How to Pitch a Tent

A quick guide to setting up your tent

Flickr/Clear Inner Vision

While each tent provides extensive instructions in packaging, it's good to have a basic understanding to help you better prepare for initial setup. Also, don't hestitate to practice before your trip. You want to make sure that you have all the materials beforehand. And it's much easier to make mistakes at home and learn how to fix them, so that by the time you get to your campsite, you will be a tent-pitching expert. Here are a few basic steps to get you acclimated with pitching a tent:

  1. Clean your camp area and put down your ground cloth. This will protect your tent from the elements of the ground. Some tents already have ground cloth sewed into the tent, so know if yours does, or if you need a separate ground cloth.

  2. Spread your tent over the ground cloth. Make sure that there is no ground cloth showing, as you don’t want rain or water to collect in the cloth under the tent. This is the time to note where the front of the tent is, where the door to the tent is located. With bigger tents, its much easier to set up the tent with the doors zipped open a bit, so that air does not get stuck underneath.

  3. Find the corners of the tent. Make sure they are exposed and in the right places, so they are ready for the poles.

  4. Put together the poles. This is usually pretty simple because most are interlocking poles which will connect easily. Depending on the size of the tent there should be a few similar sized poles that will either run parallel or cross each other. They will be color coded so that you know which poles are the same.

  5. Start the poles in the corners of each tent. Either slide them through the sleeves, insert through loops, or clip on the clips. Smaller tents also have a middle pole with a bent piece that lays across the crossed poles. Insert the poles into the corner grommets.

  6. Attach rainfly. This is usually a tarp that goes over the tent to protect you from rain and wetness. Make sure that the front of the rain fly lines up with the front of the tent.

  7. Attach the guylines. These are the ropes that you will hammer into the ground so that your tent won’t fly away.

Take a look at your tent. Make sure it looks straight and sturdy. Now, lay out your sleeping tarps and bags, and enjoy your shelter. 

Related: How to Choose a Campsite



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