How to Make a Backpacking Tent

How to Make a Backpacking Tent
Although carrying a tent has its advantages, it's hard to beat your own shelter for lightweight backpacking. With minimal supplies, you can carry an easily assembled shelter that can hold up against days of rain while compacting to fit the narrowest cranny of your backpack. Build the shelter used by ultra lightweight hikers the world over.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ground sheet Tarp Stakes (6) Rope
  • Ground sheet
  • Tarp
  • Stakes (6)
  • Rope
Step 1
Determine the wind direction. You will want to build your shelter to deflect wind against the curved sides, rather than routing it through the shelter.
Step 2
String up your rope between two trees, perpendicular to the wind's direction. Six- or 10-mm width nylon rope should be adequate to hold your shelter. Tie the two ends of the rope to two different trees to create a taut line. Make sure to inspect the trees for any branches that could fall in the night.
Step 3
Fold the tarp evenly over the rope. Your tarp should be about 10 by 8 feet to provide adequate coverage. Durable and light tarp materials include Tyvek and silnylon, which is a nylon embedded with silicon for light weight and water proofing. Tarps can be purchased with stake loops or grommets built in.
Step 4
Stake down the four corners of the tarp. Keep it taut to create a large A-frame structure with openings on each end. Use your two extra stakes to stake down the center grommets on the tarp to keep the wind from flapping your shelter.
Step 5
Tighten up your rope. Once the stakes are in place, chances are you'll have some sag in the main support rope. Tighten it up until the two walls of your shelter are taut enough to repel water.
Step 6
Lay down your ground sheet inside your shelter. Your ground sheet should be cut to fit your sleeping bag. It can be composed of any type of plastic sheeting.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure to pick a location that is not in a depression or likely to pool water.
Do not tie on to trees on hilltops during storms, as they are more likely targets for lightning strikes.


Article Written By Louie Doverspike

Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.

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