This spring we have had a lot of rain and cooler temperatures in Ontario and I’m sure many of you have already been drenched on some of your camping trips. I have been drenched many times on camping trips over the years. One Thanksgiving weekend, I was camping in Algonquin Provincial Park during a torrential downpour throughout the day and evening. We killed off part of the evening by driving to a restaurant in Whitney to watch the World Series. When we returned to the campsite, the bottom of the tent was drenched right through to the point that there were puddles inside the tent. Our campsite was too low, and water accumulated in puddles all around our tent and seeped in. The tent was so wet that we had to sleep in the car overnight and went home the next day to dry out.
On one particular camping trip to Bon Echo Provincial Park, we had heavy rain for twenty-four hours. We stayed relatively dry because we used tarps over our tent and dining area and were camped on higher ground. The people camping across from us put up a tarp over their fire-pit, so that they could keep their fire going during the rain. The strategy for keeping the fire going worked well; however, they didn’t have a tarp over their tent and got drenched. They ended up going home the next day to dry out.
My most recent wet camping memory was in Balsam Lake Provincial Park in May 2008. It rained for almost three days non-stop. It can be very discouraging when you are camping and it is constantly raining. Given enough rain, anyone’s spirits can be dampened to the point where they want to pack up and head home early. Nobody likes camping in the rain; however, the more prepared you are, the more you will be able to make the most of your trip. Here are some suggestions for coping with rainfall while you camp:
Tarps: Always hang a tarp over your tent and dining area if you do not have a screen house.
Groundsheet: Place a groundsheet inside your tent to provide a moisture barrier between you and the wet ground.
Sleeping Gear: Keep your sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and clothes off the floor and away from the walls of the tent to avoid dampness. Place your gear on top of air mattresses or sleeping pads, which can then be placed on top of the groundsheet inside the tent. Make it a habit to ensure that these items are completely on top of your air mattresses or sleeping pads when you are out of the tent during the day.
Footwear: Always wear sandals or Crocs without socks during rainy summer days. Although your feet will be cold and wet, your socks and other shoes will be dry and ready for use when it stops raining. Your sandals and Crocs will dry out quickly. For cool, wet weather; wear rubber boots or hiking boots that have been treated to repel water.
Dress Appropriately: Wear rain gear and appropriate layers to accommodate for the temperature.
Select a Campsite with Partial Sun: A campsite that receives some sun will allow you to quickly dry out and warm up after heavy rainfall.
Stow Gear when not in Use: Before going to sleep each night, store all camping gear safely away from any potential rainfall. We move our lawn chairs, sports equipment, and other gear into the screen house. We take all clothes and towels off the clothesline and drape them on the car seats to dry overnight. Finally, we throw a tarp over the bikes to reduce water damage. We also do this during the day if there is a chance of rainfall. I have seen many campers with drenched camping gear over the years because they failed to stow their camping gear before rainfall.
Morning Dew: Ontario has warm weather and high humidity, which causes morning dew. As your camping gear radiates heat during the night, it cools down and dew appears on the surface of the camping gear. Again, if you do not want your gear to get wet, stow it.