Last summer, I got a 2-man stripey pop-up for my kids, and the following day I couldn’t get them small enough to fit in the bag. It seems they were just designed to annoy the life out of me. The instructions seemed useless, and I always thought I would break the poles.
Now, I know most can relate, so don’t beat yourself up if you always struggle to fold your tent. I’ll share a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
Hold the top two poles and fold them into the middle. Grab the two bottom ones while ensuring the door is open so all the air can escape, bring them up and over the folded top poles.
You want to fold your best pop-up tent into a big taco-like/oval shape.
Next, grab the poles at the top and fold the hand towards the backhand, and you should have two circles on the ground. Slide the two circles over each other, and ensure they sit nicely over one another.
And you should have your tent ready for your next camping trip.
But there’s more to folding a pop-up camping tent. This comprehensive guide documents a step-by-step pop-up tent folding process.
How to Fold a Pop-up Tent
Understand the details I’m about to share may not be explicitly tailored for the needs of your pop-up tent.
However, they’re general guidelines that apply to most standard pop-up tents.
But if you need the exact details for your camping tent, be sure to check with the user manual.
Preparation (Pre-Folding Tips)
The first step to folding your pop-up tent is preparing it. You’ll definitely need to take some critical steps before stuffing the tent into your duffel bag.
1) Cleaning the tent
An important preparation step is cleaning your tent. You don’t want to store your tent looking muddy or with sand crusts and other debris.
If your sun shelter doesn’t seem all beaten up from the dirt, a simple shake is sufficient to remove the dust, sand, and leaves.
But if it’s dirty and has stuck-on mud stains and splashes, you may want to do a much more thorough wash. Take a soft, damp cloth and gently scrub the affected spots.
Depending on the level of the mess, you can even rinse your tent by splashing it with clean water.
2) Air-dry the tent
A cardinal rule when packing a tent is that you never stuff it when wet. It’s the easiest way for you to attract mold and mildew, which ultimately compromise the integrity of your tent’s material.
At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend drying your tent in direct sunlight. It equally deteriorates the tent material.
Instead, let the tent air dry completely-place the sun-shelter in the shade.
3) Untether the tent
It’s impossible to fold your tent if it’s still pitched or assembled instead.
So, you can start by removing the stakes from the ground and cleaning them for storage.
In the same breath, consider removing the tarp or the extra layers that your pop-up tent may come with.
Be sure to fold the rainfly and tarps in a nice space.
Now, before I proceed to show you how to fold your pop-up tent, let me reiterate the importance of storing your tent when dry.
Remember, a damp tent is the easiest way for mold and mildew to develop on your tent.
Step-by-Step Guide of Taking Down your Pop-up Tent
Moving on, you’ll now be folding the tent.
Visual learners can check on this pop-up tent video.
Stand anywhere besides the tent.
Grab the top two poles and bring them to the mid-section. The top-most poles are usually the ridge-like arches at the top end of your tent.
An easy way to grab these poles is situating yourself sideways, perpendicular to the door.
Fold the bottom poles of your tent and bring them to the mid-section to accompany the top poles.
The bottom poles are the arches sticking at the bottom of your tent on both the left- and right-hand side.
Start with the left side, bring it up and above the top poles, and move to the other pole.
While at it, I’d suggest leaving the tent door open to allow the escape of air from the tent.
While holding the four poles together, position the tent to stand on its side.
By now, it should have assumed a taco-like shape. The taco-like shape should be resting directly on the ground.
While the tent is still in the taco-shape position, stretch your free hand to the upper-most section of the “taco-mouth.”
Grab the upper-most arch (open side) and gently point the tent down. If everything is done correctly, the tent should start closing by itself.
Bringing the tent down shouldn’t be challenging either because the poles are lightweight, so you even barely need effort.
Plus, depending on the type of poles your tent has, you might find them quite flexible and less likely to break.
Repeat step 4, but now focus your effort on the back end of the arch.
Stretch your free hand and reach out to the arched section on the tent’s back end.
