How to Pitch a Tent - The Camping and Caravanning Club
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8 Steps to Pitching a Tent Like a Pro

You've chosen your perfect tent and invested in all the necessary kit – so what’s next? If you’re a new camper, we highly recommend pitching your tent at home before you take it on your camping adventure.

Why? Well, firstly, it saves you any embarrassing moments of struggling with the tent. But most importantly, you can see if any parts are missing and if the tent or kit is faulty. Imagine the stress of discovering that whilst you’re at the campsite.

To help make sure you’re pitching your tent like a pro, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to walk you through it. You should note that all tents are different, so some may not require every step.

Getting Started

Before you rip open any packaging and start spreading the pieces around, ask the seller if they can show you an easy way of assembling your tent model. If they can’t, reach for the instruction manual.

Having your instruction manual on hand is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it can help you build the tent with ease and without making any holes or damaging any equipment.

Quick Tip: Pack your tent last when setting off for your camping adventure. Doing this allows easy access to the tent once you’ve reached your campsite.

How to pitch a tent?

  1. Find the perfect spot to set up camp
  2. If you’re on a campsite that allows you to choose your own pitch, here are a few things you can ask yourself to ensure you select the best spot.

    • Do I want to be near any specific facilities, e.g. bathroom, children’s play area, dog park etc.?
    • Is there a lot of wind? If so, we highly recommend using hedges or other units as windbreakers.
    • Are there trees nearby? Although you can definitely benefit from the tree's shade or protection from the rain, pitching under a tree is a big no. Why? Because trees can drip sap, and birds have a habit of roosting and leaving little presents on your lovely unit beneath. Also, pitching under a tent can be dangerous during a thunderstorm or heavy winds where trees have a risk of falling. In our opinion, it's best to stay clear.
    • Is the ground flat? If it's possible to choose a flat ground, please do so. If not, position your tent so your head will be higher than your feet for the most comfortable night’s sleep.
    • Is the ground hollow? Rainwater has to go somewhere, so try to make sure it won’t travel through your tent on its way. Avoid hollows and marshy ground.
    • Is the ground clean? Watch out for items left by previous visitors, such as tent pegs. Always ensure your ground is clear before setting up camp, as this will help you avoid any rips in your tent or an uncomfortable night's sleep.

    Once you’ve found the perfect plot to pitch your tent, place all your tools and equipment on the ground so they’re easily accessible and you don’t have to keep returning to your car.

    Quick Tip: Ask for help. Pitching a tent is always easier and faster with helping hands. If you’re solo camping, ask any local campers if they can help out.

  3. Lay out the tent footprint
  4. A tent footprint is an extra barrier between your tent and the ground. Its main function is to prevent any tent damage from stones or twigs. It also provides extra waterproofing and warmth for those cold camping adventures.

    Once you’ve laid down your tent footprint, with the shiny side up, pin the footprint in place.

  5. Spread out the tent’s body
  6. Before laying out the tent's body, consider the direction of the wind. Once you’ve done that, you want to lay your tent so that the doors are facing away from the wind. This is especially important for a tunnel tent, which can make an excellent kite given half a chance.

    Although you want to avoid pitching on a slope, if there’s no flat ground, aim to keep the doors of the tent facing downhill. This will prevent any rain from coming in and allow you to sleep with your head above your feet.

  7. Peg down the groundsheet
  8. In a tent with a sewn-in groundsheet, you can generally peg out the corners of the groundsheet first, making sure it’s not too tight. The rest of the pegs can be put in after the tent is standing.

  9. Assemble the tent poles
  10. If your tent comes with tent poles that require assembling, insert each pole into the adjacent pole. As most tent poles are made of aluminium or fibreglass sections threaded with elastic, they should feed into each other with ease.

    Quick Tip: Whilst assembling the tent poles, use the ground to help keep them together and avoid hitting someone or something.

  11. Thread them through the tent
  12. Thread the poles into the tent. If they don’t slide in easily, check whether they’re caught in the fabric before forcing the issue – you don’t want to snap a pole or damage the tent.

    If you’re using modular poles, which are held together by elastic, you’ll need to push them through rather than pulling them, to keep the joints sound.

    Quick Tip: Pole threading is often a two-person job, so ask for a helping hand. If you have a third pair of hands, ask the individual to lift the tent from the inside, making the poles easier to slide through.

  13. Zip up your doors
  14. Before pegging the corners of your tent, zip all your tent doors. Having closed doors means you can use the right amount of tension when you peg in the corners. If you don’t and the tent is pegged in tightly, you’ll struggle to zip the doors up again.

  15. Secure the tent in place
  16. Use the pegs to secure the tent in place. The pegs should be driven into the ground at a 45-degree angle facing inwards. Placing them diagonally will help keep the tent grounded even during windy days.

    Unless you’re using screw-in pegs, it’s worth having a mallet to drive them in well or using a rock as a substitute.

    For extra security on those windy days, you’ll need guy lines.

    The guy lines should be pegged in last, and, for the greatest stability, they should generally follow the line of the tent's seams.

    You should position the adjusting sliders so that there’s room for you to regularly check whether the guy lines are too tight or too loose.

  17. Sit back and relax
  18. Once you’ve secured your tent and placed everything inside, you’re free to sit back and relax. If you’re eager to kickstart your camping adventures, you can check out what’s happening near your campsite by searching our What’s On page.

Tent insurance

Although we know you’ll do a fab job pitching your tent, occasionally, things can go wrong and be totally out of your control. In such instances, it’s always best to be prepared and know a little bump in the road won’t ruin your holiday.

That’s why having tent insurance is essential when camping. Club Care will cover not just your tent and camping equipment, but your holiday too – so even if the worst happens and your tent can’t be used, you can still enjoy your holiday.

Check out more information on tent insurance from Club Care here.

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