What you’ll need
  • An itinerary check.
  • A garden test run.
  • A footprint(if the weathers bad)
  • A bottle of water.
  • A rock or small hammer (for the pegs)
  • Patience!

If you’re hitting the trail tomorrow, take some time to set your tent up at home today. When you’re in the comfort of your own home there’s less pressure to get the tent upright in a certain amount of time. You certainly don’t want to be learning as the sun is setting and the rain has just started to fall.

You’ll want to start by reading the instructions that come with your tent and making sure you have all the parts you need. Although it’s not always the most fun, by reading the instructions you can save a lot of headaches and make sure you don’t damage your tent. Also, you’ll be able to pick up a spare part if it turns out anything is missing.

Lastly, you’ll want to decide on your footprint. While tent floors are built to deal with torrential rain and tough conditions, the terrains can be rough on a tent. A footprint was made for this dilemma. It’s a ground sheet that offers an extra layer of protection for your tent. They are smaller than your tent floor so rain doesn’t pool under your tent.

Don’t want to spend the dough? You can also buy a Tyvek(r) sheet to make your footprint. You’ll want to make sure you cut your sheet so it’s smaller than your tent.

Campsite Selection

First and foremost, you’ll need to follow Leave No Trace principles:

  1. Seek out existing campsites, if possible. If none available, disperse use to prevent the creation of new campsites--that means avoiding places where you see impact beginning.
  2. Camp 200 feet (70 large steps) away from water sources.
  3. Keep campsites small and in areas without vegetation.

Next up, choose a spot that will help protect you from the wind. Try to find natural windbreaks like trees or hills between you and the breeze. You’ll want to look upward, and not camp near damaged trees that can be blown over. Place the side with the strongest pole structure toward the rain. And if it’s hot, position a door toward the wind for cooling.

Rain is another consideration. The higher, drier ground is a good spot to start. Trees offer a more protected, warmer climate. Try not to camp in low areas between high areas--that’s where cold, damp air settles. Lastly, position your doors away from the wind so the rain doesn’t blow in.

How to pitch your tent

Poled tents

  • Empty the tent bag but make sure to keep everything separate and in a formerly fashion. This includes the different parts of the tents folded up neatly, and the different poles and pegs separated into their respective grounds. This will make everything much easier going forward.
  • Next, unroll what is known as the Wall Fly. This is the main shell of the tent. After laying it out flat, look for two small nooses, one at the front and one at the back of the tent. Hammer a peg into each of these flaps at a 45-degree angle (these can be removed later, it’s to stop it blowing around in the wind.
  • After straightening out each pole, thread them through the corresponding flaps. This should be made clear, either by matching numbers, colour codes, or clear length of poles. Once each of these poles is slotted through their correct flap, then connect them at the bottom with the eyelet that will be at the bottom of each corner of the tent. To make sure each of the poles stays in place, there will be plastic clip-is connected to the tent which you can use.
  • Now that the frame is up, take the two pegs out, stretch the tent out as far as it can go, and then put the pegs in every available noose around the tent. To ensure maximum hold, hammer the pegs down at a 90-degree angle. It will then be time to extend each guy rope as far as it can go (be mindful of other tents) and also use pegs to nail them down. Do this correctly and you’ll have a spacious, well-shaped tent.
  • The final piece of the tent puzzle is attaching your inner fly. Firstly, roll up what would be the tent porch. . It will make connecting the inner wall much easier. To keep this part as smooth as possible, make sure the mesh side of the tent is facing upwards as you start to set it up.
  • Inside the tent, you will see several small nooses, one of which will be in the middle of the roof ceiling, the other in each corner. Using the toggles that you find connected to the inner fly, connect each one up to the nooses. Depending on the tent size and number of compartments, this should result in a fully formed inside of your tent, with the tent opening being covered by a zippable door.
  • The inner fly will also have nooses that connect up to the Wall Fly. Hammer pegs into these to keep Fly Sheets properly connected.
  • And there you have your pitched tent. Last but not least, clip the square cap to the top of the tent. There’s a good chance it’ll save your tent from getting flooded!

The easiest way to pack your tent away is by simply doing each of the instructions above in reverse order. But do be careful and take it slowly

Pop-Up Tent

  • While the tent is still in its bag, loosen the strap on the outside of the bag. This will make getting the tent back in at the end of your trip much easier.
  • Once the bag is open, you will see a colored strap holding the folded-down tent in place. Loosen the strap and the tent will start to free up. You will also see the tent is held in place by buckles of a different colour. Disconnect the buckles and the tent should pop out of the bag.
  • Stretch the tent out to its full capacity, then hammer pegs into each available noose so it’s firmly into the ground. Extend the guide ropes out (minding other tents) and peg them down so the tent is firmly in place and won’t blow around in the wind.
  • To pack the tent away, start by taking all the pegs out of the tent and unzipping the door.
  • Inside the tent, you’ll see a coloured buckle in the top corner. Take this and pull it through the door. As you do this, the tent will start to come down on itself. Connect the coloured buckle with its corresponding coloured socket on the outside of the tent. There will also be another coloured buckle and socket that needs to be connected. The tent should now form a flat circle.
  • Next up, tighten the elasticated cord. This will make the tent do a figure of eight and fold in on itself.
  • Fold the tent over once more and use the cord that previously held it in place to keep it firm. Slip it back into the bag and you’re done!

Inflatable Tent

  • Unfurl the tent so that it is laying out flat.
  • At a 45 degree angle, hammer a peg through the corner nooses. For each one, make sure you stretch it out as much as possible before doing this.
  • Attach the pumps to the nozzles, which you will usually find at the tent’s entrance. Keeping the pressure gauge at 7 PSI, pump until the tent starts to rise. If it gets stuck to the extent where it does not seem to be filling with air as easily, give the tent a wiggle and it should free it up.
  • Once it’s been pumped up, continue to peg in the nooses by the tent’s entrances, making sure it is firmly fixed into the ground.
  • If there are poles available, now is the time to straighten them and slot them through the corresponding flaps. This will be shown by numbers, colour coding, or pole length.
  • Check to make sure each corner isn't too taut, as that may end up causing long-lasting damage to how your inflatable tent functions.
  • Hammer in the pegs into the elasticated nooses that are the middle of each side of the tent. Finish by also stretching the guide ropes (be mindful of other tents) and then peg them down too.

To pack an inflatable tent away, unhook every peg, excluding the corners. Then simply deflate it, take out the corner pegs, and then roll it up so it is the same shape as it was when you took it out of the bag.

Additional tips for pitching a tent
  • Use the Velcro wraps on the underside of your rainfly to strengthen your tent.
  • Tension all corners of your fly evenly.
  • See if the seams on the fly line up with the seams and poles on the tent body--if not, readjust the tension.
  • Check the fly after it gets wet--most stretch.
  • Attach the guylines (lines that provide extra stability) on the windward side of the tent--although attaching all of them makes your tent withstand even more wind.