TENT CAMPING IN HIGH WINDS
Hardly anyone enjoys camping while being hit by wind gusts, but nature can surprise us in harsh ways. Thorough preparation is a must if you want your camping trip to be smooth sailing, especially in high winds. Choosing the right tent should be your main concern – not only is it keeping you safe, but it will also prevent you from spending more money on buying new tents.
Check the Weather Forecast
We cannot always rely on its accuracy, but it will give you the idea of what to expect. If you know that storm is on the way, it’s better to set up your tent sooner than later. It becomes more difficult to do so as the wind speed progresses. Also, keep in mind your surroundings and stay away from anything that can fall on or fly into your tent.
Wind can be strong, tables and other large objects are dangerous because they can easily be lifted by the wind. Ensure your own safety by staking down other objects around, not only your tent.
How to choose a tent for camping in high winds
There are several important things you should pay attention to. Some solutions are pricier than others but bear in mind that spending more money will result in better quality equipment, and therefore, the lower chance of having to spend even more money to replace it.
1. The right shape
If you know that there is a chance of experiencing strong winds on your camping trip, forget about large A-frame tents. These tents are tall, where you can actually stand up in them, they are very spacious but easily attacked by the wind. The best tents for windy conditions are low-to-the-ground, they have fewer surfaces that can be grabbed by the wind. Remember, the smaller the tent, the better wind resistance.
The tunnel shape has proved to be great at resisting high winds, however, it depends on how well the guy lines and stakes are secured. Loose cords may result in your tent collapsing, even in the light wind.
The geodesic tents are the most stable among dome shape tents. They have more poles which intersect in several places, creating a crisscross pattern that adds to the stability. That way, the flat surface of fabric in between the poles is considerably smaller and will stand firm against the gusts. Unlike tunnel tents, dome tents are freestanding. Nevertheless, you should always secure them with pegs and guy ropes, especially in high winds.
- Smaller tents, better wind resistance
- Less number of wall surfaces means fewer places for the wind to catch on
- Tunnel Shapes – Allow wind to pass easier
- Geodesic tents – Strong and small surfaces (WHAT IS A GEODESIC TENT?- See Here and examples)
- Dome tents – with lower heights
Tents with a low profile are best for tent camping in high winds
2.The right poles
When choosing a tunnel or a dome shape tent, you should pay attention to the quality of poles as well. You want them to be flexible, but also to withstand harsh conditions.
Fiberglass poles are the cheapest on the market and provide a solid flexibility. They are also light and do not add too much weight, which is important for backpackers. However, it usually takes only one wind gust to break the poles. You can fix them temporarily with the duct tape, but afterward, your tent will be useless against strong and light winds.
Aluminum poles are a far better solution than fiberglass. (Check out or aluminum vs fiberglass poles article by clicking here) They are more expensive, but just as light as fiberglass ones, and rather difficult to break. If you already have a tent with fiberglass poles, it will probably pay off to simply replace them with the aluminum ones. You can look them up at your local outdoor store, or order them online. Check out these aluminum poles for replacement on Amazon.
It’s worth mentioning that there have recently been some unique innovations in the tent pole competitor industry. Some companies have made inflatable tents which have proved to be shockproof, easier to pack, and far quicker to pitch than pole tents. It only takes about a minute to inflate the poles, so no more squinting around in the dark, or fighting with a large rain fly. They have also demonstrated durability when tested against strong wind; they would only bend and immediately return to their original shape, but they would never break. The downside is that these tents can be heavy, which makes them too bulky for backpackers. However, if you travel with your own vehicle, opting for an air tent would make a favorable choice. Although since air pole technology is relatively new, the prices are still quite high.
How to secure a tent in high winds
Whatever type of tent you choose, when you set it up, make sure the guy lines are tight at all times. The change of temperature and humidity can make them loose, so don’t forget to check them out from time to time. Always keep spare cords on you in case your guy lines break.
Best tent pegs for wind?
Tent pegs are very important to use when securing a tent. Ensure that the pegs are well secured in the ground. Metal pegs should always be chosen over plastic or wooden ones. They are stronger and will remain in the ground through high winds.
Don’t forget to hammer your pegs down at a 45° angle facing away from your tent. Also, placing heavy rocks (and sturdy) on top of them will provide additional security and prevent them from ripping out when sudden gusts strike.
Single or double wall for windy conditions?
In regards to wind resistance, it doesn’t matter too much. Each type has its own pros and cons, depending on what you’re looking for.
Whichever one you opt for, you should always keep it tight enough by properly securing the guy lines. This will provide you with a stronger tent to withstand rain and wind more efficiently. Otherwise, the sheet would act as a sail and if left loose it could easily tear while flapping around. Generally, double skin tents are more durable, and if the outer sheet gets ripped, the inner tent can still provide protection until repairs.
Preparation of campsite in high winds
You should always try to set up your tent parallel to the wind direction lengthwise so that the smallest surface of the tent is facing the wind directly. As we already mentioned, it’s also important to choose the right spot for pitching your tent.
In addition, try to find a space away from fallen trees and debris that can be picked up by the wind. On the other hand, it would be useful to set up a tent behind bushes, or to make some sort of shelter with rocks, if there are any.
Building a Wall for Protection
If there is no safe location and you are left out in the open, do your best to build a boulder wall to prevent heavy gusts. It is very IMPORTANT to build the wall at a distance where if any boulders or rocks can fall, roll, or slide they will not affect you or your tent. I’m pretty sure you don’t want any boulders falling on you…
Wondering how to build a stable wall out of rocks and boulders? It all starts with a wide base. This creates a foundation which enables each rock to stay sturdy against any light or heavy gusts. Higher the stack, the thicker the base. To make a strong wall it takes time and energy, however, it is worth the hassle.
Something I have tried before, when camping near multiple trees, tightly tie a tarp up against multiple trees. The Tarp will act as a giant wall, reducing the amount of direct wind from smashing into your tent. Make sure the tarp is TIGHT and TOUGH, if not the wind will just rip it apart and will turn into terrible mess.
This windscreen fence tarp on Amazon is perfect, set it up tight all around and it makes a huge difference. I have used it during windy days on the beach, to prevent wind and sand from reaching our tents. It helps keep everything from blowing around, which is nice when out in the open. The tarps also provide privacy from people and animals.
When heading on a tent camping trip we never truly know what to expect. The weather can change in an instant, and the wind can start to gust.
After reading this article you should understand what needs to be done to keep safe and secure while in a tent during high winds. The wind can easily make or break your camping trip.
Be prepared for the worst, to be able to handle the rest