Nothing can ruin morale on a camping trip like rain. Don’t let the smell of April showers and romanticized childhood memories of running around in the rain fool you – camping while wet is no joke. If you can’t postpone your trip and must brave the rain while staying smart, we’ve got you covered on the basics.

Never underestimate the power of dry socks.

Bring at least two pairs of socks. Wear one and keep the other dry, alternating between the two throughout your trip. There are plenty of ways to dry your socks (or towels or underwear) while camping, but the easiest way is to sleep with your socks inside your sleeping bag. Some campers swear to keep contact between your skin and your socks, placing them on your torso, chest, or one on each thigh. Consider keeping a pair only for your tent and sleeping bag that can stay completely dry.

Invest in a tarp – or two.

Come prepared with campsite setup in mind and arrange the tarps first. If you have three, hang one above your tent, another over a picnic table or other eating area, and the last way above your fire. When hanging a tarp over a tent in the rain, be sure the sides are lower than the middle so rain can fall off the sides. If hanging a tarp over fire, be smart!

Avoid setting up camp under a tree.

The extra shelter will tempt you, but a lot could go wrong. Aside from the potential for lightning to strike, campers should also fear dead trees. “Widowmakers” (branches and limbs at risk of falling) are a real concern for campers. Avoid these hazards altogether and pitch your tent elsewhere.

Consider using a hammock.

Avoid the wet, hard ground by choosing a hammock over a tent. Hanging high above the mud, a hammock can keep you drier if done correctly. It’ll take some getting used to, but once you find what works for you, you might prefer a hammock to a sleeping bag or pad.

Put in more effort when collecting kindling.

Don’t give up on making fire in the rain. You can do it with the help of these tricks of the trade. If you have extra room in your bag, collect some dry kindling before your trip and store in a ziplock bag. If you’re already at camp and have scrounged around for wood, shave off the bark and light part of the stick to see if the fire will take. You can also shave off some chips or strips, or create a feather stick. Once you think you have enough firewood, double or even triple the pile.

Waterproof everything.

This is another slightly obvious investment tip. If you’re in need of some new gear, do yourself a favor and buy all waterproof gear – or waterproof what you already have with some waterproof spray.

Those big trash bags will become your new best friend.

Get creative. Campers use trash bags for everything. Store clothes in one to keep them dry. Convert another into a makeshift poncho. Fill another with moss or debris for a quick sleeping pad.

Practice makes perfect.

Before you reach camp, know how to pitch your tent within a few minutes. If you’re new to camping, take the time to practice pitching your tent before you’re stuck in the rain.

Be on your guard against rising water.

When you’re choosing your spot, avoid sites next to water. It may rain heavier upstream from you, so set up camp on higher ground and pitch your tent on a slight rise.

Before bedtime, throw a bottle of warm water in your sleeping bag for warmth.

A few hours before going to sleep (like around dinner time), pour some warm water into your water bottle. Toss the bottle into your sleeping bag to keep it warm for you.

Accept the fact that you’ll get wet and prepare for ways to get warm and dry quickly.

Let’s face it: you will get wet. Don’t give up and admit defeat while drenched. Have a game plan for how to dry off and warm up. Stay smart, and know when you’re pushing things too far.

Extra tip: When you get home, put your gear in the sunniest, driest spot you can find to avoid mildew and mold.

What do you think we missed? Comment below with your waterproof hacks!

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