7 Pro Tips for Camping in Bad Weather

man and woman camping

Camping is one of the most popular hobbies worldwide. With so many people heading into the outdoors, its expected that theyll experience a large variety of weather conditions. The forecast isnt always correct and it can change at the drop of a hat. A mild sunny day could turn into thunderstorms in a matter of moments.

The best thing you can do is to plan and prepare. Here are some tips for camping in expected or unexpected bad weather.

1. Check the Weather and Call Ahead

When you are planning your camping trip it is imperative to keep an eye on the weather. The closer it gets to when you go the more accurate the weather predictions should be but that is not always the case.

That is why it can be a good idea to call ahead to the campground where youre staying. The people or the local ranger there will be able to tell you what to expect, and if it is an area notorious for sudden weather changes—getting as much information as possible can help you with packing and temper your expectations.

2. Always Bring Rain Gear!

It doesnt matter if the forecast predicts blue skies for your entire camping stay, you should always be prepared. You could be hiking elsewhere, where a sudden shower happens and can soak your clothes and your gear. Always do your best to keep yourself and your gear dry!

This means packing a waterproof shell layer to keep you dry, a jacket, and pants. Also, you should have a waterproof covering for your pack. To keep clothes, shoes, and other camping gear dry you can seal them in ziplock bags and you can line the interior of your backpack with a trash bag to keep items dry.

3. Avoid Wearing Certain Materials

Getting wet can be detrimental to your whole trip. Even during the summer, you can be susceptible to hypothermia if there is a temperature drop in the evening and you have no dry clothes to change into.

If you have gear made from down you should do your best to ensure it doesnt get wet because once it does it will no longer as needed to keep you warm. The same with cotton. There is a saying: “cotton kills” because it becomes completely compromised and useless once wet.

Be sure to wear water-wicking clothing like wool, polyester, Gore-Tex, Merino wool, spandex, and polypropylene.

4. Pack Extra Clothes

You dont need to pack a million different clothes for your camping trip, but a little variety can help you if theres bad weather. Extra layers for when it is cold like a sweatshirt or light jacket that you can layer are a good idea. Having not only a waterproof but a windproof exterior is ideal in bad conditions. An extra shirt, pair of pants, and socks are a must for regular weekend camping trips.

5. Choose the Right Spot to Pitch Your Tent

Remember to camp and travel on durable surfaces like dry grasses, rocks, sand, and snow. Also, it is important to be keenly aware of your surroundings at your campsite. When pitching your tent, avoid areas around dead trees or living trees with dead branches (widow-makers).

A gust of wind or a sudden storm could put you in a deadly situation if you are too close to dead trees or branches. If there is a chance of rain, avoid setting your tent in depressions in the ground or at the base of a hill. Water will naturally gather in these locations and flood out your tent and ruin sleeping bags.

During hot weather, find shaded areas to pitch your tent, face it into the wind, or close to water to keep cool.

6. Bring the Right Tent

Your tent is one of the most vital pieces of camping gear you have. It is your shelter for the duration of your stay so you want to have all the qualities you need to be protected in all sorts of weather conditions. Always be sure to have a rain fly or extra tarp with you for added protection in wet weather.

In hot weather, youll find that 3-season tents will offer more ventilation and retain less heat. They are best used in the summer, spring, and fall. Some tents have features, like the blackout technology, to help you sleep more comfortably in the heat. If youre interested in blackout tents click here to learn more about their pros and cons

4-season tents are more durable and made with stronger frames to withstand snow and ice conditions. They are excellent at retaining heat and offer more insulation than 3-season tents. Here is a list of some of the best insulated tents for winter camping.

7. Make a Separate Kitchen Area

Clear out a space for your cooking area where youll be having your meals. You can create a separate protected space, so you wont be eating in your tent. It creates additional space where you can shelter in rainy conditions.

Set up a tarp in your chosen cooking area and it will be a space to keep not only your cooking supplies dry but any other gear as well. Youll likely have a fire of some sort, whether it's on a camping stove or over a fire pit too. So, youll want to ensure wind or rain wont interfere with your meals.

Your cooking site should be away from your tents so as to not draw animals. That is why it is best to not eat in your tent either because the scent will draw bears, squirrels, and raccoons right to your tent.

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Conclusion

Bad weather can ruin a camping trip, but it could make one too. As long as you are prepared you can still enjoy your time outdoors. The tips above are designed to help you plan ahead and prepare for the worst-case scenario, so you wont worry if bad weather strikes.

Appropriate clothing and gear can go a long way when you are suddenly faced with a rain or snowstorm. Be safe and enjoy your next camping trip no matter the conditions!



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