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Pitching A Tent:
It's Easy When You Know How!

Pitching a tent is one of those skills like riding a bike. It looks effortless when you know how, and once you can do it, you can barely remember what it was like when you couldn't.

Like riding a bike, pitching a tent involves learning new skills and practising them until they become second nature.

dome tent

Read on and learn how to learn this new skill efficiently.

At home

Read the instructions

That sounds self-evident, doesn't it? But I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a family member who ignores written instructions and just "flies at it". I'll mention no names.

Someone went to a lot of trouble to write those instructions for you. Why not read them?

tent instructions

But what if there are no instructions?

Perhaps you have lost the instructions, or perhaps you bought a secondhand tent that came with no instructions.

Do an Internet search. Many manufacturers' directions are available online.

Type in the name of your tent, followed by "instructions". If you don't find the results you need, try again with "manual".

If your particular tent's instructions aren't available, print out the instructions for the tent that is most like yours. There are only a few basic tent designs, after all. Read and understand those directions and apply that knowledge to your own tent.

Put up the tent at least once

Don't wait until your camping trip to learn about pitching a tent! Try it in the privacy of your backyard. If you don't have a yard, visit the nearest playground or park. Here's what to do:

  • Unpack your tent.
  • Spread all of the pieces on the ground in an orderly fashion.
  • Find the list of parts in the manual, and make sure you know which piece is which.

tent poles and pieces

You don't want to be wondering what a "junction tube" is when both of your hands are holding up a mass of heavy canvas high above your head.

  • Read through the instructions again (really!) and make sure you have a solid understanding of the whole process.
  • Okay. Now you can begin! Follow the manufacturer's directions exactly, in the order they are given.

Was that absolutely easy and effortless?

If not, practise again another day. And again, until you can do it quickly and easily.

At camp

  • Remember to bring along the instructions - and use them!
  • Arrange to arrive at your camping spot early in the day. You don't want to be setting up a tent when you (and the kids!) are tired and hungry. You definitely don't want to be pitching a tent in the dark. (Remember, though, life does happen - and you probably will find yourself setting up camp in the dark someday. That's why you did all that practising at home! You now know your tent so well that you can pitch it in the dark!)
  • Choose your tent site.

  • Clear away any stones, sticks and cones.
  • Spread out the tent, double checking to see where the door is. Position it so that it faces the way you want it to face.
  • If you still need the guidance of the instructions, have them handy and use them. (I said that already, didn't I?)
  • Follow the steps you've practised, and put up your tent.

Well done!

Here's how we set up our tent.

Yours may or may not be similar, but this will give you a general idea of the process.

First, we spread out the tent and straighten the tent poles. Our poles have shock cords, so this part is easy.

pitching a tent

We insert one of the tent poles into a corner grommet.

attaching tent poles

Inserting the remaining poles is easy with two people working together.

2 people pitching a tent

The poles are up!

attaching tent poles to grommets

Now all we have to do is attach the poles to the tent with the built-in clips.

tent without fly

Next we put on the fly.

tent with fly

You'll notice that we pegged the fly out with tent pegs.

tent fly and peg

Don't skip this step! Be sure to peg the fly out firmly. Notice the raindrops on the fly? This picture was taken after a huge downpour. We stayed dry and cozy!

Pitching a tent is fun once you know how!

Now that you know all about pitching a tent, visit this page to learn more about tents for camping.

Click here to go to the Complete Family Camping Guide home page.

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