How to Make a Camping Tent from Scratch-3 Easy types of tent

A how-to guide for how to make a camping tent from scratch, in detail, and with pictures.

This article aims to look at how one could build their own camping tent because they want something cheaper than buying a new or used one, and it’s also applicable if you just want more experience from the survival side of being out in the woods. This can also be appealing to anyone seeking to understand how tents are constructed.

Camping is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and get away from your routine. But how do you make a camping tent from scratch? There are several ways but it can take some time and effort. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to build a camping tent from scratch.

How to Make A Camping Tent from Scratch – Materials Needed

Let’s talk about materials. You’ll need the following things to make a homemade tent for camping.

You will need:

  1. To assemble a tent, you will need five poles (wooden, aluminum, or fiberglass).
  2. Two Waterproof tarps.
  3. A rope, made of Paracord, or nylon.
  4. Stakes, 6-8 of them, made of metal, plastic or wood.

To make a tent, you will need these supplies. Read on to find out how to build your own camping tent from scratch. We will provide some step-by-step instructions.

The Perfect camping spot is a must for scratch-made tents

Before we outline how to make a camping tent from scratch, let us first discuss where you should consider pitching your tent.

When looking for a camping spot, try to find one near a natural shade tree. Make sure the area has no dead or shaky trees close by as it will be prone to storms and turbulence during your stay.

If you’re camping in a low-lying area where there are ditches, it’s probably best not to pitch your tent. Although this may provide shelter from the wind, water will be pooling and could flood your tent if it rains at all. Leaving you and your belongings wet.

Building your tent at a lower altitude will decrease the overall exposure to the weather, making it warmer inside at night time.

Camping on higher ground close to hills or mountains can be dangerous because rainwater can accumulate rapidly and flood your campsite if it rains. The water runoff from the steep terrain can be a problem and happen quickly with the right conditions.

One of the benefits of camping in a wooded area is that trees can help to block the sun, wind, and rain. Each element brings with them their own troubles, heat, cold and wetness are just a few. Choosing a proper site with the right trees surrounding you will lessen all these effects on your campsite and keep you more comfortable.

It’s always wise to find a camping spot near the water, as rivers and lakes are both sources of food (assuming you like fishing) and freshwater.

For best results a Level Area is best for your tent placement

Sleeping on an uneven surface can be uncomfortable and leave you with sore muscles, a sore back, or other challenges. Finding a level sleeping area is crucial if you want your stay will be comfortable and worth the effort.

Select a spot with pliable ground. It will help the tarp stick to the ground and won’t rip when you lay it out. Remove any unnecessary objects that could damage your back while sleeping on the ground or get stuck in your tent, like stones, leaves, twigs, etc., before laying down the tarp. Make sure you check that the ground is as level as possible to make the best base.

3 Methods for How to Make a Camping Tent from Scratch

Tent Build Number 1:

How to make a camping tent from scratch

This first guide on making a camping tent from scratch works great if you find yourself in the wilderness with limited supplies. This tent has been around for many years and you will recognize it instantly from pictures and videos. The basic shape is a triangle with the top of the triangle being the highest point of the tent. This tent lacks a floor that opens you up to insects and other small vermin that may be lurking about, however, it is meant to provide a quick shelter when you are desperate. This method is liked by many people as it gives a lot of room in the shelter, you should note this type of tent works best in a moderately wooded area.

When you first decide on a camping destination, find two trees that are about 10 feet apart and tie a long piece of rope between them, this will be the centerline of your tent roof. Tie the rope to two trees at about the same height. The height of the rope from the ground is determined by how large your tarpaulin will be so that you can lay it over top and pull out the sides to form an equilateral triangle shape before tying off each corner. Consider positioning your center line rope at a height with is one-third the length of your tarp.

Tie your rope or cord with a secure knot and make sure the length is horizontal to the ground. The knots on the rope should be well-tied and sufficiently tight to guarantee your shelter won’t come undone in the night. The first thing you should know about how to make a camping tent from scratch is that there are many different types of knots to consider tying to secure it properly. Check best hammock knots for great ideas on how to tie your knots similar to the knots in this video.

Once you’re sure your rope centerline is in place and secured, throw the tarp over it, evenly covering both sides. Use as large a tarpaulin as you have for this part of your shelter.If the tarp doesn’t make contact with the ground, adjust the centerline rope as you have set it too high. Extend each corner of the tarp and use a backpacking knife to create a small hole in each corner.

