7 Tips For Cooking in the Rain

Precipitation on the menu? Use these tips to cook comfortably in a dry backcountry kitchen.
By Krista Karlson ,

Kevin Dooley

You know the feeling: You’ve finally made it to camp after hiking all day in the rain, and the last thing you want to do is sit in the downpour and watch water boil. Fortunately, with a little advance planning, you can avoid getting too soggy. Minimize the slog with these wet-weather cooking tips.

Portion your meals. 

Pack food in waterproof bags portioned out for each meal. You’ll have fewer bags to open and close, and there’s less of a chance of accidentally pre-soaking tomorrow’s dinner.

Use the right stove. 

In sideways rain, a liquid fuel stove with a wind screen is your best bet, but canister stoves also work well in windy or chilly conditions (don’t fully enclose them in a screen, though; built-up heat can cause canisters to explode). No screen? Build up a rock wall to shelter the flame (disperse rocks afterward).

Bring a lighter. 

Waterproof matches are fine, but a lighter will be quicker. Keeping it in a waterproof bag inside your pack, and transfer it to your raincoat pocket when you arrive in camp to keep it warm.

Organize your cook set. 

Store your stove, fuel, and cooking utensils in one place for quick access to avoid leaving your bag open in the rain for long periods of time.

Pop an umbrella. 

For solo trips, the easy setup of a trekking umbrella makes it a good alternative to a tarp if winds are mellow. Secure it on the ground to shelter your stove from the rain.

Set up a tarp. 

For big groups, a cheap hardware store tarp is your best bet. Scout out a stand of trees and secure your tarp using guy lines (use trekking poles if trees aren’t available). If there’s not enough headroom to stand, sit on your pack or bear canister while cooking. Make sure the tarp is taught and angled so rain can drain off. If sideways rain is a problem, set up the edges of your tarp closer to the ground.

Avoid cooking in your vestibule. 

While it's tempting to stay cozy, cooking in a small, poorly ventilated space allows toxic fumes like carbon monoxide to build up. Plus, if you’re in bear or rodent country, dinner-scented spills might attract the notice of unexpected visitors while you sleep.

However, if cooking outside is absolutely impossible due to extreme weather or high winds, vestibule cooking might be your only option. Open two vents so fresh air can enter and exhaust gases can exit. Prime your stove outside the tent and keep all your cooking supplies close by so you don’t knock over the stove while rummaging around.

Nothing turns you into a backcountry hero faster than serving up a gourmet meal in terrible weather. Want to learn how to do just that? Sign up for our Backcountry Kitchen course.

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