Wet weather camping. I’m no stranger to wet and cold weather canoe camping, and although I’ve gotten better at it over the years I’ve never gotten used to it. You may not intend to do it but if you’re any kind of tent camper you are going to eventually experience wet weather, but there are a few things you should know to keep your experience a dry and enjoyable.
I took the photo from inside my tent while camping at St. Regis Pond. It rained steady from evening to morning and although it took some preparation my old tent kept me warm and dry.
You may have read the post on the REI Half Dome 2 HC Tent I wrote a while back, and in that post I complained about my old tent design and how I wanted a new REI Half Dome. Well as it worked out I did purchase my new tent (not the Half Dome) but unfortunately I lent it out and then on a recent 2009 four day wilderness canoeing trip I was stuck with the old tent that I dreaded so much. But it all worked out for the best as the old tent held up so well that I will not part with and I’m sure it can be of service again.
I’ve been exposed to days of solid rain and snow in my earlier days of canoeing but now I’m a little more selective of the weather conditions; however, I will not let one or two days of rain dissuade me from a good trip. Now an enjoyable trip all begins with selecting the right tent because the right tent will keep you drier with the right maintenance – yes there is such a thing as tent maintenance.
The photo is of two days of heavy continuous rain at St. Regis Pond were I was very dry.
Here are some suggestions to make your next wet weather camping trip more enjoyable.
- Before going on your trip make sure your tent is waterproof. Erect the tent in advance of your trip and inspect it for rips, small tears, separated seams, damaged zippers and window vents. Also make sure you have the intact rainfly if it’s required. To check for moisture inside spray it with a garden hose for closer inspection and cleaning.
- Once you’ve determined the tent is worthy apply a sealer. A spray sealer should be applied to the floor, the sides and the rainfly. Apply two coats. You can use McNett Tent Sure floor sealant for worn floors. Also be sure to focus on the seams because once they dry out they act to wick moisture inside the tent rather than keep moisture out. You can do this with a seam sealer applicator or a spray. This seems like a lot of work but you only have to go to this extent once every two or three years and it will keep your tent in good waterproof condition for years.
- Avoid gullies, ditches and valleys and erect your tent on a higher ground location to avoid natural flow from ground water and use a ground cloth or tarp underneath your tent to act as a water barrier. Tuck the sides of the ground cloth to prevent water from flowing between the cloth and the tent.
- Rainflys are good but a rain cover will provide enough coverage to actually divert water from the sides of the tent. A tarp is even a better idea during severe wet weather because it provides even greater coverage.
- Keep dry clothes stored away from the doorway and the sides of the tent so if moisture or rain does seep into the tent your clothes will remain dry. Another idea is to store dry clothes in waterproof bags and containers and store wet clothes separately in garbage bags. And don’t track mud into the tent. Create a spot near the tent doorway to remove and store wet and muddy shoes.
- A wet sleeping bag will ruin a camping trip and no matter how hard you try even a small amount of moisture will collect inside your tent – even during dry weather. If possible keep the sleeping bag from touching the sides of the tent and a camping pad or mattress will prevent moisture from seeping into your sleeping bag.
Following these simple tips will help you stay dry even during an extremely wet camping trip.