How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack

How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack

How do you guys pack your tent in a backpack?

The best position for packing your tent on a backpack for stability and convenience is in the middle, just right against your back.

Usually, I position my tent in the middle compartment, ideally above the heaviest items such as the sleeping bag.

Now, I know this might seem like a dorky skill to learn, but the truth is, knowing how to pack a tent in a backpack is essential to avoid creating an overly cumbersome pack.

Also, keep in mind proper tent packing is more than just convenience, but it may even save your back from injury and strain from the uneven distribution of weight.

Simply put, there’re quite a lot of benefits of knowing to properly pack your tent in a backpack.

And if you’ve been having a hard time figuring out the best way possible to pack your tent in a backpack, here’s a guide to help you.

Get the Right Packing Bag

The first step to packing your tent is choosing the right backpack.  

While there’re a couple of different options and designs to go with, my ideal backpack for a tent should have an internal frame.

I’m a big fan of the internal frame backpack because it’s spacious and has more room for my backpacking gear than the standard bag or external frame backpack.

Moving on, you also need to consider the packing capacity of your backpack.

See, a big mistake I see with many backpackers is choosing wrongly-sized external frame backpacks. A big backpack is cumbersome to use, while a small one may not fit your tent.

Of course, bigger tents will definitely require bigger internal frame backpacks, but ensure it’s not too bulky either. Instead, aim for the fine line between practicality and ease of use.

The size of your tent and the amount of camping gear should inspire you on the appropriate size you need for your internal frame backpack.

Use a Stuff Sack

Use a Stuff Sack

You can consider using a stuff sack if you already have a backpack and are worried your tent might not fit inside.

A stuff sack, also known as a compression bag, is a drawstring bag used for storing camping essentials such as sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and tents.

As their name suggests, these compression bags can actually compress and decrease the size and volume of your tent to make packing a breeze.

It’s a handy storage solution for your tent because it maintains a loft when packed in a backpack. So, by cinching it down using ropes and straps, the compression sock generally reduces its size.

Folding your Tent

Folding your Tent

If you’re not going to use a stuff bag and bunch up your tent, you can still go the traditional way of folding your tent.

It takes some skills, though, but I’ll share a step-by-step technique of folding your tent.

The first step is spreading it flat on level ground.

Next, put the tent’s pole inside their tent pole bag, and then line them on one of the sides of the laid tents (not in the middle).

From there, gently roll the tent together with the tent poles. Try to line the poles correctly to ensure your roll-up is as straight as possible.

The poles should provide the central support of the rolled-up tent and help it avoid crumbling.

After a few rolls, you can even line the tent pegs in the tent peg bag along with the folded tent and fold all of them together. The pegs should bolster the support and make the rolled tent more rigid.

Once the tent is fully rolled, you can now stuff it in your backpack.

But wait!

Backpack Organization: Where to Pack your Tent in a Backpack

Backpack Organization Where to Pack your Tent in a Backpack

If you’re like most backpackers I know, you probably will stuff your rolled tent inside your backpack with no organization.

But understand there’s a proper method of backpacking and storing your camping gear.

Yeah, I know I sound like a neat freak, but far from it.

See, folding your tent is just one of the steps of proper backpacking.

Next, you need to learn how to pack your items properly. And make no mistake, it’s not about accessibility.

Instead, it’ll save you from forgetting some of the items while letting you get rid of unnecessary luxuries. But more importantly, it allows for even and proper weight distribution, so you don’t have to suffer from an aching back.

Backpack Weight Distribution

Based on experience, the best position for packing your tent inside a backpack for maximum stability is in the middle, preferably against your core.

It’s also the best and most practical position for most backpackers, especially those carrying heavy tent loads which need to balance their weight.

A tent should be placed in the middle, ideally above the heaviest items, the sleeping bag.

The benefit of this organization is that it ensures one of the heaviest items, the tents, will not exert too much strain on your back.

Another benefit is it makes the tent easily accessible and won’t require much effort to pull it out when setting camp.

Generally, here’s an organizational breakdown I use when packing my backpack;

Bottom Compartment: The bottom portion holds some heavy items, such as a sleeping bag.

Middle: This section is also ideal for heavier items, such as the tent and the rain fly. It also accommodates my backpacking stove.

Top: The top section is for the lighter items such as the water filters, rain jacket, camp shoes, first aid kit, and other items that I need to use frequently.

Smaller pockets: The pocket holds the miscellaneous items and other essentials such as keys, sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, and GPS. It’s also a nice spot for storing my water bottles to access them easily.

Exterior: The exterior holds my tent poles and hiking poles.

Meanwhile, it’s vital that you keep an eye on the overall weight and not overload your backpack.

Remember, backpacking usually involves a lot of walking, and I’d suggest you don’t overload your backpack with more than 30% of your body weight.

Of course, we’ve different perseverance levels, and this is just a general guideline. The trick is you shouldn’t fatigue yourself with a bulky backpack.

