No matter whether you’re off to a festival with a pop-up tent or a family week away in a big six-person one, it’s important that you know how to properly pitch your temporary home. Here’s our handy guide with a few tips and tricks to help you become a pro camper.
If you haven't been allocated a pitch, search for an area that's flat and sheltered. If the weather is stormy, don't pitch under a tree, in low-lying ground, or near a river bank - you don't want to wake up to a soggy sleeping bag or a branch poking a hole through your bedroom wall. Once you've found a great location, check the ground before you start unpacking! Look out for sharp objects such as stones or glass which can damage you and your tent, animal mess, rubbish, and insect nests that may want to make you part of the colony. Clear your area of any of this and you're good to go. However, it's always a good idea to lay down a ground sheet or tarpaulin to further protect the bottom of your tent and provide added insulation.
It’s important to read the pitching guide that comes with your tent. Some require the inside to be constructed first, while others require you to put up the outside before attaching the internal bedroom pods.
Whichever part needs putting up first, lay it out flat on the ground and check that all the zips are done up – something you should also check when packing it away. If it’s windy, secure it down with a couple of tent pegs. Don’t walk on your tent with your shoes on or lay items on it as this could rip the fabric.
Sort out which poles go where. They’re usually colour-coded or can be easily worked-out by their length. When inserting them into the fabric sleeves of your tent, be sure to push them through instead of pulling from the other end. Most tent poles are made of fibreglass or aluminium and threaded together with elastic. If you pull them, the sections may come apart or the elastic could snap. Secure them into place using the pins at either end, creating the tension that will lift your tent up to form the main structure.
The remaining sections of your tent will then usually clip or tie onto the structure that you’ve built. Ensure each loop in the base of your tent, including as the base of your poles, is secured down with one or two tent pegs, pulling them slightly outwards from your tent so the fabric is taught. Using a mallet is best as summer soil can be hard and standing on them can cause them to bend.
Some larger tents may have a porch that can be pitched once the rest of the tent it up, or they poles may need to be inserted at the same time as the others, so check this before your secure everything in place.
Lastly, you’ll need to secure your guylines for extra stability and ventilation. These cords should have been ravelled up when the tent was packed away. Once unravelled, pull the cords out and anchor them down with pegs or stakes angled at 45° to your tent. If your pegs face the same way at your guy rope, they won’t offer as much resistance. Your guy line can be lengthened or shortened using the adjustable tensioner (a small piece of plastic that slides up and down the wire) and should be checked each morning the ensure they’re still taught.
Unzip the front door and step or crawl into your lovely little home away from home. You can now unroll your sleeping bag and begin setting up the rest of base.
If you've just purchased a new tent and are unsure of how to pitch it, it's always a good idea to do a practice run in the garden or at a local park. Not only will this help you get used to the process, but it'll allow you to see if there is any existing damage to your tent or if any parts, such as poles and pegs, are missing.
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