Rick is a former news reporter who decided that the corporate world wasn't for him and took off to travel the world. He's been to every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) and has tried out a multitude of outdoor gear along the way. From tents to hiking boots, he's probably tested it all. Now, he's one of our full-time product testers and experts.
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Last updated: March 30, 2022
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Camping is a fun activity for any and all ages. Whether you’re a person who wants to hit the trails and find a campsite to spend some alone time out in nature, or someone who wants to go out into the woods with a group of friends and family, there’s a campsite, and a tent, for you. But folding a tent can be one of the more frustrating aspects of camping, so if you’ve ever faced this frustration yourself, then the following information on how to fold a tent will help you out immeasurably.
Dome tents are one of the simplest tents to set up when camping. And taking them down is easy, too. But what about putting them back in their bag for easier transporting and later storage? That’s where things can sometimes get tricky. It seems like that tent just won’t fit in the original bag, even though it was just in there a few days ago. But there are some steps you can take to make folding your dome tent easier and less of a hassle.
Always clean your tent before storing it. This will not only make things more sanitary the next time you want to use your tent, but it will also extend the life of your tent.
Remove and put all your tent pegs in their bag and place this bag into the pole bag, so they don’t get misplaced.
Take down the fly poles, fold them up, and put them in the pole bag.
Lay the flysheet on the inside floor of the tent.
Open all tent doors.
Take down all remaining tent poles, fold them, and put them in the tent pole bag.
Lay the tent flat as if it is still up.
Flatten the canopy, so it isn’t too bunched up. You want the tent to be as flat as possible while staying inside the space of the tent.
Fold any front or rear vestibule, so they lay flat over the main body of the tent.
Fold each side into the middle of the tent, then fold it over, so it’s a quarter of its original width.
Place the pole bag at one end of the tent and start rolling the tent up around, keeping it tight and straight.
Tie the tent tightly and then put it in the bag! That’s it!
Following these steps can make folding a dome tent one of the easiest parts of camping, but don’t be afraid to practice at home as practice makes perfect!
Cabin tents can be a great choice for anyone who’s camping with a larger group, or if you’re planning on spending a long time in the wilderness. Cabin tents often have multiple rooms and are generally larger enough to let you stand up inside. They can add a lot of comfort to your camping trip, but packing the tent up at the end can be a huge hassle because the tent has so many rooms and so much extra fabric. Putting the tent back the correct way can make all the difference in having a trip that ends without frustration.
Remove all the ground stakes, so the tent is no longer staked down
Remove all the tent poles, so the tent can collapse
Lay the tent out flat on the ground. Make sure it is either in a square or rectangular shape, even if you have to include the flysheet here as well.
Fold the tent in half and make sure that it still remains flat and empty of air pockets
Fold it in half again. The tent should look like a long rectangle now. Make sure it’s still flat, tidy, and empty of air.
You may need to fold it in half one more time if the tent is still too wide for the storage bag.
Fold the long end of the rectangle in thirds.
Lay the tent poles at one end of the tent and begin to roll them up in the tent. Make sure you keep all air out of the tent as you roll. Don’t be afraid to use your body weight.
Tightly tie the rolled tent up, so it stays rolled.
Put it in the bag!
The steps to folding a camping tent are actually quite simple once you get down to it. Just remember to get as much air out of the tent as you’re folding and rolling so it will fit in the bag when all is said and done.
Pop-up tents are a great choice when camping because they’re so easy to set up. They just “pop up!” Easy peasy! But taking them back down at the end of the trip can be a study in frustration. Pop-up tents like to stay popped up, and so it can take a lot of fiddling and fussing with the tent canopy and the poles to make the tent stay down enough to get it back in the bag for easier transporting and later storage. There are some steps, though, that can make most pop-up tents easier to fold at the end of your camping expedition, and practicing beforehand can make you an expert. While packing up a tent can be frustrating, it can be even worse if you have to do it in the rain, or in windy conditions. So, practice these steps with your tent at home, so you know what you’re doing when it really matters.
Make sure the tent is clean and dry. A wet tent that is packed up can lead to mold growth, which can permanently damage or ruin your tent and actually impact your health. If it’s wet outside when packing up, you may need to unpack your tent at home to dry it completely.
