How to Pitch the As Close to Perfect Tent As Possible

By: Jill Salvucci

In the wilderness, home is an arbitrary word. After a long day of hiking that camp site that you and your peers have chosen (100 paces away from water and the trail of course) is what you will be calling “home” for the night.

It is your turn to set up the tent and you have in the back of your mind the 1600 feet elevation gain in one mile you have to hike tomorrow. You want to make sure that you are well rested for that. To ensure you get your good night sleep, you must first have the perfect tent.

Find Flat Ground: Flat ground is essential. Therma-rests and sleeping bags tend to cause you to slide while you sleep. So unless you want to wake up at the bottom on your tent, with your feet halfway out the door, and your face smeared in smelly, wet camp shoes… Find flat ground. No one can guarantee you still will not slide, but this will help a significant amount.

Locating all your pieces: Do you have all your pieces? Tent? Fly? Pole Converter? Stakes? No? Don’t worry, your kind friends in the last group most likely picked your missing piece during their camp sweep. No need to be embarrassed, we have all forgotten something this trip. This stuff happens.

Staking the Tent down: Some days you get to camp and the stakes just slide right into the ground, cherish those days. However, most of the time it’s going to take a little more creativity. Either poking the ground 100 times until one spot magically allows your stake to make its way in. Or you just let out a sigh and search for a large rocks as your alternative. When staking your tent always do corners first. That way you can create as much room as possible for you and your tent mates. Just keep in mind it is going to be crammed no matter what, don’t be too picky.

Inserting The Poles: Your trekking poles are your best friends on trail and in camp. The help you stay balanced in the boulder fields and they hold up your tents! When putting your poles in its important to nail the height. If it is too tall the tent can rip, if its too short then the fly might come lose and you are going to wake up covered in the rain from that thunderstorm that apparently “was so loud” that night. You may not get that perfect height on the first try. Not a problem, just keep on trying.

The Fly: The fly is your best friend. It keeps you dry and protects you from the roaring winds. However, under one condition. DO NOT let it touch the tent. The minute the fly touches the tent you have a 99.9% chance you will wake up wet. So pull that fly real tight and you will be a happy camper.

First Dibs: Guess what! Since you set the tent up you get first choice of where you sleep. Even though you have only two options, inside or outside, you still have first dibs! Go You!

Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty: Sometimes your stakes fall out, your pole might fall, the fly flies away in the night. Just stay calm, wake up your tent mates, put your coat on, repeat steps 2-4, and go back to sleep.

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