How to Keep Your Tent Dry: A Guide to Keeping the Rain Out

stormy camp

If you have ever been caught in a sudden downpour while camping, you know how important it is to have a dry tent! When enjoying the outdoors, moisture can creep in from all sorts of places. Even in the dry desert you have to take some precautions to ensure your campsite and tent stay dry and protected.

Staying Dry Is Important

Keeping your tent dry will provide many important comforts and safety measures. In addition, protecting your camping equipment means you won't have to replace it every year. Your tent is designed to defend you from the elements while camping. Applying Kiwi Camp Dry brand water repellent and fabric protector is a first step toward ensuring that you enjoy a dry camping experience. How you set up camp is also important. An appropriate setup can provide you and your equipment protection from rain, wind and mosquitoes.

Main Components of a Dry Camp and Tent

A dry tent prevents moisture from entering through the inside and the outside. In addition, it's important to remember that moisture problems can still occur even if you don't encounter any rain on your camping trip.


Believe it or not, the moisture status of your clothes as you climb into the tent at the end of the day will greatly impact how dry the tent stays throughout the night. One of the first steps in keeping your tent dry is to limit the amount of moisture coming in. Regardless of why you are wet, if you climb into your tent with wet clothing, that water has nowhere to go. Thus, it will evaporate and build up within the inside of your tents walls, sleeping bags, and the air.

The best solution is to layer your clothing and then remove the wet layers before entering the tent. If the weather is rainy, wear a waterproof outside barrier and take if off outside the tent. If the weather is hot and sweaty, you will need to remove your first layer and leave it outside the tent.

Transition Zone

A key component to this process is the transition zone. It doesn't do you much good to remove your Gore-Tex jacket while standing in the rain, and then, where do you put it? Having a dry buffer zone between the outdoors and the tent indoors is critical to staying dry. Some tents come complete with either a large awning or screened-in vestibule just for this purpose. In other situations, you will need to create your own with tarps and rope or a small canopy with poles. Create a waterproof floor with a ground tarp and wool blanket or rug on top. Remove all wet clothing, socks and shoes - hanging them to dry out overnight. If you don't have a lot of camping gear or backpacking equipment, consider packing a few large zip lock bags. Worst case scenario, wet clothing can be placed inside to keep the moisture contained.

Sleeping Arrangements

One important consideration when camping is to use equipment that will help you stay as dry as possible when sleeping. Obviously the goal in keeping a tent dry is to protect yourself from getting wet, too. When considering sleeping gear for the driest tent, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Down sleeping bags become completely useless when wet. Therefore, consider bags that are made from synthetic materials instead for maximum warmth and dryness.
  • Elevating yourself will also keep you drier. Even if the skies are clear on your camping trip, the ground still retains moisture. This dampness will accumulate on anything close to the earth. Thus, you may want to consider airbeds or cots to get your sleeping bags away from the wetness in the ground.

Tent Set-Up

When setting up a tent, there are a few main points to consider to ensure a dry camp.

  • Find the driest spot to pitch your tent. Look for level ground, firm but still soft enough to drive in your stakes. The higher the campsite the better for dryness. Camping near trees will offer some natural protection; however, never pitch a tent near a river, lake, or ocean as water levels can change quickly. Even a dried out riverbed may suddenly surprise you.
  • Always use a large ground tarp under the tent as a barrier to moisture seepage from the ground - even if your tent is waterproof.
  • Ideally, you should own a tent which includes a waterproof rain shield or large rain fly. If not, then you will need to hang tarps with ropes attached to trees or poles. Make sure the tarp, tent or shield extends well past the size of the tent and has angled sides. Otherwise, rainwater can pool in pockets in the tarps or drip down the sides of the tent.
  • Keep the tent ventilated. Open up windows during the day and make sure to use the vent within the tent at night. This will ensure the moisture naturally released by breathing has a place to escape.

Selecting a Tent

When shopping for a tent, it is critical to understand the difference between water-resistant and waterproof. Basically, water-resistant will wick small amounts of water away, but too much and it will saturate the fabric. In order to truly protect yourself in a downpour, you must have waterproof products. Water-resistant tents will be dripping on your head at the first decent storm.

It is also important to understand the seams on your tent. Even a completely waterproof tent can still leak rainwater. To prevent this, the seams must be fully sealed or taped. If you don't know how to check this, be sure and ask the salesperson. If you are serious about braving the weather, then the best tent camping tip is to visit REI. They have some of the best selection of waterproof tents on the market.

Protect Yourself and Your Gear

Creating a dry campsite will not only protect your tent, but also you and your gear as well. For your safety, you must stay dry to keep warm in the outdoors. It is also important for maintaining the life and function of your tent to keep it dry. All tents will accumulate some moisture after every camping trip, so make sure to completely clean the tent and hang it out to dry as soon as you return home. Finally, be sure to check the seams and reseal before storing for next year.

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How to Keep Your Tent Dry: A Guide to Keeping the Rain Out