Taking A Tent Down In The Rain (Helpful Tips)

I could tell you about grilling burgers in a thunderstorm. We survived and the burgers were good, but not a good idea. I could tell you about coming back to our campsite after a huge downpour while camping near Lake Michigan to find our sleeping bags and pillows and gear all floating in a foot of water. We picked the low spot. Another bad idea. Taking down and packing a wet tent into your car is no fun either but sometimes you have to.

Taking a camping tent down in the rain is a challenge, but with a towel or sponge to wipe off excess water, a wet tent can be stowed away properly. Then, as soon as possible, the tent can be set up or spread out to dry thoroughly in the sun, or indoors with a fan or dehumidifier.

Learning to prepare well for rainy days will make camping more fun.

Why is caring properly for a wet tent important

Properly caring for a wet tent will extend its life. And taking care of how you take down a wet tent will make it easier to get it dry again as soon as possible.

If you put a tent away wet you risk damage to the tent from mold or mildew which can permanently damage your tent, even weakening the material and the seams.

If you leave a tent wet for too long you risk long-term damage to the material that can lead to holes, tears, rips, and weak seams.

A tent that’s been left wet for too long can also develop a musty odor that may be almost impossible to remove.

Just a few extra minutes of care will prolong the life of the tent for years to come.

How do I prepare to take down a tent in the rain

A little preparation before you leave for your camping trip will make things go a little smoother in case you have to take your tent down when it’s wet, or even when it’s raining.

No one likes to think that it’s going to rain on their camping trip. You like thinking even less that it will be raining when you have to take down your tent.

So here are a couple of things that you should plan to bring. Bring a towel or a sponge. If you are camping from your car you will likely have room to bring a large absorbent towel.

A large towel lets you quickly move lots of rainwater off the outside of the tent. A large towel also has the added benefit of getting water off hard-to-reach places.

If you’re hiking, then a sponge packed in your backpack will compress nicely, hardly take any extra room, and will add very little weight.

How do I take down a backpacking tent in the rain

Some backpacking tents have an outer rainfly that can stand free of the inner tent. This makes it possible to take down the inner tent while it’s mostly dry, packing it away separately from the rainfly that will be wet.

Once you take down the rainfly shake it out to remove as much water as possible then pack it into one of the outer pockets of your backpack to keep the moisture away from the rest of your gear.

If the sun comes out while you’re stopped along your hike you can take the rain fly out to let it dry. Hanging it over some paracord for a few minutes in the sun should work just fine.

How do I take down a large tent in the rain

If you’re tent camping with family or friends, and you are using a larger tent you still have options. If the rain fly attaches to the top of the tent and isn’t independent of the inner tent you won’t be able to take the tent down until you remove the rain fly. Most pop up tents fit this category too. I’ve also written about whether pop up tents are waterproof.

In this case, if you have a canopy or shelter separate from your tent, you may be able to spread the wet tent out on a table under the shelter and use a towel to remove as much water from the tent as possible before packing it up for the trip. This shelter could also come in handy if you have to set up your tent in the rain.

Keep in mind that as soon as possible you’ll want to pull the tent out of its bag to spread it out to dry before storing it again.

How do I take down a wet tent after the rain stops

If the rain has stopped, but your tent is still wet, you can take the following steps to help prepare your tent for its final dry-out.

Whether you’re headed home or to another destination, you’ll want to get the tent out as soon as possible to dry it out before storing it again.

So if the rain has stopped and while the tent is still up, grab a sponge or better yet, if you have one, a large towel and wipe water from all the surfaces of the tent.

You may find it hard to reach the top of the tent, but you can extend the towel and drag it over the upper surfaces of the tent with a helper.

If you’re doing this by yourself you can flick the towel across the upper surfaces that are hard to reach. You should be able to get most of the standing water off the tent.

You may need to wring the towel out occasionally. But doing this will make the tent easier to pack for the trip. This will also make the tent easier to dry when you get it back out at home or at your next campsite.

How do I dry a wet tent

Just remember, that if you had to pack the tent away while it was wet, then as soon as possible you should spread the tent out to dry in the sun, or even set it up in the sun so it will dry completely before packing it away in its bag for storage.

If you can’t spread the tent out or set it up outside, you may be able to spread the tent out on your living room floor to dry. Pointing a fan at the tent will speed things up.

Hanging the tent over some chairs indoors if necessary will also work and should lead to a completely dry tent and ready-to-store. Again, use a fan as well.

If you have a dehumidifier you may want to spread the tent out nearby which will speed things up and make for a complete drying process.

Some of the most memorable camping trips when our kids were growing up included rain. And because of those memories, I can tell you that packing up camp in the rain is no fun at all. Taking down and packing a wet tent into your car is no fun either.

If you camp enough you will eventually have to take your tent down in the rain. But being prepared makes a big difference. Be prepared and take good care of your tent and it will last for many years of camping fun. In fact, you might be interested that I’ve also written about how long a tent will last.

  • Kevin

    About the Author

    Hi, I'm Kevin and I love getting outside. I want my articles to be as helpful as possible so that you can learn to enjoy getting outside more often yourself. So leave a comment if you have a question, find a typo, or think I missed something. I'd love to hear from you.

    You can learn more about me and find more of my articles here.

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