how to pack a tent in a backpack

How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack [Ultimate Guide]

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There is something special about camping. As children we all loved a night under canvas, as it felt like a genuine adventure.

As adults, it’s a way of getting away with friends and enjoying nature or taking the family on an affordable holiday to a beautiful and remote location.

There are some fantastic camping sites to choose from in a wide variety of exciting places, and there is a growing trend for setting out with friends on a trek on foot, heading for a place that you love or wish to explore.

There are some essentials you will need to consider – tent, of course, plus a sleeping bag, a portable stove and your changes of camping clothing.

There are also some things you have to get used to such as how to pack suitably for your expedition.

Planning ahead is also vital, as you need someone to know where you will be at any given time in case of emergency.

But there’s also one other question that crops up: do you carry your tent outside your backpack, or inside? Let’s consider this a little more deeply, as there are some things you may not have thought about here.

Why Use a Backpack?

A backpack is vital for protecting your camping gear from the wind and rain and is an ideal way to make sure you have everything on hand and safe and secure.

There are a number of types of backpack – we’ll talk about those in more detail below – but for now, all you need to think about is how much of your budget you can afford to put towards your backpack.

Alternatively, should you already have a backpack and are looking at buying a tent and accessories, you may want to consider the size of tent you choose before you buy.

Quality backpacks make life a lot easier; they spread the weight more easily and can be adjusted for comfort. For this reason it is best to take you time when choosing the right backpack, so we’ve put together a brief guide to choosing one, and here it is!

Old School Backpack
Old School Backpack
Canvas Rucksack Backpack
Canvas Rucksack Backpack
Large Canvas Backpack
Large Canvas Backpack
Roll Top Backpack
Roll Top Backpack

Choosing Your Backpack 

Backpacks are available from a range of well-known brands that offer items for outdoors and sporting pursuits, and we recommend you stick to the known brands.

If you’re not familiar with the brands in this market a camping supplies shop will help by suggesting the one that is the best quality for your budget. 

The choice is better than ever because backpacking is popular with younger people these days. Indeed, research has shown that millennials enjoy getting out and about more than ever before. That can only be seen as a good thing as it goes hand in hand with a healthier lifestyle.

So, what do you need to look for in a backpack? Here are our suggestions:

Inside or Outside frame

The rugged camping leather backpack is a long way from that you carried your school books in! This a backpack designed for serious use in arduous conditions.

There are two main types: those with an external frame, and those with the frame inside. Now, you might think that as we’re talking about a backpack to put a tent in, we would recommend the former.

In fact, we recommend the internally framed backpack for many reasons. They tend to be more rigid, are often more comfortable and easier to wear, and are the best for fitting all your camping accessories into. 

They have more space and are easier to pack for comfort: a well packed backpack can be carried for hours without problem, while a badly packed example will cause discomfort and back pain. So, you’re looking for a backpack with an internal frame.


How much are you carrying with you, and how long are you backpacking for?

What you need to consider here is the capacity of the backpack, so it’s worth chatting with your camping supplies retailer about what you’ll be carrying with you and how long you’ll be away for.

Don’t forget you’re packing your tent in the backpack too! They have a range of different sizes and will be able to advise you properly.

Also, don’t take on a bag that you know will be too heavy and cumbersome. The stronger and fitter you are the more weight you will be able to carry, but it’s not a competition.

Keep within your limits and you’ll remain safe for your trip.


What can you afford to spend? Are you planning to go backpacking regularly?

If so, you need the best quality backpack that will withstand regular use, and that may mean paying more than for a similar model at a budget price.

As with before, check with the retailer who will know what is within your budget that will do the trick.

So – frame, size and cost: that’s about it although you should also look for additional appealing factors such as compartments for keeping valuables and other such pockets, as these can be very useful when it comes to packing a backpack successfully. 

A final point before we move on to the art of packing a tent in a backpack: it’s a fact that camping is more popular than ever right now and part of the reason for this is the covid-19 virus that has swept the world and changed – for now at least – the way we live, work, travel and take vacations.

Campsites are among the few leisure facilities that remained open throughout and are a great place to get away to. Do follow the requirements when camping and be aware than if you’re new to backpacking and camping, you’re about to be hooked!

