If you’re an occasional hiker – much less a frequent one – you’re going to get rained on from time to time. Some parts of the country like the Pacific Northwest are famously wet. Some parts of the country feature a regular afternoon thunder shower at certain times of the year. Rain is simply an expected, normal, feature of hiking and camping. With just a minimum amount of preparation and the addition of a few items of rain preparedness gear to your backpack or car camping inventory, you can turn hiking or camping in the rain into memorable outdoor experiences. Here are 8 suggestions for handy and inexpensive pieces of gear you’ll be glad you’ve got when it rains on your next hiking or camping trip.
Get a Backpack Rain Cover
The purpose of a rain cover for your backpack is pretty straightforward. Here’s Amazon’s best selling backpack rain covers. However, there are a few things you should consider:
- The size of your backpack
- Is the cover waterproof vs. water repellent
- Is the cover dust proof (easily dusted off vs. having to wash it)
Get a Waterproof, Heavy Duty Plastic Map Case
Invest in a waterproof, heavy duty map case that will protect maps, directions, and other documents that you may want to (or have to) refer to in the rain. The best of these can be submersed in water and also protect against sand and dust. These cases are handy for protecting not just maps but cameras, cell phones, and other mobile devices. Some allow you to operate your cell phone without opening the bag.
Amazon has a good selection of these including the Mudder Waterproof Bags and Pouch Cases, the Aqua Quest Trail Map Case, and SealLine Map Case. Most come in different sizes.
A Tarp Can Turn a Rainy Campsite into Nature’s Living Room
No need to retreat to your tent if it starts to rain on your campsite. With a tent tarp you can set up an outdoor living space protected from the rain. Add a table land a couple of camp chairs. Bring on the cards and you’ve got an outdoor living space that makes the rain a positive experience instead of a negative one.
Use a tarp to cover your supply of firewood. Make sure you have dry firewood regardless of the weather.
Pack a Clothesline
Pack a clothes line so that when your cloths do get wet you’ll have some place to hang them out to dry. What’s more miserable that a pile of damp clothes sprouting mildew?
Coleman Clothesline / Laundry Reel is a 21–foot nylon rope contained in plastic case that fits in the palm of your hand. Two hooks secure the line to trees. The rope holds up to 30 pounds of wet clothing. When everything’s dry, reel in the line for easy and neat storage.
The Kinglake Portable Clothesline is a 6-foot bungee cord that stretches out to over 10 feet. Steel hooks on either end allow it to be attached almost anywhere. Clothes are attached to the cord with 12 coated clips that can be spaced out along the length of the cord so you won’t need clothes pins.
Gaiters are not just for snow. For wet weather hiking lightweight taiters can protect your lower legs from getting soaked and re-soaked from brushing up against wet underbrush. A recent Savage Camper article featured five top brands of waterproof or water resistant gaiters.
Some experienced hikers eschew commercial pack covers for high-quality plastic bags placed inside their backpack. Commercial pack covers, they say, are subject to snagging on trees or bushes and don’t always keep water from entering your backpack. Be sure whatever plastic bag you select is odor free to avoid attracting bears.
Use Plastic Bags
Of course there are a multitude of other uses for plastic bags on a hike or around a campsite.
- Collecting and carrying trash
- Use as an emergency ground cloth to protect you against wet, cold ground
- Carrying water back to camp
- Bear-proof your food supply. Put your food in the plastic bag, tie it securely, and hang it on a tree limb out of bear reach.
Recommend plastic bags for pack lining and other around camp purposes: Kirkland Compactor Bags 18 Gallon Smart Fit Gripping Drawstring
Sleep in Tents with Bathtub Floors
Tents with “bathtub” floors are a godsend in a rainy campsite. A tent with a bathtub floor has a waterproof tent floor that extends few inches up the wall of the tent. In the event of heavy rain this prevents water from entering your tent and soaking you and your gear. A recent Savage Camper article featured top tents with bathtub floors including…
- ZPacks Duplex Twin Tent
- Eureka Midori Basecamp 6 person Tent
- Echo II Ultralight Shelter System by Hyperlite Mountain Gear
- Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
With a little thought and a few pieces of gear you can turn what could be a unpleasant outdoor experience into a memorable outing that you will look back on with satisfaction and pleasure for years to come.