How To Set Up A Tent In The Rain. Plus Practical Tips To Stay Dry.

This article will show you how to set up a tent in the rain, and ensure it is kept warm and dry. 

I have booked many camping trips with friends and then as the weekend approaches the weather forecast predicts rain. So after setting up our tent in the rain multiple times I’ve learned some tips to help you so you don’t have to cancel your camping trip and you can still have fun.

When camping, especially in cold climates, you are far more likely to encounter rain when pitching your tent. That’s where this article comes in handy. Here are some tips for avoiding getting yourself or your tent wet when setting it up in the rain.


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10 Camping Essentials – Camping Gear & Accessories

Camping essentials so you have fun camping so you go camping more!

  1. Matches, lighter or flint to get your campfire started so you are always prepared.
  2. Reusable water jerry can with tap. I love that this one is foldable yet still super strong. 
  3. Comfortable camping chair. This one has a cooler bag and cup holder to ensure you have a cool drink within arms reach so you can sit back and relax.
  4. Portable gas camp stove to cook or reheat your favorite camping meals and stay nourished.
  5.  Axe or tomahawk to cut wood for your camp fire. 
  6. Jaffle iron to make delicious pie’s, panini’s, toasted cheese sandwiches and more around your campfire
  7. Heavy-duty gloves for handling items on your BBQ, grill or firepit safely.
  8. A long-handled shovel has so many uses from digging your car out of it gets bogged to moving coals around in your camp fire.
  9. Waterproof, quick-pitch tent with plenty of space for your gear and to protect you from the rain.
  10. Dirty gear bag that fits over your spare wheel so you can take all your rubbish with you.

10 Practical Tips To Set Up Your Tent In The Rain

Wear Rain Gear

Wearing rain gear is vitally important as whenever you are standing out in the wet and cold, you could bring all that wetness into the tent with you. Bringing a rain suit or rain jacket and rain pants with you is highly recommended. 

Before entering your tent after setting it up, leave all of your wet belongings in your tent’s vestibule or a wet bag before entering to ensure the interior stays warm and dry.

Gum boots are essential too. Our kids LOVE wearing their gum boots and jumping around in muddy puddles! It’s part of camping and get out in. nature.

wear gumboots when setting up your tent in the rain
Wear gum boots when setting up your tent in the rain

Set Up A Tarp Rain Shelter First

Tye some rope between two trees to make a ridgeline. After this, you can drape your tarp over it to provide some shelter from the rain.

You can then lay out the pieces of your tent under the tarp so they don’t get wet.

This will make setting up a tent in the rain extremely convenient. This practice works best with smaller tents, as for larger tents, you may need a bigger tarp.

Choose A Suitable Campsite

Choosing the right campsite that is slightly elevated will help you go a long way in pitching your tent in the rain without getting the inside wet. 

The incline will cause the rainwater to run down the slope, instead of forming a pool of water around your tent. 

Also, avoid campsites prone to heavy rain that are beside rivers or lakes.

Use A Sponge And Old Towels

Use a microfiber towel for drying the inside of your tent. This is especially useful if you found it difficult to set the tent up, and got the inside wet in the process. 

You can also use a sponge or some old towels to dry your tent. You don’t necessarily need a microfiber towel.

We have a stash of old towels we take camping. Even if it doesn’t rain they are great to keep at the entrance of the tent to help keep the inside of the tent clean.

A chamois towel would be great to soak up excess water from inside your tent and then wring it out outside. Even a small one usually used for cleaning a car would work well.

Wait For The Rain To Pass

One obvious solution may be just to simply wait until the heavy rain passes. 

Particularly in summer time, showers may be short-lived and only last for a short time before you have the proper weather environment to pitch your tent up without worrying about getting it wet in the rain.

We really should have done this last year when we went camping at Norah Head. As we arrived it started drizzling so we thought we better hurry to set up the tent. It was a new tent too so our first time putting it up. But really we should have just left the tent on our car roof & waited for the rain to pass. It was covered by a tarp anyway. Ah well lesson learnt!

practice setting up your tent at home
Practice setting up your tent in your backyard

Practice Setting Up Your Tent At Home

It’s smart to practice setting up your tarp and tent in advance so whenever you arrive at the campsite or camping destination and it’s time to set it up, you’ll be able to do it quickly and easily instead of struggling in the soaking rain and mud!

