Today's popular tents are typically dome-shaped, free-standing designs made out of high-tech, synthetic materials. With an adequate rain-fly and appropriate tarp protection, these tents can withstand just about anything that Mother Nature can throw at them. Just about anything that is, but the wind!
To understand the adverse effects that wind can play on a tent, one need only look at a tent from an aerodynamic perspective. The consequence of wind blowing across the dome shape of a tent is not unlike that of air passing over the curved wing of an airplane, namely lift. And this lift is the main reason why you need to stake your tent, for without the stakes your tent could quickly become a kite in the lightest of winds and destroy itself as it tumbles through the woods or across the sand dunes.
Of course, another reason to stake your tent might be that you didn't find a level campsite, and you toss and turn in your sleep, and you know that if you don't stake your tent you'll wake up in the morning and find yourself and your tent in the next campsite, or worse yet, in the creek or lake.
When choosing a campsite, a primary consideration should be to find one that has relatively high, level ground for setting up your tent. Such a campsite will help to keep you drier should it rain and fixed in place should you toss in your sleep. Another consideration, particularly if you are camping in a windy locale, is to find a campsite where you can use stakes. Different stakes are made to work in different types of earth. Remember too:
- No One Stake Works In All Terrains
- The small diameter titanium stake for use in hard dirt is not appropriate for sand or snow camping; just as the bulky angle iron/aluminum stake you use when camping at the beach won't work well in hard dirt.
- Some Stakes Work In Some Terrains Sometimes
- Those bulky angle iron/aluminum stakes that are used at the beach may pull up quite readily should it rain.
- There Are Some Terrains In Which No Stakes Work
- Backpackers and mountain climbers can attest to the problems that they face when confronted with rocky terrain and stone outcroppings that resist all stakes.
The next time you're camping, observe the methods of others. Whose tent stays put in the wind? Whose stays dry in the rain? Then follow the successful techniques of your fellow campers.
Once you've set up your tent, make sure you understand how to set up the rest of camp as well.
Camping Basics Index