adventures
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.