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How to protect your tent in high winds - a complete guide

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

Strong winds, on the other hand, are not something many campers fantasize about.

However, the weather doesn't always cooperate.

If the weather forecast indicates that your planned camping trip will be very windy, don't fret. I'll share with you a few tips on how to secure your tent in high winds.

Let's get started!

Deciding if you should camp in high winds

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

To answer that question, you need to think about a few things 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 chance of heavy rain, or even snow? Will bad weather always be with you?

As you know, weather forecasts can change. You should pay close attention to it a few days before you plan your trip. That way, you won't be caught off guard and you can plan accordingly, or cancel if necessary.

In addition to the weather forecast, your equipment should influence your final choice. You need to make sure that your tent has good wind resistance and is up to the task. While you don't need high-end camping equipment, the cheap gear you find at the big box stores won't do.

Using a cheap tent, here's a very likely scenario.

You wake up in the middle of the night to find that your tent poles have broken and the only thing holding the tent from flying away is your own body.

Doesn't sound good, does it?

On the other hand, most reputable camping brands actually test their gear against different weather elements. If you have a tent from a reputable manufacturer, the likelihood of high winds causing damage to it is reduced.

The structure of the tent is also an important factor to consider. A dome tent or geodesic tent will hold up much better in extreme weather than a large family tent, such as a cabin tent. In general, you want a tent that is low to the ground. Tall tents perform much worse in windy weather than short tents.

Finally, camping in windy weather is a better option if you are not going alone. A few camping buddies can help you set up your campsite. Plus, more people sleeping in one tent means more weight to keep it from flying off.

Let's recap -- forecasting, quality of gear and number of people out are a few things that can help you decide if camping in high winds is a good idea.

If your work/school schedule allows, you might consider postponing your camping trip until the weather clears up. But if your life schedule is tight, don't let the wind stop you.

7 Tips for Securing Your Tent in High Winds

If you decide to go camping regardless of the weather forecast, here are some tips on how to keep your tent safe in high winds.

Try to find natural wind protection

When looking for an ideal camping spot, try to find a place that is best sheltered from high winds.

Things like bushes, hillsides and stone walls can all serve as great windbreaks. A row of trees can also form a great wind barrier, but don't camp directly underneath the branches.

Keep your gear close by

Before you start, keep your backpack and other heavy items where you can easily reach them.

When you start pitching your tent, you can use these things to help take the weight off so nothing ends up flying away.

Pitch it

Pull the tent out and grab the upwind side, the side that faces the wind. This is important because then the wind will be above and around you.

Start by staking out the upwind side of the tent. Once you have done this, place your pack on the tent and keep it in place while you stake the other side.

Do not drive the stake directly into the soil. Instead, you want to do so at a 45-degree angle. This will make the tent more secure in the wind. If there are any rocks nearby, place them on top of each tent stake to make sure they don't get pulled out of the ground.

Use ropes for extra security

You can never be too safe, so securing your tent up is always a good idea. However, when you are camping in high winds, this is a necessity.

After you have set up your tent, secure the structure with ropes on all four sides of the tent. They should be tight and secured as close to the base of the tent as possible.

You may consider tying the ropes to a tree for added security, but trees can be a double-edged sword in this case.

Before you choose to set up camp near a tree, check its branches. If it has the potential to drop branches in a windstorm, stay as far away as possible.

The last thing you want is for that thing to hit you on the head while you sleep.

Close the door

Never leave a door open.

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

That's not what you want, unless you want to see your stuff fly away like Dorothy's house in The Wizard of Oz.

Learn some nautical knots beforehand

Knots can be a game changer when it comes to securing your tent. You need them to secure the ropes, which is essential in high winds. For example, in case a rope breaks due to a fallen branch, you need to know how to tie two ropes together properly.

But you can't use any knots to do this. Well, you can, but in this case, there are two possible scenarios.

First, if your knot is not strong enough, it will unravel, leaving your tent unprotected.

The other possibility is that you tie the knot so well that you can't untie it. Ever.

As a result, you'll hurt your fingernails trying -- and end up cutting the rope with a knife.

Get a tent repair kit

In a windy situation, you need to be prepared for anything.

If a small branch hits your tent, there's a good chance it will break. In this case, have a tent repair kit ready to stitch or patch up the damage before it gets worse.

Taking down your tent in high winds

This is almost the reverse of the setup process.

The first thing you should do is remove the tent poles. Then, take your equipment out and place it on top of the tent. This will (obviously) hold it in place until it is ready to be bagged.

Remove the pegs and ropes. Always do the upwind side last, so you don't pitch the tent overhead.

When you're done, fold up the tent and store it away.

Preparing food in high winds

Depending on the wind direction, cooking may not be possible. In some cases, not cooking may be your only option. Keep this in mind and be prepared.

Stock up on oatmeal and sandwiches in case you're stuck in a tent all day.

This may be obvious, but I need to say this -- no fire in strong winds! Did you know?

Did you know that 90% of wildfires in the U.S. are caused by human negligence? Last year alone, as many as 10.1 million acres of land burned. And wind is like the magic ingredient that starts wildfires, so ...... This option is out.

So what can you do?

A gas stove is your best bet. You can create a windbreak with some rocks and branches, or you can simply buy a gas windbreak. In either case, a gas stove should work well enough in these types of weather conditions.

However, if the wind gets so strong that you can't even light it, then give up and go for a cold lunch.

Never consider bringing a stove into your tent. Ventilation inside the tent is limited and smoke builds up quickly. This can lead to asphyxiation, and we all know how dangerous that can be.

That's all folks.

Camping in high winds can be quite a challenge. You need to have quality gear and always be aware of the things that can go wrong.

But that doesn't mean it can't be a lot of fun.

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

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