Less Stress, More Fun: Tent Camping Tips

Here are a few tent camping tips to help you enjoy your outdoor experience more.

When you say “camping”, most people probably think of sleeping in a tent. Sure, you could sleep in a car or go RV boondocking, but tent camping gets you closer to nature, and isn’t that why you’re out there in the first place?

Sleeping in a tent has its advantages — it’s much cheaper than investing in a gas-guzzling RV, it opens up a lot more options for campsites, on a clear night you can look at the stars from your sleeping bag.

However, there are drawbacks as well; thin walls, hard ground, and longer set-up time can be minor annoyances or even full-blown misery inducers.

You can reduce or avoid such misery with these tent camping tips.

Tent Camping Tips: Preparation

Do your research. Find out everything you can about your intended campsite before you go.
Does the campground have firewood or do you need to bring your own? What are the fees? Does the campground enforce quiet hours? Is potable water available?

Here’s how I pack my tent to make set-up easier:

1. I lay the ground cloth down
2. Lay the tent body on top of it
3. Place the rainfly on top of the body
4. Fold it all in thirds
5. Place my tent poles (loose) and stakes (in a bag) on one end, and
roll it up from that end.

That way, it’s all bundled together in the right order.

Ensure a good night’s sleep. A sleeping pad is essential to sleeping well while camping. Get the thickest one you can.

Air mattresses are comfortable and pack down small. Get one with insulation; normal air mattresses will suck out your body heat when placed on cold ground.

Consider bringing earplugs if you are a light sleeper.

Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.

Make sure your sleeping bag is rated 10 degrees colder than the expected night time temperature.

In cooler weather, wear a hat to bed. I like to pull it down over my eyes so the morning sun doesn’t wake me too early.

Tent Camping Tips: On Arrival

Choose your campsite well. If you’re staying in a campground, pay attention to your neighbors. Any large, boisterous groups of campers with gigantic coolers full of alcohol nearby? Unless you’re planning to party along with them, you might want to keep your distance.

Where are the bathrooms or outhouses? Camp as close as you can to them and remember which direction to go when you “gotta go.”

If you are camping in the backcountry, pitch your tent on a hard, flat surface to minimize the impact. Don’t camp in a depression where water can pool under your tent.

Pay attention to wind direction. Face your tent into the wind if bugs are a problem; the breeze will help keep them away. Pitch away from the wind for better high-low ventilation.

Upon arrival in camp, set up the tent first. Setting up the tent takes time, especially if you’re new to camping, and it’s much more difficult to set up your tent in the dark. It might be fun to go exploring when you arrive, but set your tent up first. It’s worth it.

If you are going to have a campfire, be careful not to place the tent too close to it. Sparks from the fire can burn holes in it or worse. Face the door away from the fire to keep smoke out of your tent.

If you’ve packed your tent properly, then you can simply roll the tent out, crawl under the rainfly, thread or clip your poles, and raise the tent with the rainfly on top.

Make sure the tent is properly staked and guyed out. The rainfly should be pulled taut, away from the tent body; contact between them will hinder ventilation and wick moisture into your tent. A mallet is handy for driving stakes, especially in hard or rocky soil.

Once your tent is set up, inflate or roll out your sleeping pads, unfurl your sleeping bags so they have time to loft up, and put in everything else you’ll need such as pillows, books, mp3 players, water bottles, etc.

The idea is to have everything ready so when it’s time to go to sleep, you can just climb in and crash.

Take care of your tent. A tent repair kit is a good thing to have on hand. Stock it with seam sealer, an extra pole section or two, cord for guylines, and a sewing kit.

Take your shoes off before you enter the tent to keep it clean inside.

When you are packing up, shake or brush the dirt out of the tent before you disassemble it.

When you get home, unpack your tent and air it out before storing it. If it is very dirty, wipe it down with a mild soap solution then let it dry. Packing it away with moisture inside is a sure recipe for mildew.

I hope these tent camping tips help you enjoy yourself a little more on your next excursion.

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