The outdoor weather can be very unpredictable. So if you’re camping and worrying about a sudden downpour, you must know how to protect your tent from rain so your belongings will remain safe. This skill is a life hack every camper should know before embarking on their first outdoor adventure. Knowing how to protect your tent from rain will save your camping experience from being a mess.
A torrential downpour can soak the insides of your tent within minutes. If you’re not alert, all your belongings will be wet in no time. This is a disaster, especially if you’re camping in a distant area. No matter how you monitor the weather, thunderstorms can occur out of nowhere, so you should always be prepared.
Keeping your tent dry during a downpour can be tricky. To ensure that you’re prepared for your next outdoor stay, the following are some of the tips we recommend.
1. Pitch on a high ground
If you’re camping on a rainy day, you must choose an elevated ground to pitch your tent. Basic logic will tell you that water runs downhill, so avoid setting up your tent at the bottom of any elevated land. When the rain pours, there would be a waterfall-like effect that will soak your tent if you choose a low-lying spot.
Although the high ground will still get wet, most of the water will slope down. It’s also important to ask around about the topography of the area during the rainy season. This will give let you identify ‘safe zones’ where you can put up your tent.
You’ll thank yourself for enduring the extra climb once the rain pours in. Anyway, make sure that you stake your tent to the ground firmly to withstand strong winds.
2. Use a bivy bag
Rain can pour down in the middle of the night when all of you are fast asleep. To keep your body dry, we recommend using a bivouac (bivy) bag as a sleeping bag. Even if the ground gets wet and cold, the bivy bag will keep you warm and comfy.
If it’s chilly outdoors, you can layer up with your sleeping bag inside. The bivy bag is made of insulating material. If you’re planning to camp out for days on a rainy season, this is a must-have.
We swear by the Survival Frog Tact Bivvy 2.0, in case you’re looking for one. It’s ultra-lightweight but very warm, thanks to its HeatEcho reflective polyester film that can raise body temperature by up to 20 degrees.
If possible, come up with an elevated sleeping arrangement so you can keep yourself drier.
3. Keep the lights up
If there’s a high chance that it will rain at night, you must leave small LED lights to illuminate the surroundings. Should flooding or leaks occur, you will not fumble in the dark. This will let you act right away to save your belongings from getting wet and your tent from being fully soaked.
However, avoid leaving lighted candles because this can start a fire. Instead, tie waterproof string lights on a nearby tree or any object not attached to your tent. Also, ensure that you have enough battery to power it up.
As much as possible, use battery-powered LED lamps inside your tent. These lights don’t produce too much heat, and it’s unlikely to set things on fire.
4. Lay a tarp inside
Before you pitch your tent, lay a thick and large tarp on the ground first. This will be your defense against direct moisture and cold temperature. You can also add emergency thermal blankets if the weather is colder than usual. We recommend that you do this even if you have a waterproof tent.
After that, you must lay another tarp inside the tent. Unless you’re hiking a steep or difficult terrain, it’s best to bring another tarp for added protection against moisture and the cold ground. There’s a possibility that water may get stuck underneath your tent, which will make you feel colder. The tarp inside will shield you from this.
Aside from being a hack on how to keep your tent dry inside, this extra layer will also shield you against sharp twigs.
5. String a tarp overhead
Another trick that we use on a rainy day is tying a tarp overhead the tent. Although this will not stop water from touching the tent, it would help reduce the moisture that may get inside. This is a good move if you’re camping on the same spot for several days.
However, the challenge here is finding a tree or any pole where you can tie the tarp. If possible, camp out on a high ground surrounded by trees. The vegetation will also cushion the blowing wind.
The overhead tarp will also protect you from falling debris, which could hurt someone lounging beside the tent.
6. Bring lots of plastic bags
Plastic bags are essential when camping, much so when there’s a possibility of raining. You should pack lots of large garbage bags as well as Ziplocs. These containers can be lifesavers during a heavy downpour. You can easily stash shoes, electronics, clothes, and other valuables inside should things get worse.
Another use of garbage bags is to keep your firewood from getting soaked. By putting it inside, you will not worry about firewood even if it rains. Also, you won’t be forced to place the wood inside your tent just to keep it dry.
If there’s a high chance of raining, we recommend putting everything on plastic bags. Stash each set of clean clothes in a Ziploc so you can retrieve it right away. It will also keep your things organized, and it’s also the cheapest way on how to waterproof a tent cheap.
7. Use waterproof shoes
The only way to fight rainwater is to use waterproof items as much as possible. Use waterproof shoes, so your socks remain dry, and your feet will not feel cold. It will also prevent the mess when you have to enter your tent.
Although waterproof shoes don’t come cheap, the splurge is worth it, especially if you’re an avid camper. If possible, pack a raincoat so you can walk through the rain without getting waterlogged.
8. Build a transition zone
A transition zone is where you will remove your shoes and wet clothes before entering the tent. This prevents mud and water from getting into your tent when it rains. It also serves as a buffer zone against rain, so it won’t hit the opening of your tent directly.
If you want, you can get a tent with an awning or mesh vestibule that can also function as a ‘living room’ while camping. Although the transition zone isn’t part of your tent, you must keep it dry and well-layered at all times.
You can also use this portion to hang your clothes if it’s raining outside.
Keeping your tent dry will keep you safe and comfortable while camping. It’s also a matter of safety as moisture can easily increase lower your body temperature, which can lead to chills.
You don’t have to spend a fortune just to rain-proof your tent. Simple hacks like what we mentioned here will go a long way.