Camping in the rain; how to make it a whole heap of fun

To some people, the idea of camping in the rain is about as bad as you could suggest, and others absolutely love it. There’s certainly a difference in perspective, but if you have the right attitude, gear and understanding it can be a pretty amazing experience. We’ve had some truly awesome experiences camping in the rain over the years, and no longer let it ruin a camping trip.

On the other hand, if you have the wrong gear, or the wrong understanding, or the wrong attitude, you’ll probably have a very average time.

Lots of rain at Bayview
Camping in the rain can be a whole heap of fun, if you are ready for it

We’ve camped in all sorts of different weather, and in almost every situation had a great time. These days, we don’t intentionally set out to go camping in the rain unless we are well prepared for it. At home, if the weather is going to be shocking on one weekend, we’ll just postpone the camping trip to the next.

However, now that we are on a lap of Australia, if it rains, we have to cop it, and what makes it even more interesting is that we can’t arrive home in a day or two with a pile of dirty, muddy clothes; we have to continue living with everything we have, so we take a different approach (like using a Muk Mat, for starters!)

So, what’s important for camping in the rain?

Good shelter

Possibly the most important thing that you need for camping in the rain is solid, reliable shelter. That might be a 270 degree awning on your vehicle, or an awning on the camper trailer, or just a great quality tent that you can climb into and stay dry regardless of what is thrown from the sky.

Some tents will take a beating for days and days and never leak a drop, whilst others will leak like a sieve in the first rainfall, and that makes life really unpleasant, very quickly.

For us, we rarely set the awning up on our Reconn R2, but if we know we are staying when its going to rain, it goes up every time as we don’t have a choice. With an outdoor kitchen, if its raining properly, you need the shelter. We can get away with light, sporadic showers with the kitchen door, but it doesn’t offer a huge amount of protection.

If we know its going to rain all day and we have no alternative options for places to go, we’ll get the awning walls out too. In 5 months they’ve only come out once, but when we spent almost an entire day at Glendinning whilst it rained, it was the only smart option, or we’d be trapped inside a tiny camper trailer with 2 kids, and that’s no fun for anyone.

Walls up on our Reconn R2
We generally avoid putting walls and awning up, but have no choice when its really bad weather

Quality footwear

I’ve always taken my steel cap boots camping, and love them because they are durable, comfortable, reasonable in the wet and work pays for them. If you are camping in the rain, you need decent footwear, and that excludes thongs, joggers and ugg boats, unless you know where you are staying is not going to get soggy, slippery or wet.

I recall opening the door at Willow Springs after a solid nights rain, and seeing a muddy mess out the front, and it stayed that way for most of the day until we dumped some gravel in place. Sarah didn’t bring any boots, which meant she was limited to freezing her feet off in thongs, but the kids had boots, and I had my steel cap ones which work just fine.

Quality footwear keep your feet warm, dry and you comfortable, despite what the ground is doing underneath you!

Muddy camp site
I like my ugg boats, but in weather like this it just doesn’t cut it, so the steel cap boots come out

Warm clothes

If its raining (unless its in the northern part of Australia!), there’s a pretty good chance you’ll need warm clothes. Lots of thin layers works best, with thermals being the ultimate solution for cold camping. Decent socks, a beanie and a hoodie can make a world of difference when its cold, as the wind often blows and makes things far colder than they actually are.

Cooking pikelets
You need the right clothing for camping in the rain!

A way of drying things

Inevitably, things will get wet when it rains. I recall waking at Willow Springs to all 4 of our chairs soaked to the bones, despite being under our awning and all in different positions. We’ve had plenty of wet canvas, and often end up with wet clothes. Having somewhere, or a way of drying these things is imperative.

Turning our entire camper into a laundromat
Trying to dry clothes in the rain with the diesel heater by turning our entire camper into a laundromat

For us, we just let the sunlight do its job (when it comes out) for the canvas and chairs. For clothing, we have done some basic drying in the camper with the diesel heater running, or we’ll wash the clothes and use a laundromat to do the drying. We had to do this in Port Lincoln, after it rained for several days and we were running low on clothes. You just have to adapt, and get on with it.

Some thought about where water will flow

Before you set up camp, have a think about water, and where its going to go. It will always flow downhill, which means if you set up in a valley, you might just wake up in a pool of water. You laugh, but I’ve seen it happen, and even had it happen on school camps where a ridiculous amount of rain fell overnight.

Camp up higher, and think about where the water is going to run. It will go under your tent if you aren’t careful, and putting some lines in the ground to re-direct the water is often worth while.

Camping at Parachilna
If you camp in a river bed, what happens when it rains?

Dry timber for a fire

If you know rain is coming, and you want to have a fire later on, make sure you put some timber away in a place where its not going to get wet. This can be under your camper or caravan, in a wood box, in the back of your car or in a Ute Canopy

Trying to light a fire using wet timber is always entertaining, and not something I enjoy. We typically carry a couple of logs or some timber in our Reconn R2 wood box, and it comes in handy when everything else is drenched to the bones

Dry timber in our wood box
Keeping some timber dry and ready to go is hugely important

Ultimately, we enjoy camping in the rain, as long as its not for days on end, and it can be a lot of fun if you are prepared for it. Do you enjoy camping in the rain?

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