As you did in step 4, gently fold it and bring it to the middle section to accompany the two other sections (four poles + upper arch).
While bending the back arch downward, be sure to twist it slightly.
Assuming you folded your tent correctly, it should take the shape of double-sided circles. The circles should be side by side.
Slide one of the circles over the other, and press. Let it fit like a sleeve. Be sure to line the circles correctly and neatly into one circle.
Remember, this is a pop-up tent designed to pop up instantly when setting up.
So, you need to press the poles firmly on the ground to prevent the folded tent from popping up.
If your pop-up tent has drawcords or any other attachments, use them to secure the tent to prevent accidental popping.
Gently place your tent in the accompanying duffel bag.
You know you’ve done it correctly if it fits without straining and with minimal effort.
How to Fold Pop-Up Tents into a Circle
Most pop-up tents can fold into a circle.
The fold-up process is straightforward, and like the first process we’ve discussed above, you’ll first need to prepare your tent.
Start by cleaning it and air drying it. Then proceed to remove the extra layers of the tent, such as the rain fly.
To fold your tent into a circle, stretch your hands and grab the back of the tent. Move the back towards the front.
Repeat the same process for the right side of the back tent. Of course, the second part of the pole should be grabbed using the freehand while the other holds the other poles.
Once you’ve all the poles firmly in your grip, push the tent to the ground, and it should take a circular shape.
The final thing would be sealing the tent to avoid it from springing back. Continue holding it into place and pull an elastic band. But if your pop-up has zippers, you can equally use them.
While at it, ensure you’re grabbing the poles and not the tent material as you’re likely to damage it.
Store your tent in a tent bag.
Folding a Big Pop-up Tent
The big pop-up tents are generally larger and can accommodate more users. They’re typically the four persons tents or six persons tents, perfect for those camping with a family r a group of friends.
To fold big pop-up tents isn’t any different from folding the smaller pop-up camping tents. The step-by-step process is quite similar.
But the only difference is you need a helping hand with the process because these tents are generally bigger and quite a hassle to fold on your own.
Folding a 4-Sided Pop-up Tent
The 4-sided pop-up tents present a unique folding challenge, and this is because they’re generally larger, even than the big pop-up tents.
While the folding process is more involving, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Of course, as with any other tent, before you start folding, prepare the 4-sided pop-up tent. Clean it thoroughly, and ensure you air dry it completely.
Generally, most 4-sided pop-up tents have a single entrance, but sometimes, they come with two doors. Either way, ensure the entrance(s) is open before you fold pop-up to allow the escape of air.
Next, grab all the poles, bring them together, and maintain a firm grip. Remember, it’s a 4-sided tent, so it has four poles.
Then, turn the tent and point the two edges next to each other. It’ll require some elbow grease to pull, but it shouldn’t be challenging.
Once all the ends are together, proceed to secure them with a band to retain their position and don’t fire back.
Folding a Beach Tent
A beach pop-up tent is typically ideal for beach use and smaller than regular tents.
They’re, therefore, generally easier to fold and manipulate.
But before you fold a pop-up tent, consider cleaning it. Take out all the debris before putting the tent away.
A simple tip and shaking of the tent are sufficient to eliminate all the dirt and dust. But if your tent has deep dirt marks, consider using a wet sponge or rag to wipe it clean.
To fold a pop-up tent, stand anywhere besides the tent. Start by grabbing both sides of the tent while leaving the door open for air to escape.
The good thing with a beach pop-up tent is it’s smaller and lacks running poles across the width.
Once the side poles are together, fold the sides together.
Then set the tent in a standing position (oval shape) and gently bring it down by pressing one of the openings.
Once you guide the pop-up beach tent to the ground, use an elastic band to hold it in position and pack it.
There you’ve it; I’ve shared everything you need to know about how to fold up a pop-up tent.
While setting up the pop-up tents is generally a breeze, taking down a pop-up isn’t the easiest task. But hopefully, these guidelines should help from trouble folding your tent.
Packing and unpacking your shelter should now be effortless, and your camping adventures have just become more pleasant.