You know what they say—April showers bring May flowers, but that’s no reason not to plan a camping trip this spring. Up and down the West Coast and throughout much of the country the springtime is notoriously wet, but with the right gear and preparation you can get a good night's sleep under the stars—well, clouds—in even the dampest conditions.
The most miserable conditions are when you get caught unprepared. Even when there is the slightest chance of precipitation, you will be patting yourself on the back if you are smart enough to waterproof your kit ahead of time.
From your sleeping bag to your puffy jacket to your tighty whities—leave the cotton, down, and other organic fibers at home (except for wool, although I personally prefer fleece). As most hikers know, synthetic down is a little less warm than goose feathers, but it’s worth sacrificing a little warmth because it holds up much better in damp conditions. Cotton is slow to dry and barely wicks moisture off the skin.
A rain jacket is a no brainer, but investing in rain pants and gaiters will help you stay dry from head to toe.
Even though synthetic fibers stay warmer when wet, it’s definitely preferable to keep them dry in the first place. You can easily—and cheaply—keep things in your pack from getting wet by packing them inside garbage bags before packing them into your bag. If you want to get fancy, you can also invest in a backpack cover or waterproof sacks at your local retailer or from a variety of brands online.
If you come prepared and see a rainy camping trip as an adventure rather than a misfortune, you are more likely to have a great time out there. As much as you prepare, you're bound to get a little bit wet. Camping in the rain isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for some of us, falling asleep to the sound of rain pitter-pattering on our tents sounds like peace on earth.
For more on this topic, check out It's Time to Get Your Feet Wet.