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Tent Tips for Camping in Windy Conditions

Posted by Len Goon on

Wind can be your tent's biggest enemy! Don't let wind shred your tent and your holiday. Here are some tips for dealing with windy weather when you’re out camping.

Before you buy

If you’re buying a tent to handle windy weather you should get a good tent and gear suitable for the task. Consider …

  • Tent functions. Different style tents have different priorities - family tents prioritise size and comfort rather than aerodynamics, tents for casual weekend camping aim for convenience, and ultralight tents focus on light weight … all are less likely to deal with high winds. Look for the right tent for the conditions you’ll be facing.
  • Tent design. Dome style tents are more aerodynamic and will handle winds better than traditional cabin style tents. Tents higher in the centre with sloping walls, and a low profile will handle winds better. Some tents are all-rounders and some specifically designed to deal with extreme conditions. You can check out more about tent designs.
  • Tent fabrics. Canvas, polyester or nylon? Each has its pros and cons. Canvas is very tough but heavy and more commonly used in family cabin tents and swags. Nylon is light and strong and polyester a little heavier and bulkier. Both are commonly used for dome tents. Check out Ripstop and fabric Denier – generally the higher the Denier the thicker and stronger the fabric will be. Check out our info on pros and cons of tent fabrics and tent fabric specs for more info.
  • Tent poles. Generally the more poles used and the more times poles intersect the stronger the framework will be. Check how the poles are secured to the fly. And check the material and thickness of the poles.  
  • Tent tie out points and pegs – make sure there are adequate tie out points, rope and pegs.
  • Ask the seller for advice if you have any questions.

 

Before you go

  • Check the weather forecast. Decide if you’re going or not. You can’t beat nature and sometimes it just might be better postpone your trip. Safety first.
  • If you’ve just bought a new tent set it up at home and learn how to pitch it and have a good idea of what it can handle before you go.
  • Prepare for the worst if bad weather is expected. What can you do beforehand to cope? Take the right tent if you have more than one, a repair kit, bigger or different tent pegs, more guy rope, a tarp, duct tape, sandbags … plan B.

 

Out camping

  • When to pitch your tent? Depending on your situation, you might wait for the wind to weaken before setting up your tent.
  • Find a sheltered spot if possible. Look for natural windbreaks. If car camping you could use that as a windbreak.
  • Avoid trees. Pick a spot clear of any falling branches and potential hazards.
  • Clean up the area of objects that might get blown into you and your tent.
  • Having a helping hand will make things easier.
  • Check the direction the wind is coming from and pitch the tent with the smallest, lowest end facing into the wind to minimise the profile. Avoid setting up sideways to the wind creating a ‘sail’ to catch the wind’s full force.
  • Pitch with the main door facing away from the wind if possible.
  • Pitching in the wind depends on tent design and set up. Think about the best order of steps to set up the tent in the wind. Organise your gear and have what you need ready at hand.
  • Generally, it’s a good idea to assemble poles first, have pegs in a pocket and stake out the side/end of the fly facing the wind before working through set up.
  • Guy out the tent properly to add strength to the set up. Set pegs at a 45 degree into the ground and adjust guy rope to keep the fly taut. Loose, flapping parts are more likely to tear.
  • Avoid leaving the door or flaps open that might catch in the wind.
  • Throughout the night you may need to check your tent and make adjustments
  • Do what you can and accept the weather – try to get some sleep.
  • If your tent is not going to beat Mother Nature it might be time to pack up and come back another day. Stay safe.

When you get back think about what you could have done to improve your set up and keep that in mind the next time you go camping in windy weather.

 


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