Camping: How to Set Up a Tent

by Hunter Miller

Knowing how to set up a tent is a task every camper should be familiar with before venturing to the great outdoors. By following a few simple steps, creating shelter with your tent can be easier than ever.

Before setting up, be sure to pick an appropriate campsite. Level ground and a great view are important, but there is more to the process than just that. Also, before making it to the campground, it is a good idea to practice at home. Attempting to set up a tent in the dark while battling the elements isn’t a situation you want to find yourself in.

Step 1: Lay a Groundcloth/Footprint

To protect the tent’s bottom, lay down a ground cloth or footprint. Make sure to place the shiny side up. The shiny side protects the waterproof coating.

Step 2: Place Body of Tent on Top of Footprint

Lay the tent’s body over the footprint. Some may have color-coded nylon tabs at the corner. Be sure to match them to the tab on the footprint.

Step 3: Assemble the Poles

Carefully assemble the poles. Make sure that each pole is securely placed in the next before moving on. After assembling the poles, match them up to the grommets on the tent body and footprint. Some tents use color-coding on the poles to make this process simpler.

Step 4: Attach Tent Body to the Poles

Once the poles are attached the grommets, attach the tent’s body to the poles. The majority of tents will attach to the poles with plastic clips.

Step 5: Lay The Rainfly

When the tent body is constructed on the poles, lay the rainfly over the tent. The velcro tabs at the seems of the rainfly need to be on the inside. The door of the fly should line up with the door of the tent. Then connect then velcro tabs to the poles, and loosely connect the fly to the corners of the tent body.

Step 6: Staking It Out

Position the tent so that the strongest side, which is the side with the most pole structure, faces the wind. Avoid letting the broad side of the tent facing the wind.

Once you have your tent positioned, slide a stake into the tie-down loop at one of the tent corners. Drive in the stake at a 45 degree angle. Place a stake in the opposite corner next. Repeat until each corner is staked in the ground.

After staking down the tent body, move to the rainfly. Be sure that the vestibule door is closed. Pull until there is moderate tension, then stake it down. You can adjust the tension on the fly once it is fully staked, and try to tension each corner equally. Remember to re-tension the fly before bedtime as the material may stretch if it is cold or damp.

Step 7: Guying Out the Tent

The guy lines will attach to the rainfly using fabric loops. Look to attach the guy lines about halfway up the pole. The purpose of the guy lines is to strengthen the pole structure in heavy winds. A general rule of thumb: the heavier the wind, the more secure you ought to make the guy lines.

Try to set up guy lines at a 90-degree angle with the fly. If you’re surrounded by trees, try using a branch. If there are no trees in the area, consider using an upside down tracking pole.

Once your guy lines are securely in place, your tent is all set and you are ready to enjoy a night in the wilderness.