Living on the “wet” coast means that we get mild temperatures most of the year. Our summers are sunny and not too hot, and the rest of the year it mostly stays above freezing, but it rains a lot. Most people focus on indoor activities in the non-summer months, but we don’t like to let the rain keep us from camping unless we know it’s going to be really bad. That being said, our weather patterns can change on a dime, so you pretty much have to be ready for unexpected rain so it doesn’t turn a camping trip into a miserable ordeal. This blog post will give you some tips on how to do this.

Rainy Car Camping Tip #1: Take Shelter

Without solid shelter from the rain, everything you do while camping becomes even more awkward and uncomfortable. Cooking, cleaning, even just hanging out and playing card games and socializing become more of a chore. No one wants to just bunker down in their tent when the rains come, so having different types of shelter for different activities is great.

We invested in the Eureka Northern Breeze 12x12 foot rain and bug shelter for all activities around the picnic table. It’s expensive but it is by far the best rain shelter we’ve ever owned. When it’s closed up, almost no wetness get in when it rains. It’s perfect for rainy camping so we can stay dry when we cook, eat, play games, etc.

We also have an open awning that attaches to our Skycamp rooftop tent so that when we get in and out of the tent, we stay dry. We also use our propane fire pit underneath it so we can still enjoy a fire with our camp buddies even when it’s raining.

If these things are not in your budget, there are other ways to achieve dryness. You can lash up a bunch of tarps and creative a tarp city. I’ve seen people cover their entire camp with tarps in this way. You can also buy a cheaper folding shelter and put a tarp overtop and add walls to the sides to keep out more of the rain. This is what we did before we invested in our current shelter.

Our awesome car camping set-up

Even with all these things, don’t overlook the importance of personal shelter. Make sure you also have waterproof, breathable jacket, pants, boots and gloves, as well as umbrellas. It’s easy enough to shed layers when you are under shelter, but once your body gets wet, you’ll get cold fast, unless it’s a warm summer rain.

Rainy Car Camping Tip #2: Stay Warm

With rain comes dampness. With dampness comes heat loss. Off-season camping in the rain makes everything chillier. And once you’re chilled, it’s hard to have a good time. We have several ways we take the chill out of the equation during rainy, cool weather car camping.

Firstly, layer up. Have lots of warm layers to wear underneath your waterproof jacket and pants. I always bring base layers, usually skin tight merino wool top and bottoms that are breathable and keeps you warm without any bulk. I also bring mid-layers, usually either fleece jacket, sometimes also a mid-layer down jacket, even down pants as well depending on how cold it is. I also bring merino wool glove liners and beanie hat, as well as a fleece hood that I wear under my waterproof jacket’s hood and waterproof gloves. I don’t necessarily wear all these layers, unless it gets really cold. It’s just nice to have different options for different conditions.

That being said, sometimes, you want to take a load off and not have to wear all the layers, so you can relax. We also bring a our Little Buddy propane tent heater, which we use in our shelter to keep the air temperature warm and cozy when we’re staying in it for long periods. In the evening, we use our propane fire pit under our awning, which keeps us dry but also contains the heat. And because it flows up to our rooftop tent, it also serves to warm up our tent before we go to sleep.

Also, don’t underestimate the warming benefits of hot drinks and liquid foods likecoffee,tea, hot chocolate and soup. They really get in you and warm you from the inside out.

Rainy Car Camping Tip #3: Get Some Exercise

Why go camping if you’re not going to go out and enjoy nature? If you have all the rain gear, going out for a hike or a paddle in the rain gives you a better appreciation for the beauty of rain in the woods while simultaneously warming up your body, so long as it’s not raining so hard that you soak through your layers.

Rainy Day Camping Entertainment
##Rainy Car Camping Tip #4: Have Table-Based Entertainment

If you’re going to bunker down in your shelter or under tarps for extended periods, it’s a good idea to have a few games you can break out to while away a few hours. Some of our favourites are smaller card or dice based games like cribbage, Zombie Dice, For Sale, Sushi Go, No Thanks, Pass the Pigs, and Kodama, to name a few.

These games are nearly always accompanied by copious amounts of keto snacks and hot drinks, which may or may not contain a bit of alcohol, if we feel inclined.

Your Turn

These are the ways we’ve manage to keep our car camping enjoyable in the colder, rainier weather that the Pacific Northwest bring on in the non-summer months. Do you have any other tips that we didn’t include? Please share them in the comments so we can all benefit from them. :)