Setting Up Your Tent in the Wind

Howling wind. It can torment us in the backcountry. But few are the camp sites, especially above tree line, that the wind won’t find. Perhaps the most frustrating of the windy-weather camp tasks is setting up your shelter. Adventure photographer and host of Backpacking TV, Eric Hanson recently battled the infamous gusts of Patagonia on a solo trek and quickly learned some key tricks for putting up your home when the air is blowing fiercely.

1) Pick the right site

When picking a tent site, consider which way the wind is blowing. Position the narrowest part of your tent, usually the foot, into the wind so that your tent isn’t a great big sail. Also, look for natural features like trees or boulders that could serve as windbreaks.

2) Get heavy bits of gear ready as anchors

Other, heavier bits of your gear can serve as anchors to your tent once you unpack it. Have those things ready to use, and to toss into your tent to weigh it down.

3) Connect your tent poles first

Before unpacking your tent and rainfly, set up your poles. Once the tent is out in the wind, it will become a wild, flapping beast and you’ll need the poles to tame it and give it a structure that you can manage.

4) Stake out the windward side of tent

With two tent stakes in hand, unpack the tent body first. Grab the tent by whatever side will be facing the wind and let the wind blow the tent body away from you. Then stake down this side of the tent. NOTE: Set up your tent footprint later.

5) Add your poles

Now, place the poles on top of the tent to hold it down. Insert the poles, starting with the side you just staked down. Then stake down the other side and add the poles. TIP: Now, toss in your heavy bits of gear, like your pack, to anchor your tent.

6) Attach the rainfly

As you unpack it, hold the rainfly from the side that will be facing into the wind. Allow the wind to lift the fly over the tent. If you’re solo, this is the toughest part: Scurry back and forth to attach each of the fly’s points.

7) Guy-out and cinch down the tent

It’s important to guy-out and cinch down your tent. This adds strength to its structure, bracing it against the power of the wind. When tents are loosely connected, they’re more likely to be damaged by the whipping and flapping effects of the wind.

Eric HansonEric Hanson is a landscape and adventure photographer, filmmaker, and host of Backpacking TV. He just returned from seven months of trekking South America. Follow him on Instagram, ericrhanson.