How to Fold a Tent: Easy Tips and Tricks for Newbie Campers

Pitching a tent
Written by Russell McCarty

While setting up a tent might be as easy as ABC, folding it properly back into its bag may not be a similar case. This is even more difficult if you have never had the instructions for the tent or you lost them. Knowing how to fold a tent makes it easy to travel around with it because of its small size.

See also: Ultralight Hiking Gear: For a Stress-Free, Lightweight Hike

A tent that is not properly folded provides a good place for molds to breed. Improper folding may as well lead to the development of creases that damage the fabric of the tent.

To fold your tent, you will need:

  • Rags for cleaning the tent
  • A tent bag
  • Twine that will tie the tent

Steps to effectively folding a camping tent

Do the cleanup duty

Camping entails bringing lots of things to use in the jungle. Normally, these items are kept in the tent. So the first move will be to remove everything from the tent and then with the use of a clean damp rag, clean the inner parts of the tent. Get rid of any food particles or any other thing that may create a breeding ground for molds.

After you are done with the inside, move to the outer part of the tent and do the same. Give it time to dry up before you start folding the tent. It is best to air dry it. Do no fold a wet or dump tent. Be certain that it is totally dry.

Remove the stakes or pins holding the shelter

So now that your tent is clean and dry, it is time to remove the pins that hold the tent to the ground. Place the pins or stakes in a separate bag or in your backpack.

Keep the stakes in any other place just not the same place you are storing the tent as this may lead to damages to the fabric of the tent. This is because the pins and stakes are sharp items capable of causing harm to your tent.

Remove the poles

This is very easy a 6-year-old can do it. You only need to pull the poles out of the loops in your tent. Having done this, fold the poles accordingly. Some tent poles have various sections which fit together to have long poles. If this is the case for your poles, remove the fitted segments and keep them in their pole bag.

Shake up the camping tent

Cleaning up the tent may not really mean you are all done. Funny and weird as this may sound, you need to pick up your tent and shake it properly. The sole purpose for this is to remove any debris that may be on the tent.

Make the tent flat

So now that you have your tent all cleaned out the next thing you should do is to place the tent on the ground. Pull the tent until the whole of it is flat on the ground.

Ascertain that the bottom of the tent is also dry. If not dry, with the help of a dump piece of rag wipe the moisture off and put it to dry for about 20 minutes or so.

Fold up the tent

With this step, you have got to be very keen to fold the tent neatly and into very tiny bits. First, lift the outer parts of the tent towards the center of the tent. The folds should be aligned in straight lines. One important point to note is that you should fold the tent lengthwise.

While folding the door of the tent should be on top of the fold. Fold the tent to be a quarter the original width size of the tent. Having air in the tent will bring about moisture which causes the buildup of molds. So as to avoid this, you need to pat your already folded tent to ensure that air is not trapped inside.                           

Pack up the fly

Now that you have already worked on the main tent, you will need to straighten the fly then fold it lengthwise in that the outer part is inside the fold. This is something that can easily be pulled off by two people.

Folding the fly

Carefully fold the ends of the fly and ensure they touch the closest supports and continue folding it towards the center. Having gotten to the center, fold the flyover again.

Put everything together

Place everything out before the tent with the fly closest, followed by the tent poles, pegs, and any other thing farthest away. Before anything, you will need to totally roll in the fly and add the tent poles and roll it again. Put in the pegs and roll up once again.

If there is anything else left add it and roll till the end and tie properly. Remember to roll the tent tightly because too much air will also cause problems when folding as the tent may not fit in the bag.

Put the tent in the bag

So now that you have your tent folded in properly and all your necessities tacked in, there is not much left other than putting your tent in the bag and wait for the next camping either alone or with your friends.

The above are general steps when it comes to folding a regular tent. However, there are various types of tents. The following are steps on how to fold some of the common tents in the market:

Folding a Cabin Tent

A cabin tent is quite big and can fit more than 10 people. While putting it up might not be challenging, fitting it in the tent bag is some task. If not properly folded, it may not fit well in the bag. The following should be considered while folding a cabin tent:

  • Wipe the inner and outer parts of the fabric to remove moisture and dirt.
  • Undo the poles and tent stakes
  • Spread the tent flat on the ground to have a square or rectangle.
  • Fold the tent into half and ensure the tent is completely flat such that there are no lumps at all.
  • Again fold the tent into half to have a lengthwise rectangle.
  • Confirm the length of the tent bag. If the width of your already folded is longer than the length of the bag, it means you have to fold the tent again.
  • Tightly fold the tent starting from the narrow end then put it in the bag.

