How to Pitch a Camping Tent

How to Pitch a Camping TentMost camping tents are relatively straight forward to pitch. Even large, expedition-style tents still work the same way as the smallest tents: Insert tent poles through specially made sleeves in the tent and, presto, the tent is up. Remember to check to make sure all parts of the tent are present in the tent's storage sleeve before you leave on your camping trip; otherwise, you might find yourself using your expensive tent as a survival tarp.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tent
  • Rain fly
  • Footprint
  • Tent poles
  • Tent stakes
  • Lightweight cordage
 
Step 1
Locate a suitable place to pitch your tent: It should be flat, or as close to flat as you can get, and clear of sharp objects that might poke you or through your tent, such as sticks, rocks and gravel. Sometimes clearing a few scattered sticks or rocks away will render a site suitable, but it's usually better to look for an already open sandy or grassy place.
Step 2
Remove the tent, rain fly and footprint (if present), tent poles, stakes and cordage from the tent's fabric sleeve. Place something heavy--like your pack or a filled water bottle--on the sleeve, tent and rain fly until you need them; this keeps them from blowing away in a sudden gust of wind.
Step 3
Spread the tent's footprint out. If there's not enough room to spread out the footprint, there definitely won't be enough room to spread out your tent.
Step 4
Place the tent on the footprint, floor down and lined up so the tent floor fits the shape of the footprint. Spread the tent out as flat as possible, and locate the thin sleeves through which you'll slip the tent poles.
Step 5
Assemble the shock-corded tent poles by lining adjacent sections up and allowing them to snap together. Slide each pole through the appropriate sleeve, matching short poles to short sleeves and long poles to long sleeves.
Step 6
Anchor the poles to the corners of the tent. Usually, there's an integral piece of the tent--either a pin that slips into the open bottom of the pole or a grommet that accepts the end of the pole--meant to serve this purpose. Once all poles are anchored in the corners of the tent, your tent should be fully upright and self-supporting, unless it's a small tent that requires staking.
Step 7
Press or pound stakes through the holes provided in tabs at each corner, and along the sides, of the tent. On some small one- or two-person tents, this is necessary just to erect the tent. But it's always a good idea to stake down larger, freestanding tents, too, to keep them from being disturbed by wind.
Step 8
Spread the rain fly over the tent, lining up the fly's zippered opening with the tent's main door. Most flies will secure to the tent itself via buckles placed near the end of each tent pole. Next, pull on the straps attached to each buckle in order to tighten the fly down; aim for consistent tension across the entire fly. Any loose areas will sag and collect water, allowing seep-through, in case of rain.
Step 9
Add stakes, as necessary, to hold the opening of the rain fly away from the tent door. This will create a gear vestibule on most tents.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Some campers like to use a small tarp, either cut or folded to the shape and size of your tent floor, as a footprint. Guy the tent down--that is, use the cordage that came with the tent to tie it to heavy, stationary objects--only in case of high winds. Otherwise, you're just making extra work for yourself.
 
Some campers like to use a small tarp, either cut or folded to the shape and size of your tent floor, as a footprint.
 
Guy the tent down--that is, use the cordage that came with the tent to tie it to heavy, stationary objects--only in case of high winds. Otherwise, you're just making extra work for yourself.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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