Thunderstorms are part of nature testing our grit in the wild. Thunderstorms range from being mild to severe and they have the ability to definitely ruin a camping experience and set you back on backpacking trips as well. Many people have even found themselves stranded in these storms and this could keep them stuck in the location for days at ends.
One of the main problems with camping storms is the floods and lightning that is associated with them and most people might not be prepared for dealing with these types of storms. However, with the right skills and tips, you can find yourself in positions that you could either avoid the storms or calmly deal with them and await some better sunshine days to enjoy your camping trip.
While storms cannot be avoided in the wild, they can be dealt with to ensure that you are able to have a more effective camping experience. With these tips and tricks, you will be able to not only be safe during these storms but instead of packing up and going home, you can deal with them much better and show nature you have what it takes to survive.
Setting up your tent
At a school level, we learn that lightning always targets the tallest trees and this is not just a myth. When setting up your tent, you should try to avoid the tallest trees. Even though they might provide more shade for the summer, they do carry a risk with them and once they are set alight, you will need to scamper to move your belongings.
It is also worth noting that once you are caught in a troubled situation, the type of tent you use could be daunting to break down if you need to move. If you are only 2 people looking for a breakaway, the simple pop-up tent is an effective tent that can be moved in the middle of the night without taking too much time.
Finally, you should avoid any isolated trees and metal materials as these are great conductors of electricity and they could cause some problems. Nevertheless, most camping sites do take these precautions and will give you safe sites above the flood lines and away from anything that could cause some trouble.
Small caves are not the best option
Many campers have the illusion that the cave will keep them protected, but this is not the case at all. Lightning has the ability to jump from the top of the cave to bottom and back up again while it has momentum. Should you be trapped in a cave as this happens, you will be left with nowhere to go and the rest of the people nearby will also be at risk.
Do not stay in the tent if you have a vehicle nearby
While it might seem safe to simply stay in your tent and wait for the storm to pass, it is not the best option. Tents are not as impervious to lightning as a motor vehicle and you should consider waiting in the car for the storm to pass. However, if you must stay in the tent, you should do exactly that as being outside is a little more dangerous than the tent.
If you are backpacking in areas where thunderstorms are common, it could be a better option to set up your tent in a ravine or anywhere underneath a cliff if you are in the mountains. This will keep the lightning from having a direct path to you and your tent. It is also worth noting that you should look for floods and avoid riverbanks in cases of storms.
Spread out if you are in a large group
Camping in large groups are fun, but sheltering everyone from a thunderstorm is not always easy. If you cannot all fit into cars, you should spread out instead of clustering up in a group. This will not keep you from being struck by the lightning, but instead of having multiple people injured, only one will be injured if the lightning does strike.
This will also leave you with a couple of extra hands that could assist in helping the person or making a plan to reach the closest medical facility if the injury is fatal. It is also highly advised that you let children stay in the motor vehicles and keep them from clustering up and playing in the rain. Standing in water should be avoided at all costs, but the wet ground will not make any differences to the dry ground.
Research the area and the climate beforehand
Understanding the area and the climate will not only help you when deciding to look at the sleeping bag as you will need to choose between down vs. synthetic sleeping bags, but it also gives you an insight of what to expect. If thunderstorms are predicted for the area, you should try to wait before camping or choose a different location.
Understanding weather patterns are also important and it is usually the taller cumulus clouds that build up. Once they become heavy at a range of 500-1000 feet, they are in the right shape for a heavy thunderstorm. With this information, you could spot the thunderstorms before they even happen.
Are You Ready to Endure The Weather on Your Next Trip?
There is absolutely no doubt that camping is fun, but it can also be quite dangerous as well. With the right tips and tricks, your trips can be a little better and you will be able to avoid any potentially hazardous situations. We hope that these tips answer your question of “How to Survive a Thunderstorm when camping” and that you will be able to enjoy the trips a little more.
One final piece of advice that you should remember is to try and get indoors as soon as possible with the first sign of any thunder or lightning and it is only considered safe to come outside 30 minutes after the last thunder rumble.
Luna Anderson is avid camper from Phoenix, Arizona. She loves outdoors and she wants to show people the endless possibilities of this world and open your mind to experience over possession. You can find practical tips about hiking, camping and survival skills in her blog hikertrack.com.