Tent camping is a great way to immerse yourself in nature—as long as you do it right.
10 Tips for Terrific Tenting!
By Tom Richardson; Photography by Tom Richardson
Tent-camping isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in nature. Whether you are camping in a state park or the backcountry, here are some simple tips to make the experience more enjoyable.
Choose a level, flat piece of ground on which to pitch your tent.
1) Inspect the campsite for a smooth, level area on which to pitch your tent. Look and feel carefully for roots, rocks, and divots. A marble-sized pebble might feel like a bowling ball by 3:00 a.m.
2) Make sure your tent is clear of any dead trees or limbs that might come crashing down in high winds. This is a major concern in areas damaged by wildfire.
3) Close any large windows or entrances when you leave the site for an extended period. It’s not a pleasant feeling when hiking in a sudden downpour and your partner asks if you closed the tent flaps.
Make sure your tent won't be damaged by windblown embers.
4) Stake down your tent in areas of high winds, especially along water edges and cliffs. Otherwise, you might return to your site to find you’re short a tent.
5) Dig a rain trench. We all remember this simple trick from childhood, right? A shallow trench dug below the edges of the rain fly will keep water from running under the tent. Be sure to dig an exit channel as well. You can use a small trowel or the corner of a hatchet blade to dig the trench.
6) Use a ground tarp that fits the tent dimensions. A tarp that’s too big for the tent footprint can do more harm than good by collecting rainwater and holding it under the tent floor.
7) If your campsite has a fire pit, pitch the tent at a safe distance from flying embers.
Be sure to shut all flaps when leaving your site or the interior of your tent could get soaked.
8) Bring as large a tarp as possible. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than a soggy tent or sleeping bag, so setting up a large tarp over your tent will provide another level of rain protection.
9) Keep food outside the tent. Critters ranging from mice to bears can sniff out a snack no matter how small. They can also cause a lot of damage to your tent in the process of getting to that meal. Keep foodstuffs sealed in a sturdy, lockable container.
10) At the end of your trip, clean and dry the tent as per the manufacturer’s instructions before packing it away.