Camping TipsGear

How to Survive a Rainstorm While Camping in a Tent (And Stay Dry)

A rainstorm can turn a camping trip into an adventure or a miserable wash-out. (Sometimes both.) With smartphone apps and detailed radar, it’s easy enough to track bad weather as it speeds towards you but what happens when it arrives? Most people who have spent any time camping have tales of leaky tents and soggy sleeping bags. It might seem like getting wet is an inevitable part of sleeping on the ground outdoors, but fortunately, it’s not. Based on years of camping experience, we’re sharing our best advice and camping in the rain hacks on how to survive a rainstorm—and stay dry.

The key to staying dry while camping—especially when a tent is involved—is a mix of both thoughtful strategy and quality gear. To truly stay dry and ride out a storm, you need both. (For instance, a top-of-the-line tent won’t do you any good if you set it up at the bottom of a hill or within a few yards of a stream.) Remember that no matter the weather report, you should always be rain-ready when you’re camping and pack the necessary gear. In most parts of the country, summer weather is unstable and it pays to be prepared. Here’s how to do just that:

Use a weather-resistant tent.

This first tip seems obvious but not all tents are equally weather-resistant. Less obvious is that there are ways to determine how waterproof a tent might be. We’ve listed some of our favorite weather-resistant tents at the end of this article but here are factors that can make the difference between a leaky tent and a watertight one:

  • Shape: A boxy tent or a design that doesn’t have steep angles is more likely to collect water. Choose a tent shape that will cause the water to flow off (and away from) the tent.
  • Floor:The material that the tent floor is made from should be thicker and more rugged than the rest of the tent. The sturdier this material, the less likely it is to leak.
  • Seams: Taped seams keep water from seeping between the places where the tent fabric is sewn together. In the manufacturing process, a strip of plastic material is often melted along the inside of the seam. You can spot taped seams from inside a tent. If a manufacturer labels a tent (or clothing) as waterproof, it will have taped seams.
  • Rain-fly: A rain-fly (or rain cover) is an additional piece of fabric that covers a tent, is staked to the ground, and allows rain to flow away from the tent itself. As far as staying dry is concerned, it’s the most important piece of equipment a tent camper can have. Unfortunately, the cheapest tents usually come with the flimsiest—and smallest—rain covers. If a rain-fly looks like a small hat for your tent, it’s not going to keep things dry.

Or, make your existing tent more weather-resistant.

Tents—especially waterproof ones—can be expensive and sometimes buying a new one just isn’t an option. With that in mind, there are a few things that can make your tent more weather-resistant:

  • Make a tent liner. There’s an ongoing debate about whether a tarp should be placed underneath a tent or inside of it but we’re going to side with the Boy Scouts on this one and say inside. Use a tarp or piece of builder’s plastic to create a liner for the bottom of your tent. Make sure that the liner extends up the sides of the tent by a few inches on all sides.
  • Add a better rain-fly. Purchase a separate rain-fly that fits your tent. If you don’t like how it restricts light and airflow, use it only when the weather forecast predicts rain.
  • Use waterproofing spray. Even waterproof tents don’t stay that way forever. Eventually the waterproof coating on the outside of the fabric breaks down. If your tent’s waterproof coating wears off, or if it didn’t have it in the first place, you can apply this coating yourself.
  • Seal the seams. Another DIY method for waterproofing is to seal the seams of your tent with silicone seam sealer. This can be a labor-intensive process but it’s also a more budget-friendly (and earth-friendly) alternative to buying a new tent.

Choose your campsite wisely.

If the forecast calls for wet weather, try to choose a campsite that’s least likely to flood or have water running through it. If you’ve already booked the site, you can still use these tips to find the best place to set up a tent within your campsite:

  • Keep your distance from water. Don’t set up your tent near the edge of a lake, river, stream, or dry stream bed that might fill with water during a flash flood. According to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, tents should always be set up at least 200 feet from water anyway.
  • Pay attention to elevation. Pitch your tent on the highest part of the campsite (but not so high that you’re a prime target for lightning) in a place where there’s level ground. That way, water won’t collect near your tent.
  • Avoid trees and vegetation. Don’t set up your tent in a place where branches and leaves will touch or brush against it. When it rains, these will funnel water to the tent.

