How to pitch a tent in the rain and not get wet

Which camping tent is suitable for bad weather?

  • At least 2000 mm water column
  • Nylon or polyester material: waterproof coating is important
  • With sealed seams
  • Double-walled
  • Window or ventilation opening and guyed doors
  • Spacious awning for (wet) items

Familiarize yourself with your camping tent before you use it. This way you know exactly where zippers are and where water could get into the tent when it is open. Windows and vents may sound controversial at first, but they provide enough ventilation to control humidity.

What should I pay attention to before pitching the tent?

  • Check the ground: The drier the pitching surface, the less wetness you will bring into the tent and the less condensation will occur. Small elevations from which rain runs off are perfect. Depressions, on the other hand, will accumulate moisture.
  • Air to the top: If possible, don’t camp under trees: It still drips down from branches, needles and leaves hours after a shower. In strong winds, branches can break off and fall down on the tent.
    Distance to water: More moisture rises directly on the shore of a river or lake than a hundred meters away – and this moisture is then reflected as condensation. In addition, there are often mosquitoes near water.
  • Gone with the wind: Large bushes and stones or trees form a natural wind and privacy screen. However, a tent site without any air movement is not ideal because a slight breeze acts like a turbo for tent ventilation.
  • Raise higher: During heavy rains, even trickles can turn into raging floods. For this reason, you should always pitch your tent about ten meters higher than the depth of the stream bed. Then you don’t have to suddenly flee at night.

The right clothing

Clothing made of cotton is not a good idea, because cotton gets wet quickly and dries very slowly! It doesn’t even have to rain for that. High humidity and sweat are enough.

Clothing made of polyester or nylon is much better. The lightweight synthetic fibers absorb less moisture and dry much faster.

This is the reason why good quality outdoor clothing is practically always made of water-resistant synthetic fibers. Dry clothes are extremely important for your comfort and health!

How to avoid moisture in the tent?

  1. Wipe off condensation: In cold, wet weather, there is often so much condensation that it drips down the inside of the outer skin. But it doesn’t have to get that far: simply wipe off the moisture with a small cloth or sponge.
  2. Cooking outside the tent: There’s nothing wrong with cooking under the shelter of the tent when it’s raining. You should, however, open the flysheet door enough so that the burner is out in the open.
  3. Stow separately: If you pack the soaked outer shell together with the interior, both will be damp. Separate packing bags can help, fold the inner tent so that the damp ground does not touch the rest.

What is important for tent ventilation?

Condensed breathing air (overnight: about 1 liter per person) and ground moisture in the vestibules create moisture in the tent, which condenses on the inside of the outer tent if it can’t escape. Good models therefore have large, rainproof vents in the zenith that can be closed if necessary, as well as outer doors that can be opened slightly from below and fixed in place. This creates a chimney effect: warm, moist air escapes at the top and fresh air flows in at the bottom. And the stronger the wind blows, the better the ventilation of the mobile dwelling works.

Protect tent floor

A simple trick, but one that can help immensely: A large tarpaulin, tarp or groundsheet between the tent floor and the ground protects against unpleasant ground wetness. The foil should be several millimeters thick, so that the sleeping pad and sleeping bag can not get wet. The tarp also protects your tent floor from stony ground!

Tip: The tarpaulin must not protrude under the tent floor, otherwise rainwater will collect underneath!

Plastic bags

Even though we are not big fans of synthetic plastics, in this case they help immensely. Large garbage bags or small zipper all-purpose bags protect against moisture in several ways: on the one hand, the practical plastic bags protect valuable contents from moisture from the outside, on the other hand, everything that is already wet can be packed in it so that the rest stays dry.

  • Large garbage bags or rain ponchos are ideal to keep your backpack and luggage dry when you are already hiking through the rain
  • Electronic devices (cell phone, camera, batteries, etc.) can be stored in zipper bags in the backpack to keep them waterproof.
  • For longer treks, it is recommended to store spare clothes in garbage bags
  • Food or medicines are also better off in small plastic bags
  • Simply wrap a garbage bag around the firewood, so it stays dry for later in any case


To keep the inside of the tent dry, it is important not to take wet items into the tent. Leave your backpack, shoes, rain jacket, etc. in the awning. Things you need inside the tent are best packed in pack sacks or even garbage bags, this way your things will stay really dry.


