Trees provide a lot of shade. So, the tree shades is the chosen spot when we go camping. But, is it safe to set up a tent under a tree if it rains?
Camping under a tree is not safe during rain or even a slight wind. Some of the hazards that you can face if you camp under a tree during rain is:
- Falling branches
- Camping under a tree increases the chance of a lightning hit
- Water dripping even after the rain stops
- Falling fruits and leaves on the tent
- Falling tree trunks
- Nocturnal animals seeking shelter from the rain etc.
So, place your tent at least 15-20 meters away from a tree. The distance depends on the size of the tree as well. If the branches of the tree are wider, you may need to move your tent even further.
Some campers may suggest that setting up a tent closer to a tree could prove useful during a storm because the tree may stop lightning strikes. Well, that is a misconception. Avoid camping under trees or any other tall objects that may attract lightning strikes. Moreover, if you’re camping in a large group don’t place your tent closer to each other, spread out.
What can happen if you tent under a tree during rain?
Rain and lightning more often not will be together. The lightning will try to find a quick way to the ground. So, In general, longer objects will get hit by lightning first. If you camp under a tree during rain, the possibility of getting hit by lightning is increased. The constant dripping sound of water on your tent even after the rain stops can irritate you. Moreover, in some cases, the tent may develop water leakages even if the tents are waterproof.
Another major hazard is the risk of something heavy falling on your tent. The least dangerous of these are falling fruits. However, if you camp under a palm or coconut tree, this could be life-changing. It is nowhere as hilarious as those videos of coconuts bouncing off tents. The falling fruit could cause a bump on your head or even a concussion.
Dead branches could be dislodged from the tree during a storm. They come raining down towards the base of the tree. This could also cause untold damage to life and property. The worst of all this is if the tree itself has been damaged or dying. If lightning strikes a damaged tree, or if a heavy gust of windbreaks the trunk, then, you can have an entire tree ripping your tent apart in the middle of a storm.
The next possibility is an animal attack. If you set up close to a tree that is home to bats or burrowing creatures like snakes, you could have an animal bite when you are least expecting it. A bite or a sting in a deserted spot can be deadly. Even a bite from a bat could cause rabies.
If you camp under a tree, you will experience the rain even after it is over. The dripping of water from the leaves will not stop as rain does. The rainwater accumulates in the leaves and branches and spills them constantly over some time. This could be another problem that you have to face.
So it is recommended to camp far away at least 15-20 meters from tall objects.
Is there anything superstitious under trees?
Fairies and evil spirits dwell in a tree, according to legends across the globe. So, if you are the superstitious kind, you would have heard many old wives’ tales about sleeping under trees. Well, sleeping under a tree is not recommended at night owing to carbon dioxide emissions, but there are some interesting stories about staying near a tree at night.
A superstition that probably originated in India, talks about how spirits will visit you in the middle of the night. As luck would have it, if you are met by a vengeful, evil spirit, then you could be driven into the ground by said spirit.
There is a possibility that this came about because many people who slept under trees felt like their sleep was disturbed, and that they could not breathe too well at night. However, there is a scientific reason behind this- that plants breathe in oxygen during the night, once photosynthesis stops. Excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the vicinity could result in breathing difficulties.
Sleep paralysis is another superstition that many people have heard and a rumor that many have also helped to spread. This can happen due to the exchange of gases taking place in the tree. Despite no scientific evidence being available to back up these claims, many people avoid sleeping under trees, which, all things considered, works out to their advantage.
What is the best placement for the tent during rain?
Like we mentioned before, it would be good if you set up your tent a little away from the surrounding trees, like 15-20 meters or so away from the nearest tree. However, it might not be possible to set up away from trees, especially if you are camping in a temperate forest in the northwest. In this case, it would be wise to set up a tarp over your tent to protect yourself and the tent from anything falling from the trees.
Higher ground is ideal for pitching a tent during rain. This is because any depression in the ground could cause water to pool in it. You might have to deal with flooding inside your tent if you choose a low-lying area. The bottom of a slope is also a big no if you are pitching your tent in the rain.
How to camp in a rain and stay comfortable?
Camping in rain happens. But, you can still stay comfortable if you take the precautions. Check out the video below and stay comfortable even if it’s raining on your campsite.
What if the rainwater surrounds my tent?
If, despite your best efforts and planning, you end up in a place where the water pools after a storm, there are some ways to stay dry inside your tent. First, lay a tarp on the floor of your tent. This will stop the moisture from the ground from seeping into your tent and getting your bedding wet.
In the event of a flash flood, use a newspaper to protect the base of your tent. Yes, remember to pack some newspapers with you on your camping trip so that they can keep you relatively dry. They can even dry out your shoes sooner than usual.
Try to move out of your tent after the rain, and stay in a relatively dry spot so that you do not catch a cold or suffer hypothermia. Dry out your tent before you pack it away.
How to keep yourself dry inside the tent during rain?
If you have set up your tent in a relatively good spot, and do not face the possibility of a flood, it is easy to keep yourself dry inside your tent during a rainstorm. Before you set off on your trip, check if your tent is waterproof, or if it requires an extra coating of weather-proofing.
The first thing to remember is to move all your belongings away from the sides of the tent. This is because any object touching the sides could attract water molecules from the outside towards it.
Second, make sure you bring some tarps along for the trip if the weather forecast announces rain. Set up a tarp over your tent to prevent water seepage, and one on the floor of your tent so that there is no water seepage from the ground.
Third, use plastic or Ziploc bags to use as temporary band-aids if your tent develops a tear or hole. These bags are lightweight but come in handy during a rainstorm. You could also use them to keep your belongings dry if there is any water seepage inside the tent.
If you are using a canvas tent, you can also light up a small fire inside your tent. However, this is not advisable if you are using a tent that is made of synthetic material, as you could ignite the tent as well.
You could make the best of your camping trip even during the rain. There are many board games that you can carry with you. If you have laid a tarp before setting up your tent, then you can even spread out your sleeping bag, and enjoy a nap while it rains outside your tent.