What’s it really like to go camping in the rain?

As lockdown starts to ease, no doubt the unseasonably warm UK weather will do at the same time. With staycations at the forefront of our new holiday agendas, camping in the rain could be a very real possibility. There are a huge number of people searching online for tips on ‘camping in the rain,’ so I’ve put together some anecdotal advice to make the very best out of a soggy camping experience.

camping tents by foggy mountain

Having lived in Spain for many years, our family are predominantly fair weather campers. Camping in Spain – whilst not entirely weatherproof – is a far safer bet in terms of staying dry. We did however encounter an extremely wet and windy April camping trip one year in Torre del Mar. Had it not been for the kindness of one of our camping neighbours (who probably took great pity on us from their lovely dry caravan) then our tent would have taken off in our absence.

The electric hook-up is your friend

When camping in the rain, the electric hook-up is essential. Why? For a heater. There’s one thing being wet, but being cold and wet will test even the hardiest of campers and the strongest of family relationships. A heater eradicates this, and is also extremely useful for drying off any sleep gear that may have succumbed to the rain. Furthermore, you can use a multiple USB charger in order to charge all of those devices which may be required whilst waiting for the rain to pass.

Not taking my own advice: camping in the rain with no electric!

Check the weather and be flexible

Nowadays weather forecasting is very accurate and camping in the rain can actually be avoided altogether if you have flexibility. Now this is not always possible when in the UK it has rained solidly for the six week summer holiday, but, if you have all of your camping gear in order, you can always take advantage of a last minute weekend getaway if the sun is predicted to be smiling down. We found a last minute Bank Holiday deal last year in Dorset for just £15 per night, which included the use of all facilities including the shows and in and outdoor pools.

Have a plan B

On a particularly windy and rainy camping trip in Staffordshire last year, whilst dry inside our tent, my husband and I could not even hear each other due to the persistent gales blowing the tent around. Subsequently, we had to abandon the ideals of toasting marshmallows on the open pit fire, and we spent five hours having (a slow) dinner in the local Harvester. By the time we returned, the wind had dropped and we were able to get a dry and peaceful night’s sleep.

Another time, we were camping in the notoriously windy Tarifa in Spain and our freshly bought tent was getting battered. Plan B? We had to move our tent 90 degrees in order to absorb the impact of the wind far more effectively (when it comes to weather, the direction in which you pitch your tent is insanely important). And when plan B didn’t work, we had to revert to Plan C which meant carrying the fully erected tent to a more sheltered pitch. NB Going home early is generally Plan Z for us: being stubborn mules we consider it defeat!

girl outside tent in campsite in Spain
Our Spanish ‘fair weather camping’ set up

Ensure that your set up is weather proofed

If you have an electric hookup, leads need to be built for the outdoors. Wind breaks can work extremely well in protecting your tent during freak gales. Tents need to be well-maintained, which includes periodically water proofing them with a specialist spray.

Consider a portable toilet option

There is little worse than waking up in the middle of the night in a tent cursing all of that camping vino as you are desperate for the loo… Add rain to that equation and this circumstance alone is enough to put anybody off of camping. Consider purchasing a TravelJohn. These are basically portable urinals with cat litter inside, and have variations suitable for both genders. Not glamourous, but you are camping in the middle of the field, which does sometimes mean letting go of home comforts (and inhibitions!).

Don’t be afraid to just ‘go for it.’

One of my most revered childhood memories was camping with another family during a week of nonstop rain. We watched practically the whole of the rest of the field pack up and go home. Even karaoke got cancelled mid song as the entertainment barn started to leak. Yet we gleefully ran around in the rain with our cousins, whilst the adults alternated between going to use the drier in the launderette and drinking wine. Thirty years later, the memories from camping in the rain that week are still as strong and as fond as ever. Memories don’t need to be wrapped in sunshine.

Boy toasting marshmallows over fire
When the sun comes out after the rain, there is a strong sense of appreciation!

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