How to Fold a Tent and Extend Its Life (Dome/Cabin/A-Frame)

We all have experienced it: we are trying to put our tent back in the bag that comes with it only to find out the bag is too small! Don’t worry, in this post we will show you how to fold a tent and fit it back into it’s original bag. Be it Dome, Cabin or A-Frame style, we’ve got you covered!

How to Fold Your Tent

Checked the prices of a good tent lately? Unlike some electronics, they aren’t going down, are they? Like much of your other outdoor gear, you must know how to get the most wear for the dollar you spend on your favorite pastime of camping.

Often, the price of a tent reflects its utility and durability. However, even the highest quality tents can’t survive poor maintenance and care. From how you store your tent at home to how you handle it in the elements, particular maintenance steps – including how you fold it – can extend your tent’s service life.

Do This Before You Use Your Tent For The First Time

Let’s say you just purchased a new tent, one that proves light, roomy and resilient. You know because you have either read the reviews or know fellow outdoor buffs who own or owned the same product. Once you draw it from the bag or box, pull out the manual, no matter how much it dents your mountain-man or woman-of-the-wilderness pride.

At the same time, make a mental note of how the tent is folded as you turn back each flap. The creases will provide a map for a while but they will eventually disappear. Get used to the memorized regimen now and it will likely stick to your busy mind as indelibly as the combination to your bicycle lock.

If you mimic the original folds as closely as possible, you will not suffer the nightmare of repeatedly pulling its dangling bulk from its bag to do it all over, which is especially miserable on a rainy or bitterly cold day.

Also note the style of your tent—e.g., dome, cabin, lean-to or A-frame. Each requires a different touch when it comes to folding or packing.

Do This Before You Start Folding Your Tent

  • Before folding and packing your tent, however, make sure it is as dry as possible. Rainy days might result in some captured moisture but you can mitigate the problem once you get home. Immediately find a dry spot to spread it out and preferably hang. Save the folding and packing for the next day or whenever it is completely dry. Do not hang it under a bold, lasting sun.
  • A small hand brush or portable handheld vacuum, should you be car camping, works fine to expel debris from the floor that found entry from your boot or sandal tread. Tiny needles from trees, pea gravel or sand can rub deleteriously into the fabric of your tent and compromise its resilience to the weather on your next camping trip.
  • Also, to make sure it is completely dry, keep the tent up as long as possible while packing other camp gear. When taking it down, make sure to group your pegs or stakes, guy lines, footprint and poles accordingly to eventually pack inside the tent. This will make everything easier to stuff inside the bag.
Tent folding is not easy

The Oddball Designs

Especially if you backpack, you will encounter some unconventional tent designs on the market, perhaps mutations of the aforementioned, common designs. For instance, MSR once came up with a model called the Element. It posed several inherent triangular folds. No matter the model or design, simply apply the same main tenets: Remember how they were originally packed and maintain a squarish or rectangular pattern while folding.

When Camping Season Ends . . .

A couple of easy maintenance steps at the end of each camping season help to lengthen the life of your tent.

Step 1: If your tent retains some stubborn stains or pitch marks from woody debris, use a gentle soap (Nikwax and other brands sell specific products for cleaning tents and other outdoor fabrics) to carefully scrub over the spot(s).

Step 2: If your tent suffered an abrasion or tear, you can find kits to repair such damage in the original package, at camping retailers and online. Repair such damage before storing the tent in the off-season.

Step 3: When storing your tent, keep it in a dry, cool place away from sunlight and sharp objects. Don’t pack a lot of other gear or a heavy item on top of it. It should breathe just fine inside the factory provided bag and be ready for adventure come spring.


If you keep our tips in mind, folding your tent and fitting it back into its bag should not pose a problem anymore. Now get out there and enjoy your camping trip! In case it’s raining check out these tips on how to set up a tent in the rain.

Source: Rei

About the author

Chris Berger

Outdoor expert, avid hiker and camper in his late 30s. He also enjoys plenty of watersports activities. Enough of the third person talk :-) Me and my team have done extensive research for each article and can guarantee it will save you time and effort to find exactly what you need. I only recommend products I would recommend to my mom and closest friends.