A match burning with others next to it

Rainy Day Camping: Save Your Wet Matches!

When planning a camping trip, the most important (and obvious) detail is your preparation for the weather.

Depending on the time of year, it’s always possible to encounter an unexpected thunderstorm. This could mean that the matches you brought for lighting a fire could get wet. Of course, you could also drop them in a lake or a river.

Fortunately, there are a few things that you can still do to light a campfire, even if your matches do get wet. You can also do a few things to be prepared for rain while camping so that your matches don’t get wet in the first place.

Make Sure to Have Dry Wood Onhand

The first thing that you want to find is dry wood. You need to look for a dead tree that is hidden from trails, and the view of other campers, as trees like this usually don’t have a lot of wood removed from them.

There will likely be some overgrowth that has protected the tree, keeping it from getting too wet in the rain. Even if the outer layer of the pieces of wood you get is wet, you can usually remove it so that you only use the interior part of the wood to start a fire.

You will assemble all of the small pieces of wood you collect into a pile. Make sure you keep a few small pieces aside to use as kindling.

Larger pieces should be kept for fuel because you’re going to need to feed the fire after it gets started and over time as the flames keep going. If you have one available, you want to put a tarp over the area where you’re trying to start a fire.

A plastic trash bag can work as well.

A man carrying dry firewood

Starting Your Fire

When camping, a few different chemicals can be used to start a fire if your matches get wet. Lighter fluid is an option to consider.

You could use gasoline, but you only need a small amount, and you need to be extremely careful when using this as a starter for your fire. Another option is cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly or newspapers with lighter fluid on them.

Once your initial pile is made, you need to light the fire from the bottom to prevent the flame from getting wet from any rain that is in the area. After the fire starts, you can use a hose to blow it around so that it engulfs the pile of wood.

This is also a good way to manage the fire so that it stays in one place. Keep the tarp or plastic over the fire to keep it from going out — especially if it’s raining or if there’s any dampness in the area.

Remember, you’ll always need these matches when it comes to cooking with campfires. So you never want them to get wet and usable.

Location, Location

When setting up your tent, you need to choose a location that offers coverage if you know it could rain while in the area. Try to choose an area that is on higher ground to decrease any risk of flooding that could occur.

You want to make sure there are trees close together that can be used to put a tarp up to provide coverage from the rain. This can help to keep your supplies dry, including your matches and the wood that you have for your fire.

If you are in a higher area, you’ll usually find it’s not quite as cold as it would be in a valley or a low-lying area.

One other thing you can always do, if you’re in the woods doing dry camping, is put your matches in a bear bag. It’ll prevent rain or groundwater from hitting them.

Making Your Space

An important item that you want to have with you when you’re camping is a tarp. It can keep you dry, and it can make being on the ground a bit more comfortable as it can create a barrier between you and the dirt or grass.

In this case, you can easily prevent your matches from getting wet even when you go dry camping!

Consider getting a large tarp that you can put your tent on so that there is more of a solid surface instead of putting your tent on rocks and ground that isn’t as level.

Your tarp can be used as a shelter for when it rains so that you have something to sit under if you don’t want to stay inside your tent all the time. You’re going to need some rope or paracord to hang your tarp from one tree to another.

Make sure the branches you hang the tarp from are sturdy so that there is enough support in the event it does rain a lot while you’re camping. Your tarp is also beneficial for creating a shaded area for when you want to get out of direct sunlight.

A campfire on a sandy beach at sunset

Wet Items

If it rains, your clothes and other supplies will likely get wet unless they are covered. There are a few ways that you can dry out your gear so that everything isn’t soaked and uncomfortable to wear or use.

Hang a line from one tree to another so that you can place clothing and other items on it to dry in the sun. You can also hang a line over your campfire.

The heat from the flames will quickly dry out your clothing and any other wet gear. If your matches are wet, you can also try to dry them out by putting them near the campfire.

If the tip of the matches hasn’t been destroyed, you might be able to save the matches and use them to light another fire if the one you have goes out.


Instead of keeping matches in the box, they come in when camping; you can put them in a plastic container, so they don’t get wet. Keep the container in your tent, so the matches don’t get ruined or lost.

