How to Set Up Your Camping Tent
There are two basic types of areas where you will most likely put up your camping tent. One will be a campground with designated areas for pitching your camping tent. Usually, these areas will have gravel or hard dirt pack to set up on. These areas will have a community wash area and toilet facilities.
The second possibility will be a primitive campsite. This type of area is usually one which you may hike in to which and has no pre-designated area to set up your campground (although, not to confuse the issue, but some parks have areas designated as primitive campgrounds).
The thing that distinguishes a primitive campsite from a regular campsite is usually the amenities like wash and restroom facilities. I generally think of primitive camping as one where I can just pitch my tent in whatever space I can find beside the trail or streamside or alongside a lake. I just never expect a bathroom other than the tree 20 yards away.
When you are preparing to set up your camping tent follow these guidelines:
1. Prepare for Drainage
Hopefully, it won’t rain during your trip but you want to be prepared in the event that it does. Even if you are on a tent pad at the state park campgrounds it is usually a good idea to put down a ground cloth.
The ground cloth is especially important if you are pitching a tent on the bare ground in the wilderness. The ground cloth should never extend outside of the ends of the tent. The reason is if it does rain the ground cloth will capture the rain and potentially channel the rain between the tent floor and the ground cloth making for a soggy situation.
The camping tent itself should be placed on high ground. The camping pads shouldn’t be a big deal as they will be built on a pad keeping rainwater from washing into the camping tent area. However, if you are at a primitive location you do not want to place your tent in a low place that water could drain into.
I would look for a knob of some type, even towards the top of a hill if possible. Also, be careful of floodplain areas around streams and creeks. They make nice flat areas to camp on beside the water but if it rains quickly and the stream rises unexpectedly you could have a problem.
One thing you don’t want to do is to dig a little trench around the perimeter of the tent. Back in the day, the idea of the trench was to keep rain wash from draining into the tent area by diverting it away.
The trench encircled the tent and had an opening in the moat that would allow the water collected to drain out and away from the tent. Sounds like a great idea but it’s really not necessary if you locate the tent on higher ground.
Besides, digging a trench leaves a large “footprint” in the woods and is not very environmentally friendly. Unless it is absolutely necessary don’t dig a trench.
2. Soften The Ground
Before I am ready to pitch my camping tent I always think of ways to make the bottom of the tent as soft as possible. Unfortunately, most tent pads at public campgrounds that I have stayed at were made of gravel. This is not the most comfortable substance to sleep on.
I usually grab some pine straw, grass or leaves and spread it down over the gravel. Then I place my ground cloth down. Then I pitch my tent.
If you are at a primitive location you generally have more choices as you can camp right on the grass or the floor of the forest. However, before you pitch the tent make sure you have removed all the rocks, limbs and other debris from the tent area.
Also, make sure the ground is fairly level. That bump you might not have taken care to notice in the earth won’t make your back feel so great the next morning.
Fiberglass poles are not as lightweight or as durable as aluminum poles. They are generally found with cheaper camping tents.
3. Spread The Tent
Widely spread out the tent like a bedsheet and this would allow you to understand the layout of the tent and how to position it. Unfold all the tent equipments and place it next to the tent exactly at the same position where you think it would fit. At this time you are creating a blueprint of the tent before setting it up. When you spread the tent you would see where exactly the poles fit and the other parts go and once you are able to create an image of the ready tent you are good to start assembling it.
4. Assemble the Poles
Tent Poles are mostly like the blind man’s walking stick which is easily foldable, so make sure you straighten it out and make them look like a steady pole. Keep them aside for a minute while you set the base up.
5. Stake the Base
When you spread out the base of the tent you will see the four corners of the tent with a loop in which you need to place your stakes and hammer them into the ground. This will ensure that your tent does slide away and is firm and stays at one place.
6. Add the Poles
Normally you would have two long poles which are used to raise the tent’s height and make room inside for you to live in. Once the base is set up you would need to add the poles to the tent, this can be easily done. You would see loops or flaps going on top of the tent normally they would go diagonally, insert both poles one by one through these loops diagonally and stake it nicely into the ground. You would see your tent has now risen in height, now you would have side clips on your tent that you need to press with the poles to get that nice tent shape and get a firm structure.
7. Place the Cover
Once the tent is set up, you would have a cover to go on top of the tent which is intended to protect you from the rain. Place it over the tent and fix it to the poles and stake them if required. You would also have a small pole with goes right in front of the tent, it is fixed as a cap on the tents head, this would create a little room between the tent and cover. You will find handles in front of the tent to fix these poles too, and once you fix them it would be like a C shaped design.
8. Put a Front Mat
This one is optional, however, I like to place a yoga mat in front of the tent diagonally so that I can remove my footwear and wipe my feet before entering the tent. It makes the tent look good and helps to keep it cleaner. Also, in the mornings, I just love sitting on it and stretching my legs on sometimes just sitting on it and enjoy the nature.
You are all set and all you have to do is enjoy your tent and keep it clean. You would also need to ensure that the tent is away from the campfire. Remember the tent is your one clean spot, so keep it that way.
I also recommend practicing the assembling of the tent at home in your backyard or on the lawn before you step out to the campground.