A Guide to Setting Up Your Tent in the Rain

A Guide to Setting Up Your Tent in the Rain

While setting up a tent in dry weather is preferable, in some circumstances, you may be forced to set one up in the rain. This may be really frustrating, especially if you have no idea how to do it. But you do not have to worry because as long as you are prepared, the rain won’t ruin your camping trip.

There are a few techniques to set up your tent in the rain, and if you do it correctly, the inside of your tent will stay dry. Here is how to proceed.


The heart of your campsite is your tent. No matter how comfortable your camp may be, if you do not have a good camping tent, your camping experience will not be as satisfactory as you want it to be. If you want to invest in a good tent, check out our article on the best tents for camping where we listed and reviewed the top tents available in the market today. 


How to Set Up your Tent in the Rain

1. Separately Pack Tent Parts

Do not pack the inner tent, poles, and fly into one stuff sack but separately. This will allow you to get the poles first while keeping the others covered and dry during setup. Having the poles rolled up with the inner tent and fly will make them susceptible to water as you will need to unroll them to get to the poles.

2. Roll the Fly with its Exterior Outward

Having the exterior of the tent fly wet is all right, but having the underneath side wet is obviously not a good thing as all the water will seep into the inner tent. That is why it is best to roll the fly with the exterior outward to make it easier to set it while pitching other parts in the rain.

3. Before Putting the Fly on, Shake the Inner Tent Off First

Some quality tents have a water-resistant inner mesh, which means rain will bead up on the mesh. However, if you put the fly on top of this, pressure will cause the droplets to soak into the mesh. So to prevent these droplets from getting in, all you have to do is shake the tent a little before securing the fly.

4. Keep the Tent Doors Zipped

You should always make it a habit to zip the tent’s doors, windows, or vents when you pack it up to prevent water from getting through these entryways while you’re pitching the tent.

5. Bring an Extra Towel

An extra microfiber towel can be used to wipe down the inside of your tent in the event of a heavy downpour or if it took you a lot of time to pitch it. This method should suffice to dry the inside of your tent.

6. Practice

Practice setting up your tent because the faster you can pitch it, the less it will get wet. You can pitch your tent in your living room or yard days before your camping trip to avoid struggling to get your tent up, especially while it is raining. This is also a way to test your gear at home before going on a trip.

7. Opt for a Single-wall Tent

A single-wall tent only has one waterproof layer, so if you keep your door and vents closed before setting up, you can prevent the rain from getting inside. However, those tend to have some issues in terms of condensation, so even if you were able to pitch your tent without getting it drenched in the rain, it may still get wet inside after a while due to condensation. Although, some newer and high-quality single-wall tents feature better ventilation to counter condensation.

8. Patience

Another thing you can do is wait for the weather to get better before pitching your tent. Sometimes, rain showers are intense but do not last very long, so it is best to wait and perform other tasks while waiting for the rain to clear. If you are going car camping, you should park your car where you want to set up your tent, so when the rain stops, you can just move your car and camp in that dry spot.

9. Tarp Rain Shelter

To make a rain-free area, you can tie some rope between trees to make a ridgeline where you can drape a tarp over and tie out the corners. This will serve as your rain shelter for pitching your tent, cooking, or hanging out. Most campers bring multiple tarps to use as tent covers or for other camping-related purposes.

10. Choose a Tent with Exterior Poles

If you are going camping somewhere with frequent rain showers, you might want to get a tent that comes with exterior poles. Although the availability of these tents is limited, they do boast interesting features, like the ability to handle high winds better, have very durable construction, and are completely freestanding. Using this type of tent will also allow you to leave the inner tent attached to the fly to make it easier and faster to set up and take down. Additionally, you can still set up the fly without the inner tent.

11. Choose a Tent with Zip-out Panels

When pitching up shelter in the rain, tents with zip-out panels are better than tents with all permeable mesh and no rain fly since zip-out panels can keep the inside dry. After attaching the rain fly, you can also remove the panels. However, these panels can add weight, so backpackers may want to choose other methods.

