Ideally every camping trip would be filled with perfect weather. Sunny days, clear nights, comfortable temperatures and clear skies would all be great. Unfortunately, as I’m sure we all know, the weather is going to do what it wants despite our outdoor plans.
In fact, part of the beauty of camping is that you can only plan so far in advance for the inevitable curve balls that Mother Nature is bound to hurl at any camper. You pack the extra rain gear, and you’ll be cursing the sky for carrying extra weight in your pack. You brave the trails without the layers and you’re bound to freeze!
While we can’t control the weather, we can control what we bring and how we prepare. These bad weather camping tips will help you get through even the most ominous weather you encounter.
One of the most important tips: plan for bad weather even if the skies are clear and the meteorologist thinks otherwise. Weather can change at the blink of an eye in a lot of places depending on the elevation you are camping at and the time of year. Always bring your trusty rain jacket (or buy a trusty rain jacket) – the peace of mind is worth the extra weight or expense.
Be sure to choose a site for your tent that will not flood if the clouds decide to open up. That means nowhere near that scenic babbling brook or in that low area near the lake. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to wake up to flooding water surging into your tent.
If you want to pack an extra tarp or plastic roll to lay between your tent and the ground, roll your shoes into the uphill edge to create a bit of a barrier. This will help the water flow beneath the tarp (and your tent) while also keeping your smelly shoes dry without bringing them into the tent.
Like most preventative measures, dealing with bad weather starts long before you get to the trail. Be sure to have proper rain gear (jacket and pants) and start each day on the trail with your rain gear on top so you don’t have to unpack in the rain. Make sure to also pack a few dry bags (and ziplocs!) just in case it does rain while you are out in the woods. Use them to keep any electronic devices you have away from damaging moisture and they will make sure that you have a dry change of clothes in case you get caught in a downpour.
If you do get caught in a downpour, make sure to know the signs for hypothermia. It can happen even if it isn’t really cold out and is not something you want to put yourself through. If you think you might be getting hypothermic, get dry as soon as you can and get yourself warm. If that means abandoning your tent for the car then so be it!
Once the rain has cleared (which will most likely be right before you trip is over), make sure to dry out all your gear that got wet. You definitely do not want a moldy surprise the next time you get your gear out! Oh and one last thing, make sure to always have a pair of socks stowed somewhere they can’t get wet or cold. Pulling on a pair of dry socks after a soggy hike will make everything seem better. If even only for a few minutes.
Brian Belko is a writer for the nation’s fastest-growing web and mobile travel planning platform, Roadtrippers. In addition to writing for Kampgrounds of America, Brian enjoys writing for, as he puts it, his “own sanity.” When he’s not exploring wide open spaces or writing about them, Brian is an avid fisherman. He’s also proud to call himself a baseball fanatic.