Stand next to your tent (on the side, not at the front or the end) and grab the top two poles (these are the ridges that are on the left and right of your tent if you’re standing on the side.) Pull these two poles together.
The bottom poles are the ridges that form the outer edges of the tent. Once you’ve folded the top two poles together, the bottom ones will stick out to the right and left. Fold one of the bottom poles up and over the top poles. Then repeat with the other bottom pole. You should now be holding all four poles together in your hands.
The tent should look a bit like a giant taco at this point. Stand it on its end (so the open side of the taco shape rests against the ground.)
Hold the four poles with one hand and with the other hand reach out to the uppermost part of the tent (the back of the taco.) Bring that part of the tent together with your other hand.
Push the tent to the ground and flatten it (the poles are flexible and lightweight so they won’t break.)
The tent should now look like two side by side flat circles on the ground.
Flip one circle on top of the other one. The tent should now look like one flat circle.
Keeping firm hold of the poles, slide the tent in its bag and secure it tightly.
It can take some practice the first few times, but once you understand how the tent folds back up, it will become second nature to you.
A beach tent is very similar to a pop-up tent, which makes it really convenient to bring along for a party on your favorite beach. But, like a pop-up tent, a beach tent is made to pop-up easily and remain open, which makes it one of the easiest tents to set up, but also a bit of a pain to fold and pack when your trip is over. But if you practice the following steps at your home, then the end of your beach camping trip doesn’t have to be filled with tent packing frustration or questions of how to fold a beach tent.
Before folding your tent, make sure it’s clean and dry. Dryness is the most important factor of tent maintenance, so if it’s raining when you’re folding your tent, make sure to dry it off once you get home.
Stand in front of the entrance to the tent with the door open. Grab both side poles of the tent.
Pull one side of the tent toward the center, and then flatten it against the ground. While keeping it against the ground, bring the other side on top of it. If you’ve done this correctly, the tent should look like an oval.
Flip the tent over onto its edge and push down on the center of this edge. As you flatten it against the ground, the tent will change into a figure 8 shape. Make sure you keep hold of the tent, so it doesn’t pop back open. If it does pop back open, you will need to start over.
With the two circles of the figure 8 shape against the ground, take one side and flip it on top of the other side, so the tent is now just a single, flat circle against the ground.
You’re now ready to put the tent back in its bag!
Folding a beach tent can take some practice to get right, but once you understand the steps, it’s actually quite simple. Still, it’s definitely worth practicing at home, especially since the beach tent is so easy to set up. Try folding it a few times, so then when you are on a camping trip, you won’t have to worry about getting it right.
The correct folding the tent and storing it will keep the tent clean and extend its life as well, making it a beach tent you can use for years to come.
Some useful tips
Regardless of the type of tent you have, there are some things that are important to know across the board to keep your tent folding time easy and stress-free.
Keeping your tent clean is one of the most important things you can do to extend its lifespan. Don’t let your haste to go home permanently damage or ruin your tent, costing you money for a replacement. Make sure you shake the dirt, sand, and debris out of your tent before you fold it. And all tents need to be dry when you put them back in its bag. A wet tent that is folded up will cause mold to grow, which is harmful to your health. If it is wet outside when you’re putting your tent away, you may need to unpack it at home to let it dry there. There are also some tent cleaning detergents and sprays you can purchase to keep your tent in the cleanest state possible if that’s something you’re interested in.
Folding a tent can be a frustrating task for a lot of people, but practice really does make perfect. Practice setting up and putting away your tent at home. Many tents are actually quite easy to fold once you get the hang of it, and doing this at home is the easiest and safest way to learn the specifics of your tent. That way, you don’t have to struggle when you are out in the wilderness.
The better you are prepared, the easier things will be. And that’s the most important thing to keep in mind before you go out in the wilderness.
So, the next time you’re heading out into the wilderness with your gear and tent for a night, or a weekend, or a week or longer, you can head out knowing the best way to fold your camping tent, no matter the type you use. And being prepared is extremely important to have a good time while camping.