Besides the tent, you can get other equipment to make camping in the rain more comfortable. After all, you shouldn’t go into the tent with wet clothes on!

  • Get a long rain poncho: if you’re backpacking, even one that protects your backpack as well.
  • Waterproof backpack to protect your belongings – alternatively, get a backpack rain cover.
  • Waterproof clothing and shoes
  • Instead of a down sleeping bag, use a synthetic fiber sleeping bag: it dries much faster, doesn’t clump when wet or damp, and retains its insulation.
  • Use quick-drying towels such as microfiber towels – they dry faster than cotton towels, for example, and have another advantage: they take up less space!
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Small tips make a big difference when rain camping. Moreover, a rainstorm can happen even to fair-weather campers. Therefore, always be prepared and think of the appropriate equipment! Do you have any tips for camping in the rain? Then let us know in the comments!

Test your tent before you travel

Whether you have a new tent or one you’ve been using for a while, it’s a good idea to test it before you travel. Even the best outdoor gear can wear out sometimes, so check your tent for cracks.

If there are cracks in the tent walls, you will need to take care of them so that rainwater does not seep into the tent.

Practice setting up the tent at home

If it is raining outside, you will have to set up the tent and tarp very quickly if you don’t want everything to get soaked. So I recommend that you practice setting up your tent before you travel.

Practice everything from setting up the double roof to adding the floor and setting up your tent while keeping your gear dry elsewhere. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Provide adequate waterproof covers

You won’t stay dry on a rainy trip if you don’t have adequate waterproof covers. It would be best if you also make sure the covers are the right size for your tent. There are a few things to consider.

The double roof or tarp should be at least twice the size of the tent, while the floor should be bigger than the tent. You can also get a waterproof biffy that will come in handy during trips in the rain.

Make sure the tent is watertight to prevent water from seeping in

The entrance door of the tent should not be at ground level and should have a tightly stitched edge; if it is not or if it slopes downward, water will enter the tent.

Read carefully the labels where it specifies the characteristics of the products and the packaging of the tent, to make sure that the outer covering of the tent is waterproof.

Choose the perfect place to camp

It is recommended to avoid at all costs to place the tent in the following places:

  • Sites with uneven ground, steeply sloping terrain, on rocks or soft earth.
  • On the bed of a dry river, because if rainfall is abundant there may be water flowing again.
  • Any place that appears to be frequently flooded, look for debris or very narrow areas. Water could flow into these areas and flood them in a matter of minutes during a storm.

The best place to set up your small camp would be an elevated, flat, dry land that is not susceptible to turning to mud with the slightest appearance of water.

Set up the tent properly

If you find yourself in the situation of having to set up your tent when it’s already raining, you should install a waterproof tarp first to prevent the tent from getting waterlogged before you start and work underneath until it’s set up. Some brands already have waterproof tarps attached to the roof of the tent, so the inside of the tent will not get wet.

Then you have to tension and stake the tent to prevent leaks and the poles from breaking because it is vulnerable to wind.

Use an extra tarp as an additional roof

Even if necessary, you can use an extra tarp by tying it to the nearest trees (if there are any), but remember to pitch it at an angle so that water does not stagnate. Also make sure that the corners of the sides of the awning end outside the tent to prevent water from falling on top of the tent.

Another option is to use the tarp as a roof to cover the floor of the entrance and remove wet clothing or items underneath to avoid getting anything with water on it into the tent.

Store the tent carefully

If you are forced to store the tent even when it is wet, remember to take it out as soon as you have the opportunity to dry it, otherwise the humidity can generate fungus and you will probably have to throw it away.

Whether or not you have any protection under a tree, with any traditional double-walled tent, that is, a shelter consisting of an inner tent with mesh walls and a separate waterproof roof, first spread the inner tent on the ground and have the waterproof roof. ready to quickly spread over the tent, before inserting the poles.

Then crawl under the rain to erect the poles, keeping the inner tent largely protected from direct rain. It’s a bit awkward but not too difficult and usually succeeds in keeping the inside of the tent dry.

Still raining the next morning?

