Friends pitching a tent on a camping holiday

If there’s one thing guaranteed to ruin your camping holiday, it’s a poorly pitched tent. Granted, it’s not ideal if it throws it down with rain the whole time, but at least if your tent is put up properly you have somewhere dry to take shelter.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Tent Repair and Maintenance

However, If you don’t properly erect your tent, then you’re setting yourself up for a fall from the outset. We want you to have the best possible holiday, so here are some top tips on how to pitch a tent that will at least set you off on the right foot.

Before you pitch your tent

There are a few bits and pieces you should do before you actually put up your tent…

Check your tent before you go camping

Before you even get anywhere near the campsite, make sure you check your tent and that everything is as it should be. You don’t want to try and put it up only to realise there’s a nasty tear in there. You should also double check new tents, just to be on the safe side.

Put your tent up in your back garden or even a nearby field just so it’s all in order and you know what you’re doing.

Here’s why checking your tent before you go camping is so important.

Read the instructions

So many people completely ignore instructions when putting up a tent and it often leads to disaster. The instructions aren’t in there for fun, so even if you’ve put up a thousand tents before, it’s always worth reacquainting yourself with the instructions just so you definitely know what you’re doing.

You might want to impress your fellow campers with how quickly and smoothly you put up your tent, but you’ll look a bit daft when you realise the whole thing is put together incorrectly.

Don’t do it alone

Unless you’re on a solo camping trip, get someone to help you put your tent up. This is particularly important if you have a large tent, as trying to do it all by yourself will either take you a considerable amount of time or, more likely, end in abject failure.

Even for two-man tents, if there’s someone else there to give you a hand, accept their help and you’ll be kicking back and relaxing much quicker.

Friends putting up a tent

Where To Pitch Your Tent

You can’t just rock up to a field or campsite and pitch your tent any old place. Even if you’re given a specific pitch, there are still a few things to consider about where exactly to erect your tent, such as:

Find flat ground

If possible, always try and find flat ground on which to pitch your tent. It makes putting up your tent a lot easier and is just generally a lot more comfortable. If you do have to pitch on a slope, position the tent so the door is facing downhill and/or in the same direction as the prevailing wind. This makes it less likely for rain to get in or for sudden gusts of wind to get caught inside the tent.

Leave plenty of room around you

Always try and leave a good amount of space around your tent. Try to leave at least 5 metres between yourself and other tents. This gives plenty of room for guy lines, will reduce the risk of tents blowing into each other in high winds, and is also good for privacy’s sake.

Read more: 12 UK Campsites You Must Visit

Also, make sure you pitch far away from campfire spots. The last thing you want is for your tent or equipment to catch fire.

Obviously, if you’re at a music festival, you might not have the luxury of space, but still do your best to leave as much room as possible around your tent.

Use bushes for shelter

It’s not so important to leave the same amount of room from bushes and hedges, although still ensure you have enough room for guy lines. You can use bushes and hedges to protect you from wind and rain. However…

Don’t pitch under a tree

It might seem tempting to pitch your tent under a tree, but it’s not as good an idea as you think. Rain water will drip very loudly onto your tent, but you have to be more worried about tree sap, as this will prove very tough to get off. Also, any birds who have taken residence in the tree… well, we’re sure you know where we’re going with that one.

And it might sound dramatic, but should there be a thunderstorm, the last place you want to be is under a tree.

Avoid wet ground

Where possible, try and avoid wet and marshy ground. Not only will this make pitching the tent difficult, but will also increase the likelihood of water seeping into the tent. The bottom of hills are particularly troublesome as, obviously, any rain or groundwater will run down and collect there. Ground close to streams or ditches may also be saturated, so choose your spot carefully.

Clear the area

Before you lay out your tent, make sure you clear the area and ensure it’s free from anything that could damage the tent in any way. This includes rocks, stones, sticks, and even tent pegs left behind by previous campers.

Tent peg being put in the ground

Pitching Your Tent

So you’ve found the perfect spot on flat, dry ground not too close to other tents. Now you actually have to put the thing up. Of course, follow the instructions as we mentioned, but here are a few key pointers you should bear in mind…

  • Use a tent footprint – by pegging down a tent footprint first, you can position your tent exactly where you want it, as well as provide extra protection to your groundsheet.
  • Peg down the groundsheet first – the rest of the pegging can be done later.
  • Peg the back down first – by pegging down the back of the tent first, even before any poles are in, you can anchor the tent, preventing it blowing away in the wind. You can then go and re-peg once you’re done.
  • Don’t force the poles too much or they could break. If it feels like you are forcing them, double check they aren’t snagging on anything.
  • Don’t pull the poles through – push them. If your tent has poles connected by elastic, pulling them will serve only to separate them and make your job more difficult.
  • Ensure all zips are closed when erecting the tent.
  • Pegs should be hammered in using a mallet at a 45 degree angle with the hook pointing away from the tent. Don’t stand on them or you risk bending them.
  • Guy lines should follow the seams of the tent where possible.
  • Fully extend all pegging point straps – this will make putting the poles into the pins much easier and reduce the risk of snapping or bending the poles.
  • For larger tents, once you’ve begged down the back and erected the poles, drag the tent forward and peg out the two front guy lines. This will help keep the tent in places so you can peg the rest of it down.
  • Don’t pull everything so tight that it has no room to give in windy conditions.

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