How to pitch a tent and build a shelter

July 28, 2015

Pitching a tent can be a difficult task for a new camper, but there are some simple tricks to make the job easier. These tips will help the novice camper create a dry, sturdy shelter that can weather the elements.

How to pitch a tent and build a shelter

Put up a dome tent

Struggling to erect a tent on a wet and windy campsite is a sure way to spoil the start of your vacation. Follow some basic rules and always have a dry run in the backyard with a new tent before you go away.

  1. Lay out a separate groundsheet, if you have one, to prevent stones damaging your integral groundsheet. Unfold and lay the tent on top. This tent is pitched inner first.
  2. Fix poles together and lay them close to hand. Thread poles through tabs or clips on top of the inner tent and through the central tab at the top. Some tents are pitched flysheet (or outer) first and have long pockets through which you thread the poles.
  3. Push poles into corner clips or pockets, bending them as you do so to lift the tent into shape. Some tents have an adjusting strap here to tighten the poles in place. In a simple dome tent, the two poles should cross at the top.
  4. Fit the rain flysheet over tent and push or hammer in pegs all round, angled away from the tent and as far into the ground as possible. Peg out guy ropes and tighten them.

Build a survival shelter

If you're stranded outdoors for the night, you must find a way to keep warm and dry. Don't wait until it's getting dark. Find a safe place in daylight, while there's a chance to check for hazards, such as rockfalls or a hornets' nest. If you have a tarpaulin or a groundsheet and a length of rope, then you have the makings of a basic shelter.

  • Tie your line between two trees, and lay the tarp over it.
  • Peg the lower edges to the ground to make a tent; most tarps have eyelets for this purpose.

If you have no tarp, build an A-frame.

  1. Find a dry spot, a branch two to three metres (6.5 to 10 feet) long and two shorter ones of 1.5 metres (five feet) or so.
  2. Use the two shorter branches to make an A by pushing both branches into the ground and tying their tops together. Then push one end of your longer "ridgepole" into the ground, and tie the other end to the apex of your A. Make sure it's aligned so that the lower end faces the prevailing wind.
  3. Fix more branches to the ridgepole, and weave twigs between them. Fill the gaps with evergreen branches or bracken, and cover the ground inside with ferns or conifer branches to provide additional insulation.

Learning to pitch a tent or build a shelter is a crucial task you should commit to memory before heading out on a camping trip. By following these simple tips, you'll have a safe place to rest your head when you're out enjoying the wilderness.

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