How To Set Up A Tent For An Amazing Camping Trip

“How to set up a tent?” – a common question for everyone who is going to escape from the sorrows of everyday life. Setting up a tent is the very first step for any camping trip, and it impacts a lot on how the trip turns out: amazing or time-wasting. There will be troubles, there will be ups and downs. And it’s likely that, instead of a relaxing time with your beloved ones, you might end up stressing out. Hence, if you are one of many first-time campers looking for a way to set up the tent, or you simply seek an efficient and quick “how to set up a tent” guideline, this entry is for you.


First of all, we need to know what the divisions of a tent are. This is to make sure that we never miss one when packing up for a camping trip. Bear in mind that with a part being missed, you might not have a perfect camping trip, or even cannot raise the tent.

Make a check-list of those parts when you pack your tent for the trip: a tarp or a groundsheet, the poles, the stakes, a rainfly, and of course, the tent itself. It is also necessary to pack these items in proper order so you get the first things for setting the tent up out first. Get advice from the product instruction that comes with the tent. If you are a first-time camper and not sure about the order to set up the tent, bring the instruction along.


Once you arrive at the camping spot and finish choosing a good location to spend the night, it’s time to unpack the tent parts as we will right away go ahead with setting it up. Remember to choose a spot that is flat, sharp object-free, and in a safe location from the stream or the lake. The wind and sun direction will need to be considered as they relate to the heat and the stability of the tent.


#1: Lay the tarp down before anything else

The tarp (a good quality plastic or vinyl one) is the border between the bottom of your tent and the ground. It will protect you from getting wet from below as the bottom now will not gather the moisture. When you lay the tarp, remember to fold it to the relative shape of the tent’s bottom, but it needs to be smaller. If the tarp is bigger than the floor of the tent, it might collect water from the rainfly in case of rain, and your tent soon becomes a pond.

Also, the tarp will ensure a smooth base for the tent’s floor and give out extra comfort. The tent base will be protected from dust, dirt, and water when you pack it up to head home.

#2: Roll out the tent atop of the tarp

Next, unfold the tent and place the base side over the tarp. Choose the direction of the tent door according to your wish. Avoid setting up the tent door in the direct sunlight if you don’t want to be heated and woken in an early summer morning.

#3: Pay attention to the poles and connect them

Make sure that you take out enough poles and start connecting them. Depends on your tent type, you will connect things by stretchy cords, bungee ropes or you need to connect the numbered poles yourself. Once you finish connecting them, lay it out across the flat tent.

#4: Insert the poles into the corresponding flaps

If you cannot remember the way it works, it’s time to use the instruction manual. All tents are designed differently, so there are different ways that the poles fit in the flaps. Most of them (which are basic tents) will have two tent poles that cross each other in order to form an X – the basic frame of the tent. For this type, you will put the end of the pole into the eyelet at each corner, then slide the pole either through the small flaps on the top of the tent. For some other cases, you will need to attach plastic clips on the top of the tent to the pole.

#5: Raise the tent

You might need some coordination for raising the tent, so it’s better to get yourself a partner for this part. After you’ve connected the poles into the attachments, bend them to fit in place and they will form the tent to the shape that you could sleep in. Lastly, clip the top and sides of the inner tent onto the poles.

Depends on the tents you use, there will be extra work that you need to pull the corners apart till they’re square and make sure the poles are untangled. Also, some tents might come with plastic hooks attached to little chords as a part of the tent. After you’ve raised up the tent to a certain percentage, hook these chords onto the tent pole frame in the appropriate place, and attach any other necessary structural components so that the tent stands up.

#6: Stake the tent to the ground

This step ensures that your tent and everything inside it will be on the ground in case of sudden gusts of wind. Before staking the tent, make sure that you get your tent door in the ideal direction that you desire, and in any kind of weather, do not let it face the wind’s direction.

When you’ve already raised up the tent, get the pegs/stakes out and start staking the tent. Fit the stakes through the slaps at the corners and push them into the ground. Some stakes might be easy to be bend, so make sure you do this stage with carefulness.

