Tips for camping in wet weather

Feel as though the rain has ruined your camping experience? Not all is lost!

Health Advisor
Ask Felicity

12 August 2016

Camping in wet weather

When the sun is shining and the weather seems to be on your side, camping can seem like a brilliant idea, a chance to get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors. However, this notion often goes south as soon as the first raincloud appears and you realise that you are miles away from concrete walls, central heating and your Netflix account.

You shouldn’t despair though and consider your holiday completely lost. Despite its reputation, even in the UK, rain is unlikely to remain for days on end so you may still have a chance to enjoy your holiday. In the meantime, there are plenty of ways you can prepare for a downpour and minimalise your suffering.

Remembering to keep your tent dry and bringing a pair of wellie boots is an essential step but there are other ways to ensure that you don’t get too damp or end up inviting in unwanted guests of the insect variety. There are even ways that you can keep yourself amused and entertained without staring mournfully at your empty signal bars.

The essentials

First aid kit: A first aid kit is a must-have for any camping trip. If you are venturing away from civilisation and into the great outdoors, you are probably aware of the hazards and dangers that can inspire an accident. That is why it is crucial that you are prepared for them, especially in adverse weather conditions where your environment can become muddy and slippery. Your kit doesn’t need to include a scalpel and a defibrillator - instead try to focus on the simpler things, such as gauze, plasters, TCP, Echinacea cream and some painkillers. A.Vogel’s Atrogel might also be a useful addition, as it can ease joint pain and relieve bruising.

Waterproof clothing: If it’s raining outside, the chances are that shorts and crop tops won’t be doing you any favours. In countries like the UK, where rain is a constant and tolerated companion, waterproof clothes are essential. A pair of sturdy wellie boots and an anorak should be an obvious addition to your camping wardrobe, as unflattering and unfashionable as they might be. Substance is definitely worth more than style, so try to throw in some waterproof trousers and a waterproof fleece as well, as these will keep you warm and safe from the wet weather.
Waterproof sleeping bag: A waterproof sleeping bag might sound like an odd idea – after all, you’re not planning of sleeping outside during the downpour – but hear us out. Condensation is often a big problem when you’re stuck in a tent for hours on end. Often, regardless of how water-tight your tent is, you can still end up feeling damp and despondent. If you have a water-proof sleeping bag, at least you’re guaranteed some refuge from the soggy conditions and you can sleep without feeling as though you’ve woken up in the middle of a pond. You can buy a waterproof sleeping bag at most camping and outdoor stores, for a reasonable price.

Storage: If you step into your nice, dry tent and decide to throw off your wet gear all over the place, the chances are that your tent won’t stay dry or nice for very long. Storage is always a key aspect of camping – rarely do you have enough space for everything, so learning how to organise and compartmentalise is a necessity. When it comes to keeping your tent dry, it’s best to try and create a set area for your damp belongings. Try to pack them away in plastic bags in a specific space, far away from your sleeping bag or your dry clothes. If you have a large tent, with a communal area, try to keep your wet articles of clothing or soggy belongings here.

Ventilation: When it’s raining outside, you might be tempted to completely close your tent off from the undesirable weather in an effort to prevent any dampness from spreading inside. However, this would be a mistake as condensation is often more responsible for in-tent wetness than the actual rain itself.  This is logical when you think about it – too many bodies in a cramp, warm environment are bound to generate more heat, conflicting with the conditions outside and creating condensation. Instead try to ventilate your tent by keeping the rain fly slightly open so fresh air can still get in.

Survival kit: When it comes to camping, you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It’s unlikely that a life-threatening emergency will ever arise – however if it should, at least you know that you are adequately prepared to handle it. Simple things like packing a set of spare batteries or a water filter can make your camping experience safer and much more enjoyable. A small, but sharp knife can also be a useful addition if you’re thinking about starting a campfire or if you need to cut a rope or some invasive foliage!

