Tips for Backpacking in the Rain

tips backpacking in rain

Bring the Right, Rain-Proof Gear

If there’s any chance of rain, you’ll want to be properly equipped and you’ll be much more likely to have a great time! Otherwise, you’ll be miserable at the very least or worse, be at risk for hypothermia. Follow these tips for backpacking in the rain and you’ll be prepared for many situations.

Starting with your tent, you want one with waterproof-sealed seams so your interior stays dry, and a good rain fly that offers ample protection with the ability to put wet gear (like gore-text boots that will keep your feet dry) outside of your tent at night so you don’t bring water and mud in, but they don’t get wet staying out.

Additionally, having full rain gear to wear (waterproof, not water-resistant) is essential to staying dry, such as a hooded rain jacket, pants and gloves. Having something to lock heat into your head like a beanie works well also under a water-proof hood.


Scout Your Campsite

A lesson I’ve learned the hard way – always scout your surroundings before you’ve set up camp, or you might find your tent in a pool of water. A good rule of thumb is to set up on higher ground, with a slight angle so that any rain drains away. It’s always good to have a footprint for your tent as well to protect from saturated ground underneath, but make sure it doesn’t stick out from the edges of your tent so it doesn’t pool up with water itself.

Also, it’s a good idea to make a habit of looking up to see what you’re camping underneath – such as looming big branches or dead trees and which way they may fall if they decide to topple. Wind often accompanies rain, so it’s not a bad idea to be extra vigilant. Make sure you also anchor your tent well.

Garbage Bags – Your Swiss Army Knife When Backpacking in the Rain!

Garbage bags don’t weigh much, but are worth their weight in gold when camping in the rain.  Uses include:

  • Tear a hole for your face and use a garbage bag as a poncho
  • Put your gear inside garbage bags within your backpack when hiking to ensure it stays dry
  • Use an opened bag as a make-shift footprint for your tent
  • Cover your backpack or other gear with garbage bags once camp is set
  • Use a garbage bag as a make-shift tarp for shelter

Keep the Coals Hot

If it’s possible to keep a fire going, do it. Just remember, if it’s windy you may want a somewhat naturally (and safe) area to build your fire.  For example, if you happen to be camping on granite, you can build a fire in a decent crack so it’s somewhat sheltered, and the heat from you fire will tend to radiate from the rock.  It doesn’t hurt to bring some sort of fire starter too, like some newspaper.

Bring a Backpacking Tent Tarp

Having a tarp is quite handy when in the great outdoors – for use as a shelter or a makeshift footprint. For ultralight backpacking, check out these tarp shelters

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