The advertising dome tent is the most common type of camping tents. Below, we walk you through the process of putting up a basic dome tent. These instructions can apply to any size of dome tent, from small two-person models to large family-sized tents.
Lay out your tent: First, find the bottom of your tent and lay it on top of the tarp, positioning it in the right direction. Think about what direction you want your tent doors to face — you may want to arrange your tent so that the doors face away from prevailing winds or towards your campsite for easy access. As you lay out your tent, account for all of its components, including tent poles and stakes.
Connect the tent poles: Depending on what type of tent you have, your tent poles may be held together with bungee ropes, or you may need to connect the pieces yourself according to their numbers. Some tents, such as pop-up tents, may not require tent poles at all. Once you’ve connected the poles, lay them across the flat tent.
Insert the tent poles: Next, insert the tent poles into the sleeves or clips on the tent. Different types of tents have sleeves and clips in different locations. For dome tents, the tent poles typically form an X across the top of the tent. Some larger tents have additional poles to extend the front or back. Insert the end of the pole into an eyelet at each corner of the tent, and proceed to attach the poles to plastic clips on the top of the tent or slide the poles through small flaps on top of the tent. Consult your tent’s instruction manual to make sure you are inserting the poles the correct way.
Raise the tent: Raising a tent often requires coordination, and it’s helpful to have a partner aid you in lifting the tent off the ground.
Once you’ve fit your poles into the connection spots, they will probably bend and raise the tent on their own. Fit the bottoms of the poles into a small sleeve or clip at their connection points. Some tents require a little more coaxing to stand up — make sure the poles are untangled and secure, and try pulling the corners of the tent apart so that they’re square. Freestanding tents can stand on their own once the poles are connected, but other tents may require guylines for stability.
Reposition the tent as necessary: Once the tent is standing, it may be necessary to adjust its position before staking it down or attaching the guylines. Make sure the doors and any windows face the direction you intended, and that the tent is centered over the tarp.
Stake it down: Take the tent stakes and secure each corner of the tent to the ground. Insert each stake through a loop at the corner of the tent at a 45-degree angle, angled away from the tent — this will help the tent remain secure. If you’re staking your tent over turf, you can probably insert the stakes using just the force of your hands.
However, on hard or rocky terrain, you might have to use a hammer or a blunt object to push them into the ground. Some tent stakes bend easily, so take care not to bend them.
Attach the rainfly: Some tents come with an extra guard against rain called a rainfly. For some tents, you can clip the rainfly directly to the tent, while for others you need to tie them above the tent. Consult your tent’s instruction manual to make sure you are using the correct method for your tent.
Use the guylines: Some tents come with guylines to provide extra stability in storms and high winds. Often, guyline attachments are on your tent’s rainfly cover — to tie the guylines, you might need to pull on the rainfly. Attach guylines to guyout points, which are sturdy loops located roughly halfway up the tent wall. For maximum stability, attach guylines to points uniformly surrounding the tent, such as nearby trees, logs or rocks or stake them into the ground.
Enjoy: Celebrate successfully pitching your tent and then make it cozy with your sleeping bag, air mattress and pillows. If it’s evening, set up a campfire and enjoy the start of your vacation.