7 Steps to Setting Up Your Camping Tent

Do you know how to set up a camping tent? Before you venture out into the great outdoors for your first camping trip, you’ll want to do quite a bit of planning and research.

It’s tempting to throw a pack together and get out there, but being well-prepared will pay off in the long run and make your experience much more enjoyable and comfortable.

While tent designs will vary, there are some basic similarities between them. The steps to setting up your tent will follow the ones outlined below, pretty closely.

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Camping Tents Set-Up | Practice Makes Perfect

Your Gear

Your tent gear will include:

  • the tent
  • a tarp/groundsheet
  • poles
  • stakes
  • a rainfly

Additional tools that will make the setup/breakdown process much easier are:

  • a mallet
  • peg remover
  • a handheld brush

Before you head to the campsite, make sure you have all the pieces that you need. Store them together to ensure none get lost. You may also want to purchase a few extra stakes, just in case.

Step 1: Choose Your Campsite

If you are renting a campsite at a campground, this will be decided for you. The area will be cleared and level and dry. If you are choosing your own campsite, look for:

  • Higher ground to avoid flash floods
  • Avoid beehives, large spider webs, and low-hanging branches that could fall on your tent
  • Keep a safe distance from fire pits and water sources
  • Stay out of direct sunlight that will prematurely age your tent

Step 2: Tarp/Groundsheet

Layout the tarp/groundsheet at the location you’ve selected. The groundsheet will help protect your tent from wetness, dirt, and dust.

If the groundsheet is bigger than the footprint of your tent, be sure to tuck the edges in so that water does not get underneath the tent.

Step 3: Unfold the Tent

Unfold or unroll your tent on top of your groundsheet. Pay attention to where the door of the tent is facing as you will want the door to face away from the wind’s direction. Then lay out all of your other supplies.

Step 4: Connect the Tent Poles

black-clip-peg-on-red-pole camping tents SS

This is where your practice or prior experience with your tent will really come in handy. Each tent will have a slightly different design, and you’ll want to follow the instructions and any labeled pieces for proper setup.

Consider labeling the pieces yourself for an easier setup in the future.

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Step 5: Stake the Tent

young-woman-fastening-tent-holding-hammer camping tents SS

Use the pegs/stakes and your mallet to secure your tent to the ground. Pull the corners taut, removing any slack, and push the stakes into the ground at a 45° angle away from the tent.

Be sure to push the stakes far enough into the ground that they will stay in place. Conversely, don’t push them so far in that you cannot remove them later. If you did not pack a mallet or hammer, you can use a heavy rock.

Step 6: Attach the Rainfly

Place the rainfly on top of the tent and ensure the doors of the two are aligned. Pull the rainfly evenly taut and stake it in the ground. The rainfly should not flap around. You may need to adjust the rainfly over time based on weather conditions.

Step 7: Don’t Forget the Guylines

close-girl-hands-fastens-tent-camping camping tents SS

Guylines secure your tent to trees or rocks nearby, giving more stability. If there is nothing nearby to use, you can use trekking poles to secure the guylines. Guylines are typically attached to the side of the tent that the wind is coming from but can be used all the way around the tent for overall stability.

This video from NC State Parks will show you the basics of setting up a tent:

There are other supplies to gather for your camping trip, but you’re ready to set up your tent! Be sure to hang dry your tent before packing it up to reduce the growth of mold and mildew on the tent itself.

Always keep all pieces of the tent together when storing it.

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Do you have a great tip you’d like to share about setting up camping tents? Let us know in the comments section!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 29, 2020, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.


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