How To Secure A Tent In High Winds – A Complete Guide

a person setting up a tent in windy weather

When we daydream about our next camping trip, most of us imagine beautiful, sunny weather with a light breeze that keeps us feeling fresh.

Strong winds, on the other hand, aren’t something many campers fantasize about.

Yet the weather doesn’t always cooperate.

If the weather forecast shows that your planned camping trip will be extremely windy, don’t fret. I’ll share with you a couple of tips on how to secure a tent in high winds.

Let’s get started!

Deciding If You Should Go Camping In High Winds

flags blowing in the wind on top of a mountain

To go or not to go – that is the question.

And to answer it, you need to take a few things into consideration first.

Let’s start by looking at the weather forecast. Are high winds the only thing you should be worried about? Or is there also a possibility of heavy rain, or even snow? Will bad weather accompany you the whole time?

As you know, the forecast can change. You should keep a close eye on it for several days prior to your planned trip. That way, you won’t be caught off guard, and you can plan accordingly, or cancel if necessary.

Asides from the weathercast, your gear should influence your final choice. You need to make sure you’ve got a tent with good wind resistance that’s up to the task. While you don’t need high end camping equipment, the bargain gear you’ve found at a hypermarket just won’t do.

With a cheap tent, here’s a very likely scenario:

You wake up in the middle of the night, only to find out your poles broke, and the only thing that’s holding the tent from flying away is your own body.

Doesn’t sound good, does it?

On the other hand, most well-known camping brands actually test their gear against different weather elements. If you own a tent from a reputable manufacturer, it’s less likely high winds will cause damage to it.

The tent structure is also an important factor to consider. A dome tent or a geodesic tent will hold up much better in extreme weather than large family tents like cabin tents. Generally, you want a tent that’s low down to the ground. Taller tents perform far worse in windy weather than shorter ones.

Finally, going on a camping trip during windy weather is a much better choice when you’re not going alone. A couple of camping buddies can help you set up the campsite. Plus, more people sleeping in a tent means more weight to keep it from flying away.

Let’s sum it up – forecast, gear quality and the number of people going on a trip are a few things that can help you decide if camping in high winds is a good idea.

If your work/school schedule allows it, you can consider postponing your camping trip until the weather gets better. But if you live on a tight schedule, don’t let the wind stop you.

7 Tips For Securing Your Tent In High Winds

If you’re set on going on a camping trip regardless of the weather forecast, here are a few tips on how to keep your tent secure even during high winds.

Try Finding Natural Wind Protection

When searching for an ideal camping spot, try finding one that’s most sheltered from heavy wind.

Things like bushes, hillsides and stone walls can work as great windshields. A row of trees also creates a great windbreak, but don’t camp directly underneath the branches.

Keep Your Gear Close

Before you even start, place your backpack and other heavy things somewhere you can easily reach them.

As you start pitching your tent, you can use these to help weigh it down so nothing ends up flying away.

Stake It Well

a man staking down a tent

Pull the tent out and grab the upwind side, which is the one that will be facing the wind. This is important, since this way the wind goes above and around you.

Stake the upwind side of the tent first. As soon as you do, put your backpack on the tent to keep it in place, while you stake out the other sides.

Don’t insert stakes straight into the soil. Instead, you want to do that at a 45-degree angle. That will make the tent more secure in the wind. If there are any stones nearby, place them above each tent stake to make sure they don’t get pulled out of the ground.

Use Guylines For Additional Security

You can never be too safe, so it’s always a good idea to guy your tent out. But, when you’re camping in high winds, it’s a necessity.

After you’ve pitched your tent, secure the structure with guylines on all sides of the tent. They should be tight and anchored as close to the tent base as possible.

You can consider tying a guy rope to a tree for added security, but trees can be a double-edged sword in this situation.

Before you choose to camp near a tree, inspect its branches. If there’s a possibility it might shed a branch during a wind storm, stay as far away as possible.

The last thing you want is that thing hitting you in the head while you’re asleep.

Close The Door

Never leave the door open.

If the wind is blowing in the direction facing the door, you risk turning your tent into a giant kite.

That’s not something you’d want, unless you want to see your things fly away like Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz.

Learn Some Sailing Knots Beforehand

blue rope in some kind of knot

Knots can be a gamechanger when it comes to securing a tent. You need them to fasten guy lines, which are essential during high wind. And in case a rope snaps due to a fallen branch, for example, you need to know how to properly tie two pieces together.

But you can’t go about it with just any knot. Well, you can, but in that case there are two possible scenarios.

First, if your knot isn’t strong enough, it will unravel and leave your tent unprotected.

The other possibility is that you tie a knot so well, you can’t untie it. Ever.

As a result, you’ll hurt your nails trying – and eventually end up cutting the cord with a knife.

Get A Tent Repair Kit

With high winds, you need to be ready for anything and everything.

If a small branch hits your tent, there’s a good chance it will cause a rip. Have a tent repair kit close at hand for such situations so that you can sew or patch it up before the damage increases.

Taking Down Your Tent In High Winds

This is pretty much the setup process in reverse.

The first thing you should do is remove the tent poles. Then, take your equipment out and place it above the tent. This will (obviously) hold it in place until it’s ready to be packed into a bag.

Remove the pegs and guylines. Always do the upwind side last, so that you don’t end up with a tent over your head.

After you’re done, fold the tent and store it away.

Preparing Food In High Winds

a woman cooking in front of a tent in the mountains

Depending on the wind, cooking can be impossible. In some cases, no-cook meals might be your only option. Keep that in mind and go prepared.

Stock up on granola bars and sandwiches in case you’re stuck sitting in a tent the whole day.

This might be obvious, but I need to say it – no fire in strong wind!

Did you know that 90% of wildfires in the US are caused by human negligence? Last year only, as much as 10.1 million acres was burned. And wind is like the magic ingredient to starting a wildfire, so… that option is out.

So what can you do?

A gas stove is your best option. You can create a wind barrier with some stones and branches, or you can simply get a gas windshield. In either case, a gas stove should work well enough in these types of weather conditions.

But, if the wind gets so bad you can’t even light it, give up and go for cold meals.

Never consider bringing the stove into the tent. The ventilation inside the tent is limited, and the fumes will build up in no time. This can cause asphyxiation, and we all know how dangerous that can be.

That’s All Folks

Camping in high winds is quite a challenge. You need to have high-quality gear and always be on the lookout for things that can go wrong.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, too.

If you follow these simple tips for securing your tent, you can work around the weather nuisance and enjoy your camping trip like any other.