Rainy Forecast

If you are planning a camping / paddling trip, and the forecast calls for 60+% chance of rain and/or thunderstorms, for every day of the trip, do you go anyway?


In Alaska yes
Any other place depends on if is someplace local where it could be put-off to another time.

When you are out there once the rain starts to fall you adjust to it as long as you are dressed properly.

Good luck on your decision !



If You Don’t Go…
The weather will be gorgeous.

I sometimes bail on a bad weather forecast but I can’t remember how many times the weatherman was wrong!

Lots of variables…

– Last Updated: Sep-20-06 1:00 PM EST –

For me there are lots of variables to consider when I'm making a decision.

How far do I have to drive to get there & back?
I won't drive 100 miles to spend 2 days paddling 20 miles of flatwater in the rain. But I have driven further to spend 2 days doing fewer miles of whitewater.

Where exactly is this outing going to occur? Some places I would go & endeavour to perservere, because it's a river I love, but seldom get to paddle.
Places I've been a hundred times before I'd probably bail out.

Who else is going? Some people I know have the necessary gear for virtually any weather, and an adapt to the situation mindset. Some of the worst "bad weather" outings I have been on are among the ones I remember most fondly. On the other hand; sleet coming down so hard that the weight of it collapsed my tent at 3 a.m. is not a fond memory. Ice covered mustache & beard are also not that much fun.

Is the prediction for rain, or are there thunderstorms with high winds, hail, and lightning predicted? I am "not" a big fan of lightning anywhere, at an time. Paddling into a 10 mph headwind is also not my idea of a fun time.

I led canoeing & backpacking outings (year round) for over 18 years. If it was on the schedule we went; so there is not much weather I haven't experienced on multiple occasions.
As the years pass, I am into "suffering" less & less. I do however, remember quite fondly, the suffering of hundreds of "delinquents", during outings when "nasty" weather occured.


I figure that I am a fairly lucky person and 60% chance of weather means 40% change of sunshine. I do bring clothing and may change my paddle route.

Happy Paddling,


start slowly
I see in your profile you’re only starting out. I’d suggest not to bother with rainy day paddle/camp just yet. Unless you already have lots of rainy day gear, which I suspect not.

Me? I go out until it’s 80+% rain forecast. I’m in a kayak. I have a dry top so I won’t be wet unless I want to, (which incidentally I do, especially when it’s warm).

But when it’s 50 degrees and forecast to be 75% chance of rain, I know it’s likely to be cold and not much fun. I’d bail.

Camping is a little different. But the same principle applies. I’ve got a nice double walled tent that I know will stay bone dry even in a heavy downpour. So rain doesn’t bother me at all (except when it’s steady downpour during the time I’m SETTING UP camp). If your tent isn’t absolutely waterproof, it can be a miserable experience trying to get any rest in a swimming pool.

Old profile
I’ve revised it. I’m not afraid of the rain - just wondering how many people would drive a couple of hundred miles with such a forecast. The destination is exciting, and the people who will be there are great.


But then again, I’m in a kayak, half sealed in already. So with a dry top, I’m as dry as on a sunny day.

Oh yes, my old passion was biking. I took up kayaking so that I can still have fun outside even when it rains.

So my recommendation is heavily biased.

Where I live
There is such a variety of weather across the state that the sun is usually shining somewhere. I pick and choose for the most enjoyable circumstances. Can I camp in bad weather and paddle in when the water gets rough? Yeah. Is it enjoyable? Nah. You have 20 years on me and I no longer need to challenge my self against Ma Nature. If the company would be better than the weather when you are camp bound, then have a good time.

Its always raining where I live.
I kayak – and live – in Southeast Alaska’s Rain Forest; it’s always raining. A foot of rain fell in August – measurable rain every day of the month. It never got above 60. We kayaked over 400 miles in August on three separate trips, and pushed past 1100 miles since June 1st.

Don’t be a wuss. Buy a tarp and a bivy, and then buy another tarp for the kitchen. Get a rain-coat, some fire starter and go out and paddle.

