Test run your new tent before your camping trip

Buying a new tent is exciting, even if you are an experienced camper. You want to go and book a campsite and try out your new toy. Before you leave for your camping holiday, it is vital to check your tent thoroughly. Once you have arrived at your campsite, it is too late. Additional stress as you need to repair or replacing missing parts will be a nightmare.

Before you take your new tent camping for the first time, either in your back garden or an open area where you can fully erect your tent, check and familiarise yourself with it.

Unpack your tent and check that you have everything as per instructions and your pegs, guys, poles are not damaged. Carefully pitch your tent, checking all seams, door areas, netting and zips. Test zips several times. Hang any sleeping compartments to make sure all clips are present and working correctly.

Why you should always test run your new tent

Whenever we purchase a new tent, we will always complete a test run before our camping trip. It is a vital part of your camping experience because you want to ensure all of the parts there. Check all of the different sections off with the instructions.

Once all of the parts have been checked, poles, pegs and guys, inspect them to ensure that they are not frayed or cracked. You don’t want your tent to collapse during your first trip or in any windy weather.

It is also important to familiarize yourself with the layout, best procedure for erecting your tent but most important, making sure that you are aware of any colour coding for your poles.

If you try to erect your tent with the wrong poles in the different sections, you may snap or cause damage to your tent before you start your camping trip.

Pitch your new tent in your garden or open area

Selecting an area to erect your tent is essential. There is no point in trying to pitch your tent in an area that is not big enough. You need to have sufficient room to lay the foundation of your tent flat on the ground. Allowing for additional space to extend your poles, guy ropes and peg correctly.

The last tent I purchased was the Outwell Escalon 5, and my garden was too small. We could pitch our tent but unable to peg out correctly. Due to Covid-19, we were restricted to our back garden only. This did cause some issues. My main concern was the main body of our tent, which I was able to inspect. I could not peg out our tent correctly. I was still able to check the connections of the guy ropes to our tent and their condition.

As we all make mistakes when putting our tents up, I still do, and I get very frustrated when I do. But at least I am making these mistakes before our actual camping trip.

Check the weather forecast first

Always check the weather forecast first, as you do not want to be pitching your new tent in wet weather or not have insufficient time to check your tent due to potential rain forecast.

You need to allow yourself time to test and check everything. Making sure you are 100% happy with your tent. 

You do not want to pack your tent away before you have a chance to play or have to dry it off before you have actually used it.

Unpacking and following instructions

The first tent I ever owned, I could not find the instructions. My son Nicholas pointed out that they were sewn into the tent bag itself, so you will never lose them. So don’t panic if you cannot find them, just turn the tent bag inside out.

Follow the instructions, you must check you have everything, plus a lot of tents have colour coding to ensure that the tent is erected correctly. Depending on the tent you have purchased may have different pole lengths, it is essential to place them correctly.

To this day, I still have to stop myself from rushing in and check the colour coding first.

Laying your tent out for the first time

Lay your tent fully on the ground, positioning your poles in the correct position. Don’t try to put your tent up before you have done this. The instructions will tell you the order to start with, although if you do struggle, have a look on Youtube as some brilliant videos on there can offer you lots of tips.

If you are a single parent, this is the time to get your kids involved. Get them to help you with laying your tent.

Threading your poles

I hate this part, as I always struggle with threading the pole through the canvas. Usually, Nicholas does this part as he is a bit more patient than me. I typically stand on the opposite side and help place the poles across the tent once they are threaded through.

Have a small stool handy

I always have a small stool with us because Nicholas and I are short. So trying to support the poles in the middles whilst pinning them to the ground is hard.

Nicholas will generally stand in the tent’s centre, supporting the poles, and I work my way around the tent. Having support in the middle reduces the stress on the poles and avoids damage to seams.

Check and test your pegs supplied

camping in windy weather

One section I will always check is the quality of the pegs. Tent manufacturers will not ever supply the most suitable pegs. I have found that they are generally thin and spindly round pegs, and if you are camping during lousy weather, they can easily pull out from the ground, no matter how good you are at pegging out.

Or you may have to use two pegs crossing over the hooped end to secure your guy ropes due to soft ground.

Consider investing in more sturdy pegs such as anchor pegs.

Don’t stress if you cannot get your tent into its bag

So far, I have not met anybody that has managed to get their tent, flysheet, poles and pegs back into their original tent bag. If you tend to do this, please contact me and tell me how you did it, as I would love to find out.

The above is a tiny tent, and we were still unable to get it fully back into the bag. So we made sure that the flysheet was securely attached to the main tent bag.

I usually only manage to put my tent and pegs back into the original tent bag, but I make sure that all of the poles are in another bag and clipped securely to the tent bag. This stops it from going missing. Or if you have several different tents, you do not want to take the wrong tent poles with you.

Read our article on how to make it easy to get your tent back into its bag.

Don’t get frustrated if things do not go smoothly

At times you have to accept that things may not always go the way you want them to. If that is the case, just pack away and try another day again. If it is the first time you are putting a tent up, the more often you do it, the easier it will be.


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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