How To Deal With Rain When Camping

This protip is organized into 2 sections: 1) gear and 2) practical advice for how to hike in the rain. Thanks to the good folks at Hipcamp, who helped greatly with this protip and offer the easiest way to book your next camping adventure.

Rainbow over forest

Gear to pack

Good campers and backpackers should always be prepared for inclement weather. Some popular trails and wilderness destinations are criss-crossed by microclimates, such that literally it can be raining in one square mile and sunny in another. Here are some important gear considerations. When you get back, remember to air out your gear immediately (set up a tent and let it dry off that way, don't just spread it out on the ground) to prevent mold or mildew from ruining it. If you'd rather not have to deal with this yourself, considering renting a tent instead from Last Minute Gear!

Critical gear

  • Rain clothes: rain jacket with hood, rain pants, waterproof hiking boots (gaiters are also great if you’re expecting a ton of rain), and remember when wearing clothes, to manage condensation! For much more detailed info, check our ultimate guide to outdoor clothing
  • Extra clothing: so you can change into something dry at camp
  • Sandals or flip flops: wet feet & socks are not fun and can lead to blisters
  • Form-fitted covers or dry bags for your camera/electronics (speaking from personal experience, even if you have a professional rain cover, there is condensation risk, so you may want to put nice devices away for good once the rain picks up). You can rent dry bags from Last Minute Gear
  • Backpack rain cover: keeps your gear and clothes dry, check out our specific gear guide on backpack protection, you can rent backpack covers from Last Minute Gear
  • Large tarp(s) & extra ropes: string high across tree branches and provide overall camp shelter
  • A larger tent: since you might spend significant time indoors. To size up for a single trip, consider renting a tent!
  • Rainfly for your tent
  • Gas stove: a warm meal and/or beverage like hot tea or coffee does wonders for wet weather morale & hypothermia prevention. Renting a stove is a great option to save money

Good-to-have gear

  • Towels: preferably the lightweight, microfiber kind since they also dry quickly
  • Plastic bags: a million uses to keep things dry, bring sturdy ones!
  • Handwarmers
  • Reflective blankets: helpful whenever there’s a risk of hypothermia
  • Newspaper: good for kindling when the forest is wet

Of course, if you’re renting camping gear from Last Minute Gear, we help you stay prepared as much as possible; so our backpacks include rain covers and our tents have rainflies & footprints or tarps.

Hiking in the rain

  • Water crossings: both because of flood risk and because the water will be running much faster
  • Rocky trails: rocks can become very slippery when just a little damp
  • Bare, dirt paths: if trails become muddy, this also will make them extra slippery
  • Hypothermia: know the signs and watch out for one another
  • Drinking water: as with being in the cold, being in the rain often makes us forget we’re thirsty

For the best information on how to camp in the rain, with respect to keeping rain from getting inside your tent and managing condensation, check out our gear guide on tents

Lastly, what if you're suddenly caught without gear and it starts raining? Honestly, find you way home as soon as you can. A mildly unpleasant scenario can become dangerous in the backcountry. If you haven't left yet, seriously consider whether or not you want to go (you may end up being in the tent the whole time, anyway! That said, if you're appropriately prepared, camping in the rain can also be an experience that makes every other kind of camping feel much easier, and a way to see a different site of nature!