Pitching a tent in the rain can be difficult, especially if you have no prior experience. Besides inconvenience during the process itself, setting up a tent in such conditions might compromise ventilation and end up with severe condensation. Nevertheless, a few tricks would make your life much easier. Let’s figure out the secrets on how to pitch a tent in the rain.
Consider the following steps to pitch a tent in the rain successfully:
- Shelter the area with a tarp using a few tree trunks so that the working area keeps dry.
- Place your tent at the top of your backpack so that the rest of the stuff doesn’t get wet.
- Before stepping inside, fill up your water bottles and finish all the outdoor assignments.
- Leave your damp clothing outside to avoid condensation (under the tarp as well).
- Ventilate your tent to avoid condensation coming from the outside.
The steps of setting up a tent in the rain are no different than doing so in dry conditions. You should follow the manual instructions to get it right properly. Still, these tips would turn things much more comfortable.
1. Shelter The Work Area With a Tarp
If you have a tarp, retrieve it and set it up above. This is easy to do if your campsite is among the trees or near some sort of rock formation.
Things become much harder if you have no distinct sources of support for the tarp. That should indicate to you the importance of selecting the right location for your campsite.
As one might have guessed, the purpose of setting up the tarp is to create a roof that can provide a temporary reprieve from the rain while you work.
2. Organize Your Pack Wisely
If your campsite doesn’t favor tarps; in other words, there are no trees or rocks with which to keep the tarp in place, you can still successfully pitch your tent in the rain.
Of course, it will require added skill, but the task is hardly impossible. The goal is to make sure that the inside of the tent remains dry.
If you prepared for poor weather adequately beforehand, then your tent should have been packed at the top where you can retrieve it first without exposing the rest of your gear to the rain.
Things actually become more manageable once your tent is separated from your bag. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Even with the rain, the process of pitching a tent remains unchanged.
This is especially true for single-skin tents, double-skin tents (which erect as units) and flysheet-first tents. The interiors of such tents will remain dry even as you configure them.
Tents that pitch inner-first will present a challenge. But even here, once you form the framework, just be sure to prepare the rainfly before the canvas is fully erect.
3. Take Advantage of The Rain
Once you finish pitching your tent, fight the urge to run inside. Instead, first, finish every chore that needs doing on the outside. That way, you have no reason to rush back out once you get in and dry off. That includes filling your water containers.
4. Deal With Your Wet Clothing Properly
If any of your waterproof gear is wet, you can leave it at the entrance of the tent. You should also undress here, at the entrance, taking all your wet garments off before rushing inside.
Doing this in the porch of your tent is uncomfortable. But you must work quickly and swiftly. If you remembered to set up the groundsheet, this is where you will sit while you take your shoes off.
Keep your feet out in the porch while you do this. Some people will sit on the groundsheet with their wet garments as they undress, but this is highly discouraged.
5. Warm Yourself Quickly
With all your wet clothing articles off, find something warm to wear. If you remembered to bring a mat along, you are encouraged to sit on it to beat the cold. You can also take a moment to sort out the items in your pack. Anything that got wet should be moved to the porch.
6. Avoid Condensation Once The Tent is Set
At this point, you wouldn’t be faulted for getting warm and comfortable. However, don’t forget to count the condensation. With the rain taken care of, the condensation on cold surfaces will present your next most significant challenge.
But you can resolve it via ventilation. Find vents and flysheet doors that you can open without exposing the interior of your tent to water.
Additionally, keep your dry items and your sleeping bag away from the walls. Ventilation doesn’t always help, and you don’t want to wake up the next day to find that every piece of clothing you’ve brought is now damp.
How to Choose a Location to Pitch a Tent in the Rain?
When setting up camp in poor weather, the location matters. Keep the following factors in mind:
- The site should be elevated. The best-waterproofed tents won’t help you if your location floods. Most people understand the importance of avoiding valleys, the bottom of hills and any places were water tends to collect after a downpour.
- Avoid sites near water bodies such as rivers and lakes. These could overflow and make a bad situation worse. Some people lack the experience to identify locations that are susceptible to flooding. For that reason, if you can stray far from water bodies and then locate land that is elevated, possibly even on a gentle upward slope, you should be fine.
