Stay Dry: How to Set Up a Tent in the Rain

How to set up a tent in the rain: A camper is setting up his tent in the rain

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Whether you’re a camping pro or a newbie, mastering setting up your tent in the rain can make the difference between a wet mess and a comfortable adventure.

In this post, we’ll teach you how to keep dry when pitching a tent in rain, sharing tips to conquer surprise downpours.

Keep in mind, this post is mainly about double-wall freestanding tents (the most common type). While you can use some tips for trekking pole tents, they work differently.

Preparation for Rainy Camping

Prepare thoroughly before your camping trip, especially in potential rain:

  • Choose the Right Tent: Two main types exist: double-wall and single-wall tents. There are two main types – double-wall and single-wall tents. If you’re wondering about the difference, it’s mainly about weight. Single-wall tents are lighter but can get more condensation, so some prefer the double-wall design.
    • Double-wall tents include an inner mesh tent and a rain fly. We’ll soon discuss setting up this type in the rain to keep the inside dry. Some double-wall tents are designed to be pitched fly-first, ensuring a dry interior. If you like the idea of a double-wall tent and often camp in wet regions, a fly-first tent is worth considering.
    • Single wall tents have just one waterproof layer. So long as you make sure the door and vents are closed before pitching, you should be able to pitch without any rain getting inside.
  • Pack Smartly: To keep your tent parts dry in the rain, ensure all doors and vents are closed when packing for single-wall tents. However, for double-wall tents, you have two options:
    • Method #1 (Connected Fly): If your tent allows, loosely attach the fly to the inner using clips, leaving the clip straps extended. Roll it up this way, so the fly is ready when you start pitching.
    • Method #2 (Fly Inside): An alternative is packing the fly inside the tent. Open the tent, lay out the rain fly inside, and roll it up. We’ll soon explore how to set it up.
  • Bring a Rain Towel: A spare microfiber towel is always handy for drying the tent’s interior before moving in your gear.

Always remember not to go out without your rain gear. A good rain jacket and pants are crucial to stay dry and comfortable while setting up and exploring.

Setting Up Your Tent in the Rain

You can use a tarp as a rain shelter when setting up your tent. But we won’t talk more about it since we know you might not want the extra weight.

With the right gear, let’s set up your tent in the rain for a dry shelter. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Right Campsite: Campsite choice is crucial, especially in the rain. Opt for higher ground to prevent flooding, avoid puddle-prone areas, and steer clear of dead tree limbs that can become hazards during storms. If you’re interested in mastering this topic, take a look at our in-depth post.
  2. Method #1 (Connected Fly) Set Up: If you packed your tent as mentioned earlier (e.g., connecting the fly to the inner loosely with clips), you now just have to:
    • Unroll the groundsheet (optional).
    • Unroll the tent (with the fly already attached to the clips).
    • Insert your tent poles between these two layers as usual.
    • Secure the tent poles in place.
    • Stake down the tent and fasten any guylines.
  3. Method #2 (Fly Inside) Set Up: If you packed your tent with the fly inside, follow these steps:
    • Make sure the fly still covers the tent floor.
    • Unroll the groundsheet (optional).
    • Set up your tent as usual.
    • Step inside to retrieve the fly. Be cautious of puddles, and remove it carefully.
    • Swiftly place it on top and secure the tent.

The primary aim of both methods is to keep your tent floor dry.

Practice makes perfect, so success in setting up a tent in the rain depends on how well you’ve practiced at home. The faster you set it up, the drier it stays.

How to Make Camping in the Rain Easier: Tent Considerations

How to set up a tent in the rain: Even in rainy conditions, a camper can effortlessly set up a tent with exterior poles

Frequently camp in the rain and want an easy tent setup? You have two options: go for a single-wall tent or look for a double-wall tent designed to be pitched fly-first.

However, let’s take a closer look before you make any decisions:

  • Single-Wall Tents: They are lighter but can have more condensation, as mentioned earlier. However, we still recommend them, and yes, you should leave most vents open while sleeping. There are also cool exostructure tents where the tent easily clips onto the poles.
  • Double-Wall Fly-First Tents:”If condensation is a concern and you prefer staying warm, these are your best options. However, they can be heavier since they may require a footprint for setup (attach the poles there first), potentially not aligning with your ultralight ethos. You can find them from most major manufacturers, or check out these popular options:
    • Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 tent (REI).
    • Nemo tents with footprints (REI).
    • REI Dome tents with footprints (REI).
    • MSR Hubba Hubba tent (REI).


Camping is about adventure, but unexpected rain can challenge your plans. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or just starting, mastering tent setup in the rain can make all the difference.

In this post, we’ve equipped you with essential tips and techniques. With the right gear, campsite, and tent setup skills, you can turn a rainy camping trip into a memorable adventure.

Embrace the elements, stay dry, and enjoy the great outdoors—rain or shine.

Interested in an ultralight shelter? Check out our TOP 5 guides on the lightest tents available in the market.


Is it OK to put a tent up in the rain?

Setting up a tent in the rain can be done with the right preparation. Choose a dry campsite, pack tent parts separately, and consider using a tarp rain shelter. Practicing the “fly-first” method or selecting a tent with exterior poles helps keep the interior dry. With these precautions, you can set up a tent in the rain and enjoy your camping trip.

How do I keep rain out of my tent?

To keep rain out of your tent, choose a well-drained campsite, properly install and secure your rain fly, seal any gaps, and avoid introducing wet gear inside. Using a ground tarp or footprint can also help protect the tent floor. With these steps, you’ll stay dry during your camping trip.

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