So, how do you pack a tent into your backpack? Let’s have a look!

photography of several hiking backpacks in truck bed

How to Pack the Tent in the Backpack

Now that you have your backpack and your tent, you’re ready to learn how to pack a tent in a backpack correctly.

Let’s assume you’re ready to pack it, and you’re just taken your tent down. Before doing anything else, check it to see that it is dry.

This is very important for two reasons: a wet or damp tent packed in with all your other gear will make everything else wet, which is not great for your changes of clothes.

Also, water is heavy – surprisingly heavy in fact – so that water will add to the weight in your backpack making things more uncomfortable.

If it is damp, shake and brush whatever water you can off the material and leave it to dry for a while – where possible!

There will be occasions where you cannot dry the tent, in rainy conditions for example, and in this instance, we reluctantly advise you pack the tent outside your backpack. Assuming you have a nice dry tent, here are the steps to follow to pack it efficiently:

1st Step - Neatly Store the Poles Bag at the Bottom Part of your Tent

The tent will have poles that are used to keep it rigid. These need to be taken out from the tent itself and placed inside their own bag (which will have been provided with the tent).

Make sure they are all in neatly and close the bag. Now, your tent is still laid out on the ground and you have checked it is dry. Put the bag with the poles in at the bottom of the tent as it lies.

2nd Step - Roll it up tight!

Take hold of the bag of poles and the edge of the tent and begin to slowly roll the two up together. The bag of poles acts as the central point for the tent to roll around.

It is important you keep the material as tight as possible around the poles, and the edges straight with each other. It’s not worth persevering with a roll that has gone wrong. If you’re having trouble just unroll and start again.

3rd Step - Make a package as small and compressed as possible

You need to get this right as a badly rolled tent will be uncomfortable in the bag. The result should be a neatly rolled tent and poles that are ready to go into their bag.

The bag should fit the tent and poles snugly, and they should be a nice small package now ready top go in your backpack.

Now this is where you need to take care once again to get it right, as the way you pack the backpack will influence how comfortable the pack is on your back – where it could stay for several hours!

4th Step - Don't Pack Fast, Pack Smart

Now to pack the backpack! Take all the items you have and single out those that are heaviest and put them to one side. These will go in last.

The first item to go in will always be the last to come out, and that will be your sleeping bag. It will either be rolled or packed as it designed and should be put in at the bottom of the bag. Be sure the sleeping bag is dry as you did with the tent.

5th Step - Think of Load Repartition

Next to go in is the tent and poles. This should ideally go upright and centrally in the bag. The reason for this is to attain the ideal weight distribution.

To stop it moving as you hike, pack around it with clothing until the middle layer of your backpack is tightly packed to the edges. This will give it more rigidity when you are on the move and will keep everything as safe and secure as it can possibly be.

You are following military procedure here, in fact, and it is a tried and tested method of achieving the perfect backpack.

6th Step - Place the Heavier Items on Top

On top of this go all the other accessories and any heavy items, the latter of which will be cushioned to a degree by the tent, clothing and sleeping back beneath them, hence providing you with the best level of comfort for the journey ahead.

To recap, the important factors are that everything is dry, the sleeping bag and tent go in before all else, and you make sure the tent is packed around it so that it does not move and cause you to become off-balanced when walking, as you may be carrying a quite substantial weight on your bag for many miles and over rough terrain.

woman and a dog inside outdoor tent near body of water


Part of the enjoyment of a backpacking and camping adventure is in moving from place to place, and when you do this on foot you get the best experience of the world around you. By having a carefully packed backpack as described above you will find the journey less arduous, and we reckon this collection of camping tips to make life easier might also give you some inspiration.

Now you’re ready to start planning your backpacking trip, so get down to the camping supplies store and have a chat with the expert their about the best and most affordable equipment, and you’ll soon be ready to go!

Canvas Leather Backpack
Canvas Leather Backpack
Canvas Hiking Backpack
Canvas Hiking Backpack
Waxed Canvas Backpack
Waxed Canvas Backpack
Canvas Drawstring Backpack
Canvas Drawstring Backpack

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Baptiste is an adventurer with a passion for urban and wilderness exploration and adventure, and a lover of vintage objects with timeless charm. As a Founding member of the Eiken team, he tries to share his passion and expertise for travel and vintage fashion through his articles.

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