When camping in the rain, choosing a good camp site is first on the list, and it’s important no matter what kind of camp you’ll set up. The first requirement of a good camp site has nothing to do with good camping know-how. It deals with your vehicle – car, truck, motor home or whatever. Be careful where you park it when you set up camp. This is especially important if you are camping in the rain.
Many campers choose their sites well, and set up beautiful camps, then learn after a hard night’s rain that their vehicle was stuck. In many camping parks, you won’t have much choice about where you park. You’ll be provided a specific spot. But even in such a place, you might want to back into it such a way that you can be headed in the right direction if things do get slick and muddy.
It’s a whole lot easier to drive forward through mud rather than try to back out of a spot. If you’re pitching a tent, choose a place that drains well and, if you have a choice, one where your tent pegs will hold snugly. Rainy weather usually means windy weather this time of year, and a high wind can work loose pegs out of the ground. If you have to camp on sandy, loose soil, bury a plank or sapling as a “dead-man” parallel to your tent walls and use this to tie your lines on.
Once your lines are tied, test them by pulling on them, just like that wind will do in the middle of the night. If they don’t hold, do it again. It’s far easier in daylight, in dry weather, than in the dark when it’s raining.
Dig drainage ditches around your tent and your cooking shelter if you erect one. And be sure those ditches lead away from your structure, downhill. It takes a little engineering to do it right, but it’s time well invested. And adopt the attitude when you set up a camp that it will rain that very night.
Take a look around for dead trees. Make sure there aren’t any such trees (or large dead limbs on trees) within falling distance of your camp. If you’re using a tent, check it each evening before going to bed to make sure all the guy-ropes are tight and that the tent doesn’t sag anywhere.
Any place on a tent that doesn’t drain rapidly can collect water and start leaking when it’s raining, or, worse yet, pull the tent down. The same should be done to any other structures, such as a tarp over a cooking area or a screened shelter.
The old advice about making sure your tent doesn’t leak before you go camping in the rain is easy enough to say. But it’s almost impossible to find leaks in a tent with a hose in the backyard. So you might consider taking along some insurance – a large piece of heavy plastic, or tarp, which can be used to cover your tent if you discover it’s leaky. It can save a camping trip.
Plan on it raining when you go to bed. Put your rain gear in a handy spot, along with your flashlight. Then when you have to run outside and check those guy ropes you forgot to tighten, you’ll be ahead of the game.