If you get a rain-free window, certainly take advantage of it to pack. Otherwise, load most of your stuff into your pack inside the tent; then get out, protect your pack from the rain as best you can (under a rain cover or even a tree); and just like when you set up the tent, take it apart with the tarp protecting the inner tent, then stuff the inner tent into your pack and the wet tarp into an outer pocket.

If you frequently backpack in a wet climate and often find yourself pitching a tent in the rain, keep in mind that when shopping for your next tent, look for a model that sets up quickly and easily and perhaps has a rain fly integrated with the interior living space.

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Learn how to pitch a tent depending on its type

The assembly of tents varies according to the model chosen. On the market, you will find a wide variety of products from ultralight backpacking tents to boutique tents.

The most sold products are usually the Canadian tent, the igloo and the family style with 2 or more rooms. But there are also more specific models such as tunnel, pyramid, instant and inflatable tents. Geodesic tents are ideal for sites where the weather can be unseasonable, while hanging tents are perfect for uneven terrain or with the presence of dangerous animals and insects.

There are other less common models, such as tents that can be installed on the roof of vehicles or those that can be used as individual toilets or showers. Each of these models requires different instructions for use.

Below, you will learn how to set up the most popular tents in the camping industry. Find out how to set up an igloo tent and a Canadian tent – get started!

Step by step: how to pitch an igloo tent?

  1. Choose the site to pitch your tent. Select a flat site, free of relief or tree roots that could damage the tent’s floor. Make sure that the site is sheltered from wind and cold but that it receives some sunlight. Remember that permanent sun exposure could damage the fabric. Keep in mind that you will need to secure the tent with nails, so choose a soft ground. Rock flooring will make this difficult. Also, the orientation of the door is key. Read on to learn how to orient a tent correctly.
  2. Clear the ground. Have you already chosen the site where you will set up the tent? Remove all rocks, stones and branches from the ground. By the time you go to bed, you’ll be thankful you’ve cleared the area before setting up your tent. If you wish, you can place a protective tarp or a double floor, which better insulates against the cold and increases comfort.
  3. Unfold and erect the tent. Remove the tent from the cover and unroll the fabric on the ground. The waterproof part should face the ground. On the other side, join the poles together. Insert the poles one by one into the holes at the ends and make them cross the diagonal. By placing both rods crosswise in the hooks, the structure will rise up. Then, in some models, you will need to fix both poles with a central hook and with side hooks.
  4. Fasten the tent to the ground – you’re almost done! Now it’s time to hammer in the pegs at a forty-five-degree angle. Place tent pegs in the eyelets located at the four corners of the base. To hammer them in, you can use a hammer or put your foot down and use your own weight to drive them in. Take note, you will appreciate these tips later.

Follow the instructions on how to pitch a Canadian tent

Before learning how to set up a Canadian tent, it is essential that you take into account the first steps in the previous section. Regardless of the model chosen, you should always clear the area before setting up the tent to ensure the comfort of the people sleeping there.

Once the fabric is spread out on the ground, assemble the poles. In these tents, there are usually two poles with a base, which will support the structure, and a pole with two holes, which joins the previous poles and supports the roof. Open the zipper and enter the tent without shoes. Secure the poles to the floor and check that the fabric is well stretched. Now get out of the tent. Fix the tent with the nails to the ground and tighten the guy ropes to raise the whole structure.

Finally, place the canopy on top and tighten the guy ropes of the canopy so that the water slides off to the sides in case of rain.

Keep in mind these tips on how to set up a family tent

Multi-room tents are ideal for large families or for sharing with friends. Although they are somewhat heavy, they are very comfortable once set up.

How to set up a two-room tent?

The installation of this type of tent is a little more complex than the models explained above. For this reason, it is advisable to look at the diagram in the user’s manual and follow the assembly instructions carefully. Here are some tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Ask for help to assemble the tent.
  • Be careful not to force the poles too much when inserting them.
  • Do not overtighten the tension bands, guy ropes and tent material. Doing so can damage seams, doors, attachment points and zippers. It is also more likely to break in high winds.

How to pitch a three-room tent?

If you already know how to pitch a two-room tent, learning how to pitch a three-room tent will not be a challenge for you. One more room does not complicate the assembly process. So if you’re thinking about getting a larger, more spacious tent, go for it – you’ll be able to set it up and enjoy it!