Now that we’ve covered strategy, here’s our round-up of gear and supplies that will help you be a happy camper, no matter the weather. First up is our list of the top weather-resistant tents.

Weather-Resistant Tents

NTK Colorado GT Camping Tent

This family-sized tent is made from 100% waterproof material, includes a full rain-fly, and accommodates up to 9 people.

Sale
NTK Colorado GT 8 to 9 Person 10 by 12 Foot Outdoor Dome Family Camping Tent 100% Waterproof 2500mm, Easy Assembly, Durable Fabric Full Coverage Rainfly - Micro Mosquito Mesh
  •  DESIGNED FOR QUICK & EASY ASSEMBLY - The Colorado 8- 9 person tent is great for all the family. With easy assembly, the spacious one door tent weighs 20.7bs with a comfortable floor size of 10ft x 12ft and 6.07ft center height for maximum comfort.
  •  DOUBLE LAYER FULL COVERAGE RAINFLY - 100% waterproof 190T polyester laminated with polyurethane. 2500mm water column rainfly provides full coverage on all 4 sides, while the heat-seamed thermoplastic coating offers UV protection. Inner tent has a large 2-way zipper D-style door with full mosquito mesh protection. Roomy utility pocket for storage and ventilated mesh roof. Extra gear storage area is provided with the extended area on the front and back
  •  THICK NANO-FLEX TECHNOLOGY FRAME - Extra thick Nano-flex fiberglass poles interconnect with double gold chrome plated ferrule hardware and strong elastic, offering a sturdy construction. Made with 100% virgin material to provide additional strength and flexibility. The high-performance NTK outdoor camping tent also has a pin-and-ring system for fast and easy setup.
  •  BREATHABLE MICRO MOSQUITO MESH - Ultra-thin NO-SEE-UM polyester micro-mesh fabric keeps you safe from the smallest insects and mosquitoes - letting fresh air in while keeping bugs out! Freestanding design is easy to set up and take down. Built for the Brazilian Amazon, the Colorado 3-season dome family tent will keep you comfortable and protected from heat, rain and wind
  •  HEAVY DUTY ANTI FUNGUS FLOOR MATERIAL - Seamless, anti-fungal polyethylene with a silver-coated inner layer to prevents leaks, keeping you dry and protected. The flooring has a unique bathtub-style construction barrier, designed to ensure so you won't wake up in a puddle! CPAI-84 fire retardant rainfly comes with a zipped stuff bag and ID label to personalize your tent.

Kelty Salida Camping and Backpacking Tent

Kelty’s streamlined Salida model comes with a full rain-fly and is available in 1, 2, and 4 person sizes.

Sale
Kelty Salida Camping and Backpacking Tent
  • Backpack-friendly compact folding poles, Gearloft loops, Color coded clip and fly attachment.Wall material: 68D Polyester, 40D No-See-Um Mesh,Floor material: 68D Nylon, 1800 mm
  • Roll top cube carry bag, Easy set up, Free standing, Fabric/mesh tent walls
  • Kelty hug clip, Easy entry D door, Internal storage pockets, Fully seam taped construction
  • Seasons: 3, Number of doors: 1, Number of vestibules: 1, Number of poles: 2, Capacity: 2
  • Floor area: 30.5 ft² / 2.83 m², Vestibule area: 10 ft² / .93 m².Wall material: 68D Polyester, 40D No-See-Um Mesh,Floor material: 68D Nylon, 1800 mm

Marmot Limelight Tent

If you’re looking for a compact tent that’s still spacious, you might want to try this 3-person model from Marmot. It comes with a full rain-fly and ground cover.

