Thursday, September 16, 2010

Essential Camping Tip - How to Pitch and Care For Your Tent

Choosing the proper tent can make or break your camping trip. It's important to take your time and do some homework before you shop.

Your tent is the most important piece of gear in your camping arsenal.

For those just starting out, setting up a tent can be confusing. It's not easy to set it up right the first time around, but after the first time, it's a piece of cake. I would highly suggest setting your tent up at home first, sort of like a practice run. Then, when you're at camp, you'll be able to pitch it in no time.

Here are a few pointers to help you in choosing the right tent.

What To Buy
Today, camping tents are very affordable and you can buy a high quality tent well within any budget. Still, making the right choice isn't all that easy if you don't know what to look for.

Go out and look at the different styles and brands. Many sporting goods stores have tents on display which may make your choice easier.

There are so many different types of tents, but it's helpful to choose one that's lightweight, durable and water proof. Most tents are made of nylon because it's lightweight and dries quickly. I personally have always used a nylon camping tent.

Size matters. A 2 person tent will be too small for two people because there will be no place to store your camping gear. Here's a good rule of thumb, add 2 to the number of people in the tent. If there are 2 people, get a 4 person tent, 4 people, six person tent, etc. This way, you won't be cramped and you'll have plenty of room to move around and store your gear.

Prep Your Campsite

One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting up their tent.

Here are a few pointers to pitching properly pitching your tent.

The first thing to consider is your tent's location.
  • Always look for high ground. Don't pitch your tent in a ravine or valley. Higher ground is drier ground!
  • Make sure that your tent is located at least 100 feet from the trail. This way, you're out of the way of hikers. Plus, you'll have lots more privacy, and you'll also avoid widening the trail and disrupting the natural setting.
  • Pitch your tent only in designated areas. These areas are posted in most parks and on hiking trails. These are areas that also provide the most security.
  • Make sure you pitch your tent in the correct spot on your campsite. Ideally, it should be at least 100 feet from your campfire. Also, it should be located at least 100 feet from your food. If animals wander into your camp at night, they'll be drawn to the food - not you. This gives you some added protection.
  • Choose a sunny area with dry, firm soil, if possible. Look for ground that's soft enough to drive your tent stakes in. Sand doesn't have enough stability. Note: never pitch a tent under a tree with dead limbs, they could fall and cause injury.
  • Clear the ground that your tent will be set up on. Make sure you remove stones, sticks and other debris.
Pitching Your Tent
Now that your campsite is ready, it's time to set up your tent. If you did a practice run before getting to the campground, you're ahead of the game!

There are a few things that you want to keep in mind when pitching your tent.
First, you want to make sure that the door of your tent is facing the east. Storms seldom come in from the east, which will help keep the wind from blowing down your tent. It keeps your tent stable from the wind and the rain.

Firmly drive your tent stakes into solid ground, then push them all the way in.

When pitching your tent up, take the time to tie your tent down securely - no shortcuts on this one!

Lay a ground cloth on the ground under the tent. It protects the tent's floor from sticks, roots and other possible punctures.

Here are some pitfalls to avoid that could really ruin your day.
  • Remember to always keep your tent closed. If it has a mesh screen, keep that closed too.
  • Don't try to accommodate too many people in the tent. It's not only uncomfortable, it's unsafe too.
  • Never put food into your tent. Food attracts hungry animals and it's a very unpleasant experience to wake up to an animal scratching at your tent to get at your food!
  • Don't lean on or touch the sides of the tent. This breaks the moisture barrier and will cause water to seep in. Avoid putting any items against the walls.
  • Allow the tent to dry before rolling it up and packing it away. Moisture leads to mildew inside your tent. Lay the tent flat out in the sun so it dries completely before packing it away.
  • Use only a mild soap when cleaning your tent. Harsh detergents could ruin the waterproofing. Follow manufacturer's directions.
  • To avoid dry rot, periodically take your tent out of the bag to let it breathe. Check your tent for holes too.
  • Make sure you have no sharp objects in your pack that might puncture your tent.
To make the most of your outdoor camping trip, take the time to care for your tent and camping gear and they will serve you well for many years.

I've been camping for 30 years and I love sleeping under the stars! I love to canoe, whitewater raft and do many more outdoor activities that challenge my body and mind.

Sign up for my free camping ecourse - Camping Survival - Tips For The Serious Camper at

Happy Camping!

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