A tent is a must-have if you plan on spending multiple days on your next backpacking adventure.
So, you have to pack it wisely.
In this quick guide, you’ll learn how to prepare your tent properly and attach it to your backpack… and much more!
How Risky Is Packing Your Tent Outside Your Backpack?
Seasoned backpackers tend to carry their tents on the outer part of their backpacks to create space for other items. Using the space outside your bag will help you carry more gear, make things more accessible, and help keep your equipment in good condition. Learning how to attach a tent to a backpack is a valuable skill for any backpacker.
However, while attaching your tent to the outside of the backpack is beneficial in many ways, there are a few disadvantages of doing so. The main disadvantage is that you risk ripping the tent. Because your tent hangs on the outside, it’s more susceptible to damage from pointed objects such as branches. If your tent gets caught by a branch, it could get torn and ruined.
Another risk is that if it’s not attached properly, the tent can disconnect from your bag without your knowledge and fall off your backpack. The last thing you want is to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere with no tent for protection.
If you don’t like the risks of strapping a tent to the outside, check out our guide titled how to pack your tent for backpacking if you decide to pack it inside of the backpack (there are some important tips in that guide).
- Attaching your tent to the outside of your backpack is preferred to save space for other gear inside the bag. Though this is a personal preference.
- To prevent your backpack from falling off, make sure you attach the tent to your backpack securely (which we cover below).
- Keep your tent in a sturdy bag to protect it from branches and other sharp objects.
Preparing The Tent
Here’s where the rubber meets the road! To attach your tent to your backpack, we first need to prepare the tent.
Tip: Be sure you are using a quality backpacking tent. Just any old tent will not do here. Check out our guide to the best backpacking tents for some of the top options available today.
Lay the tent out
The first thing we want to do is lay the tent out flat on the ground. Pack the tent’s poles in a bag and align it along the side of your tent and not the center. These poles help support the tent when you put it away.
Start rolling the tent
Ensure the pole bag aligns with the sides of your tent so that the tent stays in a rolled-up position. After a few rolls, do the same with the tent peg bag. This will help enhance the support for your tent. Continue rolling up the tent.
Open the tent bag and insert the rolled tent
The middle poles on the tent make it easier for you to handle by providing central support. And always pack the tent when it is completely dry. Stuffing a wet tent is hard, and it tends to weigh more, adding to the load you have to carry.
Protect your tent in a waterproof bag
Although tents are water-resistant, they can be damaged and start to mold if any water gets into the tent when it is folded. So, make sure that you use a waterproof bag to carry your tent as it provides extra protection from the elements.
How To Attach Tent To Backpack
Once you’ve properly prepared your tent, it’s time to attach it to your backpack.
There are many ways of connecting your tent to your backpack. How you pack your tent and backpack will have a significant effect on how it feels on your back, so you might want to experiment to find a method that works best for you.
Some campers use the loop on their backpacks and those on the tent’s stuff bags, whereas others simply use good ol’ external frames.
Use the closed-loop ties on your backpack
If your backpack has loops for attaching gear to the backboard, and your tent has outward straps on its carry sack, you can tie the two. Pull the tent bag straps over the loops on your backpack. Make sure the tent is secured snugly to your pack and not loose or swaying around.
Also, if your tent slips off, it automatically attaches to the backpack. These loops ensure that you do not risk losing your tent. This is one of the easiest ways to connect your tent to your bag. If, however, your equipment does not feature these loops and straps, you can opt for the second method.
Use the backpack’s compression straps
Compression straps provide an excellent way to carry extra camping gear. Lying on the sides of your backpack, they have buckles that can be tightened to secure your equipment. Essentially, straps compress your load, bring it closer to your core muscles, and make it more stable overall. Just make sure you balance the weight on both sides of your pack, so you remain firm on the trails.
Start by confirming that the straps are strong enough to carry your tent. Using two compression straps, pass them over your tent bag and connect the buckles. Use the loose straps to tighten your tent as much as possible to prevent any swaying and improve stability when you wear the backpack. This method does not require your tent bag case to feature any straps.
Use external frame backpacks
Aside from looking impressive, these frames are famous for their great support and improved rigid structure. External frames are your go-to secret for carrying heavy and bulky loads. The evenly distributed weight of outer frames means you can comfortably carry heavy loads for longer distances without getting tired.
These frames also make for easy connections, which give them a stable and secure frame to attach your tent or other gear. Most external frame backpacks feature a tie point at the bottom. Attaching your tent to these secure points prevents it from swinging, which can cause back pain.
Where To Attach Your Tent
We suggest that you place your tent at the bottom of the backpack (whether you opt for external packing or internal). This will help reduce the burden on your back as well as the chances of you hurting yourself.
Also, laying the tent on the bottom of the backpack is much easier compared to installing it on the top of the bag, which makes movement very awkward.
- Lay your tent out flat placing the pole bag on the edge of the tent. Roll up your tent, using the tent poles and stakes as support.
- Place the tent securely in a durable waterproof bag.
- Attach the tent to the bottom outside of your backpack using either the closed-loop ties, compression straps, or by attaching to the metal frame (if you have one).