Camping in the rain hacks

camping in the rain hacks you need

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Camping is awesome and can be such a magical experience as a family, but camping in the rain can be way less fun!  It doesn't have to be that way though with our camping in the rain hacks.  


Get prepared for camping in the rain

If you are family camping in the UK you have got to get prepared for camping in the rain.  Even camping in Europe during the summer can come with some rain, camping in the rain doesn't have to be miserable—there are some easy ways to make your tent more weather-proof and keep your trip fun.

Here we will share our favourite camping in the rain hacks learnt from our extensive experience of camping in climates where rain is more than a little bit likely.

camping in the rain hacks

Bring a tarp

This one does not just apply to camping in rain...  Every time we go camping we bring several tarps.  They are so versatile and have been used as flooring, wind shelter, rain shelter, sun shelter and as a an extra play area base for the kids.  

What is a tarp?

A tarp is a large piece of fabric that you can use to protect yourself from the elements. You can fold it over your head or make a tent out of it, or even use it as an umbrella.

How to Fold a Tarp into a rain shelter

  • Lay the tarp flat on the ground and place objects around its perimeter so they act as anchors (e.g., rocks) when you're folding it up later
  • Fold one side over itself so that there's just enough room between both sides for another person
  • Do this twice more until all four sides are folded inwards towards each other like an accordion
  • You may need to use two tarps instead--one on top of another--and tying them together at each corner with rope or string before placing them onto poles around which they'll be secured tightly against wind gusts

If you don't like the idea of having to do all this folding of tarps (I know I don't!) then you might prefer to go for one of these covers and poles:

These are perfect for creating an extra bit of shelter at the front or side of your tent.  We take these exact ones on every trip with us and now use them not only to extend and create a kitchen space at the front of our tent (when not taking the porch), but also use them to put over the top of the tent in hot weather to protect and reflect the sun.  It really works!

Put a tarp under the tent

If you're camping in the rain, setting up a tarp under your tent is a great way to keep things dry and keep it away from the damp.  Even though tents have waterproof material we find that when it rains the bottom of the tent still feels cold and damp without the addition of a tarp.

If you don't want to simply use a basic tarp you could go for one of these tent footprints which are designed for exactly this purpose:

Some tents have the option of purchasing a groundsheet that it sized exactly right for your tent so it is worth checking.We use a ground sheet every time we camp to protect the bottom of the tent and keep it as clean as possible and give us an extra layer between us and the ground.  We also extend this out to the front by using an additional tarp so that we are not walking on mud when we get close to the tent and can put waterproof boxes outside for storage of some items. 

The rule is that we all take our shoes off at the edge of the tarp and we have another box there to put them in.You need to be able to secure the tarp with tent pegs so make sure that it has the necessary reinforced ring holes in it.

Use camping carpets

Camping carpets are a big yes from us for family camping as they make everything feel more comfortable and cosy.  When you are camping in the rain they are even more lovely as it is another layer between you and the ground which does tend to feel colder when it is all wet.

Bring waterproof clothing

  • Don't forget to wear rain gear, like a jacket and pants, a coat and boots if you're camping 
  • If it is summer rain you may find it easier to wear shorts than rain trousers - this might sound crazy, but if it is warm then shorts and flip flops will be perfect for a campsite even in the rain.  It is easier to dry your legs than dry clothes!

Use a rain fly on your tent

Rain flies are the best way to keep your tent dry and comfortable during a rainy night. Rain flies are large pieces of waterproof material that you drape over your entire tent, like an umbrella for your tent.  Most modern family tents come with the rain fly as part of the tent, but if you think there will be lots of rain it might be a good idea to get an additional one.

Camping in the rain activities

If there is just a little bit of rain and it is still warm then it may not prevent you from getting outside and still doing all the activities that you planned, but in heavier showers you may need to spend some time tent or camp based so here are just a few ideas of things you might like to bring to occupy the family:

  • Travel board games - we love these magnetic ones as the pieces don't go missing!
  • Coloring sheets and pens (don't miss out on our camping coloring pack below)
  • Find a local indoor activity that you can visit if there is heavy rain
  • Craft activities - scratch art, foil art and jewelry making kits are perfect for a rainy day camping
  • Uno and Dobble - never go camping without a good card game and these are huge family favorites

Consider adding a porch or vestibule

Having a tent porch or vestibule in your camping kit can take the concern away about camping in the rain.  We added this one to our kit:

Camping porch on family tent

As you can see it just fits right on the front of the existing tent and looks like it is part of it, but gives an extra 3m Sq of 'indoor' space.  We have sat two families of 6 in there for a meal when it was raining.

Having extra space is really helpful when it is raining as it gives you somewhere to cook (make sure it is ventilated if using gas) and somewhere to eat or even just get space from one another.

You do often need the extension that is particular to your tent, but there are some more universal options out there depending on how big your family tent is.

Take a door mat

Again this is something we always do, but it becomes more important if it rains.  You need a spot for everyone to step onto before heading into the main tent area so that mud etc... isn't tracked through the place

Bring extra spare clothes

If there is a risk you may get caught in a rain shower you need to know you have some spares.

If you are family camping also remember the mud factor...  As soon as it rains kids get muddy and that means more changes of clothes than you might expect.

Bring quick drying clothes and towels

You may want to chose some tshirts that are quick drying just in case you get wet.

Quick drying towels are always handy, but when it is raining outside you definitely want to be able to dry towels more quickly as the damp air will hinder the process.  Microfibre towels are the perfect solution and they take up less space too!

Before you pack make sure you have checked out our Ultimate Family Camping Checklist with a downloadable list for you to print and use.

Is camping in the rain ok?

Well the first thing to say on this is that camping in the rain is still better than staying home in the rain...

I won't lie I would probably not be keen to do a whole week's camping in the rain with the kids if there weren't activities that we could also go out to and still do in spite of the rain, but it is also lovely to get cozy in the tent, play games with the kids and just watch the rain fall.

One thing we would definitely recommend if you are camping in the rain with other families or friends is to bring a shelter that you can all sit under so you can still socialise.

In our experience camping in the rain is ok.  We have had many fun camping trips that have included rain and some of it very heavy.