Shelter; Camp; Warmth: A Guide on How to Camp in the Rain or Snow

Rain or shine, winter or summer, anytime is a good time to enjoy the great outdoors — but only if you come prepared.

It's easier than you may think to prepare for a camping trip in the cold of winter or dampness of the rainy months. Don't let these natural conditions stop you from running wild and free in the great outdoors! 

Keep reading to discover how to camp in the rain or snow, and the best ways to prepare for these weather conditions. 

How to Camp in the Rain 

When planning to camp in the rain, the most important factors are staying dry and safe while sleeping and hiking. By using these camping hacks, your outdoor experience is sure to be a pleasure, despite the rain.   

1. Look for an Elevated Campsite 

Pitch your tent on high ground to avoid your tent getting soaked at night. Water runs downhill, so avoiding these areas, and looking for an elevated surface, is the best way to keep your tent dry. If you set up your campsite at the bottom of a hill, you're sure to wake up in 3 feet of water after a rainy night. 

While pitching a tent on a flat surface makes for the most comfortable sleeping experience, setting up your tent on a slight incline will reduce the amount of water that will pool under your tent. 

You can also set up a tarp above your tent on a slight incline to move the water away from your space and make for a much drier camping experience.

how to camp in the rain camping hacks tricks and tips

2. Laydown a Tarp Inside of Your Tent 

Regardless of the forecast, bringing an extra tarp on a camping trip is always a good idea. 

When no rain is falling, placing your tarp under your tent protects your tent from the moisture of the ground and any sharp edges for a more comfortable sleep. If it's actually raining, placing a tarp under your tent will cause water to pool under your tent, and will likely soak through as you sleep. 

By placing your tarp on the ground inside of your tent, the water from the ground will be trapped by the tarp, keeping you dry all night. Make sure to place all of your belongings on top of the tarp to keep them dry as well.  

Side note: Get a waterproof tent, and check for any rips or holes before you begin your great camping adventure.        

3. Wear the Right Shoes 

If you're planning on hiking in the rain, be sure to wear waterproof boots that provide good support. Hiking on wet, slippery land without the right gear can lead to serious injury, or even just leave you wet and muddy.

To provide more stability on the soggy terrain, you can use a trekking pole and traction cleats that strap onto your boots or tennis shoes. These tools can provide you with more stability and lessen the risk of slipping and falling on the trails. 

4. Wear the Right Clothing 

Wearing waterproof clothes is the best way to ensure a successful rainy camping trip — there's no negotiation this one! At the very least you need waterproof pants, boots, and a rain jacket.

If you want to go all out, you can bring a waterproof hat and a plastic poncho to be extra prepared for harsh rainy weather. A poncho will provide your body and pack with extra protection, and a hat will keep water out of your face. 

Make sure to bring lots of extra-base layers like socks, underwear, and undershirts. If your clothes get wet you want to get them off as soon as possible to avoid hypothermia in the cold or a rash in hot, humid climates.     

5. Carry a Waterproof Bag

Make sure to bring a waterproof backpack with a pack tarp to keep your bag extra dry. Even if you prepare fully for harsh rain conditions, you can't trust your waterproof pack fully to keep water out. 

To protect your food, clothes, and electronics as you hike, make sure to put these essential supplies in plastic bags to protect them from water damage.    

6. Bring Ready to Eat Food

If it's raining too hard, you can take hot foods that require a fire off the menu. Make sure you bring food that is ready to eat in the case that the weather doesn't allow for a fire.  

How to Camp in the Snow

how to properly camp in the snow

If you're planning to camp in the snowy months, the most important factors are staying warm and dry. By following these tips and tricks, you're sure to enjoy your time outdoors in the cold. 

1. Wear Lots of Layers 

We all know that layering up in the cold is the best way to keep warm, but the avid snow campers have layering down to a science. 

Start with a close-fit base layer that traps your body heat - like a thermal shirt and longjohns. You then want an insulating layer that you can take on and off as your body temperature fluctuates - like a lightweight fleece or down jacket. The outermost layer is used to protect you from wind and snow. This layer should be waterproof and wind-resistant.    

2. Stay Dry - Stay Warm 

Staying dry is especially important in colder climates. If you can stay dry you can likely stay warm as well.

Wet clothes will lower your body temperature and can lead to dangerous conditions like hypothermia. Staying dry includes reducing the amount of sweat your body produces as well. Make sure to peel off layers to limit your sweating throughout the day. 

Keeping your feet warm is one of the most important components of dressing for the snow. Your extremities will be the first to freeze, so protecting your feet in the cold is a must. Make sure to pack waterproof boots and gaiters, as well as snowshoes.    

Don't be afraid to overpack when going on a winter camping trip. You will definitely want as many layers of dry clothing, socks, and undergarments as you can get!  

3. Sleep With Your Gear

When you're ready to sleep, you want to be as warm as possible. Any cracks in your sleeping bag is a chance for heat to escape. Make sure to fully zip up your bag and use a face mask to keep your cheeks and eyes warm. 

Any extra space in your sleeping bag is also a chance for heat to escape. If your sleeping bag is too long you can fill the space with your gear!

Shove down your clothes for the next day to avoid putting on an ice-cold shirt in the morning. You can even use your body heat to preserve your cellphone's battery, as most cant survive a cold night on the tent floor. 

Even empty space inside of your tent can bring down the temperature. Bring in your backpack and spread the contents around you to preserve your warmth. Make sure to sleep with a tent buddy (or a few) - the more bodies, the more heat throughout the night!   

4. Pee Before You Zzz 

This is one of those tips that every experienced winter camper will repeat over and over again - and for good reason! 

After strategically planning the perfect warming sleeping conditions for yourself, the last thing you want to do is leave the warmth of your tent to pee in the middle of the night. To avoid this unpleasant experience, make sure you have an empty bladder before you settle in your tent for the night, and limit excessive drinking before bed. 

Although, sooner or later it will happen, and when it does, you just want to get up and do it. The longer you wait to pee, the colder you will get. Your body will naturally use energy to keep your urine warm until excursion, making the rest of your body colder.

If you do need to pee in the middle of the night, you can keep an empty bottle near you and pour it out in the morning. For men, this is a pretty simple task, but for women, you can use a female funnel to make the process a little easier.    

5. Bring a Sleeping Pad (Important) 

Providing a barrier between you and the ground of your tent is the best way to keep you warm throughout the winter night. 

A sleeping pad provides comfort, as well as preserves your body heat as you sleep. You can get an insulated inflatable sleeping pad that provides function and comfort or a simple one that will just serve as a barrier. 

6. Eat Right

As the temperature drops, your body begins to burn more calories to maintain your body temperature. As a result, you need to eat more calories than usual to help your body stay warm. 

On a snowy camping trip, you will likely need to eat between 3,000 - 5,000 calories (depending on your body type) to help your body stay warm. Foods that are high in protein and fats take longer to burn and help your body maintain your warmth, especially at night. The best way to make sure you're getting enough calories is snacking on high-calorie, protein, and fat-rich foods all day long! 

Don't forget to drink plenty of water! You may not feel particularly thirsty when its cold out, but staying hydrated is important when you're being active. You can even start off your days with a warm cup of coffee or tea to get you warm and hydrated.  

Are You Ready for Your Next Camping Adventure?

Figuring out how to camp in the rain or cold can be daunting for even the most experienced campers, but it doesn't have to be!

You don't need to let extreme weather keep you away from mother nature, as long as you come prepared - extra prepared. 

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