Next, secure each corner with stakes (metal, wood, or plastic) into the ground. One way to secure the corners is by placing heavy stones on each of the edges. You can also attach rope if you have some left over. If you have a second tarp, lay it on the ground as your tent floor. To create a tarp floor, use one that is durable and thick to withstand the constant use from being in contact with both you and the ground. One of the worst things for any camper to have is a hole in their tent floor.

For this build you will need:

  • A minimum of one tarp made of waterproof material
  • Stakes made of wood, metal, or plastic
  • For the centerline use paracord, rope, or heavy-duty line

Tent Build Number 2:

Scratch made tent

A campsite with two trees the correct distance apart is ideal, but you can use one tree to make a tent with a different shape. This type of tent requires a minimal amount of materials, but it is not very spacious. It’s good for just sleeping or emergency shelter needs. With an extra-long tarp, you can cover the ground with it and help prevent your tent from leaking rainwater. If the tarp is not a heavy-duty one, take care not to put excessive stress on it when used as a floor.

To tie this tent, firstly wrap one end of the rope around a tree at medium height. Next, extend the rope to the ground making sure there is no slack in the rope, once taught and at a desirable angle stake the loose end into the ground. Now, take your waterproof tarp and throw it over the rope. You’ve created a makeshift sleeping tent. It is a good idea to secure the topmost point of the tarp to the guide rope. You can achieve this with additional rope, bungee, or in a pinch a sliver of wood.

This will prevent the tent from sliding down the slope and ensure it has maximum coverage. Wrap the tarp around the tent to cover the ground and both sides of your shelter. Furthermore, if you happen to have two tarps, you can use one of them for the floor.

Begin by securing the bottom of the tent with heavy rocks to keep it firmly in place. To make the tent sturdy, stake down the bottom of each side. If you do not have any stakes you can resort to using heavy stones to secure the bottom edges of the tarp to the ground. With your tent now ready, you should fit inside it with ease; a huge plus when sleeping in the cold. Another bonus is the materials for this shelter will fit neatly in your pack.

For this Build you will Need:

  • A minimum of one tarp made of waterproof material
  • Paracord, or Rope for the main line
  • Stakes made of wood, metal, or plastic

Tent Build Number 3:

This technique yields a multipurpose and straightforward tent. It’s not a fancy accommodation, but this does provide you with shelter in most situations. Instead of using trees for this shelter, you can use a single branch or hiking pole as a central post. Hiking poles make an excellent center post especially if they extend. You may feel gratified for using the gear you have with you for this structure.

That being said, the first step in making this camping tent is to lay out a tarp on the ground. Others might suggest cutting a hole to help secure your center post, Do not do that as it will allow moisture into your shelter. You can cut small holes in each corner of the tarp, just large enough for a piece of rope to go through.

When you’ve found a suitable spot to call it an end to your day, place the largest post or stick where you want the center of your tent to be. This will be your center post and should align with the center of your tarp. To make your tent stable, dig the post into the ground and make sure it is secure. Stabilize the center post by driving it into the ground eight to twelve inches, a hammer, hatchet or rock can be used for this. If the ground is too hard or rocky, you can stabilize the center post by piling sturdy stones up it from the bottom. The height of your center post will determine the height of your structure so think about that as you decide what to use as your center post.

Once you’ve secured your central post, lay the tarp on top of it. Begin by pulling out each corner of the tent’s tarp, be sure they are at a diagonal to the post and ground. At this stage, be sure not to apply too much tension on the corners which could cause your center pole to lean out of position. We suggest working with opposite corners, adjusting the tension equally as you go. Once the corners are in position, stake them out with sticks or stakes. At this point, the shelter will look like a pyramid.

Once you’re satisfied with the shape of your tent, tie up the corners to their stakes or sticks. You can also use stones to weigh the edges, ensuring that it’s secure. A second tarp can be used as the floor of the shelter at this point, just lay it on the ground under the tent and secure it with stones or stakes.

For this Build you will Need:

  • A minimum of one tarp made of waterproof material
  • Paracord, or Rope for the main line
  • Stakes made of wood, metal, or plastic

Now you know three different ways how to make a camping tent from scratch using only a few basic supplies. Building a tent is great outdoor fun and something that you may end up doing when camping by yourself or with friends. Either way having this knowledge will benefit you greatly in the woods.

