Tent Camping Tips

A Guide to Tenting with your Family

These tent camping tips are from our experiences of lifetime camping - most of them good, some not-so-good

How cool is this???

What fun to have on your camping trip!

We’ll give you tips for setting up your camp site - cooking and eating food - sleeping in tents - camping etiquette - building a campfire - camping safety - camping with kids - camping gear and more.

One of the most important tent camping tips that we can give you is to keep a positive and happy attitude - go with the flow - be flexible. That happy attitude is contagious!

Tent Camping Tips For Your Tent Set Up

Arrive early at your campsite so you can get everything set up at your leisure before it gets dark - eliminates a lot of stress.

If you have a new tent - set it up at home so you can be familiar with the process - also in the rare event that something might be missing, you can deal with it before you actually need it. While you have it set up, put seam sealer on all the seams to make it even more waterproof. It’s a good idea to put seam sealer on before your first camping trip every year.

Don’t set up your tent in a low spot - if it rains, water will collect in a depression and your tent could be floating in water which could result in a wet bed.  This is one of the important tent camping tips.

Put a footprint underneath your tent to keep water away from the floor of your tent - make it an inch smaller all the way around. If you don’t make it smaller, it could collect water that would go between the tent and the footprint. Footprints also help to keep your tent from being damaged by rocks, twigs, pine cones, roots, etc.

Use a hammer or mallet for pounding in stakes - don’t use your axe or hatchet. You could damage the head and it could fly off.

Bring extra stakes - the ones that usually come with a tent are pretty weak - they bend and break easily. Purchase some extra ones that are strong and durable - get a couple of extra ones too in case one gets lost or damaged.

Have a rainfly for your tent - usually you can purchase one if you don’t get one with your tent. Having a rainfly will allow you to keep your windows open if it rains giving you ventilation. If your tent is shut up tight, it could collect condensation on the walls and ceilings and you would get wet from that! A rainfly also protects the top of your tent from sun damage - another one of the important tent camping tips.

Take along a whisk broom or a short handled broom to sweep up dirt, leaves, pine needles, etc from the floor of your tent. You could cut off an old broom handle if you have one - the only reason for having a short handle, is so it fits in when you are packing - otherwise, bring a regular one. A dust pan would be helpful too.

Don’t set up your tent underneath trees that have dead limbs - they could fall on your tent when you least expect it.

Position the door of your tent away from the wind - if the wind usually blows from the west, have the door open on the east side.

Try to place your tent where it will get afternoon shade - tents can get quite warm from the sun. But then, if you are in the mountains where it can get cold at night, you might want it to warm up. If that is the case, you might also want to put your tent where it will get early morning sun to warm it up before you get out of bed. Remember - the sun comes up in the east.

Consider where the bathroom is in a campground - do you want to be close in case you have to get up and go in the night? By the same token, if the bathroom has flush toilets, you don’t want to be hearing that in the middle of the night when you are sleeping so soundly. Maybe you want to have a porta potty inside your tent instead.

Set up your tent and your camp site as if you are expecting a rain shower - put a tarp over your tent that will keep rain off the tent as well as give you a covered entry into it. Slant the tarp so rain will run off in a convenient place away from traffic. Put up tarps over your picnic table, as well as making a dry place to cook meals - don’t forget to cover your wood pile. Bring extra tarps - they come in handy for lots of things.

A tarp inside on the floor of your tent will help to keep it clean - be an extra protection against rain water on the floor - and protect the floor from heavy use.

Bring a piece of carpeting or a throw rug to put outside the door of your tent - also one inside the door - really a big help for keeping mud and dirt outside.

Don’t place anything next to the walls of the tent - it could get wet just from condensation even if you don’t have rain. You sure don’t want a wet sleeping bag!

Put reflector tape on your guy-out lines - helps to prevent someone from falling over them.

Hopefully, these tent camping tips for setting up your tent will be helpful.

Tent Camping Tips For Your Tent Home

Remember that the tent you buy is for you - not your neighbor. Get what suits you and your family!

Keep the tent door closed at all times to keep the bugs out. If you have kids, the D doors in some tents are really good, because they swing shut behind them and kids are well-known for not shutting doors - they are in too much of a hurry!

At night, don’t have a light on inside the tent when you open the door - wait until everyone is inside before turning on your lantern - bugs are attracted to lights!

Keep some windows or vents open even at night so condensation doesn’t build up and drip on you - a high value one of the tent camping tips. 

Take off your shoes before coming in the tent to keep the floor clean - keep a plastic tub by the door to put them in - flip flops work well for this.

