By Bob Humphrey
Spring brings warm weather, and folks are eager to set out and enjoy the great outdoors, overnight or for the weekend. But it also brings rain, and nothing can put a damper on a camping trip faster, especially if you’re not properly prepared. If you are prepared however, you can muddle through and ride out the storm in relative comfort. Then be ready to resume activities as usual when it’s over.
A variety of equipment exists to keep you and your camping gear warm and dry. What you can and should bring will vary according to the type of camping you’re doing.
Backpackers should carry some means of keeping dry. Packable rain wear is one option. In a pinch, you can fashion rudimentary rain covers for you and your pack out of plastic trash bags. If you planned on sleeping out under the stars but there aren’t any, a Space blanket weighs just a few ounces and makes a serviceable overnight shelter.
Tent campers bring their shelter with them, but must keep it dry too. Most tents come with a rain fly, and are made of waterproof or water-repellent material. Silicone sprays will enhance that. It’s also a good idea to put a tarp under the tent to keep water from soaking up through the bottom. If you are car or ATV camping you can also bring along a larger tarp to cover everything.
Where you set up camp can also determine to how dry you stay. Select a site up and away from water. Heavy rains may result in flash floods, which cause streams, rivers and even small ponds to rise suddenly. Also be alert for surface flooding in hilly terrain.
Trees trap rain and funnel it in to the trunk and out to the edges of the outermost branches - the drip-line. Underneath the canopy and between the trunk and drip line you can stay a little dryer.
Hypothermia is the number-one killer in the outdoors, and a wet body loses heat faster. Wear a moisture-wicking base layer. Over that wear fleece or wool - something that continues to insulate when wet. Outside that wear Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable laminate. You should also carry light gloves and a hat.