- Make sure that your campsite seats on well-drained soil. You don’t want to spend the next few hours or even days of your camping trip stomping through mad.
What Kind of Tent to Use When Camping in the Rain?
The best way to sleep through a downpour in the great outdoors is to invest in a waterproof tent. Naturally, people without camping experience tend to presume that all tents are built to protect against the rain. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The wrong tent will soak through just as quickly as any other fabric. Some will even flood if they lack the proper waterproof rating.
It is true that many of the tents you will find on the market today boast a so-called tub style that creates a watertight structure once they are erected. But even these might crumble under the weight of a powerful storm.
If your objective is to remain adequately dry no matter the strength of the downpour, then you need to invest in a double-wall tent.
These products have an additional layer of protection that will stand up to prolonged showers; they will even combat condensation.
Some experts encourage new campers to prioritize tents with vestibules because one is less likely to track mud and water inside. The interior remains absolutely clean and dry. Additionally, you are provided with a safe location that is protected from the rain to store any wet belongings.
What Should You do if Your Tent is Not Waterproof?
The ideal scenario would be to set up camp in a thunderstorm knowing full well that your tent is waterproof. In such cases, your only objective is to erect the tent skillfully.
Once you discard your wet garments and enter the tent, you can take comfort in the protection your tent’s structure will provide against the rain.
But what do you do if your tent lacks the waterproof rating required to keep the rain out of the interior space? This isn’t an issue of preparedness. Some people simply lack the funds required to invest in an appropriate waterproofed tent.
But in such cases, you can still go camping in the rainy season. You merely have to buy rain tarp. You need to locate a campsite surrounded by trees. That way, you can create a ridgeline above the tent and then throw the tarp over. Make sure that the tarp is secured at all four corners.
If you can configure your tarp appropriately, it will keep the tent below dry even in a torrential downpour, regardless of the tent’s waterproof rating. Do not forget to position a tarp under the tent. The tarp above won’t stop water from saturating the ground.
Can you Cook in the Rain?
This question matters because some storms can last hours and even days. So you don’t always have the luxury of waiting for the rain to stop so that you can start a campfire.
Can you cook at a campsite during a storm? The answer is a surprising ‘yes.’ However, you should never cook inside, no matter the size of your tent.
Not only this such practice hazards, but the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is quite high depending on your choice of fuel. Here’s what you need to know about cooking in the rain:
You need to arrange your meals beforehand. Pack them separately in waterproofed bags. The idea is to avoid opening multiple bags to get the different food items you might require. Keep all the food required for each meal together.
Consider Using a Stove
Even in the rain, you can use a propane camping stove. Of course, it helps if you have some waterproof gear. Depending on your budget and your needs, consider buying one of several liquid fuel stoves and canister stoves on the market.
The best models have a windscreen. Though, you can also improvise a wall to keep your flame safe from the wind. Some people would rather avoid the weight that a stove adds to their luggage. But you are better off preparing for the worst, regardless of the discomfort.
Keep Your Lighter Close
This goes without saying. Always keep a lighter on your person. Yes, there are waterproof matches on the market. But you should still keep a lighter on hand. It will simplify matters. And they are so easy to carry.
Tarps vs. Umbrellas
Tarps will solve most cooking problems that emerge as a result of the rain. But if you find tarps troublesome, then get a trekking umbrella. These items will keep the rain away as you cook.
Tarps are still the better option because they provide more room to maneuver. But if you must improvise, an umbrella will do.
Cooking in The Tent’s Vestibule
Most people understand the dangers of cooking inside a tent, although they believe the vestibule is the more acceptable option.
Unfortunately, for all the warmth and comfort they offer, vestibules still present a carbon monoxide poisoning risk. Only resort to vestibule cooking if you have no other choice.
Can You Sleep in Your Tent While It's Raining?
Sleeping in nature could be challenging, especially when you are far from home for the first time. It could be a little scary in the wild and falling asleep while it is raining might be difficult.
From my experience, it isn’t easy to ignore the sound of the pouring rain outside. Some of you might be exhausted from the trip and fall asleep right away.
