Whether you’re a camping professional who’s going out as often as possible, or you’re planning your first adventure, there’s really nothing like camping in a tent. While using an RV or trailer brings added luxuries, a tent gets you back to nature and allows you to spend time outside just about anywhere. With a tent, you’re able to go camping on your own, with friends, or with the entire family, and even pitching a tent can be a bonding experience.
When you go camping, you’ll likely not have an Internet connection, which means you can’t look up how to pitch a tent while out and about. You’ll need to have the knowledge at your disposal or you’ll be forced to tinker with your gear and hope you’re doing it correctly. Pitching a tent doesn’t need to be a challenge, but it helps to have basic knowledge of your tent and pitching a tent in general With this information, it doesn’t matter how frequently you have or haven’t gone camping before, you’ll be ready to set your tent up like a professional.
What Is a Camping Tent?
A camping tent is exactly what the name suggestions. It is a tent you set up to sleep and stay in while camping. The tent itself is typically made of a water-resistant material that is also lightweight. Whether it’s nylon, canvas, plastic or another material altogether, it is both durable and strong. Purchase a quality tent and it will likely last you a lifetime.
Types of Camping Tents
Camping tents come in a surprising variety of shapes and sizes. The large breadth of options exists for a reason though – certain tent designs and materials are better suited for specific environments and camping conditions. Here are a few of the main tent types in existence these days you are likely to encounter:
The Classic A-Frame or Ridge Tent
This is easily the most recognizable tent and also one of the oldest varieties. This type of tent has been abandoned for more modern options for the most part, but it is often used by camping minimalists who like a bit of a challenge.
The Dome Tent
These tents are quite common now and are usually relatively easy to set up in the field. The base of a dome tent is usually square, while intersecting poles curve to create a rounded top that canvas is stretched over.
Tent Pitching Components
Tents come with several components that will help when it comes to pitching a tent. The bottom of the tent will be secured to the ground using stakes. The stakes are made from either plastic or metal and will hammer into the ground to keep the base secure. There are also connecting rods that are made up of individual pieces that have a nylon rope running through the middle.
This allows the rods to be disconnected and yet remain attached. It also allows movement and stretch within the rods when pitching a tent. There are bends in the top of the tent that allow rain to run down the side of the tent. The nylon running through the rods allows for this kind of structure
What to Do with Your Tent
When the tent has been put up, you can sleep inside the tent, store gear int it, and do whatever else you might like. Additional equipment is recommended, including sleeping pads, cots, or air mattresses. You might also want lamps, a folding table, or other items depending on the size of your tent and your camping style. Added tarps and other equipment are helpful in improving your quality of sleep and keeping you up off the ground, but that is part of what makes camping such an exceptional experience and opportunity. You’re able to enjoy your time outside as you see fit and adjust accordingly.
Tips on How and Where to Pitch a Tent
There are several specifics you need to follow when it comes to pitching a tent. By following these tips and suggestions, you’ll not only make sure the tent is going up correctly, but you’ll also avoid problems you might experience if it rains and your tent isn’t erected properly. After all, the last thing you want to deal with in the dead of night or when it’s raining is taking the tent down and pitching the tent somewhere else.
Practice Tent Assembly at Home
Before you head out, practice pitching a tent at home. If you haven’t put together your tent before the camping trip, you’ll want to open everything up and put the tent together. This way you can work out any kinks, understand what each piece of the tent is for, and discover how to assemble the tent. This is desirable as it will help you put the tent together faster when you arrive at the campsite.
There might be times where you arrive at the campsite in the dead of night or when it’s raining. You don’t want to fumble around with your tent as you try to put it together for the very first time. If you already know where everything goes, it will make pitching the tent easier now and help you get inside the dry tent before it gets too wet (or too dark).
Location on the Camp Site
If you have your choice of location at the campsite, it is best to search out for a higher elevated area. Many locations will be flat, but if there is any kind of elevation change, or if you’re on any kind of hill, position your tent on the higher area. This way, if it rains you will avoid water pooling down around your tent. Sometimes you cannot choose your camping site or the plot your given (especially if you’re required to reserve your camping location ahead of time). Wherever you’re required to camp, just make sure to pitch your tent at the highest available location, even if there’s only a difference of a few feet.
Remove Debris From Your Tent Location
As you select a location to pitch your tent, you’ll want to remove debris from the area. By removing the debris you’ll improve your quality of sleep. You’ll also reduce the chance of puncturing your tent where a branch of rock might poke through the tent.
Pitching a Tent
After you have the base set, you will want to stake it down to the ground. The tent will move around as you set it up, but you don’t want the tent to move from the area. By staking the base of the tent to the ground you’ll prevent this kind of movement. You’ll also be able to insert the tent poles through the canvas loops more easily Depending on the size of the tent, you may want the help of a second individual to install the tent, as it’s easier to push the end of the tent poles into the ground on both ends at the same time instead of pitching it into the ground on one end then moving to the other.
If you’re expecting rain, place a tarp under the tent before you set it up. Position the tarp on the ground where you want the tent to be located, then place the tent base over top. This gives you an added layer of protection, should it rain overnight. It also helps if there is morning dew. The added layer will keep everything inside dry, which helps you enjoy your sleep.
Ideally, you’ll have more than just a sleeping bag for inside the tent. Even at the softest campsites, the ground will probably be both hard and lumpy. Even if it isn’t lumpy, it may feel like you’re sleeping on cement. To help with this, you’ll want to position something under your sleeping bag.
Get a sleeping bag pad that rolls out similar to a yoga mat. It gives you a half inch of padding, which will help smooth out the area and make it a little softer to sleep on. If you’re fine sleeping on a harder ground, that’s ok, too, but it can take some getting used to. This type of pad is also the smallest and easiest to carry, so if you have little in the way of space this is a viable option.
The next option is to bring an inflatable mattress. A mattress is a great addition, as it gives you the closest experience to sleeping on a real bed when you’re out camping. You can get a mattress just for an individual sleeping bag or something larger if you’re sharing the sleeping bag. If you are using a mattress, you’ll want to invest in an air pump, as trying to blow up the mattress using your mouth will take a considerable amount of time. With a mattress you’ll also want to make sure you go over the ground and do what you can to remove rocks and branches: otherwise you’ll wake up in a deflated, popped mattress.
A final option is a cot. The cot is an object that will fold out in the tent. It is elevated above the ground and provides you with some give. This is a good option if you don’t want to deal with an inflatable mattress and yet you want something that will keep you dry and anchored above a hard ground.
If you are a lover of the great outdoors, there really isn’t anything like camping under the stars in your own tent. Even if you haven’t been camping in a long time, it’s always important to brush up on pitching a tent, what is necessary to do so, and the best way to go about it. From the location on your campsite to picking a campsite and how to put together the tent, it all adds up to the most enjoyable camping experience. So whether you’re picking up a new tent or are breaking out the old one, there’s nothing like pitching a tent and enjoying your time outside and with nature.