By going out into the wild you are exposing yourself to the random nature of earth’s weather. Even if a forecast predicts sunny days, you might end up in a middle of heavy rain. This is why having a waterproof tent is crucial for campers who go camping in different locations every time (as opposed to the ones who always go to a single region which they know well). Still, if you didn’t invest into a tent that withstands wind or any sort of wet conditions there are other ways of protecting you and your friends from soaking up. This is why we created this article and we plan to make you experts in how to keep your tent dry by the time you finish reading it.
Key Takeaway: Keeping your tent dry during your outdoor adventure is crucial. Not only is the tent designed to protect your clothing, food, supplies, and camping gear, but it’s all that stands between you and harsh weather conditions. A dry tent can be a matter of life and death if you’re camping out in freezing temperatures.
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn what you need to do to keep your tent dry during harsh weather conditions.
How Are Tents Made?
Before we move forward with the advice you need to follow in terms of rainy weather, let’s first analyze how a tent is made and why does water go through some tents’ materials…
It is logical that you cannot make a tent from a single sheet of any sort of material. This raises the need for sewing the different parts together. The more sews the tent has the less likely it is for it to be entirely waterproof. This is because water will always look for the way with the least resistance, and if you’ve ever sewn you know that there will be tiny holes in the places where different sheets of the tent meet. That means that there will be holes virtually anywhere two sides of the tent meet, at the door, between the mesh and the zippers, the windows, and so on. You get the point, right?
Here are the ways of avoiding water build up in your tent we would like to emphasize on:
- Having a tarp beneath your tent
- Having a transition zone to your tent
- Keeping a good ventilation
- Sealing your tent seams with a seam sealer
Let’s take a look at each of those methods individually now.
The Perfect Setup
When you’re camping out in the backcountry and inclement weather is on it’s way, the best thing you can do is use your environment to help keep your tent nice and dry. This means choosing an area that’s heavily wooded, which will allow the trees and surrounding brush to receive the brunt of a downpour.
You’ll also want to search for a spot with high ground. Obviously low ground will be more susceptible to flooding and often quickly become saturated during a heavy downpour.
If you’ve planned ahead and brought along a tarp, once you’ve found the perfect spot to set up camp use the surrounding brush and trees to hang a tarp over the tent. This will help keep most of the rain off your tent, unless you’re also dealing with high wind conditions, in which case the tarp will be useless.
Why Having A Ground Tarp Is Important
Tarps aren’t only a mean to waterproof your camping experience. They can make things way cosier as well. Still, the main reason people get them is that most tents tent to leak from their floors. Sometimes, even if your tent is nicely water isolated the water beneath it makes the floor feel really cold and mushy which will deteriorate the experience as a whole.
Tarps come in different sizes, shapes, and thicknesses. Generally, people use them as rainflies (above the tent) and as ground tarps (which are put beneath the tent). If you are camping on grass you won’t need a thick tarp since the surface on which your tent lies will already be soft enough. In these cases you will only need a waterproof sheet of tarp. If you are camping on a rocky terrain, make sure you pick a thick tarp to keep you from feeling the rocks from under you when sleeping.
Another thing you should check before buying a tarp online is to see its dimensions. Make sure you get a size which is slightly bigger than your tent. That way you will not only secure your tent’s dryness but will also have a small area around the tent that isn’t muddy from all the rain. You can use this area to place your camping equipment so that it doesn’t take too much place inside the tent.
Tarps can be used to be put above the tent as well if you are not sure whether the tent itself will withstand the rain. If you have enough packaging storage our best advice is to just get two tarps – one to put above the tent and one for the ground. That way you ensure a pleasant waterless stay wherever you go.
Want to learn different tips for all camping seasons? Head over to our dedicated article on the topic.
Water can enter a tent through a couple of different paths. One of them is through the sews of your tent. The other way people forget to take into account is through the actual clothes, shoes, and equipment of the campers. Whenever it’s raining you will all most likely be soaked up if caught off-guard. In these cases, people usually rush into the tent without realising how much water they bring with themselves. This is why having a transition zone is crucial to keeping water out of your tent.
Most tents have a dedicated (implemented into the design) zone which has a two-door system. It is made for people to change their clothes in it before moving into the main part of the tent. That way the watery clothes and backpacks can stay in the transition zone, keeping the water away from the area in which you sleep. Furthermore, this prevents moisture build-up, which in fact is our third aspect to discuss.
Water is present in our bodies in great quantities as well, and if you put a few people in a tightly closed tent during a rainstorm in a few hours you will start seeing drops of water on the walls. That isn’t because of water slipping through the cracks but because of the moisture coming out of our lungs. This is why, no matter the weather conditions, you should keep a tent window open at all times. Most tents have a special kind of window that can be opened without letting water in. This will prevent CO2 build up as well.
When Condensation is a Real Problem
While a little moisture is to be expected and not a big deal, condensation can be a major problem if you find yourself waking up in the morning and your sleeping bag and clothing are wet.
Condensation buildup isn’t a major issue with all tents, in fact, tents that have excellent insulation only have minimal condensation. Another option is leaving the windows and doors slightly vented to allow the moisture to escape. However, if you’re camping out in freezing conditions then this may not be an option. But in certain weather conditions, condensation can easily overrun the interior of lower priced tents, whether the windows have been left open or not.
To solve this issue and prevent damage to your expensive camping gear, food, clothing, and supplies, purchase a tent with a double-wall ripstop nylon design. This design works by allowing the moisture in the interior of the tent to pass through the double wall design, condensing out.
Using Seam Sealer
This is one of the least important ways to waterproof your tent because if you actually need a seam sealer, chances are that your tent will leak through a place you skipped anyway. Still, having a sealer in your backpack wouldn’t add too much to the overall weight and can prove crucial at the right moment.
The last thing you should do after hearing all this advice is to test it all out in your backyard if possible. Just wait for a rain to come along and get set your tent up to see if such conditions will prove too much for your gear.
If you want to check out some of the best tents on the market, head over to our Buyer’s Guide.
As you can see, there are many tips and tricks you can try during your next camping trip that will keep your tent nice and dry if inclement weather is on the horizon. Of course, a tent upgrade can also make a world of difference since many of the leading models now come equipped with innovative designs that will help to prevent condensation and a heavy downpour from ruining your backcountry adventure.