Get a mesh laundry bag for dirty clothes - even though it can breathe so clothes don’t get moldy, be careful not to put wet clothes in it, dry them out first. These bags fold up flat when not in use, so they pack well.

Bring a warm sleeping bag - one rated for 20 or 30 degrees. It can get cold at night in the mountains - if you are too warm, you can always unzip or take your arms out, but if you are cold, you will be miserable all night. It is a good idea to bring an extra blanket too - even for wrapping up while sitting around the campfire.  This is another important tent camping tips.

Bring your favorite pillows with you - it really helps for having a good sleep if you have your favorite pillow.

Bring plenty of lights - battery lantern for inside the tent, propane lantern for outside, flashlights, headlamps when you need both hands. It gets really dark at night when you are camping, especially when the moon is not bright. Don’t forget lots of extra batteries! If your children like to have a nightlight - a solar light works really well. Just don’t forget to put it out in the sun during the day. Glow sticks work well too.  These are important family tent camping tips.

A fan is a good thing to have if you will be spending time in your tent during the day - electric is okay if you are in a campground with electricity, but battery ones work well also.

A fly swatter can be a life-saver in your tent if there is an obnoxious fly or mosquito flying around.

Never, ever have food in your tent - this means snacks, even candy bar wrappers too. Bears are attracted to the smell of food, but even where there aren’t any bears, other wild creatures are attracted by food odors also - squirrels, ants, raccoons, etc.  This should be high on the list of tent camping tips.

Get the best air mattress you can afford - you won’t regret it! A comfy mattress can make such a difference for a good night’s sleep - and that affects the next day!  This is one of the most important tent camping tips.

Unless you are backpacking, get the largest tent you can afford - the extra room is priceless. Even for just 2 people, a large family tent is heavenly!

Tents are rated for people sleeping side by side with no room between - packed in like sardines. So at least, cut in half the number of people - if a tent is rated to sleep 8, it will only sleep 4 comfortably with a little space for some gear and to move around.

If you want to be able to stand up when changing clothes, make sure your tent is tall enough.

When kids get older, they like to have their own tent to sleep in - make sure they won’t be frightened at night though.

If you have a baby or small child, take along a portable crib for them to sleep in.

If you need a C-pap machine when you sleep - a campground with electricity is no problem, but you can do it without electricity too. Get a heavy-duty or RV battery and charge it every day with a generator or your vehicle - a couple of hours should do it.

Take lots of rainy day activities for small kids - make it a treat for them if they have to be cooped up inside. Some special candy or other snacks would be in order for just such a day.

Hopefully these tent camping tips will make your home away from home pleasant and comfy!





Tent Camping Tips For Cooking and Eating

Cooking when you are camping is fun and you can make it as simple as you like or as gourmet as you want. Whatever suits you and your family is okay.

Separate foods and utensils - have one tub for dry foods like cereal, bread, etc. - have one tub for odds and ends like can openers, spatulas, paper towels, etc. - have one tub for dishes, glasses, silverware, etc.

Have one cooler just for food and put block ice in it - lasts longer than cubes. You can freeze water in a milk jug at home - then when it melts, you have water for drinking. Put meat frozen into the cooler - lasts longer. Have another cooler just for drinks - I like to mix a block with some cubes in the drink cooler. Set your food cooler on a slight slope and open the plug so the melting water drains out and doesn’t get on the food - wet cheese isn’t very good! If it is really hot, cover the cooler with a blanket or tarp and keep it in the shade -- some more important tent camping tips.

Burn all the garbage that you can - makes less to have to pack out or take to the dumpster. Be considerate of neighbors and don’t make a lot of smoke - burn garbage in a hot fire so it doesn’t just smolder and smoke.

Bring a plastic tablecloth to put on your picnic table - food wipes off - use a bungee cord that will wrap around the ends to keep it from blowing off in the wind.

Bring a propane stove for easy cooking and set it up under a tarp to give you protection from sun or rain while cooking. An extra 1 burner propane stove is really handy to have along - for a large pot or early morning coffee, etc. You probably will also want to have a propane or charcoal grill.

Bring more propane canisters than you think you will need - not good to run out!  For tent camping tips - this is a good one to remember.

It is a good idea to bring donuts or cold cereal if your family likes to eat when they first get up. It seems like cooking breakfast waits for a while when you are camping.

Write down menus before leaving home - makes it easier to be sure you bring everything you need - pack items together.

Bring a campfire grate - undeveloped campgrounds usually don’t have them.

Bring water containers for when your campground doesn’t have water.