Folding a Backpacking Camping Tent

This tent is a favorite of those who love traveling light. So this is how to fold a backpacking camping tent.

  • Clean and dry the tent to ensure there is no mold build up as well as to avoid having a foul smell.
  • Be it pins or stakes remove whatever has been used to hold the tent to the ground. Keep the pins and stakes in separate place but not in the tent bag to avoid damaging the fabric of the tent.
  • Remove the tent poles from the loops and fold. If they can fit in the tent bag well and good but if not tie the poles together or put them in a separate bag all together.
  • Shake up the tent to remove any more dirt and to straighten the fabric.
  • Lay the tent on the ground with the door facing the top. Fold the bag from the sides as you go towards the center. Be sure there is no air trapped in the folds as well as lumps.
  • Roll in the tent starting from the furthest point from the door. Finishing by tying it well and putting it in the tent bag.

Folding a Dome Shaped Tent

If you prefer a dome-shaped tent here are some suggestions on how to fold this type of tent.

  • Pack the flysheet. Straighten the flysheet before anything. Fold the fly lengthwise with the outside part folded inside. Again fold the fly lengthwise with the outer part facing inside. You can use a second hand to do this properly.
  • Fold the fly. Tuck the ends of the fly to the nearest pole and gather the ends of the fly towards the center and fold it in once again. If well done, the flysheet of each pole should have the same width.
  • Rolling up the fly. Start from the top part of the fly, more so the lightest area. Roll it up tightly then tie it up. The tighter the fly, the easier it is to get in the bag.
  • Folding the tent. Spread the tent in the same manner it was erected. Ensure all zippers are all done.
  • Adjust the roof portion. The center roof mounts will act as great support rods. Pull the canopy to ensure it lies flat. Let not the excess fabric worry you. Simply lay it over the rear door area.
  • Fold the vestibule. Fold the vestibule to lie over the body of the tent with the top part lying on top. If your tent has no vestibule, do not mind this step.
  • Fold the tent. Fold each side towards the center fold again into half to have a quarter of the original size of the tent.
  • Pack everything together. Put everything on the front area of the tent by first laying the fly sheet, poles, pegs and any other thing. The best way to do this is to add one thing at a time then roll once and add another one and roll again and finally roll the end of the tent and tie it properly. Roll the tent very tightly avoid unnecessary creases while folding and rolling as extra air will make the tent not fit in the bag.

Useful Tips When Folding a Tent

It is beneficial to pay attention to overall tips on how to properly fold your tent. Here are essential suggestions.

  • Tents come from various brands and in various sizes. So as much the information shared here is vital, it is also imperative that you keep referring to your user’s manual for instructions and information concerning your particular tent.
  • At the time of purchase, every tent has clear fold lines. While folding your tent try to find your way through the creases to identify the fold lines if you can. This will save you a lot of trouble and time.
  • To have a longer lifespan, clean your tent properly and air dry it.
  • Avoid lumps and unnecessary wrinkles to prevent unnecessary weight.
  • So as to protect the fabric of your tent, make sure you do not store sharp objects such as pins together with the tent.

Importance of Knowing How to Pack Away a Tent

If you are looking for something that you can set up fast and keep you comfortable in the night as you are out in the jungle, you will certainly go for something that will cost a lot of money. Tents are very expensive and knowing how to handle them will save you a lot of money in the future.

A tent that is not properly tacked in is normally heavier and bulkier as the weight is not equally distributed. Knowing how to pack away your tent will give you an easy time to carry it as you trek or go hiking. You may not really feel the pinch during the first few minutes but after some time you will start feeling the weight crumbling you down. See our review of the top ultralight tent to help you with more options.

Final thoughts

Tent pitching is a necessary skill for all campers. Spending the night out in the wild is fun especially with a group of friends. While the experience may not be as comfortable and cozy as your bed could be, the memories acquired are to be cherished.

A good number of campers are familiar with the packing up blues of the tent. What people do is collapse the tent and roll it into the tent bag but it never fits properly. But with the knowledge shared here you can forget the blues and have an easy time folding your tent. To save more money, check out our easy instructions on how to make a DIY backpacking tent for reference.

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Russell McCarty

Russell considers backpacking one of his great passions in life. He actually managed to transform his passion into a living becoming a professional adventurer. Russell loves long-distance backpacking and he enriched his portfolio with famous trails like the Alaska-Yukon Expedition or the Appalachian Trail. With thousands of miles under his feet, Russell is the expert to consult when it comes to how to prepare for a successful outdoor adventure.