How to Make Your Own Tent

How to Make Your Own Tent
A sudden change in the weather or an unexpected injury can turn a short day hike into a multi-day affair. You can prepare for the unexpected by packing just a few small, lightweight items that will allow you to build a basic shelter in the woods. Building a simple shelter is a valuable survival tool. Shelter will keep you out of the wind and you can stay dry and warm.Read on to learn how to make a simple tent using just a poncho and some rope.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Poncho or plastic tarp
  • Rope (25-plus feet)
  • Four stakes (or sticks or rocks)
Step 1
Tie the rope to first one tree and then to the next making sure that the rope is taut and about 3 feet off the ground. Use a good knot, such as a taut-line hitch or two half hitches that will hold all night.
Step 2
Lay the poncho, tarp, or other large, light, and waterproof object across the rope. Ideally, the edges of the poncho on both sides of the rope should rest on the ground.
Step 3 
Stake the four corners of the poncho or tarp into the ground, making the fabric taut and covering as much of the ground as possible. If you don't have stakes you can use rocks or sticks. One benefit of using rocks is that you don't have to poke holes in your poncho or whatever object you are using.
Step 4
You now have a very rudimentary shelter that will shield you from rain, snow or intense sun. If you have another poncho or tarp, you can lay it on the ground. Make sure that its edges don't extend past the edges of your roof to prevent rain from running off and collecting on your ground cover.

Tips & Warnings

Always be prepared for overnight stays even when departing on day hikes. Sudden bad weather or an injury can turn a short hike into a much longer trip. Packing a few emergency blankets, a poncho, duct tape and some rope is a good way to keep your load light while being prepared for the unexpected.
Backpacking hammocks can be light, small, and function like a tent in many ways. Some even come with rain flies and insect netting.

Article Written By Johnnie Chamberlin

Johnnie Chamberlin lives and works in Bloomington, Ind. He holds a Master of Science in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley. Over the last five years, he has written numerous articles for several magazines,, and other websites. He is the author of "Trails of Little Rock."

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