Camping is a fantastic way to relax and commune with nature, but sometimes nature has other ideas and throws down showers and bad weather. This shouldn't automatically mean "Camping's off, let's go to a hotel..." So what can you do? Well, camping is an adventure, and nature is brilliant, so we can't just quit!
There are plenty of ways to still enjoy yourself and keep comfortable, even when camping in the rain. So here we'll explore some things you can do to prepare yourself properly to be 'comfortable with the discomfort' in your camp if you’re expecting constant rain on your trip, as well as what you should do to respond effectively and happily if the rain catches you off-guard. Most of it is in the preparation.
Use Vehicle Awnings
Awnings are an extremely useful tool for increasing the space you have under cover, especially around your car doors or rear gate, where you‘ll be extracting gear or food, or using fridges. They can be used to create a dry and protected area around a picnic table or fire pit, or to provide complete protection for a smaller outdoor kitchen, somewhere safely away from your tent. You can also get awnings with walls so that the side is protected from bad weather (or a brutal sun).
Choose Your Site Wisely
Two things here - Damp often makes trees drop branches, so avoid camping directly under large ones, eucalypts in particular, as their nickname, 'widow-maker' testifies to this dangerous habit. Not a charming name, but the damage a tree limb can do is both amazing and saddening.
The second thing is camping in depressions. We've all seen the news about Splendour in the Grass this year, with the mud and rain. It genuinely looked awful. A camp site on higher ground will give you the best chance to not be swimming to breakfast the next day. Whether it's a spot on a hillside or just a higher point in a field, take that option if you're expecting rain.
Always Take Wet and Cold Weather Gear
Be aware that the weather can change at any time and with it, drastic temperature changes. Be prepared for sunny days to turn gloomy or a dry day to turn wet and windy. We find it’s just easier to make it a rule to take a raincoat and changes of clothes. It doesn’t hurt to bring along some warm clothes in case you’ve gotten cold from the wet too. The last thing you want to do when you're out camping is get all snotty and miserable.
If you’ve got a first aid kit, we also recommend packing an emergency blanket in it – they are quite amazing and do a lot to quickly reduce the effects of being caught out in severe weather if someone else hasn’t packed anything warm to reheat themselves up in.
Along with a change of clothes, you might want to consider some rope to hang your wet stuff on once there’s a chance to dry.
Timing Your Set Up
The best way to deal with poor weather is to be prepared for it ahead of time. A sunny and dry summer afternoon is a great time to enjoy yourself, but it's also a good time to get your tent up, stakes in the ground, and your supplies at the ready. It’s much better to have a tent set up before a rain shower than after one. Everything is cleaner and easier.
If you've already got your tent set up and it's going to be raining that day, plan on gathering wood for your fire while it’s still dry! And ensure you put it somewhere covered. If you haven’t been able to collect firewood before the rain, all is not lost - check out his quick 'how to' video showing a simple and thorough way to get the fire going with wet wood.
You can also be super camp-crafty and prepare a way to collect water from the roof of your car or tent. It’s easy to do and easy to forget to do too! But it makes sense when camping in Australia and can be a great way to keep kids busy while you’re setting up the main camp site.
Bring The Right Gear
If you’re not too sure about the effectiveness of your tent’s waterproofing, make sure you have a waterproof fly for your tent, or at a pinch, a hoochie or tarpaulin that you can tie up over the top of your tent or tent space.
If it’s already raining when you’re about to set up camp, tie up the tarp first and then set up your tent underneath. You, and the inside of your tent, will stay a lot drier while you work.
Firstly though, make sure that your tent is actually waterproof! Don’t use a camping trip as your test to check this. That can be a great way to wreck a nice time away.
If you have a canvas swag or glamping bell tent, ensure that it’s been properly seasoned. Otherwise, you’ll get soaked through in no time if it becomes torrential.
On these points, if you have a patch kit for your shelter, remember to bring it every time – and know where it is. If you don’t have one, try to get your hands on glue that will work on your material and some spare fabric to act as a barrier. This will be gold if you find that your tent or swag is leaking through a tear or hole.
Depending on your tent or shelter, the tent’s base may not be as waterproof as you’d like, such as with many swags, the entire surface - top and bottom - is canvas. If you’re worried, you might want to consider a ground cover that goes under your shelter, also called a tent footprint. It will protect you from rising moisture, full-on water ingress, and also act as a barrier for sharp things that seem to be sharper when everything’s wet.
Another consideration would be to bring extra tent stakes and extra guy lines for windy conditions. It never hurts to have a little extra rope anyway.
Having camping mats for inside your tent is an awesome morale booster! It makes a massive difference to the feeling of warmth and dryness even when your tent is well waterproofed in the base. This is a standard addition for glamping, but even normal tents will benefit. Camp mats, such as recycled plastic mats, are inexpensive, comfortable and insulate very nicely, even under a swag, as they won’t be damaged by water themselves either. We sell a large range of these for this reason, and you can get them (link below).
A glamping set up will often have festoon or fairy lights. Ensure that yours are waterproof for a rain-level soaking and place the solar panel stake somewhere that gets the most ambient light throughout the day. Good brands of these will be charging from even low, rainy-day light, and will be very helpful come night-time. They can also be strung around inside your tent with the solar panel staked outside, as normally the lead between the panel and the first globe on the string is a handy couple of metres. We offer these as well as they're planet friendly and extremely useful and stylish.
Keep It All Organised
Know how to set up your shelters quickly. Lay out your shelter gear and take inventory of what you want to put in which bag - with practicality in rainy conditions in mind. Keep your shelter bags in first-access position in your car so you don’t have to pull everything else out to get to it in the rain. Your rain jacket should be close at hand too, as well as a hammer to knock in the pegs and axe for firewood.
Passing Time Happily
What else can you bring for indoor fun when it's raining outside your tent? Cards, Uno, board games, reading, meditation, yoga, writing letters, crafting, or journalling are all reliable. There are a million off-line things you can do when you're cooped up in your tent with the rain outside. Glamping bell tents have hugely ample space to do just about anything! Pack your blankets and rug up for some indoor chilling with a brew. It's starting to sound really nice and cosy actually!
And it may be better to rely on these old school options rather than apps on your phone or other electric options, as recharging may be made more difficult if you are relying on solar power and it’s constantly raining, or relying on your vehicle charging them if you’re not going anywhere.
When camping in the rain it's always good to have a fire going, to keep warm and dry. So if you’re just getting into a campsite when rain is starting, a lot has to be done quickly. When you’re first setting up camp, assigning a firewood collector, assigning someone to set up a firepit, then build a fire; assigning a couple of people to assemble the awning and people to set up the tent, can all be a great time saver and ensure that all the essential jobs are taken care of simultaneously.
If there is bad weather forecast, basically, you should try to get as much set up as possible done beforehand. Camping in wet weather can bring out the most fun and the most misery in people. As long as you're prepared, with redundancy and good time management, everything is actually really leisurely and can be a great time for everyone involved.