Repelling pests

Use neem insect repellent: As much of a nuisance as they are, there is always the possibility that insects like mosquitoes could be carrying a dangerous disease like malaria or zika. This is why you should always take the bugs seriously and prepare for encountering them in advance. A.Vogel's Neem Insect Repellent is a natural product, which unlike most conventional insect sprays, does not contain any abrasive chemicals that might irritate your skin. Instead it aims to soothe troubled skin and provide immediate protection from nasty insects that might be out for your blood. However, this product is not suitable for breastfeeding mothers or pregnant women

Avoid going outside: A camping tent is not the natural habitat of most airborne bugs or creepy crawly insects. If you can keep your tent a bug-free zone then your main risk of interacting with the pests is by venturing into their territory. If it’s raining, this can mean that some types of insects might be particularly active, especially the disease-ridden mosquito. If you choose to stay inside and endure the wet weather, you might spare yourself from getting bitten and potentially contracting a nasty virus. However, if the rainfall is mild, you could try lighting a campfire as most insects will instinctively know not to get too close to an open flame.

Use mosquito nets: If you’re worried about getting bitten by a mosquito, then using a mosquito net should be an obvious preventative measure. Mosquitoes will not hesitate to try and bit you when you’re vulnerable, namely if your asleep and unable to defend yourself against them. It doesn’t help that most mosquito species are active during the night, making it extremely important that you try and keep your tent free of the little parasites. Using a mosquito net should deter the pests from biting your skin and enable you to get a good night of sleep without waking up to your skin all red and itchy. Please check out my ‘Top 10 tips to prevent mosquito bites’  if you want to find out more about how to discourage the bloodsucking bugs. 

Use a screen tent: A screen tent is a common camping addition, and can keep you protected from most bugs and irritants. These structures are often attached to the outside of your tent, either to add more space or to be used as a welcome area for other guests. However, most of them are capable of keeping out bugs and can even be used to ventilate your tent if you find that condensation is starting to cause a build of moisture. You can buy a screen tent from most major camping retailers or stores catering to outdoor activities like hiking or mountain-climbing.

Treat clothes:  If you want to give an added boost to your bug-preventing measures, then treating your clothes is an essential step - you could even try applying this measure to your bedding as well for extra coverage! ‘Treating’ clothes involves soaking them in a solution formed by water and insect repellent and leaving them to dry thoroughly overnight. This, in addition to spraying your skin, should discourage most bugs and keep aggravating insects like mosquitoes from biting you.

No strong fragrances: Strong fragrances like soap, deodorants or perfumes might make you smell more attractive but they can also entice unwanted admirers of the insect variety. Insects like powerful scents and are more likely to choose you as a potential victim because of the way you smell and chemicals present in your bloodstream. Try to pick natural and unscented products, like Salt of the Earth deodorants – these are generally kinder for your skin, good for the environment and can help to minimalise your appeal to any persisting bugs.

Things to do

Cards: Playing card games can be a great way of spending the evening, especially if the rain is hammering off your tent. There are so many different types of games you can play and most people are familiar with them, making them a good way of bonding if you are camping with strangers. Even If you don’t feel like engaging in a round of poker, you can also whittle away the hours by trying to arrange your cards into a tower or, if your more superstitious, reading fortunes.
Board games:  If you’re a parent trying to find ways of amusing your children during a downpour, then board games might be a familiar go-to option. There are a variety of games you can play, from snakes and ladders, to the infamous monopoly. If you have a wide enough selection, you are bound to find something that will suit everyone, no matter how old you are.

Build a Campfire: Not an obvious option, but if you’re lucky and the rain is not falling too heavily, building a campfire can still be a possibility. Not only will this provide you with a more atmospheric camping trip, but you can cook food and keep warm at the same time. The best part is, that most insects have an inkling that fire is not very conducive to a long and healthy life, so they will likely do their best to avoid being burnt by the flames.

Reading: Books can provide a welcome escape from most daily problems and can keep your mind active and exercised. If you find yourself lounging aimlessly around your tent during a downpour, it might be a good idea to try and relax. You could get snuggled up in your sleeping bag and lose yourself in a good book while the rain continues to drone on outside.

Storytelling: If you’ve got an active imagination, this might be a good idea for you. Storytelling can be an excellent way of amusing people and testing your creative skills. You can start off by telling a fragment of a tall tale and allow another camper to continue until you are all adding to the process and sharing your ideas. Games like ‘in my suitcase, I have’ can also be a good alternative in this environment as it will keep your memory stimulated and give you a chance to show off in front of your friends.

Arts and crafts: Just because you’re stuck indoors, doesn’t mean that you can’t still get some creative fulfilment. If you’re good at painting, drawing or even just colouring-in, then you can spend some time with your sketchpad and map out a few new ideas. Crafts like cross-stitching, knitting or even jewellery making are also an option and will help you to keep your mind stimulated during such an inactive time.

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