There’s nothing worse than camping in the rain, and it’s definitely not most people’s first choice of adventure. But reality is that sometimes, you’ll head out, pitch your tent, and then unexpectedly, the rains roll in.
Sometimes you can predict this, if you’ve been savvy enough to check the weather. Other times, the prediction may have been for clear skies, and it’s taken everyone by surprise.
It’s important to make sure certain camping gear is waterproof regardless of whether rain is expected, because when you’re well equipped for wet weather, rain won’t kill the mood, and may even add to your adventure.
Our number 1 tip for camping is to always be prepared for wet weather, and you can do so by making sure the gear you have with you is waterproof. These are the essentials:
Waterproof Gear You’ll Need When Camping
The most important piece of gear which should be waterproof is your tent, because otherwise everything else is getting wet with you.
Make sure your tent comes with a rain fly, and test it out before your adventure. There’s nothing worse than realising your tent isn’t waterproof until it’s too late and the rain is dripping on your face.
Set your tent up in the backyard, and hose it down to check for any leaks or vulnerabilities. If you’re really serious about properly testing it, you can leave it in your yard overnight when you know it’s meant to rain – you could even sleep outside in it if you’re feeling extra adventurous!
Keep in mind that when it rains, the ground underneath your tent may become quite wet, muddy, and cold, so it’s also worthwhile having a waterproof tarp to place underneath the tent, even if it’s dry as a bone when you’re setting up.
Waterproof clothing is a big one to have with you, even if it’s something as simple as a rain jacket / poncho. And while you may think you can retreat to the safety of your waterproof tent during a downpour, there’s only so long you can hold a full bladder before needing to dash outside to the bathroom.
An outer shell of waterproof clothing is the best way to go here, which you can throw on over your clothes in the case of wet weather / rain.
Make sure your jacket includes a hood which provides head protection, especially if you’ll be using a head torch to make your way around in the dark – electronics don’t often cope well with water.
Waterproof pants can be easily slipped on over thermals, and waterproof shoes now come in all forms beyond the typical gumboots / wellingtons – you can find lightweight waterproof sneakers, waterproof flats, it’ll just depend on the amount of coverage you want for your legs.
Many electronics now come with waterproof casings, and it’s essential to make the best use of this when you’re camping, as electronics don’t go well with water.
The electronics you’ll typically have with you include your phone, camera, maybe cooking supplies, and entertainment gear like a waterproof speaker for outdoor use.
Best case scenario is to travel with gear which is naturally built to be waterproof, but failing this, you can find cases to place them in, like waterproof camera bags, zip locks for your phone etc.
It’s important not to leave electronics outside overnight, bring everything into your tent or pack them away into the car incase a surprise storm rolls in while you’re sleeping.
Dry bags are essential for keeping your stuff dry when it’s raining, and this goes for everything within your tent, because you want to keep the inside, especially your sleeping area, as dry as possible.
If you’ve had to dash out into the rain, use dry bags to store your wet damp clothes once you get back into your tent, that way you’re not getting everything inside wet and bringing water bak with you.
There are a huge range of dry bag options you can get, though garbage bags work just as well if you’re in a pinch. These are a great way to keep wet gear separated from dry gear.
Food Containers & Cooking
While you might feel empowered to leave open jugs out in the rain for a natural method of water collection, your food containers and anything you’re storing food in, like an esky or cooler, should be waterproof.
There’s nothing worse than soggy food, and if you lose your food supplies you may have to cut your trip short.
With this in mind it’s a good idea to bring some backup food which you can keep separately from your main cache. And make sure you have a varied enough supply that there are meals you can access which don’t require a fire.
NEVER start a fire within your tent, even if it’s raining outside. If you don’t have access to an undercover outdoor area, or a tarp you can throw up, you’ll have to eat non perisable, ready to eat foods.
Likewise, keep any cooking gear you’re using in waterproof containers, including matches and anything which you use / rely on to start your fires.
Dry Out Your Equipment Once Home
Once you get home, make sure you spend time drying out your tent and any other gear which got wet during your trip.
If you pack damp gear away, and leave them for weeks or months until your next trip, it’s likely they’ll develop mold. It only takes 24 – 48 hours before mold can start to noticeably grow on the fabric of a tent.
And trust us – “camping in the rain is one thing; camping in a mouldy, smelly tent sucks”.
Ready to read more? Also check out my guide to the basic gear you’ll need for camping as well as my comprehensive cold weather camping essentials checklist.