How to Pitch a Tent

Published on 05/09/2023 · 6 min readPitching a tent can be a daunting task! But with this step-by-step guide from Camping and Hiking Expert Alex Dolan, you'll have it figured out in no time!
Alex Dolan, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Alex Dolan

The best places to pitch tents are often in view of HUGE Mountains! Photo by Alex Dolan

Camping is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and connect with nature. One of the most essential aspects of camping is setting up your tent. However, pitching a tent can be intimidating, especially for first-timers or if it is essential. Therefore, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to pitch a tent. While not all tents are exactly the same, these are valuable tips no matter what kind of tent you own. After helping hundreds of Curated customers find the ideal tent for their needs, I realized that many of them have never set up a tent by themselves. I’m hoping this article will be a concise way to explain the basics of setting up a tent so that someone with a brand-new tent can avoid simple errors on their first camping trip with new gear. The most common tents camped in are domed tents which include most backpacking tents and car camping tents.

A domed tent is a type of camping tent that is characterized by its dome-shaped structure. These tents have a curved pole system that creates a rounded top, which provides additional headroom and a more spacious interior. Domed tents are popular among campers because they offer a balance between stability, space, and ease of setup. They are also known for their durability and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as high winds and heavy rain. Domed tents come in a variety of sizes, from small two-person tents to large family-sized tents that can accommodate several people. Some models also feature multiple rooms or vestibules, which provide extra storage space or privacy. Overall, a domed tent is a versatile and practical choice for campers who want a reliable and comfortable shelter while enjoying the outdoors.

The tent I am using to demonstrate is an MSR Hubba Hubba 2-Person Tent, designed for backpacking. It is lightweight and very straightforward to set up.

Step-by-Step Guide to Pitching a Dome Tent

Step 1: Choose a Suitable Location

Photo by Alex Dolan

The first step in pitching a tent is to choose a suitable location. Look for a flat, level area free of rocks, sticks, or sharp objects that could damage your tent. Make sure that there are no protruding objects on the ground that could poke a hole in your tent floor. Instead, try to find an area with soft ground. Avoid low-lying areas that could flood during rain or areas prone to strong winds.

Think about where you want to lay your sleeping bag inside the tent and what direction you want to be oriented while sleeping. It’s not comfortable to sleep with your head oriented downhill or with a big lump of dirt under your back. Additionally, ensure that you are following the rules and regulations of the camping area you are in. Some areas may restrict how close you can camp to a river or stream. Other campgrounds may have sprinkler systems or gas lines, which may affect where you can set tent stakes.

Step 2: Unpack Your Tent

Photo by Alex Dolan

Once you have found a suitable location, unpack your tent and lay it flat on the ground. Ensure all the components are present, including the tent body, rainfly, poles, stakes, and guy lines. Familiarize yourself with each of these components before proceeding to the next step.

Step 3: Assemble the Tent Poles

Photo by Alex Dolan

The next step is to assemble the tent poles. Identify the longer poles usually used for the main structure and the shorter poles used for the rainfly. Connect the poles together and insert them into the appropriate sleeves or clips on the tent body. Most tents come with color-coded poles to make it easier for you to assemble them.

Step 4: Raise the Tent

Photo by Alex Dolan

Once you have assembled the tent poles, it's time to raise the tent. Start by lifting the poles to create the tent's basic structure. Next, ensure the tent is positioned correctly, and adjust the pole lengths if necessary. Finally, insert the ends of the poles into the grommets at the tent's base to secure them in place.

Step 5: Secure the Tent With Stakes

Now that the tent is in place, you must secure it with stakes. Begin by inserting the stakes into the ground at the tent's corners. Then, stretch the tent body to ensure that it is taut and insert more stakes along the sides of the tent. It is recommended to stake your tent in a way that pulls the tent fabric taut but not too tight. If the fabric is too loose, it could cause water to pool up and drip into your tent. If it is too tight, you could risk tearing your tent or stretching the fabric. Angle the stakes away from the tent to provide maximum stability.

Step 6: Attach the Rainfly

Photo by Alex Dolan

The final step is to attach the rainfly. This will protect the tent from rain and wind. Drape the rainfly over the tent and attach it to the corners and sides of the tent body using the hooks or clips provided. Tighten the rainfly to ensure that it is taut and secure. Some tents come with pre-attached rainflies, making this step much easier.

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when pitching and repacking your tent:

  • Time of day: Always pitch your tent before it gets dark. It is easier to spot potential hazards and ensure you have pitched the tent correctly.
  • Distance: If you are camping in a group, make sure to pitch your tents at a reasonable distance from each other. It will give you and your fellow campers privacy and reduce noise disturbance.
  • Use a groundsheet or footprint: This will protect the bottom of your tent. It will increase the longevity of your tent by preventing damage from rocks and sticks on the ground. Using a tarp typically causes much more condensation to build up, so a footprint works much better.
  • Familiarize yourself with your tent's features and instructions: Do this before heading out on your camping trip. It will also make the pitching process much easier and faster.
  • Practice pitching your tent before heading out on your camping trip: This will help you become more familiar with the process and make it easier to pitch your tent when you arrive at your campsite.
  • Do a visual sweep of your tent site when repacking your tent: Ensure you do not leave important items like rainflies, stuff sacks, guylines, tent pegs, or litter.


Now you have a place to rest that is dry and protected from wind and bugs. Finished Product! Photo by Alex Dolan

In conclusion, pitching a tent is a crucial part of camping. By following the above steps, you can pitch your tent safely and efficiently. Remember to choose a suitable location, assemble the tent poles, raise the tent, secure it with stakes, attach the rainfly, and test the tent's stability. With practice, you'll be a pro at pitching tents in no time!

Let me know if you have any more questions about how to pitch a tent—you can shoot a message to me or a Camping & Hiking Expert any time for help with the perfect gear for you!

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