Putting the tent up is actually pretty easy. Especially dome tents. And taking them down isn’t too bad either. But putting them back in the bag is another story.
In this post, you’ll learn how to fold a tent like a boss – and put it back in the bag – just like when you bought it.
How to Fold a Tent Like a Pro
You’ve been out in the wilderness for days. You are one with the wild. And you feel like you might want to stay here forever.
As you pack up camp and load the car, the tent stays up. Why? Because it’s the most annoying thing to take down.
The tent arrives perfectly packed into a tiny space. But it never fits and you can never quite remember how it packed down so small in the first place. It doesn’t have to be hard. No matter what size, shape, and type of tent you have, you can pack it.
This post is divided into 3 sections:
- Tent Folding 101
- How to fold a dome tent
- How to fold a cabin tent
Rainy day? Here’s how to set up your tent in the rain.
How to Fold a Tent: 5 Steps
There are some basic rules of tent folding that apply universally. These rules are as follows:
- Clean the tent before packing and ensure that it is dry. If the tent is wet then it will get moldy. If you must pack it wet, make sure you unpack it as soon as you get home and dry it out.
- The tent must be folded so that it is slightly smaller than the bag
- Roll the tent poles into the tent
- Use a tie to keep the tent rolled tight
- Eliminate lumps and wrinkles to minimize unnecessary bulk.
How to Fold a Dome Tent: 11 Steps
This guy has a great no-fuss approach to folding a dome tent.
He quite rightly argues that if you have three separate items to put into a bag it is going to be much harder to make them fit than one together.
Below the video is the step-by-step process.
Here are the steps to easily fold a dome tent.
- Clean the tent: Remove all dirt and/or food from the inside of the tent as well as any belongings so the tent is clean and clear.
- Remove any tent pegs from the ground: Ensure that all your tent pegs have been collected and placed in their bag, then place this in the pole bag.
- Remove the fly poles: Take any poles out of the flysheet and fold them up into the pole bag.
- Lay the flysheet out inside the tent: Ensuring the flysheet is dry and clean, lay it out on the inside floor of the tent as flat as possible.
- Open all the tent doors: This will ensure that any air inside the tent will escape rather than become trapped.
- Remove all the tent poles: Remove all the poles and place them folded back in the pole bag.
- Fold the main tent: Ensure that all bits of the tent is within the main edges. You should now have a square that contains the flysheet as well as the tent itself. Lie the pole bag against the edge of the tent at roughly equal distances from each end. This will provide you with a reference as to where you should fold your tent. Take one edge and fold in so that the fold is in line with the edge of the tent pole bag. Then take the other edge and do the same, so that you have a long rectangular shape that is no wider than the pole bag.
- Remove all the air and flatten out: Go over the tent removing any creases, and air pockets, and generally make sure it is as flat and neatly folded as possible.
- Roll the pole bag into the tent: Place the pole bag at one end of the tent and start rolling the tent up around it, as tight as possible. Ensure you are rolling it straight so that one end does not become thicker than the other. You can use your body weight to roll tight and remove the air as you go.
- Tie it all up: Once you have it nicely rolled, tie two lengths of rope around each end (you should have some from the original packing). The Aussie bloke recommends putting loops at one end of each piece of rope to then loop the other end through and pull for extra firmness.
- Put it all in the bag! Voila, it’s done! The tent should go in the bag with no trouble at all.
Here’s a great guide for packing a tent on Instructables.
How to Fold a Cabin Tent: 10 Steps
Cabin tents are generally quite substantial. They usually have multiple rooms and spaces and you can generally stand up straight in them.
Fitting them back into their bag is a particular challenge because the bags are generally tight and there is more material to fit back in so doing so correctly and without errors is vital.
- Remove the stakes: Remove all the stakes from the ground surrounding the tent so that the tent is no longer tied down.
- Remove the poles: Remove all the poles from the tent body.
- Lay the tent flat: Lay the tent out flat on the ground and ensure that it is either in a square or rectangular shape. If there is a flysheet, place this also within this shape in a flat and tidy manner.
- Fold the tent in half: Once you have flattened out the tent, fold it in half over itself. Take time here to iron out any kinks, air pockets etc, and ensure again that the tent is nice and flat.
- Fold the tent in half again: Fold the tent in half again so that it is a long rectangular shape now, once again taking the time to flatten it out and tidy it.
- Check the length of the storage sack against the folded tent: If the storage sack is the same or just longer than the short edge of the folded tent, this is fantastic. If the tent is longer, you will need to consider folding it again. You want to try and end up with a tent that is folded to almost the same length as the storage sack.
- Fold the long rectangle by a third: Fold one-third of the tent over itself.
- Roll tent poles into tent: Lay the tent poles at one end of the folded tent and begin to roll, using your body weight to keep the roll really compact and ironing out air pockets and uneven areas as you go.
- Use the ties to secure the rolled tent: Tie them up so that it stays tightly rolled.
- Place it in the bag: If you have done everything right, the tent should fit snugly in its bag!
Properly folding your tent is an important part of care and maintenance.
More reading: How to stake a tent properly
Now you have the knowledge, you should be able to go camping and impress all your friends with your tent-folding skills!
There is nothing better than coming to the end of a relaxing weekend knowing that you are not going to have an hour-long battle with your tent to get it back into the bag.
Now head out into the wilderness (and no matter what tent you have) knowing that you have the ability to get it back into its teeny, tiny bag.