Set Up The Fly First

Setting up the waterproof fly beforehand and using it to cover your tent will add an extra layer of protection between your inner tent and the elements. This is a good strategy to prevent the inside of your tent from getting wet when setting it up in the rain.

Shelter Using Tree Branches

Try to set up your tent using shelter from tree branches in order to protect the interior of your tent from getting wet. 

Although be careful of branches that look like they may break. if it is a big storm with heavy wind you definitely don’t want a branch to fall on you or your tent.

Erect The Poles Last

  With this method, you can spread your interior tent on the ground first, before adding a rainfly and covering your interior.

After this, while underneath the rainfly, you can erect the poles. This will protect your interior from getting wet and will keep you dry in the process.

Dig A Trench

Dig a small trench around the tent to drain off any water from the tent or flowing toward it on the ground.

My friend who used to be in the army used to use one of these shovels to dig trenches around their tents.

How to set up a tent in the rain

Tips For Storing Your Tent To Make It Easier To Set Up In The Rain

Roll The Fly Outwards

Get into the habit of always rolling the fly so the exterior is positioned outwards. This will prevent the inner tent from getting wet 99% of the time.

Close All Windows And Doors On The Tent

It’s good practice to close any doors, windows, or vents when you pack it up. Then they will be closed whenever you go to set up the tent in the rain, thus protecting the interior from being soaked.

Pack Tent Parts Separately

Keep the poles, inner tent and fly separately. This way you can keep your other stuff dry under shelter while you get the poles out first. 

On the other hand, if the poles are rolled up inside the tent, you will have to unroll it first and thus exposing your tent to the rain.

Tents That Are Easier To Set Up In The Rain

If you haven’t already got a tent or are looking for a new tent to buy, there are some tents that are easier to set up in the rain.

Single-walled Tents

Single-walled tents are far easier to set up, and many are pop-up tents like this one. 

However, because they are only single layer, condensation can occur which will soak the inside of your tent. 

So choose wisely when investing in your new tent. A double-walled tent would likely be a better option if you are going to set up your tent in the rain.

Tents With Exterior Poles

Tents with exterior poles are rare but they boast some impressive features when it comes to setting up a tent in the rain.

They usually have extremely strong construction so can handle high winds. 

The inner tent is attached to the fly so setup is quite fast.

Use a tent with exterior poles to setup your tent in the rain

Tents With An Integrated Rainfly

If you frequently camp in wet climates where it rains a lot, consider purchasing a model that has a rainfly integrated and sets up quickly and easily so you can avoid getting the interior of your tent wet as much as possible.

Tents Where You Can Set Up The Fly First

There are many tents out there called Fly First Tents, which essentially are tents that enable you to set up the fly before laying down your ground layer and filling the rest of your interior.

I have reviewed the best 4 person tents for camping here.

How To Set Up A Double-walled Tent In The Rain Using The Fly-first Method

With this method, you first pitch the tent fly and then you can proceed to set up the interior. This method prevents it from getting wet, and is very effective.

Step 1. First, connect all the poles.

Step 2. Throw the fly over the poles quickly

Step 3. Lay down the groundsheet

Step 4. Attach the inner tent to the poles

Step 5. Stake down your tent and finish securing the fly

Step 6.  Enjoy full cover from the rain!

How To Set Up A Tent In The Rain FAQs

What Do You Put Under Your Tent When It Rains?

Put a tarp or ground sheet under your tent whenever it rains. Not only will this protect the inside of your tent from getting wet, it also adds an extra layer between you and the ground.

How Do You Keep Your Tent Dry When It Rains?

Bring 1-2 tarps and set them up beforehand so you can then proceed to set up your tent underneath with ease and adequate protection from the elements.

How Do You Set Up A Tent In Heavy Rain?

Preparation is key here. You may want to assemble your tent under a tarp or heavy tree branches and then move it to your selected site when the rain eases

Final Thoughts On How To Set Up A Tent In The Rain

Learning how to set up a tent in the rain either a slight drizzle or during a heavy downpour may be difficult at first, but taking the time to properly prepare for this scenario will save you a lot of time, effort and frustration. 

Once you are skilled at setting up your tent, setting it up in the rain using these tips and strategies really will make it one thing – a breeze!

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