How to get your tent back into its bag: 8 step illustration

We love camping, but it can be frustrating trying to get your tent back into its bag. I wish manufacturers would consider this when they package them.

I have become very frustrated when attempting to place the tent, poles, pegs and fly sheets back into the bag. I have had to walk away, take a few deep breaths and a few choice words. Often I have snapped at Nick and feel really bad for doing this, as it is not his fault.

Until the day, a very kind lady showed me a simple way to stop struggling.

When trying to pack your tent back into its original bag, remove as much of the trapped air as possible by opening all doors. Use your bag as a template and fold your tent to the bag’s length. Start rolling your tent tightly from the back to forward. If you have a canvas tent bag, roll the top outwards to a hand width remaining. Place the bag on the end of your tent and gradually unrolling the bag over your tent until fully packed. If you have a zipped tent bag, make sure you protect the tent from catching in the zip.

1 – Inner lining of tents – sleeping compartments

Before you collapse your tent, remove the inner linings. These are the sleeping compartments of your tent.

2 – Open all doors

Open all doors and vents to your tent as you need to remove all of the air trapped inside before you start to collapse your tent.

3 – Unclipping poles, pegs and guy ropes

Work from the back of your tent forward to remove as much of the air as possible.

Unclip your poles from the ground pegs and remove guy ropes and pegs. Have a bag beside you, so you can place all of the pegs away as you remove them to avoid any being left behind. I always pass my pegs to Nicholas, and he can clean any dirt from them before they are bagged. This saves me the time of having to do this when we are home.

As you work around the tent, remember to roll your guy ropes up and tie them closely to your tent to avoid any tangles.

Some tents have velcro attached that helps secure your poles to the tents. I always use this to secure my guy ropes in place.

Try not to place any strain on your poles. Place them flat across your tent as you work around removing your guy ropes and pegs.

When your tent is flat on the ground remove any pole clips,  remove your poles and pack them away. Clean any access mud from your poles, if there is any.

4 – Levelling your tent ready for packing away

Keeping your tent on the groundsheet, try to square your tent. Remove any trapped air via your open doors, and lay them as flat as possible onto your tent.

Don’t worry if you still have any trapped air. It will be removed when you are rolling.

5 – Using your tent bag as a measure for packing away

Place the length of your tent bag along the width of your tent. Most people will fold their tent into thirds before this, but I find measuring from the start easier.

Gradually fold your tent in proportion to your bag length but do not fold to the exact width, leaving a gap on either end. Otherwise, you will not be able to place successfully in your bag your or close shut.

Keep folding your tent until there is one strip of the tent ready to roll. Ideally, have two people do this or, you are running back and forth all of the time.

To keep Nicholas occupied he helps me and so that he does not get bored, as we fold sections he will roll from the back of the tent to the front, helping to remove any air.

Don’t start to roll your tent yet.

6 – Preparing your tent bag

We have a soft long cylinder type tent bag, not a rectangle tent bag like our smaller tent. I prepare the cylinder tent bag first by rolling it from the top outwards to about a hand width. Rolling your bag helps to make it easier to put your tent in rather than trying to push your tent into its’ bag when it is full length.

7 – Rolling to your tent

It is still important to roll your tent from the back, as you want to remove any air. Carefully roll your tent tightly until you reach the end.  Try not to allow the width of your rolled tent to increase.

This is optional, but you can place your pole and peg bag onto your tent and use this to help roll your tent. I don’t do this as I find it difficult to do a tight roll. I place my pole and peg bags into the tent bag once the tent is inside.

8 – Placing your tent into its bag

To make sure that our tent remains tightly rolled, I will sit on one end. Placing the top part of the tent bag over the tent. Gradually working the tent bag down the tent and unfolding it as I go along. Don’t be afraid to push down on your tent to make sure the tent is inside your bag.

If you have a rectangle bag, don’t try to place the whole tent inside in one go. Place one and then gradually ease the other sections of the tent in.

When you zip your bag, make sure you don’t snag your tent, gently push your tent into the bag or place your figures between the tent and the bag whilst you zip it up.

What to do if your tent is wet

If your tent is wet, don’t worry about packing it into its tent bag as you will only have to take it back out to dry when you are home. Roll it in your groundsheet and place it at the bottom of your car boot. Dry your tent at home over 2-3 days and clean before you place your tent in your tent bag.


I'm a single parent who loves pitching a tent and exploring the countryside at any opportunity. I am working with a glamping pod company and helping them to set up a family campsite in East Riding Yorkshire.

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