A while back I did a post on what I take on a weekend backpacking trip and in that I referred to a simple tip on how I pack my tent which I thought I would expand on more here. I often see people when I am out backpacking with tents attached to the outside of their pack. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but there is, I think, a better way to pack and carry your tent for backpacking.
Now, this only really works for a one person tent or an efficient, in terms of size and bulk, two person tent. A Tent will typically come in a package like the one in the image below, pictured below is the Wild Country Zephyros 1 person tent.
This is oftentimes attached to the outside of a backpack as referenced above. Now, I even did that myself when I first started backpacking but I soon noticed that having it on the outside could lead to potential issues.
For example, walking through trees or bush growth, the tent on the outside can easily get snagged and pull you off balance. Not ideal with a heavy pack, especially if you’re going down or uphill over a tricky area of terrain. Definitely not the time for taking a tumble due to your pack being caught on a branch and knocking you off balance.
Ideally, you want your backpack to be as tight and streamlined, in terms of profile, to your body as possible. The simple reason for this is that enables more stability in terms of your center of gravity. If you have a tent hanging of the back of your backpack, it can mean more of an off balanced counter weight which can easily knock your center of gravity off should you have to manoeuvre quickly..
To avoid this, unpack the tent into it’s parts. Take the flysheet and groundsheet (oftentimes these will be one in the same) and stuff them down in the bottom of your backpack. When you backpack, setting up your tent is likely to be the last thing you do when you get to your desired camping location so you don’t need it before you get there, so sticking it into the bottom of your pack is perfect.
When you’ve done this, pack up the rest of your pack up with the rest of your gear. When that is done and dusted, take the other parts of your tent, typically a pole bag, peg bag and a basic repair kit, and stuff them down the sides of your pack alongside the rest of your gear.
Now you have all your tent nicely packed tightly away into your backpack with no need for an outside attachment. This will only help you in terms of stability by better supporting your center of gravity, and it will help prevent any snagging and the like with trees, bushes, etc.
You also have the added advantage of not carrying any needless tent packing bags which you have no real use for. I of course keep those at home to pack my tent away for storage in my house.
I hope you found this simple tip on the best way to pack a tent for backpacking useful. This is, in my opinion, the best and easiest way to pack a tent for backpacking. I prefer internal frame backpacks, so I am not a fan of having things hanging outside of my pack for the reasons outlined above.
Overall, in my opinion, it provides a more functional and easy way to hike while backpacking and ensures you don’t waste any precious space in your pack. I have found over the years that backpacking for me, is a consistent exercise in trying to pack less and less, so as to avoid carrying anything that has no specific purpose or function for me in the mountains.