get hands and feet warmed up is portable hand and foot warmers. Some are disposable, some are reusable and all work quickly to make you comfortable.
Final Tips for Bad Weather Camping
Expert outdoorsman Aron Ralston knows that unexpected and potentially life-threatening situations are plentiful when hiking and camping in the wilderness. In his book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” which became the blockbuster movie “127 Hours,” he notes, “There are a million things we survive every day without recognizing we were ever at risk. Then we have a close call, and we become acutely aware of what that fraction of an inch or that split second means.”
Even if you are expecting clear, sunny days, be prepared for surprise showers. Before you go, re-waterproof your boots, as this property can break down over time. Check your tent for water resistance as well, perhaps in your backyard with a garden hose. If necessary, purchase sealant to reinforce seams and zippers. This ensures you won’t be troubled by leaks in the middle of the night.
Finally, make sure socks, matches and your emergency fire starter are protected by packing them in waterproof bags. These are the most important tools for staying warm, which is critical for preventing hypothermia.
A little rain doesn’t have to ruin your plans. With preparation and the right supplies, you can stay comfortable through any foul weather.