How to Attach a Tent to a Backpack

A big part of camping is learning to be more resourceful and efficient. One thing you learn fairly quickly is that you need to make sure any and all space you are using to carry equipment is utilized fully. One way of making sure you’re using your carrying equipment to its full potential is by attaching your tent to your backpack. There are a couple of ways to attach a tent to a backpack, and some ways are better than others. 

Why Attach a Tent to a Backpack?

Attaching a tent to a backpack can leave you with more room to carry other items for your trip. It can leave your hands free to carry other items or rest your arms. 

Attaching a tent to a backpack is an easier way to carry your gear, as it is less strenuous carrying it on your back. The bulkiness and shape of a tent bag can make it difficult to carry, even though it isn’t a particularly heavy piece of equipment. Another benefit is that it can help keep items more accessible, both ones inside and outside the backpack. It’s easier to find something you’re looking for if the tent isn’t taking up space within the bag, or in your hands. 

With that being said, since tents are also fairly lightweight, they can be added onto a backpack with very little noticeable difference. However, despite the benefits of attaching a tent to a backpack, there are also risks.

Risks of Attaching a Tent to a Backpack

Attaching your tent to a backpack comes with its own risks which you need to be wary of. One such risk is that the tent could be damaged or scuffed by branches or other brush that it could come into contact with, especially if you’re walking through a particularly dense forest. A damaged tent is a nuisance but can be repaired or patched if push comes to shove. It’s definitely a  potential experience that is best left avoided, and even though there are ways to remedy or waterproof a torn tent, it’s going to put a damper on your camping trip.

Along with this, if your tent is attached to the outside of a backpack, there is a chance it could fall off whilst walking, and you wouldn’t know about it. Tents are fairly lightweight and are hardly noticeable when attached to the outside of a backpack, so if it falls off you could be running the risk of losing your tent. 

  • The benefits in this case outweigh the risks of attaching a tent to a backpack, but if you’re planning on walking through a dense forest, it is worth being more cautious or wrapping a layer of tarpaulin around the tent as an extra layer of protection.

Preparing the Tent

Preparing the tent in a specific way to be attached to the backpack will increase the effectiveness of having it attached. 

  • Before any camping holiday, it’s wise to air your tent out and inspect for leaks or any damage which needs to be fixed before leaving. If your tent is particularly smelly or grimy, now is the time to clean your tent
  • If you’re satisfied with the condition of your tent, lay it out flat and make sure your bag of poles is aligned to the side of the tent. This is to give your tent some extra support when it’s packed up and attached to the backpack. 
  • To give your tent the extra support that it needs from the pole bag, ensure that it is still aligned with the sides of the tent as you begin to roll the tent up. Rolling the tent up a little, and then rolling the pole bag a little before rolling the tent up fully is ideal. 
  • Place your fully rolled up tent in the tent bag, ensuring it is zipped tightly shut.
  • For extra safety, the tent bag can then be placed in a waterproof bag or other bag to add an extra layer of protection. 

How to Attach a Tent to a Backpack

Once the tent is fully prepared, it can be attached to the backpack. Depending on the shape, size and weight of your tent, there are differing ways in which it can be attached to the backpack. It may require a little trial and error to find the way which works best, but it depends entirely on your preference and the type of tent you’re using. 

  • Closed Loop Ties – The closed loop ties on a backpack are ideal for hanging equipment from. Sometimes these loops are large enough that the tent can be slipped through them, but other times the use of a carabiner is necessary to keep them. In most backpacks, these closed loop ties can also be reinforced using the loose straps to secure the tent further.
  • Compression Straps – Compression straps are the adjustable straps located on the sides of the backpack. These straps are useful for tents that are thin and long enough to fit in them. Despite being on the side of the tent, they offer a lot more safety for the tent as the tent would be nestled right next to the backpack rather than loosely attached to it.
  • External Frame Backpacks – The use of external frame backpacks is ideal for tents that don’t fit safely to the backpack using the other methods mentioned earlier. External frames are used for heavier loads as they can distribute the weight more successfully and are usually easier to carry. The downside to external frame backpacks is that they are expensive and unless you camp regularly enough to use them frequently, it’s hard to justify the price. 

The tent should ideally be attached to the bottom of the backpack, as it keeps the weight distributed and is less likely to cause pain or discomfort. 

Other Ways to Carry a Tent

Tents don’t have to be carried on the back of a backpack. Whilst tents can also sometimes fit inside the backpack as well, there are other ways in which they can be carried to and from your destination. 

  • Use your Hands – Using your hands to carry equipment is reliable and reduces the amount of carrying equipment that is needed. This is ideal if the walk to the campsite isn’t particularly long or you’ve packed lightly. One downside to carrying equipment using your hands is that, if you’re using both hands, they’ll both be too occupied to do anything else. This can potentially be dangerous if you’re walking through uneven terrain, as you would have no way to protect yourself if you fell. 
  • Use a Trolley or Cart – Using a trolley or cart is great if you’re walking on flat terrain. Whilst not ideal for bumpy terrain or forest walks, these trolleys and carts are a worthy investment as they can be used for more than just a tent. Food, drinks, and other bags which could be heavy can be easily loaded into a trolley or cart. By using bungee cords to secure the items in place inside the trolley, it offers another layer of security for your walk.
  • Hand Trucks – Hand trucks are usually used for moving boxes in and around factories or for moving household goods between properties. However, they also see some success at festival sites when people are moving their boxes of booze and other equipment. Hand trucks are great for short walks if you have a bunch of heavy equipment that needs hauling. A tent can be easily secured onto one using carabiners or bungee cords. The downside to this method is that it only works for short walks on flat terrain. It’s also important to be careful of how much you’re stacking on your hand truck as they have a nasty habit of tipping over if the weight is poorly distributed. 

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