Handy Packing Tips

Handy Packing Tips

Pack loose

If you’re looking to cut on your backpacking weight as much as possible, I’d recommend doing away with your stuff sack.

While the sack alone doesn’t hold a lot of weight, doing away with it may help shed a few extra pounds.

And on top of that, it’ll also allow you to squish your tent inside your other gear.

 I’d also suggest you pack your tent poles and pegs on the exterior.

Share Camping Gear

If you’re heading out as a group, it will make sense if you split your gear—one to carry to the tent body, and the other one the rainfly.

By splitting the load, you make your final load lighter.

Don’t Pack Wet Tent

I know it’s tempting to pack a wet tent, but it only makes life harder for you.

Instead, I’d suggest you completely dry your tent before packing it.

A dry tent will save you from the extra wet tent bulkiness, heavy backpack, unnecessary weight and prevent your tent from growing mold.

At the same time, you also need to clean up your tent before packing. Unless it has stuck-on dirt and stains, you don’t need to wash it. A simple shake or letting it dry for a few minutes is enough to get rid of the dust.

Attaching a Tent to the Outside of a Backpack

Attaching a Tent to the Outside of a Backpack

If you’re not comfortable with packing your tent inside your backpack, you’ve the option of attaching the tent externally.

I’m not particularly a big fan of this method, but it has saved me occasionally when I needed to free up my internal backpack space.

But it has drawbacks, and the biggest one is the risk of snagging my tent.

See, unlike the internal backpack method, attaching your tent outside your backpack leaves it exposed. The problem with a tent hanging outside is vulnerable to damage and snagging from sharp objects and tree branches.

The other drawback with attaching your tent outside is that it’s likely to fall off. Unless you secure the backpack properly, there’s always the risk it’ll get lost on your backpacking trip.

It’s a true contrast to packing it inside where you’ve the peace of mind, knowing it’s safe and secure.

That said, it’s still a practical method to carry your tent.

But to attach your tent to a backpack, I’d suggest choosing a tent with an external frame. You can still use a bag with an internal frame, but the former is specifically designed for holding camping gear and other items on the outside.

However, not all backpacks with external frames are suitable for attaching your tent. You should test to see it has what it takes for tent attachment.

For example, see whether it has compression straps for holding your tent. Also, consider the working conditions of the closed-loop ties. These loop ties are usually threaded on closed loops on both sides and will catch your tent if it slides.

You can also use a secure knot to hold the backpack in position.

Don’t forget to cover your tent. While most backpacking tents are waterproof, they could attract mold if water seeps inside a packed tent.

Use a zip lock bag or simply any waterproof tent bag to shield your tent from elements and provide extra protection.

You’ll also need to account for the positioning of your tent on the external frame backpack.

There’re a couple of handy positions, but you’ve to try them to determine what works best for you.

Personally, I prefer attaching my tent to the bottom section of my external frame backpack. But my partner likes it when it’s attached at the top.

You can even attach your tent vertically (upright position/vertical position) standing on the outside of your tent.

Also, keep in mind you’ll still need to fold your tent in the same manner as we did when packing it inside.

Importance of Proper Tent Packing

How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack

Backpacking is one of the most delightful and memorable experiences in my life.

The only problem with backpacking is the need for lugging heavy items for long-distance-exhausting. An improperly packed tent even exacerbates the fatigue.

See, if your tent isn’t packed properly, it’ll shift your stability and balance, making the whole backpacking experience miserable.

But even worse is the fact that it can shift the weight on your back, causing bodily harm such as backaches and strains.

To save you from all the horrible experiences, you need to know how to pack your tent properly.

The biggest benefit is you get to save on the precious space on your backpack. You can leave extra space for more camping items and gear when you do it correctly.

Another plus is your gear will feel generally lighter because you don’t have much load playing around, poor distribution of weight, or improperly positioned.

Overall, there’s so much to benefit from proper packing if your tent is in a backpack.

Quick-Fire Tips on How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack

Quick-Fire Tips on How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack

If  you want to pack a tent as seamless as possible in your next camping trip, here’re some camping tips and ground rules to follow:

1)      Practice packing a few days before heading out. It’ll help you address the potential issue you might encounter on your backpacking trip

2)      If you choose to attach your tent over carrying it inside, understand there’re a couple of potential risks

3)      Attaching your tent outside can be a good idea, especially if your backpack has an external frame and you want to free more space inside.

4)      Invest in a waterproof backpack to shield your tent from elements

5)      Try attaching your tent outside your backpack in different ways to find the best position

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

If you’ve been wondering how to pack a tent in a backpack, now you’ve it.

I’ve outlined two of the popular ways to hold your tent in your bag, including packing it inside and attaching it to your backpack.

But as I mentioned earlier, understanding that attaching your backpack comes with a significant safety risk.

Either way, with the proper backpacking technique, you shouldn’t have a problem carrying and lugging your tent for miles, without feeling fatigued or with back pain.

Remember, the heavier items are positioned at the bottom section.

Sharing is caring!

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x