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7 Steps to Setting Up Your Camping Tent

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7 steps to setting up your camping tent

Do you know how to pitch a camping tent? Before you venture out into nature for your first camping trip, you should plan and research a lot.

It’s tempting to throw up a backpack and get started, but good preparation pays off in the long run and makes your experience much more enjoyable and comfortable.

Although tent designs can vary, there are some basic similarities between them. The steps for setting up your tent follow those outlined below pretty closely.

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Setting up camping tents | Practice creates masters

Your equipment

Your tent equipment includes:

  • the tent
  • a tarpaulin / groundsheet
  • Rods
  • Calls
  • a rain fly

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

  • a hammer
  • Herring Remover
  • a hand brush

Before heading to the campsite, make sure you have all of the parts you will need. Keep them together to make sure nothing is lost. You might also want to buy a few extra inserts just in case.

Step 1: choose your campsite

If you rent a campsite on a campsite, this will be decided for you. The area will be cleared and level and dry. When choosing your own campsite, look for:



  • Higher floor to avoid flash floods
  • Avoid beehives, large cobwebs, and low-hanging branches that could fall on your tent
  • Keep a safe distance from fire pits and water sources
  • Avoid direct sunlight, which will age your tent prematurely

Step 2: Lay out the tarpaulin / groundsheet

  • Lay out the tarpaulin / groundsheet at the location you selected. The groundsheet protects your tent from moisture, dirt and dust.
  • If the groundsheet is larger than the footprint of your tent, be sure to fold the edges to prevent water from getting under the tent.

Step 3: unfold the tent

  • Unfold or unroll your tent on your groundsheet.
  • Pay attention to where the door of the tent is pointing, as the door should point upwind.
  • Then lay out all of your other supplies.

Step 4: connect the tent poles and raise the tent

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

This is where your practice or previous experience with your tent really comes into play. Each tent has a slightly different design, and you should follow the instructions and any labeled parts to ensure proper erection.

Consider labeling the parts yourself to make it easier to set up in the future.

  • Connect all tent poles.
  • Most tent designs have two tent poles that form an X to frame the tent.
  • You’ll need to tuck the end of the pole into the eyelet in each corner and then slide it into the flaps or clips that are in your tent to secure the poles in place.
  • Then make sure to raise your tent once you fit both poles into their slots and the frame is secured.

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Step 5: stake out the tent

Young Woman Fastening Tent Holding Hammer Camping Tents SS

  • Use the pegs / pegs and your mallet to secure your tent to the ground.
  • Pull the corners taut, remove any slack, and push the poles into the ground at a 45 degree angle away from the tent.
  • Be sure to push the stakes into the ground enough to keep them in place.
  • Conversely, don’t push them so far that you can’t remove them later. If you haven’t packed a hammer or hammer, you can use a heavy stone.

Step 6: attach the rainfly

  • Place the rain cover on top of the tent, making sure the doors of the two line up.
  • Evenly pull the rain fly taut and tuck it into the ground.
  • The rain fly shouldn’t flutter around.
  • You may need to adjust the rain fly over time depending on weather conditions.

Step 7: don’t forget the guy ropes

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

  • Guy ropes secure your tent to nearby trees or rocks and provide more stability.
  • If nothing is needed nearby, you can secure the guy ropes with trekking poles.
  • These are usually placed on the side of the tent where the wind is coming from, but can be used for general stability around the tent.

This video from NC State Parks shows you the basics of pitching a tent:

There are other supplies to collect for your camping trip, but you are ready to pitch your tent! Hang your tent dry before packing it up to reduce the build-up of mold and mildew on the tent itself.

Always keep all parts of the tent together when storing.

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Do you have a good tip for setting up camping tents? Let us know in the comment section!

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

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