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Wet Woes: A Guide to Camping in the Rain

June 25, 2014

Mother Nature can have a cruel sense of humor.  It never fails. The moment a camping trip is planned, the clouds migrate in.  Don’t be caught camping in the rain without a plan.

The Black Hills are known for their beautiful green scenery which is a result of quite a bit of rain throughout the spring and summer seasons. So how can you avert disaster and salvage your weekend of fun?  Check out our 10 tips for camping in the rain.

  1. Tarp it up!  Your tent will leak water in one of two ways (or maybe both!) if you’re not prepared for the rain – seeping through the top and soaking the base.  Make sure to bring a standard tarp to stretch overtop of your tent like a roof.  Also, consider a tent ground tarp, a special tarp made to protect the bottom of your tent from pooling water.
  2. Location, Location, Location.  Tent placement is key for camping in the rain.  If you set up camp at the bottom of a hill or in at a lower elevation than your surrounds, expect to go swimming.
  3. Air Your Dirty Laundry. You will have casualties when camping in the rain.  Wet happens. Make sure to air clothing, blankets, shoes, etc when they get wet so you aren’t dealing with mold.  Not only is mold difficult to clean, it can add the wet conditions for futile illness and completely spoil a good camping trip!
  4. Proceed with Caution.  Summer storms can mean fits of lightning, thunder, and hail.  Take this into account when planning your day.  Make sure you have an escape plan if it hails.  Avoid large bodies of water and refrain from using metal objects that may attract lightning.
  5. Slippery When Wet.  When everything’s wet, the difficulty of standard camping activities increases by a factor of 10.  Ok, maybe not an exact factor of 10, but things get tricky!  Be aware of your surroundings, let someone know where you’re going, and carry a first aid kit, just incase.
  6. I Saw the Sign. Know the signs of hypothermia – the dangerous lowering of body temperature (below 95°F).  It’s very easy to plummet into hypothermia when you’re wet.  Recognizing the onset of hypothermia could save yourself or a loved one. Signs include:
            a.   Shivering (early sign)
            b.   Lack of coordination.
            c.   Slurred speech or mumbling.
            d.   Confusion and poor decision-making.
            e.   Drowsiness or very low energy.
  7. Paper or Plastic?  Pack lots of plastic bags and newspaper when camping in the rain.  Newspaper is super absorbent and quickly draws the water from shoes, backpacks, etc.  Plus, it’s excellent for starting a fire.  Plastic bags, of all shapes and sizes, come in handy for keeping things dry.  And dry is really the best thing when everything else is wet, don’t you think?
  8. Rain, Rain, Go Away.  A less than effective approach to camping in the rain, so pack for the worst case scenario.  Make sure your camping gear includes a waterproof jacket and pants, as well as multiple outfits, pairs of socks, and shoes.  Keep extras in the plastic bags we mentioned.  We recommend doing this regardless of the forecast for your outdoor adventure – weather can be unpredictable!
  9. Keep Calm and Camp On.  The best piece of advice for camping, whether it’s raining or not, is to keep calm.  Being outdoors, a lot of unexpected scenarios can arise.  Maintaining a level head and assessing situations logically will always produce the best results.
  10. Don’t let the rain put a damper on your good time – no pun intended. Camping in the rain can be just as fun as camping in the sunshine; it’s all about having a good attitude and making the most of your situation.


Make your next camping trip the adventure you’ll never forget with Palmer Gulch KOA Campground in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  For more great camping tips and a list of must-do activities while you’re in the Black Hills call 1-800-562-8503.


Last Modified: 06/25/2014 12:22:02 pm MDT

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