How To Make a Rainfly for Tent

As any experienced camper knows, a waterproof rainfly is an essential item to have when camping. It will keep you and your gear dry during rainy weather, but it can also provide extra insulation. Fortunately, making your own rainfly isn’t as hard as you think—it takes a few basic supplies and some patience.

Making a rainfly isn’t complicated, you can either place a tarp over your tent or make a custom rainfly. Whichever you choose, the end result should be something that will keep you and your gear dry. There is a simpler and more complex solution. First, let’s take a look at the simpler solution.

Tent with a rainfly on, Source: Unsplash

Setting Up The Tarp

When making and setting up a rainfly for your tent, you have two options:

  • Setting a tarp by tieing it to the surrounding trees
  • Setting up a frame for the tarp to rest on.

For both methods, you’ll need some basic supplies:

  • A large tarp or piece of fabric that is slightly wider and longer than your tent
  • Eyelets (metal rings) and cord/rope to secure the tarp to the surrounding trees, poles, or other objects
  • Stakes to secure the tarp to the ground
  • Bungee cords or straps for attaching the rainfly to your tent poles (optional but recommended)

Once you have your supplies, it’s time to set up. If tying the tarp between trees, thread the cord through each eyelet and tie it securely around the trees. If you are using a frame, use stakes to secure each corner of the frame to the ground before laying out your tarp on top. For either option, ensure that there are at least 6 inches of slack in all directions. This way the rain doesn’t pool during heavy rainfall.

Additionally, having one of the tarp’s corners lower than the other will help with water runoff. Once your tarp is in place, use bungee cords or straps to attach it to your tent poles. This will ensure that the rainfly stays in place and won’t flap around during windy conditions.

Securing The Rainfly To Your Tent

If desired (which is highly recommended), you can further secure your rainfly to your tent. This can be done by using a few additional stakes and guy lines, which are ropes attached to the tent poles and running out toward the ground. To set up guy lines, attach one end of the rope to a peg near the base of each tent pole and secure the other end with a stake in the ground.

These guy lines will help keep your rainfly from flapping in the wind and will also provide extra stability. Not only that but your tent will be covered entirely, ensuring maximum protection. It is especially useful when there is a strong wind that can make the rain fall under an angle.

Building a Custom Rainfly From Scratch

If you want to get creative, you can also make your own rainfly from scratch. This requires a bit more work but can be very rewarding if done correctly. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do just that.

Materials Needed 

The list is short—all you need are nylon fabric, thread, scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting mat, seam sealer (optional), and grommets or webbing straps. For lighter-weight materials like nylon or polyester fabrics, sealing is necessary to ensure your seams won’t leak when exposed to water.

Seam sealing adds an extra layer of protection on both sides of the seam, so there’s no chance for moisture seepage. Grommets are metal rings that come in various sizes—they can be used at different points around the edges of your fly to secure it properly onto your tent poles. Webbing straps are also great for affixing the fly onto the poles and you can adjust them easily if needed. 

Design & Measurement 

Before you start crafting anything, measure out your design on paper first so that everything will fit together nicely when it comes time to sew everything together. You don’t want any surprises! Choose how large you want each panel to be before cutting into the fabric; remember that all panels should be slightly larger than their intended size due to seam allowances (the fabric added along each side in order to allow for stitching).

Once these measurements have been taken care of and marked down on paper, you can begin cutting into fabric! Make sure that all cuts are clean and precise by using either a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter with a cutting mat. 

Assembly & Finishing Up

Now comes the fun part – assembling! Start by sewing each panel together according to measurements taken earlier; make sure all seams are sealed prior to attaching grommets or webbing straps (if applicable). Finally, attach grommets or webbing straps at appropriate points around the edges of your fly; these will help secure it properly onto your tent poles when ready for use outdoors.

Maintaining Your Rainfly

When camping, it’s essential to keep your rainfly in good condition. After each use, clean off any dirt or debris and inspect for rips, tears, or holes. If you find any damage, patch it up as soon as possible so that it doesn’t worsen over time. Additionally, store your rainfly in a dry area when not in use—if you’re storing it inside a bag or container, make sure there are some ventilation holes to prevent mold from forming.

Waterproofing the seams and fabric is also essential; this can be done with a waterproofing spray or special fabric sealant. If your rainfly begins to look faded, you can use a specialized tent cleaner and protector that will help restore the color and add an extra layer of protection against water.

Finally, remember to check your guy lines regularly in order to make sure they are secure and tight before each outing. This will help make sure that your rainfly stays in place and provides maximum protection during inclement weather. 

Tips For Camping in The Rain

Prepare Accordingly 

The key to having a successful rainy-day camping trip is to prepare accordingly. Make sure to bring extra layers of clothing, along with waterproof shoes and jackets. Bring tarps or plastic sheeting to cover any exposed areas of your tent or campsite from splashes or drips and umbrellas for walking around the campground. A hat can also come in handy during bouts of heavy rainfall. It also helps if you buy a tent specially made for heavy rain.

Collect Firewood

“Keeping a supply of firewood and kindling dry is a must if you don’t want to have a really hard time making a good fire whenever you want one. I’d say as soon as you have your site picked and tent set up, start collecting dry firewood and piling it up under your tarp. Make sure you hang the tarp as soon as you set up the tent so you aren’t trying to do that in the dark or rain when it comes. I sometimes procrastinate and only collect a few armloads of down dry wood before rain comes, and then I always regret it when I have to hunt around in wet bushes for “dryish” wood to burn. Get it over with early and you will be much happier.” – SandyBouattick; Reddit

Choose Your Site Wisely 

When selecting your campsite, look for slightly elevated spots so water won’t collect there throughout the night. If possible, it’s also beneficial to find an area with trees nearby—the leaves will act as natural umbrellas against any downpours that might occur during your stay. 

Stay Busy 

Boredom can quickly set in when it’s raining outside, especially if you’ve already explored all of your outdoor options for entertainment due to wet conditions. To keep busy indoor activities include reading books by flashlight (or headlamp) or playing card games with friends. If you still need to get outside, plan for some rainy-day hikes that won’t be too far from your tent.


By setting up your rainfly properly, you can be sure that you and your gear will stay dry no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. With just a few basic items and some patience, you can make your own rainfly in no time—giving you one less thing to worry about on your next camping trip!

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.