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Knowing how to pitch a tent is important. It really helps with the whole sleeping at night thing, for one. But for many people, putting up a tent can be a very difficult and stressful project. It can quickly turn a happy camper into an irritated camper with a short fuse, and those campers aren’t very fun.

Photo: Tripleblaze member JohnH

Once you’ve mastered the art of pitching a tent, however, your home away from home will be the least of your worries! How do you master such an art? Check out these quick tips and you’ll be well on your way to pitching the perfect tent.

Check gear at home

Always check over your equipment at home. This tip should really apply to everything you take on a camping trip, but it applies to your tent especially. The last thing you want is to show up at your campsite, ready for a fun-filled weekend, and realize that you can’t use your tent because you forgot something. That’s a definite weekend-ruiner.

Generally, traditional tents require the following:

  • footprint
  • tent
  • tent poles
  • stakes
  • rainfly
  • rock or mallet

Make sure you pack all of these things, and be sure that they are all in working condition.

Is your tent new? Set it up before you head out into the wilderness. Don’t show up to your campsite with no working knowledge of your tent–you’ll be asking for trouble. Take it to your backyard or a local park and set it up so you can familiarize yourself with your new piece of equipment.

Location

Location is everything when it comes to pitching your tent correctly. Even if you set it up perfectly, you will be miserable if you don’t scout out a good location. As a general rule, you want to look for flat, level spaces, but if you’re forced to sleep on a slope, remember to keep your head uphill. Check out our article on Choosing a Tent Site for more information.

Photo: Tripleblaze member localyolkl

Look Around

I talk about this in the Choosing a Tent Site article, but it’s important enough to repeat. Scan your campsite! Look for animal droppings; if you find some avoid that area. Look for sharp objects and clear them away; look for overhead dangers and avoid them. Basically, take a good look around your site before settling down for the night.

Setup

Of course, the actual setup of a tent is going to depend on the size and type of the tent you’re using. However, there are some basic steps that are helpful for almost all tents.

  • Open your tent bag and lay out all of your items.
  • Ease your poles together instead of just letting them snap — it will help with the life of your tent.
  • Lay down your footprint and then lay your tent on top of it. Your foot print should not extend beyond the tent, otherwise it will collect water.
  • Connect your poles to one side of the tent and then the other. You will either have a grommet system or a ball and socket system–both are fairly easy to navigate.
  • Put your tent on the poles. Generally, tents either have clip-ons or sleeves. If you just

    Photo by: Josh Larios

    clip the tent onto the poles, then do that after you’ve completely attached your tent. If your tent has sleeves for the poles, then attach one side of the tent, slip your poles through the appropriate sleeves, and attach the poles to the other side.

  • Angle your stakes at a 45-degree angle and hammer them into the loops attached at your tent’s corners. This is where the mallet or rock comes in handy. If it’s really windy, stake your tent before you put the poles in it.
  • Attach the rain fly.
  • Walk around your tent tightening and double-checking everything.

Now you’re a master tent pitcher and you can conquer almost any tent configuration imaginable. Good for you–get out there and pitch yourself a tent!

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