How to Survive Camping in the Rain

How to Survive Camping in the Rain

I was inspired to write this post after our camping trip last week, where it rained (rather predictably), but we still had an amazing time. It’s safe to say that this last winter in the UK has been incredibly wet, and the theme seems to be continuing well into 2024. We’ve definitely spent less time outdoors over the last few months than we would normally have. We generally don’t mind bad weather, but when it’s just relentlessly wet and muddy it does get you down and put you off going outdoors. 

Last week we spent 4 nights camping, we knew it was going to be wet and ordinarily I would’ve been dreading it. Yet after feeling cooped up for so long, I was actually super excited. Even the boys were looking forward to a change of scenery and doing something different. 


We started with the basics: making sure we all had waterproofs and boots. I bought new waterproof trousers for the boys as they help to keep them clean as well as dry. 

Also, my choice of campsite was no accident. Camping in the UK in the summer we can manage without electric hook up, but in the cooler months it makes life much more comfortable. It meant that we could use a small heater at night, and there were also laundry facilities on site. I was happy about this as it meant I could dry anything if we needed to. As it turned out, I didn’t need to use the laundry, but it’s a good back up. Some campsites, such as Great Langdale, have drying rooms which are fantastic for our climate and make life as a camper so much easier.

I also researched things to do in the area in case of really bad weather. In the event, we had a mixed bag of wind, rain, and brief glimpses of sunshine, so we were able to stick to the plans and get in a couple of walks. One day we went swimming to avoid the worst of the rain, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared. 

Choosing the Right Tent

When camping in the UK you are going to have to contend with rain at some point. This year has been particularly bad, but it’s always a risk, even in the high summer. This is why we chose the design of tent that we did. Our Coleman Valdes 4 has a large open porch at the front, and this is the area that we end up spending most of our time. It’s where we cook, eat and sit watching the world go by. This means we can still be outdoors, but remain under shelter. This time we also added a wind break (nothing fancy, just the ones you get at the beach) for extra protection. We are so impressed with this design and will definitely always keep to something similar. 

We love the design of our Coleman Valdes 4 with the large front porch/living area

With our last tent we didn’t have a covered cooking area and so we purchased a shelter for this very use. It also came in handy when we stayed in a camping pod in the Lake District in October a few years ago. 

Our gazebo saved the day on a wet October trip and meant we could still cook and eat outside in the rain

Setting Up and Packing Away

There’s no getting away from it: setting up and packing away when camping is miserable. It’s even more miserable in the rain. We’ve been camping in the UK for many years now, so we’ve got it down to a fine art, this is what works for us. 

It’s never fun packing up in the rain!

Firstly, think about where you’re setting up your tent. If it’s possible, try to avoid a head on wind. We try to pitch with the wind behind us, and also try to make use of any natural shelter, like hedges, as much as possible. It’s a good idea to avoid boggy patches as puddles are likely to form if there is more rain. 

When setting up, we get the tent up as quickly as possible. We have an air tent, so it takes literally minutes, as all we need to do is peg out the 4 corners and then inflate the 2 tubes. Our tent is now upright and fairly stable, so I crack on with setting up and unpacking, while Luke pegs everything down. This way we can keep all our stuff as dry as possible. 

Packing away a tent in the rain is…well…awful. I can’t hide it. Packing away in the sunshine is hardly fun and my least favourite part of camping, so add in rain and it’s downright depressing. 

There’s not a lot you can do in all honesty. I keep an eye on the weather forecast to try and pick the driest window, and once or twice we have even packed up and gone home early to avoid bad weather. If we have to pack up the tent in the rain, we back the car up as close as possible and clear everything out from inside first. We usually put the tent on the back seat so this works for us. The aforementioned large porch area helps with this as we can use it to store our stuff while we clear out the tent. 

Ideally, you want to pack your tent away dry (we take old towels to wipe down our tent when packing away) but unfortunately it isn’t always possible when camping in the uk. If you do have to pack your tent away when it’s wet, make sure that you dry it out at the next available opportunity. This is one of the reasons we downsized from our old Outwell tent, as it was so big we couldn’t easily put it up in our garden to dry out. 

British Climate

The fact is, if you want to go camping in the UK, you’re going to have to contend with some less than ideal weather conditions. There’s no avoiding it, but with some preparation and the right kit, you can make the best of it and still enjoy a great trip. 

Have you camped in the rain? Let me know how it went!



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