Still, if you anticipate some hard weather conditions, I suggest that you bring a few ear tips to keep things quiet. Also, if you chose to hang up a tarp over your tent for protection, make sure that you place it in a pyramid shape.
This way when the water drops hit the canvas, they will slide right away and would be less noisy. If it’s your first time in the wild – try singing yourself a few songs to relax. The first night would probably be intimidating, although you will get used to it over time.
How Should You Repack Your Tent After it Was Raining?
So you have done setting up your tent in the rain and finally managed to fall asleep. Now, when the sun had finally popped out, it is time to pack up your things and go back home.
Before you do so, make sure that the tent is entirely dry. You should know that mold and mildew tend to grow over the canvas in damp conditions.
There are a few tricks which would help you remove the fungus from the fabric, although the best way is to avoid it. Let it stand in the open air for a few hours before repacking it into your backpack.
Also, make sure that you do not stuff it aggressively. When the fabric cannot breathe, it’s off-gassing process is compromised and you might get a sticky tent with damaged water resistance.
If you have a sponge or a dry towel – pass it over the canvas, inside and outside.
How Should I Hang The Tarp For Rain Protection?
A tarp would most certainly protect your working zone while you are setting up your tent in the rain. Still, it is essential that you put it right so that you avoid a few common issues.
First, make sure that you hang the tarp high. If your shield is too low, you will compromise your tent ventilation, and condensation would accumulate inside more quickly. For that, I suggest that you hang it at least 5 feet above your tent.
Also, if possible, dig an improvised tunnel beneath the tarp’s edges. To do so, you may use the heels of your boots by applying pressure and dragging your feet in the soil.
This way the water that slides off your tarp would accumulate inside the tunnel and would probably not wet your gear. I also suggest that you hang a large tarp to ensure that your tent and working area are entirely covered.
Make sure that you are familiar with the adequate ties that will hold your tarp tight. If you aren’t, I highly suggest that you read my article regarding 15 essential camping knots that are used worldwide.
A Few More Rain Protection Ideas
I have already mentioned the tarp technique, which is quite common and probably get the job done. Still, not all of you own it or know the necessary knots to hang it. Here are several more ideas of camping shelters that will protect you from the rain:
Even when you are not using trees to hang up your tarp, you could take advantages of their tops to cover you from the pouring rain.
Make sure that you pick a location which is dense enough so that you are entirely shielded. This trick does feature a downside – you would experience the falling water drops even a while after it stopped raining.
That is because the water tends to accumulate between the leaves and branches and gradually pour down. Still, it would be less severe than the direct drops falling from the sky.
This one would probably take the tent’s place; however, it would probably be wise to get inside a cabin when the rain is too harsh. Many campgrounds offer cabins in exchange for a small fee – depending on the number of nights you are willing to use them.
Make sure that you contact the campground customer service to order a cabin up front. If you are passing through towns during your hike, you might even find yourself a comfortable hotel for the day.
If you are facing some strong winds while it’s raining – there is a good chance that camping next to a hill will be on your favor. For instance, if you set up your tent on the east side, you will be protected from raindrops drifted by the wind from the west.
The downside here is that water tends to accumulate at the bottom once they slide off the hill and might flood your tent. It would be probably less ideal if it features some solid rocks instead of soakable soil.
Camping under a bridge falls into the category of using substantial buildings and structures to protect you for the rain. It could also be a roof in a campground, for instance.
Nevertheless, bridges are quite conventional when camping in areas near rivers or lakes. You could take advantage of it, although you should keep in mind that the water underneath features its own downsides.
When water evaporates through the night, condensation naturally builds up upon your canvas and compromises ventilation. Still, raindrops might end up with the same results, and therefore using a bridge for protection might again be reasonable.
Setting up a tent in the rain could be difficult, although there are few tricks to ease things up. The recommendations above are among the most commonly used and should keep your gear dry while avoiding condensation inside the tent.
After the tent is pitched, all you have to do is to lay down and chill – try to fall asleep and do not feel intimidated. The relaxing sound of the pouring rain might even be on your favor.
I hope my article was helpful to you. If you have any questions – let me know all about them leaving a comment below!