How to Set Up a Tent in Windy Conditions

man in windy climate

When you plan out a camping trip, you often picture beautiful clear skies, calm weather, and plenty of sunshine. But Mother Nature often has other plans in mind, which is why it’s important that you know how to set up a tent in windy conditions, otherwise, you’ll find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, struggling to get your tent set up before the sun goes down. This guide will discuss some great tips and tricks that can help you set your tent up in no time, even when you’re dealing with high gusts.

Is it Too Windy to go Camping?

On the day of your camping trip, check the weather reports. If there’s seriously dangerous weather in the forecast, stay home and choose another day. If the weather is simply going to be windy, you can still enjoy your camping adventure and pitch a tent, in no time at all.

Bring the Right Gear

You don’t have to purchase a top of the line tent to use in windy conditions, but you also don’t want to go with the cheapest option possible either. The $40 tent you picked up at your local sporting goods store probably won’t seem like the best idea when you’re camping in windy conditions and the tent poles have snapped, causing the tent to collapse at 2am. Major brands often subject their tents to a variety of tests and many are capable of handling a certain amount of wind, however, some models are able to handle wind better than others, so make sure you check a tent’s wind rating before you bring it along. Some tents will also come equipped with extra features that are designed to improve a tent’s stability. If you want to be prepared for tears and other types of damage that high winds can cause, it’s also wise to bring along a tent repair kit.

Staying Safe

setting up a tent

  • When it comes to windy weather, the smaller the tent, the better the chance the tent can handle windy weather.
  • If wind is in the forecast, make sure you bring along sturdy stakes and extra guylines. Most tents will come with flimsy stakes that are made out of aluminum. I recommend purchasing something stronger.
  • At the campsite, find the best spot to pitch your tent. If possible, set up the tent in a sheltered spot. The spot may be close to a natural wind cover, such as a rock outcropping, hedge, or a wooded area.
  • If you’ve found a good spot close to some trees, make sure that the tree doesn’t have rotten or dead branches. If it does, you’ll need to avoid the spot since heavy winds can send the branches flying.
  • If you have plenty of light left, make sure you take your time to choose your spot. Walk around and look for the best spot possible. The wind can vary in intensity depending on the area. Wind will be stronger by seas or lakes. Some gulches or valleys can create natural wind tunnels that will have very strong gusts.
  • If you’re dealing with both wind and rain, be sure that you don’t set up your tent in the lowest spot where water is able to gather. Instead, look for higher ground.

Determine the Direction of the Wind

Take time to pinpoint the direction of the wind. In some cases, the wind’s direction will not be obvious. Feel the wind on your exposed hand or face. Use some fabric to help you determine which way the wind is blowing.

The tent should be set up with the narrowest and lowest part toward the wind. The butt of the tent should be stuck in the wind. Avoid putting the opening of the tent in the wind’s path otherwise you’re basically just creating a balloon.

Depending on the shape or style of the tent, consider how the wind will flow around it.

Setting Up the Tent

friends setting up the tent

  • Before taking the tent out, look around and see what items you can find to help keep your tent stable and anchor it in place, such as large rocks. Bring the rocks to the area where you’ll pitch the tent. Try to avoid disturbing the soil when you remove the rocks and remember to put them back in the same spot in the morning.
  • Prepare everything you need and get organized. Take the tent out carefully and consider what parts of the tent may take off in the wind, such as the small bag of poles.
  • Begin with the tent body, staking it down. You should start with the windward side. Avoid pushing the stakes straight down into the ground. Instead, you’ll want to stake them at a forty-five-degree angle. Doing so will make them more secure.
  • Place the rocks on the tent to help keep it in place as you stake it. You can use more rocks to help keep the stakes down. Many pro campers will place rocks on top of the stakes to ensure they don’t get ripped out of the ground in heavy gusts. When the stakes have been securely driven in place, put the tent poles in, securing the entire structure with guylines.
  • You may want to tie the guylines to rocks or trees if they’re available. Ideally, you should tie the guylines to anything that can help to make sure your tent is safe and secure in windy conditions.
  • Avoid leaving the doors to the tent open, otherwise, the fabric can get shredded in heavy wind conditions.
  • When the tent is finally up, you can also use your gear, placed inside the tent, to help hold it down from the inside. Place the heaviest items in the corners for much-needed additional anchoring.
  • If you’ve brought a tarp along, you can also provide additional protection to your stove or entry area.
  • If the wind is strong enough, the tarp may behave like a huge sail and create an unsafe situation, so you may be better off using the tarp as a fence between the trees that are providing some protection.
  • You can attempt to create a wall around the tent using barriers such as boulders or thick brush. However, you’ll also want to avoid damaging the campsite. Try to use only fallen branches and loose rocks.

Cooking in High Winds

If you’re dealing with strong gusts of wind, then you may be stuck eating a cold dinner. Prepare for this and bring along dry sausage and cheese, some granola, and other items that are filling and don’t require heat. Avoid bringing only uncooked dehydrated meals.

In dangerously high winds you should avoid making a fire since the risks of accidentally starting a wildfire will be very high.

In this case, using a gas stove will be a better option. If you’ve set up your tent well and created additional protection from the wind around the stove, then you can easily prepare a small meal or boil a pot of water.

Never bring the stove inside the tent since the fumes are very dangerous.

Taking Down a Tent in Windy Weather

Taking down your tent when you’re dealing with windy conditions is basically the same thing as setting it up, just in reverse. Consider what small items can easily be blown away and use some rocks to hold things down. Before you remove the pegs, place rocks on top of the tent so you don’t have to worry about running after it if it gets blown away. Consider the best order of action and what can go wrong when you lift a rock or untie something.

The last step will be to clean up the campsite and put everything back where you found it, including large rocks and fallen branches.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to set up a tent in windy conditions is crucial, since the weather can often be unpredictable. This guide includes information that will help you pitch a tent in high gusts, what you can do to further protect your tent during the night by adding more anchoring power, and how to take a tent down the next morning, safely. By following these tips, you’ll be able to easily set up your tent quickly, in any type of inclement weather and ensure it doesn’t collapse or get shredded during the night, if the weather worsens.