The climate change gurus predicted that a warmer atmosphere would carry more water vapor and more energy, so it would make sense that we would have more frequent and more severe weather.
Sure enough, nearly every outing that we have planned for the last 6 months has been disrupted by precipitation or thunderstorms. It started with us getting blown out of Black Creek Wilderness by Hurricane Cindy in August, and continued for the rest of the year with tornadoes on 2 occasions, and at least 3 ice storms (in South Mississippi).
I can’t help you much with thunderstorms and tornadoes. You have to use your sense and not go out in truly dangerous conditions, but just plain rain should not disrupt your camping much.
You should probably plan to do your outing regardless of precipitation (except for extremely dangerous weather conditions, like thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flash flood potential.)
Here are some hints to help you make the most of your wet-weather camping trips! (Of course, these are not all there is to say about wet weather camping.)
- If it is already raining when you arrive and you think that it might be a passing shower, or that it might lighten up, then sit in your vehicle and wait it out. You’ll get yourself and everything else wetter trying to set up in a hurry in the rain.
- If you do have to set up in the rain, set up a rain fly first and fast, using paracord and a large tarp. Use this fly to shelter your gear (and yourself) while you are setting up tent, etc… If you set your fly high enough, you can even set up your tent under the fly.
- If you know you’re going to be camping/hiking etc… in the rain, then you’ll want a rain suit or poncho in the top of your pack where you can get to it quickly!
- Boots with a Gore-Tex liner are really handy. When they get water (or sweat) inside them, the Gore-Tex sucks the water out of the boot and puts it on the outside. Gore-Tex boots can be expensive but they can save your feet!
- Pack 2-3 non-glossy newspapers in a Ziploc bag in your luggage. It’ll give you something to read while you’re stuck in your tent in the rain, and newspaper makes a good rag for wiping mud off of equipment or if your boots get wet, wad up a page or two and stuff down in each boot (not while you’re walking around in them) and it will help dry the boot.
- While you are thinking about your feet, you’ll want to pack several extra pair of socks (in a Ziploc bag) and consider nylon sock liners (A.K.A. pantyhose) because they will help pull water away from your feet and they will keep wet boots and socks from rubbing blisters. (This totally saved me at Kilimanjaro.)
- You can also get inexpensive gaiters. These are waterproof leggings that hook to your boot strings and strap to your calf right under your knees – sort of like chaps for your calves. These can help keep mud off your pants and water out of your boots. They also provide another layer of protection versus snake bites.
- Perhaps most importantly, you will want to practice these hints and skills at home before you go camping in the rain. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!