My Experience Camping in Rain with My Partner

Camping in the rain and during a thunderstorm can be a fun adventure or your worst day outside; it all depends on your gear. Since my partner, James is a weather aficionado we have invested in all-weather and weather-specific gear. Camping in South Dakota Black Hills trip put our rain gear, three season tent, and relationship, to the test.

Setting up a Tent in the Rain

James brought along The North Face Wawona 4 tent. Ever since our pup, Sierra Snow, joined our family, a two person tent is no longer sufficient. We need, at minimum, a three-person tent. The four-person tent felt extra bougie, which was a win on this trip.

tent setup for rainy camping

We arrived and had to set up in torrential rainfall. This led to a slightly askew footprint Wawona 4 under our tent and less than perfectly taut tent staking. Once erected, James used tarp poles to prop up the tent’s entry door and create an overhang, but that quickly led to a hazardous pool of water overhead so we brought the door down and secured it as a vestibule.

Due to the footprint challenges, our vestibule rug was soaked through, which led to a little water on the tent bottom or being tracked inside. Regardless, after three days of camping in the rain, a nearly constant, heavy rain I might add, I can confidently give the Wawona 4, our weatherproof tent, an enthusiastic thumbs up.

The full interior of the tent stayed perfectly dry even when James’ extra long cot rubbed up against the walls of the tent. Having the ability to stand up inside the tent to change clothes or just get out of the rain for a while was invaluable. For reference I am 5’6″ and James is 5’10” and we both still had room overhead.

camping in the rain

Any woman who has ever had to remove a damp sports bra appreciates the value of being able to bring her arms up without bending over. The extra space inside the 4 person tent also kept us from feeling too cramped as we had a generous amount of room between our cots, which Sierra Snow also enjoyed.

Staying Comfortable When Camping in the Rain

I brought my Mountain Summit Gear Horizon cot with me and it fits perfectly in the tent with a little room to spare on both ends. Sleeping higher off the ground and having the option to sit comfortably and keep warm in a tent, made those three days more bearable and the cost of the cot worth every cent.

Sierra Snow keeps warm in a tent

 Sierra Snow also enjoyed the ability to curl up underneath the cot, creating a makeshift cave for herself. While the cot would be sufficient for basic comfort, ever since I discovered the Sea to Summit Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat (Comfort Deluxe) it has been my constant companion when we car camp. The added loft and plush foam make the mat almost as good as the mattress at home.

This self-inflating sleeping pad is an excellent purchase if you want to wake up feeling fresh after tough day hikes or climbs. In cold weather, it keeps your bed extra cozy and to stay warm cold camping; though this works slightly against you in extremely hot weather. I would also not take it backpacking due to size and weight; this is also true of the tent and cot mentioned.

Camping Outfits to Stay Warm and Dry

Rainy hiking

Expecting some rain, though not quite as much as we got, I packed The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight jacket and rain pants. My decision to size up on both hiking rain jacket and waterproof pants for women, was a clear winner when I had to layer them over other pieces of clothing due to the bone-chilling temps that accompanied the rainy weather (low 40s in Fahrenheit).

These, paired with my La Sportiva Jackal GTX shoes, kept me dry even after hours outside exploring in the rain.

Dog Raincoat for Camping in Rain

We also put Sierra Snow's Ruffwear raincoat to the test during these outings. While the coat didn't extend far enough to cover the last quarter of her back, the areas it did cover remained completely dry.

 I wish someone would design a more effective dog rain hat/visor to clip to the coats for all-weather outings to help keep rain/snow/sun off her face and out of her eyes. Even though both our coats were rain-soaked and seemed soggy, we were definitely dry underneath even after hiking in the rain.

Pack Covers for Daypacks

As we always travel with backpack rain covers, mine is Sea to Summit pack cover, our daypacks and snacks remained dry during our hikes through the forest.

All in all, James selected well when he brought the North Face Wawona 4 and he got a free pass on this soggy, cold adventure. Despite some tense moments camping in the Black Hills, the relationship is intact to date.


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About the Writer

Nina Pukonen is an avid outdoor enthusiast and gear aficiando. She began camping at the age of one, skiing at three, fishing at five, hiking/backpacking at twenty-one, and rock climbing at twenty-six. Her favorite activity is hiking with her dog, Sierra Snow. When not in the forest, she provides business operations services and consulting to higher education, public sector, and private sector clients. 
Instagram: @thenordicgypsy