Dear Mountain Mama,

Moving from California where rain is non-existent between April and October, camping in the spring showers requires some adjustment.

Any tips to help a West-Coaster survive a Southeast downpour? 

Thanks,

Happy Camper

Dear Happy Camper,

Spring in the Southeast brings a parade of change in the forests. In a weekend, it’s possible to actually watch fresh green leaves unfurl and the blooms of one flowering tree fade as another tree blossoms. Rain is an essential part of the beauty, and with a little planning and the right attitude, you can enjoy spring camping even in the rain.

1. Sleeping concerns: Sleeping in wet puddles can leave even the best natured of us grumpy. Do everything possible to ensure that you’ll stay dry during a downpour. Buy a tent with a full rain fly and a good overhang so that water drips away from the tent.  Invest in a tarp to keep you dry while setting up the tent and cooking. Regardless of the forecast, never leave home without waterproofing your tent with products like Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof. Look for the highest part of the ground to pitch your tent and avoid camping near signs of previous flooding. Instead of using a ground cloth where water tends to pool up, line the tent with heavy duty plastic. And invest in a synthetic sleeping bag, which will keep you warm even if it gets wet.

2. Clothes and keeping them dry: Avoid packing cotton clothing, which won’t keep you warm if you do get wet. Polypro long underwear and a quality rain jacket and pants are winning choices. Make you clothes bag waterproof by lining it with garbage compactor bags, which are more durable than regular garbage bags. Apply a compulsive attitude toward making sure dry gear maintains dry. Avoid carelessly throwing wet gear into your clothes bag, even if you think you’re headed home soon. Bring extra plastic bags to store wet clothes. And back up to your back up comes in handy when packing camping clothes.

3. Attitude counts: The most essential ingredient to enjoying camping in the rain, like anything in life, is a positive attitude. If you camp in the Southeast, it will rain. Expect to get wet and when you do, smile. If a storm has you hunkered down in the tent, great morale boosters include a waterproof deck of cards, a harmonica, and a plentiful supply of dirty jokes.

Dry out even slightly damp gear when you return home — otherwise a mysterious mildew scent will become your constant camping companion.

Enjoy the Rain!

Mountain Mama

wet hiker sm