Tarp the Campsite

Adventures in Waterproofing for Camping in British Columbia

By Amy Clausen

Camping in BC gives new meaning to the term ‘waterproof’. Most items sold with this claim are simply, well, not waterproof. Spend a weekend in a rainy campsite or hiking on the trail and you will know what I am talking about. There is really no way to stay 100% dry when you commit to staying outside in the wet weather. Even if it doesn’t rain on you, morning dew, condensation and even sweat can … ahem, dampen your spirits on a camping trip. So, aside from lowering your expectations, here are some of my tips for waterproofing your gear:

Waterproofing Thunder Guard

Waterproofing Thunder Guard

1.      The drybox. If you are camping with a car, and don’t already organize your gear in a drybox, consider it. I pack all dry food, paper products and things like matches inside strong ziplock bags, inside a plastic tote with a snap-on lid. Contents stay dry, and you know where to look for things. In wet weather, push the tote under a picnic table for extra protection. If you are concerned about animals in the campground, store this one in the car overnight!

2.      Boots. I always pack two pairs of shoes for a camping trip, and exactly zero shoes are allowed in my tent. That means I leave my hiking boots outside my tent door at night. If you don’t have good tarp or fly coverage over your doormat, try covering boots with a plastic grocery bag overnight.

3.      Invest in your raingear. If you don’t have a rainjacket you love, invest in one, and learn how to take care of it. I recently treated my goretex jacket with a waterproofing treatment and it made a huge difference.  Although it had begun to absorb rain, after the treatment it was actually beading again! The cost of a waterproofing treatment is less than $20 and the results can extend the wear of your $200+ jacket significantly. Look into it, and be sure to follow all washing instructions.

Tarp the Campsite

Tarp the Campsite

4.      A tarp is only as good as its angle. I have often camped with a plethora of tarps but no great design to protect the campsite. Tarps hung too low will sag, hung too high they may catch the wind and take off like a kite! Take your time choosing a good campsite before you start hanging your tarps.

5.      Be prepared! Dress appropriately for rainy weather: choose layers in synthetic and wool materials, and always avoid cotton! It also helps to have emergency waterproofing supplies on hand to deal with emergency leaks. Travel with duct tape, extra plastic bags, and a garbage bag or two!

What is your best rain-proofing advice? Got a story to share about inclement weather?

Published: November 5, 2014

About the Author

Amy Clausen is an avid camper and the blogger behind ladycamping.com. She is an arts and outdoor educator, and a UBC student. She hikes and kayaks with her family, and enjoys road trips to historic BC towns. She lives in beautiful Port Coquitlam with her partner and young child.

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Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989