How to make a camping tent from scratch to take backpacking

For some, weight is everything-especially for backpackers. Lightweight backpacking tents are compact enough to take up as little space in your pack as possible. Rather than buy an expensive tent, why not build your own. There are many manufacturers who produce high-quality camping tents and backpacking shelters, but with a little time, effort, and knowledge you can make your own for less than half of the cost.

When making a tent from scratch, you must think about the type of fabric. A durable backpacking tent is breathable, protective, and easily accessorized. For the DIY backpacking tent, we recommend choosing ripstop nylon fabric as your material. Purchasing more durable fabric will save along the line in being able to use your camping tent with ease and no fear of tearing the material. 

Most experienced campers will tell you that you cannot have too many layers of protection against mosquitos when you are on the trail. Although it can be extremely annoying, mosquitos that carry disease may be lurking about, so before you embark on your trip, make sure to check the environment and plan your shelter accordingly.

If you sew your tent fabric, remember to seam seal the seams. Building a tent from scratch requires some preparation. The first step is to waterproof the canvas by applying seam seal tape or paint on a sealant before you start assembling your shape and use of poles. For tent flooring, you should use a durable tarpaulin. It needs to be waterproof because standing water can soak through and seep into your personal items inside the tent.

This guide on how to make a camping tent from scratch for backpacking is a simple structure. This DIY camping tent is fully enclosed and warm, even for hot camping conditions. It’s a great option if you want to camp on warmer weather nights. This is a small single-person tent, perfect for backpackers looking to be as light as possible.

Setting up the Tent

  • First, find the perfect spot for your campsite as we outlined above. Place the tent with its entrance away from the wind and in a flat area. Clear the area of any debris, such as rocks and twigs.
  • Stretch your tarp out carefully, keeping it neat and smooth.
  • Use stakes to attach the tent’s corners and center at the back to the ground. The back of the tent, the most durable part, should face the sources of harsh weather. Anchor the back of your shelter so it is taught and sturdy.
  • Place the two front corners together, and gather them where they fold at the center. Stake the two corners together (middle of the tent) to create a slit in the shape, this should form a pyramid. 
  • Using a stick or hiking pole, place it in the center fold of this triangular shape. Keep in mind that you need this pole driven in the ground for extra stability.
  • Secure the pole and minimize the chances of it slipping out by tying the tent fabric around it using rope or bungee cords.
  • A good way to prevent flying critters and rainwater from getting through the opening is to attach a rope to the front flap and tie it off to your stake inside.
  • Finally, it is time to lay the heavy-duty tarp down for a little protection from any dampness coming up from the ground. Attempt to tie the remaining ropes or cords from your tent to tree stumps and nearby rocks. This should provide some extra support for your tent and keep it from falling over.

For this Build you will Need:

  • One waterproof tarpaulin, about 12ft by 12ft.
  • A heavy-duty tarp for your ground cloth.
  • Ten to twelve feet of nylon cord
  • 5 stakes made of wood, plastic or metal
  • A pole adjusted for the height of your entrance.
  • Rope, cord or bungee

This tent is perfect for those looking to camp with limited resources. Budget travelers seeking a place to sleep at night can construct tents from inexpensive materials, such as tarps and ropes. A shelter like this is quick to construct and lightweight enough to pack just about anywhere. Where it lacks in comfort it makes up for in lightness and convenience.

Last Thoughts:

You now know how to make a camping tent from scratch. None of these tents are ideal if you’re traveling with a family, since none is big enough for everyone to sleep comfortably in without inconveniencing yourself and your family members. Building a tent from scratch offers an excellent opportunity for kids to learn how to be resourceful, problem-solve and hone their outdoor skills. Next time you take the family camping, try building a tent from scratch by finding an appropriate tree and use only a tarpaulin, rope, and rocks.

Backpackers can benefit by making their own shelter in order to save on costs. If you are willing to deal with bugs, making a good old-fashioned tent camp might be just the thing for a fun summer experience. You can make a camping tent from scratch fast with this simple process. A lightweight ripstop nylon tarp is best for these purposes, and you will be more successful if you plan on using these methods.

Now that you know how to make a camping tent from scratch, you realize it is easy to accomplish. If you’re looking to be adventurous, we recommend that you give this a try. At the very least you can put one up in your own backyard to try it out. You probably already have all the materials you need in your stockpile of camping gear, like a waterproof tarp and some rope. With a little guidance, anyone can become an expert at this essential survival skill, which when completed gives you feelings of satisfaction and confidence.

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