If your campsite has rocky or particularly hard ground, a tiny hammer will help when you stake the tent.

#7: Attach the rainfly

You better get an extra rain guard with you (a sheet of material that covers the tent called a rain fly), as you never be sure about the stability of the tent top in heavy rain. Place the rainfly over the top of the tent and make sure that the two doors (the fly’s door and the tent one) aligned together. Secure the fly to the poles by its loops or tabs on the inside. Make sure that the fly’s doors are zipped closed, or else you might get wet even you bring the rainfly along.

You will also need to draw the bottom loops of the rainfly far away from the inner tent to stake it in place. Remember to maintain even tension across the fly so it will not flap or touch the inner tent, which will help you a lot in airflow management and protect your inner tent from any elements.

#8: Guy out the tent

Guying out your tent will create extra tension across the tent, and hence, improve the stability of your shelter against the high winds and so on. Secure your tent to the ground or any logs, rocks, or trees nearby using tensioners with bowline knots or a trucker’s hitch. Normally, the guylines are attached at the points on the side of the tent that the wind is coming from, however, you might add the points around the tent for equal stabilization on all sides.

If there is no tree or rock nearby to guy your tent to use a trekking pole instead. Create the guylines that are perpendicular to the respective guy out points to increase the tent strength.


As you already know how to set up the tent after reading the steps above; I will give out some notes about the most common mistakes you might have during the setting procedure. Read them carefully, and make sure you won’t make any of those in your upcoming camping trips.

1. Not preparing the tent

Preparing the tent means that there are enough components of the tent, none of them are left at home or in bad condition. Some don’t maintain the tent after a trip and even don’t check it before another camping day.  Remember that if you miss any part or they are in bad condition, it might contribute to the failure of setting up the tent. Make a check-list of the tent parts, and after any camping trip, (clean it and) let it sundry before packing it up.

2. Not finding good ground

We all know that sleeping on the ground is not as good as our bed. Get yourself a good tent and a sleeping bag does help, but not as much as the good ground does. Look for a ground that is free of sharp objects, tree branches, rocks, and roots. Also, remember to choose a high ground if you don’t want to wake up in a floating tent on a pond in case it rains one inch during your sleep.

3. Not looking up

When we look for a good ground to set up the tent, we just find a place that is free of sharp and hard objects and stay away from the stream & low ground. We think these are enough, but we are wrong. We also need to look up to make sure that there are no beehives, no spider webs, and the most important thing is no Widowmaker, which is also known as the fool killer. This can be a tree branch; broken, rotten, still hanging there, and is likely to fall during our sleep. It is hard to see it and to tell we will be its victim, but to look up and get yourself fully prepared is way better.

4. Not giving yourself time

Setting up a tent requires time, and the amount depends and varies. Even an experienced camper needs hours to set the tent up perfectly, and the time you need for each set up is not the same as little things here and there can happen and add up a little bit longer to your set up. Practice always helps. You can practice setting up the tent at home so you will be more familiar with the tent components and steps to raise the tent up. In case you cannot finish setting the tent up before the dark, set up a fire.

5. Not being aware of the sun

The sun plays an important role in your camping trip, as it adds up the heat to your tent. When setting up the tent, you need to select an appropriate direction as it will add tens of degrees to your tent if you set it in direct sunlight. On the contrary, if you hide from the sunlight in the winter, your tent will be 10 degrees cooler than it should be.

6. Not staking your tent

A common mistake of many first-time campers when setting up a tent is not to stake the tent to the ground as some think that it is not that necessary. However, when it comes to a sudden gust of winds that might pop up the bottom of your tent, it will be extremely dangerous as the tent could be blown away despite there is a decent amount inside it. To stake your tent to the ground is to make sure that everything will stay where it needs to.


Setting up a tent is an essential skill for any camper as you need to stay safe and protected in the wild. With all the above tips and steps, I hope you will find the tent setting up easier up, and will be able to master it in no time.

In case you are tired of remembering things and have a long to-do list after setting up a tent, you might consider choosing an instant tent instead.

Further reading:

22 Camping Hacks and Tips