How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack – Step by Step Guide

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Last Updated: April 26, 2022

A backpack is something most people carry when moving a large or even a small distance. Getting away means letting go of all the necessities and luxuries available at home. But some basic ones have to be carried, as without them, spending day-to-day life gets impossible. These essentials are carried in a backpack.

There’s only so much you can keep and take with you inside a backpack. As evident by the name, backpacks are worn on the back and have to be carried on the shoulders. So, they have to be a certain size and can’t be too big. In a backpack, a person keeps the most needed things throughout the day and can be assessed within seconds at times of emergencies.

Keeping everything you might need during a trip inside your backpack is a must and is expected from everyone. Whether you’re going camping, hiking, or traveling abroad, filling up a backpack with essential items is the fundamental thing to do.

When it comes to camping and hiking, taking a backpack becomes the only solution as you can’t take a carry-on suitcase to these places. One has to hike and walk through terrains for days, and in that situation, the only possible way to carry your stuff is through a backpack.

While camping out in the wild, a tent becomes one’s home for days. But packing these tents to carry along with you can become quite a challenge. In this guide, we’ll help you come up with ways to pack a tent in a backpack.

The Need for a Backpack

When camping, campers firstly gather at a campsite from where their hiking and camping journey begins. They keep their bulkier and slightly heavier stuff at the campsite and leave for the trail with a backpack each. Knowing how to pack this backpack and what to keep in it is extremely important as it sticks with you for the rest of your hike.

Once on the move, a person is left with his backpack only. Everything essential is must be kept in that backpack as walking all the way back to the original campsite for something is not possible. So, all the basic necessities required to spend a day and other essential items have to be packed efficiently inside a backpack in order to be carried along the trail. We can say that while camping, a backpack becomes one’s best friend.

What to Pack in a Backpack?

Another thing that people struggle with is figuring out what exactly to keep in the backpack. Once people understand the value and need for a backpack, the next step is to pick items to keep in it, and that’s where things get challenging. A whole lot of mistakes are made while packing a backpack, from forgetting to pack an item to bringing something you would never use out in the wild.

These mistakes are common in the start, and almost everyone makes them the first few times they go camping. Most people get the hang of it after the first few tries and then know exactly what to and what not to pack. Even the most experienced hikers sometimes make or have made these mistakes at some point in their camping journeys. So, you don’t have to worry if things go wrong or if you make some basic mistakes during your hike. You’ll learn with time.

A Tent

Now that we’ve discussed everything from basic camping rules and mistakes to figuring out what essentials to carry, it’s time to shed some light on the most critical aspect of camping, and that is a tent.

While out and about in the wild for days, shelter is the most crucial need. After hiking the whole day, campers eventually come to a stop at night and rest for the day. This is made possible by picking the safest spot to stay for the night and setting up a tent there. Hikers rest in this tent throughout the night and resume their journey from the following day.

You might be wondering, what’s the big deal in packing up a tent and taking it along with you to a campsite? But the thing is, most people struggle when it comes to this. You can’t just carry it in your hands throughout the hike, and you can’t leave it behind at the original campsite as well. So, the only option left is somehow fitting it inside your backpack.

Fitting a tent inside a backpack is not that easy and tends to get sort of technical due to the different sizes and shapes of the tent and the backpack. But you don’t have to worry as we have collected the most useful tips and techniques for you to follow in order to pack your tent inside your backpack. Continue reading to find out more about these tips.

Packing Tent in Backpack

pack a tent

When trying to put a tent inside a backpack, firstly lay it out to check if it’s damp or not. If it turns out to be damp, you will have to wait for it to get completely dry. It should not be damp even in the tiniest of the parts. Wet tents are a source of mold and mildew when folded and packed in compact spaces. Moreover, if it’s too wet, it will be a source for the addition of unnecessary weight to the backpack. There’s also a risk of making other stuff damp when coming in contact with the tent’s wet parts.

After making sure the tent is completely dry, follow the steps described below.

1. Take Care of the Tent Poles

The very first step is to take all the tent poles that came along with the tent and keep them in the bag the tent came in. Next, lay out the tent on the ground and keep the bag with the poles directly below it.

2. Roll the Tent

The next step is to roll the tent. Roll it in a way that the poles kept underneath the tent get rolled along with it. Make sure both of them are aligned, and try to get them rolled into the smallest possible package. If the alignment looks slightly off, unroll and start over. You have to get the alignment right at any cost as the poles present in between become the source of stability and firmness if aligned perfectly.

3. Roll it Tight

Make sure to roll it as tight as possible. If you leave any part loose, the tent might unfurl inside your backpack. This would result in the rest of the gear tangling up, which might end up in damaged equipment or tent.

4. Put the Tent Inside a Bag

If, by any chance, you have an extra bag, make sure to keep the rolled-up tent inside that bag. Then tighten that bag up as much as possible. This would provide you with a compact tent that’s ready to be packed in at all times. For the next step, you have to move on to the backpack.

5. Keep Heavy Items at the Bottom

Sort all the inventory you’re meant to carry along with you and pick out the heavier items. Keep these heavy items at the very bottom of the backpack. This technique is beneficial as it enables all the weight to be equally distributed between the spine, shoulders, and other parts of your body that might get damaged due to carrying a bulk. Remember to keep the weight of your backpack to approximately 30% of your entire body weight. Even a little bit more than that would end up damaging your back and other areas of the body.

6. Pack the Sleeping Bag First

Make sure to always keep your sleeping bag at the very bottom of the backpack. The reason behind this is that a sleeping bag is almost always the very last item to be taken out of the bag when camping. Moreover, it can be a bit heavy as compared to the other items in the bag. Even the sleeping bag should be made compact before keeping it inside the backpack. When you keep it at the very bottom and get it out of the way, you end up leaving an ample amount of space for the rest of your items. Also, make sure the sleeping bag is completely dry as well before packing it in.

7. Keep the Tent on Top of the Sleeping Bag

After packing the sleeping bag at the bottom, keep the rolled up and compact tent on top of it. Most people place it at the corner of the bag in an upright position, but if that technique ends up occupying too much space, you can just keep it horizontally without any issue. It all depends on the rest of your gear and how efficiently you have managed to leave out as much space as possible for the tent. Just make sure the tent is placed in the middle of the bag and is compact enough not to wobble around. Keep rolled-up t-shirts and jeans around it so that the weight is distributed equally and the tent stays compact.


Going camping for the very first time can become a bit overwhelming due to no experience whatsoever. There’s a constant fear of forgetting important things behind or bringing unnecessary items that have to be carried the whole time. Taking a tent along with you is one of the biggest concerns people face when going camping.

While we understand that packing a tent inside such a compact space as a backpack can get quite challenging, everything can be mastered with practice. These steps will help you figure out the best technique for your tent, and in no time, you’ll be able to pack up tents in minutes and carry them around throughout your hike.