12. Pick a Good Campsite

It is best to opt for a good camping spot that will not contribute to wetness or can keep your gear from getting wet. So, look for an area that is sheltered from the wind, on higher ground than the area surrounding it. Avoid areas like canyon floors, depressions, washes, or any low-lying areas. You should also avoid the bottom of a slope or areas where water gathers. You should also stay away from streams and rivers due to the possibility of flooding.

13. Wear appropriate footwear

It is not comfortable to set up a tent in the rain, and wearing the wrong footwear will make it absolutely unbearable. Thus, choose footwear adapted to the season, situation, and activity.

Wear quality, waterproof hiking boots as they can withstand rainy weather. Rubber boots and waterproof hiking boots are best used if you expect tons of rain. In the summertime or warmer climates, you can use sandals that are specifically made for the outdoors.

14. Rain Gear Alternatives

If you are on a budget and do not want to spend tons of money on rain gear, you can use garbage bags to prevent your gear and yourself from getting wet. Use them as makeshift ponchos to protect you from the rain.

15. Waterproof Bivvy Bag/Shelter

Some campers consider a bivvy bag essential gear as it comes in handy in various situations. These sacks or bags are used as lightweight weather protection for sleeping bags and reflect your body heat back to you. On the other hand, bivvy shelters are used to prevent bugs and rain from getting in, although you may need to open some vents to keep the tent dry.


When it comes to getting wet from the rain, you have to worry about the water from both above and below. To prevent water from soaking the bottom of your tent, you can place a tarp underneath it. To make sure that this tactic will work, you need to know how to set up a tarp under  a tent


How to use a single tarp for setting up in the rain

  1. Keep all your gear covered until you get the tarp pitched.
  2. Put your camping gear underneath the tarp.
  3. Pitch your tent underneath the tarp but do not stake it down yet.
  4. Put your groundsheet where you want to set up your tent.
  5. Carefully carry your tent to that area and stake it down.

This method will work best with smaller tents as larger tents are laborious to carry once assembled. It is still best to practice setting up your tarp and tent, as well as carrying it to know if this method can be an option.


The Fly First Method

Pitching the tent fly before setting up the inner tent is another way to keep your tent dry. Most ultralight backpacking tents have a “fast pitch” option. However, you will need to buy their groundsheet to put the tent poles in the specific grommets.

How to pitch fly-first:

  1. Connect the poles.
  2. Lay your groundsheet down.
  3. Set up the poles in your groundsheet.
  4. Throw the fly quickly over the poles to prevent the groundsheet from getting wet.
  5. Grab the inner tent and crawl under the poles.
  6. Clip the inner tent to these poles.
  7. Stake down the tent and secure everything in place, including the fly.
  8. If it is windy, you can add some stakes, but only about halfway through. Otherwise, your tent fly might be blown away.

Another helpful tip is to plan before you go. Doing so will help prepare you for any obstacle you may encounter on a camping trip. Decide which of the tips above you can use, pick what to pack, and go over everything until you feel comfortable. It is also best to try or practice your plans so when the situation appears, you will be ready and able to quickly and correctly set up your camping tent in the rain with ease.


Aside from using tarps, another way of staying dry during your camping trip is by using waterproof spray on your tent to reinforce its water repellent barrier. But, does waterproof spray really work on tents?



Knowing how to set up your tent in the rain before leaving for your trip is important. Though it can be annoying and dangerous, with proper strategy and preparation, you can easily camp in rainy weather.

Setting up camp in the rain can be tricky, especially if you are a beginner. Thus, having a grasp of the basic knowledge on the whole process of what you should do in this kind of situation can help lessen the challenges you may face.

We hope that the guide above and the tips that we shared will help you properly set up your tent that will protect you against the rain, wind, and any outdoor challenges you may face.

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