If you don’t have a container, you can put your matches in a plastic storage bag with a seal to keep them from getting wet.

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Caught Off Guard

When you go camping, you likely won’t want to stay in your tent or at the campsite the entire time. You’ll probably want to explore the area and go hiking or go swimming.

You need to be prepared when you venture away from your campsite if it starts raining. Pack a poncho in your backpack so that you have something to wear to protect your clothes from getting wet as well as your bag.

Make sure you wear the proper layers of clothing so that you can stay warm and dry if it starts raining. The outer layer of clothing can be removed if it gets wet and then dried when you return to your campsite.

If you don’t have a poncho, consider wearing a large trash bag to protect your clothes and gear. You can put a bag over your backpack if you have an extra layer of clothing on.

Try to pack a jacket that is made of waterproof material before you go camping. It will keep water from collecting on your clothes and keep you warm if caught in the rain while away from your tent.

A rain suit is an option to consider as well that can be worn like coveralls. It will protect everything from your shoes to your head, especially if it’s a suit with a hood attached.

Protecting Your Wet Gear/Matches When Camping

Even if your backpack is supposed to be waterproof, there is a possibility that the contents inside can still get wet if it starts raining. Each item that is inside your pack can be put in a small storage container that is sealed or airtight to keep water from getting inside.

Several backpacks are designed with waterproof materials, such as those with an outer rubber layer or a similar material.

A couple protecting their gear while looking at a map

This is often the best option for hiking or going on other adventures away from your campsite to keep the items inside your pack from getting wet.


If you get wet while you’re outside, then you’ll find that it can get cold very quickly. Be prepared to stay warm if you’re caught in the rain while camping.

If the temperatures begin to drop, then hypothermia can easily occur in a short time. Blankets are good to have on hand so that you have something to put over you if you get wet.

There are outdoor blankets designed to keep people warm for this purpose. They are often made with material that keeps water from collecting on your clothes while having an insulating material that is placed close to your body.

To ensure the matches don’t get wet in the first place, keep them under this material whenever you see clouds when camping. You can’t be too safe!

Cotton and wool are the best materials to wear as they tend to keep you warmer than other materials. Wearing warm clothing can also be beneficial if your matches are wet and you’re unable to start a fire.

Can a Matchbox Striker Still Work After It’s Gotten Wet? (Video)

Related Questions

  1. What are some effective ways to keep your matches dry while camping?

One effective way to keep your matches dry while camping is to store them in a waterproof container, such as a plastic zip-lock bag or a small plastic box with a tight seal.

Another method is to dip your matches in wax or nail polish, which creates a waterproof barrier that can be easily scraped off when you’re ready to use the match.

  1. How can you start a fire if your matches get wet during a camping trip?

If your matches get wet during a camping trip, you can start a fire using a flint and steel or a fire starter kit, which work even when wet.

Alternatively, you can use a battery and steel wool, or even a magnifying glass and sunlight, to ignite dry tinder and start a fire.

  1. What precautions should you take when setting up your campsite to prevent your matches from getting wet?

When setting up your campsite, it’s crucial to store your matches in a waterproof container, such as a zip-lock bag or a specially designed waterproof match case.

Additionally, always keep this container in a dry, elevated location away from any potential water sources like rain, puddles, or spills to prevent them from getting wet.

  1. What are some strategies for drying out your gear, including matches, if they get wet while camping?

If your camping gear gets wet, you can dry it by hanging it up in a sunny or windy spot, or near a campfire at a safe distance.

For matches, you can pat them dry with a towel, then let them air dry in a warm, sunny location, or place them in a bag with a desiccant, like silica gel or rice, to absorb the moisture.

  1. How can you protect your clothes and gear from getting wet when you venture away from your campsite?

To protect your clothes and gear from getting wet when venturing away from your campsite, consider using waterproof bags or containers for storage, and cover larger items with a tarp or rain cover.

Additionally, wearing waterproof clothing and footwear can prevent you from getting wet and transferring moisture to your gear.

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
-- John Muir

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