Marmot Limelight Tent - 3 Person Cinder/Rusted Orange
  • Gearloft & Footprint Included
  • One D Shaped Door, One Vestibule
  • Seam Taped Full Coverage Fly with Vents
  • Color Coded "Easy Pitch" Clips and Poles, Free-Standing Design
  • Seam Taped Catenary Cut Floor, Interior Pockets for Small Gear Organization, Jingle-Free Nylon Zipper Pulls

ALPS Mountaineering Tent

This 4-person tent has factory-sealed seams and a ventilated full rain-fly.

Sale
ALPS Mountaineering Taurus 4-Person Tent FG, Sage/Rust
  • Easy assembly, free-standing two-pole design with fiberglass poles
  • Polyester tent fly resists water and UV damage while adding two vestibules for extra storage space
  • Mesh roof, two entryways and a zippered window on each door offers easy access and great ventilation
  • Fully equipped with #8 zippers, poly taffeta floor, mesh storage pockets, gear loft, stakes and guy ropes
  • Base Size: 7'6 x 8'6, Center Height: 52", Total Weight: 10 lbs. 11 oz.

Waterproofing Accessories

If buying a new tent isn’t in your future, here are the products you’ll need to make do with what you already have. With a little time and effort, you can transform your tent into a sleeping space that stands up to wet weather.

Kalinco Waterproof Camping Tarp

If you can’t find a rain-fly that fits your specific tent, you can rig up a waterproof tarp above your tent for extra protection. This extra-large version from Kalinco is waterproof and comes with stakes and ropes.

Kalinco PU Waterproof Camping Tarp Tent RAIN Fly Picnic Mat Survival Shelter Sunshade Mutifunctional Lightweight Rain Cover Gear Accessories
  • [MULTIFUNCTION TARP]The camping tarp is a multi-functional shelter which have many different ways to use and perfectly suitable for Climbing,Camping,Fishing,Travelling and party etc. You can unfold the camping tarp and lay it on ground use as picnic mat. Also can use the pegs and ropes to set up as the sun canopy or rain tarp.
  • [Waterproof & UV Protection]The waterproof tarp is made of high quality 190T Polyester with strong PU coating, weather-resistant.It can provide a safe shelter for you to escape from a sudden downpour and create dry hangout space for during a wet trip.
  • [MULTIPLE PURPOSE ]This hammock tarp is a multiple-functional tarp, it's very importable to have one during the outdoor sport events. Instead of buying an expensive tent tarp, bring this camping tarp, then you are good to go. It can be used as a shelter to keep your hammock or tent dry / warm, or makeshift shelter, also can be used as picnic mat, tent footprints, instant shade,water collection, tarp boat, ect.
  • [LIGHTWEIGHT AND PORTABLE] This tarp is lightweight and can be foldable, comes with carrying bag, including 6 Ground nail 6 nylon ropes, can be hang outside the backpack while hiking, camping, backpacking, cycling, traveling, ect. All gear in one carrying bags, it's very space saving and portable, a-must-have outdoors survival gear.
  • [Refund and Warranty]We provide 60 days exchange service warranty from the date of purchase if the item is defective.If the item's damage or malfunction caused by delivery or be under normal use. You will be offer for a return.Please contact us freely if you have any issues.We will reply you within 24 hours.

Kiwi Camp Dry Water Repellent

There are a number of waterproofing sprays on the market but this version is easy-to-use and recommended for tents.

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent, 2 - 10.5 oz cans
  • Silicone bonds to leather/fabric to create an extremely tough water barrier
  • Allows articles to breathe
  • Ideal for tents, tarps, boots, hunting apparel, outdoor gear, boat covers, patio furniture
  • Odorless when thoroughly dried and cured

Gear Aid Tent Seam Sealant

This seam sealant comes with an applicator brush and will remain flexible after it dries.

Gear Aid Seam Grip FC Fast Cure Sealant for Tents, Clear, 2 fl oz
  • Seal up to 60' of seams on tents, tarps and awnings with this water-based seam sealant that cures in 2 hours at room temperature
  • Use this tent sealant on various outdoor fabrics including nylon, polyester, and canvas; previously known as Seam Sure
  • Dries to a long-lasting seal that is nearly invisible and flexes with fabric
  • Included applicator brush makes application quick and easy
  • Packaging may vary

 

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