Bring a pre-cooked meal or hot dogs for the first night - takes away any stress of cooking when you are setting up. We always like to have hot dogs for our first night - we were telling some friends about this and they thought it sounded like a good idea. About the fifth time they did this, they looked at each other and said, “Why are we doing this - we don’t even like hot dogs!” So, needless to say they came up with something else that was easy.

Bring extra matches and put them in a separate place - then if some get wet, you have more. The glove compartment or jockey box in your vehicle is a good place for that. Get the strike anywhere kind.

Cooking on the campfire - coat your pots with liquid soap on the outside and the black soot will wash off easily.

If you plan to cook in the campfire coals, plan to start your fire 1 hour before you will start to cook - it takes that long to get a good bed of coals for cooking - so if you want baked potatoes, start the campfire 2 hours before you plan to eat - 1 hour to get coals ready and 1 hour for the potatoes to cook.  A good one of the tent camping tips if you are cooking on coals.

Cooking with foil means no pots and pans to wash - then if you use paper plates, plastic silverware and plastic or paper glasses, you really have it easy!

Pie irons make really good desserts, hot sandwiches and snacks. Building up a bed of coals is the best way to use them.

Don't forget hot dog and marshmallow forks - smores and hot dogs are a camping staple.

Canned food like chicken, tuna, fruit and vegetables is good to have because you don't have to worry about them spoiling - the same with mixes and dried food.

Folding tables are a must - you need a place to prepare food, to put a stove on, for playing cards and probably a lot more.

You also need folding chairs - for sitting around the campfire, for eating, for reading and those recliner chairs are awesome!

A cast iron griddle that fits on a camp stove is good to have because you can cook a lot at one time. Two large pans won't fit on a camp stove - my solution is to take along a one burner stove and put one large pan on that.

You can make toast in a pan either on the stove or campfire - when one side gets golden, turn it over and toast the other side.

Bring lots of hot chocolate mix for cool mornings and evenings - kids and adults love it - have a tea kettle or extra coffee pot for heating water.

I hope these tent camping tips for cooking and eating will help you to have tasty and easy camping meals.

Tent Camping Tips For Your Camp Site

If you are in a campground with other people, make a real effort to be friendly - go over and introduce yourself, have a pleasant conversation, etc. In our lifetime of camping, only one time did we run into a fellow camper that didn’t want to be friendly - we figured that was his loss!

Put up a rope between trees that you can hang wet clothes on.

A screen tent is one of the handiest pieces of camping gear you can take - it gives you protection from mosquitoes, flies, bees, sun and rain.

If you have a long drive, it’s probably a good idea to make a reservation at a campground - but only make it for 1 night. If you want to stay longer, that is usually okay or you might want to change to a different spot. The forest service campgrounds that take reservations are supposed to have a certain number of sites for first come, first served, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting another night if you want one.

The Golden Rule applies big time in campgrounds - be considerate of other campers in every way and hopefully they will return the favor.

Follow campground rules - they are there for a reason.

Dogs love to go camping, but be responsible for your dog - clean up after them, don’t let them bark, and don’t leave them unattended.

Use campfire safety rules:

  • Build small fires unless you want coals for cooking.
  • Make a fire only in a fire pit.
  • Don’t build a fire where there are overhanging branches.
  • Have a shovel and bucket of water handy.
  • Completely extinguish your fire before going to bed.
  • Don’t build a fire in strong winds.

Weather in the mountains can change quickly - be prepared.

If you are away from your camp site on a hike - allow plenty of time to get home before dark.

As tempting as it might be - never drink from a clear, sparkling stream - it could be loaded with things you can’t see that would make you sick - really sick! Take along a water purifier or bring your own water if water isn’t provided at your camp site - probably one of the most important tent camping tips ever!

If your wood is wet, split the pieces - the inside will be drier. You can dry out more pieces by putting along the side of the campfire - dries out wet shoes too. Just don't get them too close so they burn!

Bring rain gear - it is easier to keep warm if you put on rain gear before you get wet. Kids love to play in the rain, so bring rain boots and rain coats for them.

Always know what the weather forecast is if you plan on an all day hike - you don’t want to get caught on a mountain top in a lightning storm!  This is also one of the more important tent camping tips.

Have a tent camping checklist - that way you won’t forget something really important!

A shepherd’s hook pushed into the ground makes a good lantern holder.

Tenting here in Montana is a treasured family tradition and I hope that these tent camping tips will help to make it a cherished tradition for you as well.

Go to Montana Camping Guide Home Page from Tent Camping Tips to see lots more information about camping

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