Anyone who camps knows the weather can change in a heartbeat, bringing in rain showers. It is most common during the spring and summer months, and you should be prepared for it. If you are not ready and equipped for bad weather, your camping trip could turn into a complete nightmare. Soaked clothing, destroyed electronic devices and possible hypothermia.
Rain really should not spoil your trip if you are prepared with the right gear and know what you are doing. Don’t get caught off guard, here are some excellent tips that will ensure you have a safe and happy trip, even if the weather turns bad.
Nature has a way of dropping hints when a change in the weather is approaching. Sudden gusts of wind or a sudden calm are telling you the barometric pressure is changing, which should alert you to approaching storms.
Animals can also give you a hint. Coming from an area that has heavy storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes, birds become silent! Dogs have been known to act a little strange when a storm is approaching. Fishermen swear that fish bite more just before a storm! Never overlook hints that might be surrounding you. Pay attention to your instincts and (when all else fails) have a battery-operated radio and find a weather station!
First off, when preparing for camping, always pack plenty of plastic bags in a variety of sizes. Sealed bags are perfect for sandwiches and snacks; larger bags will clean up campsite trash and meal scraps. Bags are inexpensive and take up little to no space, always have bags. Another asset to plastic bags, they can be reused – minus the garbage bags! Inexpensive plastic bags can become a lifesaver if you are stuck in the rain.
You can protect your hiking pack and store wood, so it stays dry. Smaller bags are great to keep small items dry; such as a camera, matches, money or a cellphone. If it starts raining and bags are left at home, you could lose a lot of your items.
A few newspapers are easy to bring along and have some great uses. If everything around you is soaking wet and you want to start a fire, newspapers are a perfect alternative. If your shoes get wet, roll up some paper and put them in your shoes, they’ll dry them out. Also, if boredom sets in, you can always read them!
Anytime you are out in the wilderness; you should understand the signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia will suddenly and incredibly drop your body’s core temperature. If someone suffers from this and goes untreated, they could very possibly die before getting medical aid. Hypothermia usually develops in very cold, icy regions and colder times of the year. If someone is in cold water for an extended period of time, hypothermia will probably set in.
What happens: the body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, the average body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Other symptoms will follow, slurred speech and impaired judgment are the most common symptoms. A pale or purple appearance to skin, shivers and frostbite may also follow.
Under the best circumstances, a person with hypothermia should be immediately rushed to the nearest hospital. If this is not possible, remove all their wet clothing and cover them with dry clothes, blankets, and a sleeping bag. Have a charged cell phone to call for help. You want to keep them as warm as you possibly can and continue to monitor their symptoms until medical help arrives. It is always advisable, that when planning a camping trip, get all valuable information you can, regarding the area you will visiting. Some places can provide you with this information, including the nearest hospital.
Usually, the ground tarp is placed directly underneath the tent on the ground. They provide a protection and barrier against water. You can opt to place the tarp inside the tent, instead of outside, which will form a better water barrier. If you still want a tarp outside, you can place one outside (underneath or on top of your tent) and one inside it. If you put a tarp underneath your ten, make sure it is well setup and that no pieces of tarp is sticking out from underneath your camping tent, because if it rains, water will catch in the pieces sticking out and you will end up with a pool underneath your tent, soaking everything…
Tarps come in many different materials from plastic to nylon to woven polyurethane. They are all relatively inexpensive starting around $30.
The only problem with tarps is that they are quite heavy and bulky if you are backpacking or hiking! In this case a footprint can really help. They are usually a bit pricier than tarps but should match your tent surface perfectly. You also have the option to make a custom one if you want to save some cash.
As a general rule, remember to carefully inspect your camp site and pitch your tent in the right spot!
Place some large logs onto your campfire before the storm even gets near. Thick logs will continue to burn even during a downpour while protecting the underneath coals that are the foundation of your fire. If lucky enough, the fire will continue to burn through the entire duration. You certainly do not want to deal with wet logs afterward! If this is not an option, take a large, heavy-duty plastic bag or bags and over your campfire site.
Also, keep in mind, once the storm passes, you will need a fire to ward off chilly, wet cold and able to cook your foods. When you first arrive at your campsite, store a sufficient amount of logs in a safe, dry place for use after a potential storm. Rain, like anything else, will eventually pass, and you are going to want to get back to basic comforts.
If you are planning a hiking trip, camping in the rain can be dangerous. Rocky terrains will become quite dangerous and difficult to navigate. Wet rocks are hazardously slick and larger rocks can pull loose and roll downward. Moss and grass are also very slippery and can cause a dangerous fall.
If you are hiking a steep, rocky slope, you might want to reconsider and wait until everything has dried out, before attempting the hike. Just setup camp and wait.
Minimize your risks by wearing sturdy, close-toed shoes with ankle support and grip surface soles. That’s what hiking boots are made for! Have a hiking stick to balance where the ground is unlevelled. Always make sure your hiking pack’s weight is evenly distributed, to keep your balance.
Two of the most dangerous combinations, when camping, are lightning and rain. Unpredictable lightning can strike before, during or after thunder clouds have passed by.
Due to Poor Judgment – many novice campers have ended in severe accidents and in some cases death:
If you are swimming or out on a boat, Get Out of the Water Immediately! Water is the greatest conductor of electricity.
If you are on land, head to the highest geographical land point you can find. Never hide under a tree – trees are conductors of electricity as well. Branches can also break off and harm you seriously.
If children are on your camping trip, try and find things to keep them calm during the storm. Children, as a general rule, are afraid of both lightning and thunder.
By the end of your rainy camping trip, you have probably packed up wet or damp clothing, gear, and shoes. Once you have returned home, throw the clothes in the washer and dryer, place shoes and gear in a place where they can properly dry and air out. Never store damp items, they will develop mold and mildew causing an even greater mess. Camping utensils and metal components of the tent need to be cleaned and dried to prevent rusting.