East, west, north or south?

There is no specific direction in which to pitch your tent. Although some specialists advise placing the door towards the east, the orientation is relative. When positioning it, keep in mind that the door should cut the wind, or go against it, although the wind is likely to change during your stay. Thanks to this technique, it is less likely that cold will enter or that the tent will swell and blow away or break.

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Make a plan before your trip

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! When you are making a plan to go camping, it is important to spend some time thinking about the logistics of your trip. Look at maps of the area you plan to go to for potential hazards. One of the most important things to consider is how close you are to a creek, stream or river.

Ultimate review of the best coolers and ice chests for camping in 2023.
If you plan to go camping near one of these bodies of water when rain is forecast, make sure you have an evacuation plan in case they start to flood. Camp far enough away so that if you need to escape a flood, you will have plenty of time and space to do so.

If you go with others, make sure everyone knows what the plan is and how they can help in case of an emergency. An ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure!

Rehearse your plan

Once you and your fellow campers are clear on what the plan is, be sure to rehearse the key points of your plan.

Practice setting up your tarp and tent quickly in the backyard. The faster you can set up, the less chance there is of rain getting your tent wet, and the drier it will be! Setting up a tent is a skill, and skills must be practiced to master.

Make sure everyone is also clear on their team’s responsibilities for when you need to evacuate. This will ensure that everyone knows what to take care of if you have to leave an area quickly. But, worst case scenario, leave the team behind – no tent or sleeping bag is worth risking your life for!

Wait out the storm when possible

One of the best ways to deal with setting up a tent in the rain is to avoid doing it altogether. Find a dry spot nearby or set up your tarp and try to wait until the storm has passed. Be careful when selecting your location to stand under. As mentioned above, flooding can be a real danger. Waiting under an underpass can be helpful, but it can also present a hazard if water begins to flow through it.

Try to avoid setting up in the dark

If you’ve been waiting for a while and it looks like the rain won’t stop, be sure to start setting up before it gets dark outside. When the sun goes down, temperatures usually drop with it. One thing you should avoid as much as you can is being wet and cold while camping. Being wet when temperatures drop below 50°F can cause hypothermia to set in quickly.

Plus, it’s much harder to set up your tent in the dark! You can’t see where you’re actually setting up, which can be a problem if you choose a terrible place to pitch your tent.

Tips for camp location

Finding a suitable campsite is a very important step in setting up your tent in the rain. You want to find a spot that has a slight slope rather than a spot that is completely level. Slightly sloped spots help to shed rainwater away from them, which will prevent water from pooling. When water accumulates, it can soak the floor of the tent and get you wet inside.

Tips for setting up camp

Once you’ve found your ideal spot, you can set it up even better to help keep your tent dry. An easy camp preparation tactic is to dig a very small trench around the tent. Then, dig a drain for your trench to help water that collects in the trench flow away from your tent.

By digging a rain ditch, you can prevent rainwater from soaking the bottom of your tent – always be sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles and fill your ditch before you leave your campsite!

Safety Considerations

Camping in the rain can present some new challenges compared to camping while dry. As mentioned earlier, an ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure. Be sure to be aware of the following when camping in the rain:

  • Hypothermia
  • Ditch foot
  • Flooding
  • Mud slides

Hypothermia is the most likely problem you will encounter. The best way to deal with this is to stay as dry as possible for as long as possible. When you do get wet, it is important to get into dry clothes as soon as possible.

Trench foot is a real safety concern, especially for backpackers. The best way to deal with this is to keep your feet dry by wearing waterproof boots and plenty of dry socks to change into. If your feet get wet, don’t walk for much longer. Take the time to let your feet dry as much as possible to avoid tearing them.

If you notice that an area is flooded, do not enter that water! You have no idea how deep the water is from the surface, so don’t risk being put in a position where you are struggling to get out of the flood waters. This is especially important in fast moving water. People have been swept away by moving water that is more than 12 inches deep.

Landslides are the least likely problem you will encounter, but they should be taken into consideration when selecting a campsite. Be aware of your surroundings. If you notice that the side of the hill near which you plan to camp has evidence of a recent wildfire, you may want to choose a different site. Wildfires remove natural vegetation that slows rainwater, so water running down steeply burned sites can lead to landslides.

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