I never doubted
that I would go. I was just wondering how others felt about it.


Typically the people that I paddle with go no matter what the forcast. We evaluate the situation and try not to do anything stupid. We find that there is safety in numbers and usually paddle in groups of at least two or three boats when bad weather, wind, rain, cold water, or even snow is evident. We paddle late into the fall and early in the spring.

Extra dry clothes and the right gear to stay comfortable are key to enjoying the seasonal camping/paddling trips. I’ll be the first to admit that not all my paddling gear is up to par when it comes to cold water but it doesn’t keep me off the water.

I think it’s important to know the people that you are paddling with and how they will react if things start going wrong.

For me this is the best time of year to paddle and I enjoy a brisk fall paddle much more than a 90 degree July day in the sun

right on, Bro!
“For me this is the best time of year to paddle and I enjoy a brisk fall paddle much more than a 90 degree July day in the sun”

Glad I’m not the only one. I get excited when I sense the first hint of chill in the crisp autumn air. My buddy and I once joked, while most folks move down to Florida when they retire, we’ll move up to Maine!

I go!
Doc, if I listened to the weather forecasts here in western New York (land of lake-effect snow and rain), I would NEVER go out. I have been out over 130 times since January 1, 2006. I know others who wuss out at the slightest chance of precip. (or snow).

I always hope for the best, bring my rain gear and wetsuit, dress for cold weather/water, bring dry clothes, etc. if need be. I’m sure there’s more I could do to be prepared for all weather contingencies, but, I’m always learning. The problem I have is getting OTHER people to go out paddling with me! (I think I must scare them off sometimes, lol. Rain? Mud? Snow? Giddy up; let’s go!)

A friend and I kayaked up the Cattaraugus Creek (away from the lake, which was downright dangerous) on Wed. in 20 mph winds, 30 mph gusts, dark ominous clouds, against some stiff flow in the creek, as it had rained the night before. NO ONE else was out, esp. no fishermen, no people at all anywhere, in what is usually a popular fishing and relaxation spot. It was gorgeous outside, and despite dire forecasts, we did not get rained on. We were glad we went. However, it may have been a tougher paddle in a canoe.

As we are all making a long trip to Point Pelee this weekend (I am leaving in a few minutes), we will make the best of it. Sometimes shared experiences due to bad weather brings friends into even better friendships. We will make the best of it, because that’s how we are.

See you very soon!

– ness

paddle when it rains,
camp when it’s dry.

If you’ve got good paddling clothes, rain is irrelevant. I go fishing on rainy days with a drytop, skirt, and rainhat, and stay warm and dry when the other fishermen are soggy and miserable.

I’d agree that making camp in the rain – or breaking down – is no fun, but being snug in a tent when it’s miserable outside feels good. The tarp-and-tent strategy can make the transition from water to land a bit less frantic.

NO Lightning
One of my favorite times to paddle is in a steady rain. I paddle a kayak and have a spray skirt and rain gear.

I can deal with the wind and wakes. Sometimes it makes the paddle more fun. But the thing that will keep me of of the water is lightning.

I would go on the trip but on the first sign of lightning I would be in my tent or in my truck.

One More Consideration
Ness sort of mentioned it: “stiff flow in the creek”…but I believe one important factor has been overlooked. That is…how a heavy downpour might affect the cfs flow of a river. After a couple of days of all day/all night rainstorms here in central Texas, some of our rivers and creeks can get pretty fast and furious like all of a sudden…sometimes even close to flood stage. This might suggest that a paddler had better be ready for Class II or III conditions on what is usually a Class I river after or during a heavy rainstorm. This also might apply to setting up a tent dangerously close to a riverbank (unless it’s a good distance above the water)…Tents and sleeping bags have been known to float away. Then there’s the problem of electrical storms…but that’s another story. Aside from these three possible complications…paddling in the rain (in a good old yellow slicker) is just plain fun. No need to cancel that rainy day trip.