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How to Pitch a Tent

Pitching a tent for the first time can be confusing, even for seasoned campers. Before hitting the trails for your next big adventure, practice setting up your new tent in your yard to ensure you know where to connect the poles and stakes and how to attach the rainfly. When in doubt, it's always a good idea to carry a copy of the tent instructions on your first couple trips.


Choose an Appropriate Campsite

Find a flat spot that is free from roots or large rocks. Remove any small rocks and twigs that could puncture a hole in your tent or tarp. Pitch your tent well away from campfires, dry creek beds that may flash flood and trees that could drop branches.

choosing a campsite

Lay down the tarp

Place a plastic tarp on the ground to protect the bottom of your tent from abrasions and to keep moisture from absorbing into the tent material. Most tents are sold with a tarp that matches the tent's shape and size.

lay down the tarp

Lay the tent on top of the tarp

Lay your tent flat with the bottom side touching the tarp. Position the tent door in the direction you want it to face. Tuck the tarp underneath the edges of the tent so that rain won't pool on the tarp and run underneath the tent.

tent on tarp

Connect the tent poles

Most tent poles are made from aluminum and bungee cords and are designed to easily snap together. Connect your tent poles and lay them flat on the ground.

Connect the tent poles

Attach the poles to the tent

Some tents feature clips that attach the tent walls to the poles, while others feature sleeves that you must slide the tent poles into. Read the directions for your tent to determine how and where your tent poles attach to the material.

attach the poles to the tent

Stake the tent to the ground

Stakes keep your tent secure in strong winds and keep the walls taut so that you have more room inside. Push the sharp edges of the stakes through the stake loops and into the ground as far from the tent is you can easily pull them. Be careful not to bend the stakes out of shape.

Stake the tent to the ground

Attach the rainfly

Attach the rainfly to the top of your tent to protect it from rain. Again, read the instructions that accompany your tent to understand exactly where the attachment points of your rainfly connect to the tent.

Attach the rainfly