How to Catch Rain Water While Camping

Rain water harvesting is not a new concept. If you enjoy primitive style camping you eventually realize how important water is and how difficult it can be to retrieve it for yourself. Of course you can always gather river water, boil it, and then filter it. But this isn’t always the simplest method for harvesting water while camping.

Camping primitive usually means there is no available piped drinking water, no electricity, and no facilities like flush toilets or showers. Here is a simple method on how to catch rain water while camping.

Supplies You Will Need for Your Rain Catch System:

Rope or string
Bucket or pans
Rock or other heavy object

Setting Up Your Rain Catch System:

You can either place your tarp over your tent or just tie it off between trees.

Step 1: Choose your location for your rain catch system (preferably close to where you are camping).

Step 2: Tie off the two corners of one end of the tarp-stretching as tight as possible without tearing the tarp. This is done by tying one end to one tree and the other corner to another tree. The tarp corners do not have to be close to a tree as long as you have plenty of rope to reach from the tarp corners to the trees. Make sure you place bright colored string across your rope to ensure that no one gets hung up on your rain water harvesting system while camping.

Step 3: Tie off the other two corners to two separate trees. Your tarp should now be stretched out as flat as possible. If you can, place one end of the tarp slightly higher than the other. If you are unable to, your camping rain water catch system will still work.

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Step 4: Place a rock on one end of your rain water harvesting tarp so that it pulls down the tarp enough to guide the water downward. The rock or object needs to be heavy enough to not blow off but not too heavy as to pull your tarp down. The rock or object also needs to be as clean as possible. Obviously a rock has dirt on it but you do not want to use an object with grease or other grime that would be hard to filter out while camping.

Step 5: Place your bucket or pan underneath the area where you placed your rock in order to catch the rain water needed for your camping needs.

Step 6: Once it starts to rain, let the rain rinse off your tarp for a few minutes before gathering any rain water for your camping needs.

Step 7: After you have collected rain water while camping, you will need to filter the water through cheese cloth, a towel, a shirt, or whatever you feel comfortable with.

Step 8: Your rain water is now ready for drinking, cooking, cleaning, etc. There is no need for boiling your harvested rain water.

I have been using this rain water catch system while I have been camping primitive style and it really works great. It really beats carrying heavy buckets back from the river and then having to boil it, let it cool, and then filter it before drinking. You will be amazed at how much water you collect during a small rain shower while camping.

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Authors’ Disclaimer: While every caution has been taken to provide my readers with the most accurate information, please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information in this article.


Personal experience.