How To Pack A Tent In A Backpack And Save Space

Teenagers in front of tents packing, summer music festival
Group of teenage boys and girls at summer music festival, sitting on the ground in front of tents, packing

One of the bulkiest and heaviest items you’ll ever need to carry while camping or backpacking is a tent. Even ultralight tents can add a significant amount of weight to your luggage, which you’ll feel the longer you are on the trail. That is why learning how to pack a tent in a backpack properly is an essential skill to master since it helps lessen your burden. Below we’ll show how to do just that, as well as provide you with some tips on how to attach a tent to a backpack and more.

But before that, let’s take a look at one of the most crucial items you’ll need: an internal frame backpack.

Why Use an Internal Frame Backpack

When learning how to pack a tent in a backpack you first need to make sure that you have the right type of backpack for your outdoor adventure. In this case, you’re going to need an internal frame backpack. This is different from an external frame backpack, the kind which you’ll need to use as you learn how to attach a tent to a backpack on the outside.

Internal frame backpacks are designed to be much more spacious and thus have a bigger carrying capacity than an external frame backpack. Having this extra space helps make sure that there is room enough for your tent.

You also need to make sure that your backpack is big enough for your tent. The bigger your tent is the larger your backpack needs to be. To further reduce the amount of weight you’ll be carrying, consider investing in a lightweight backpack. Using a compression bag can also help in getting your tent packed nice and tight.

With that out of the way, let’s now take a look at the different steps on how to pack a tent in a backpack.

Packing a Tent inside a Backpack

Packing a camping tent inside a backpack isn’t rocket science, but it does require some skill and practice to get it right. That last line is important and we’ll explain why later on. For now, let’s get started with packing.

1. Prepare the Tent

First, make sure that the tent canvas and all other accessories are clean and completely dry. Wipe them down with a rag if necessary.

Now, take the tent poles, arrange them accordingly, and put them in the bag they came with when you bought your tent. Put them aside for a while. Then lay the tent canvas on the ground and flatten it out. Fold the tent canvas so that its size will fit in the backpack. Remember, your tent will be in a vertical position when placed inside your pack. 

2. Roll the Tent

Place the bag of tent poles in one end of the folded tent canvas, then carefully roll the canvas along with the poles tightly. Make sure that the edges of the folded tent are aligned while rolling the canvas. You’ll want the roll to be as tight as possible so it doesn’t take up too much space inside your backpacking backpack. Also, if the tent is loosely rolled you’ll have a hard time putting it inside the tent bag.

3. Pack the Tent

With the tent tightly rolled, take the bag that the tent came with when you bought it and slide the rolled tent inside. If it doesn’t have a dedicated bag, you can use a stuff sack with drawstring cords instead. The point is that you need to put the rolled tent in a bag or sack so that it doesn’t get snagged by other items in your backpack. By now you’ll have a nicely packed tent ready to go into your backpack.

4. Pack Your Backpack

Take an inventory of all the things that will go into your backpack, from your sleeping bag to your camping or hiking clothes and others.

Place the sleeping bag at the bottom of your backpack since this will most likely be the last item you need to take out once you reach. It will also probably be the heaviest item you’ll be carrying and putting it at the bottom of the backpack will help distribute the weight.

5. Place the Tent inside the Backpack

Lastly, put the rolled-up tent on top of the sleeping bag. You’ll want to place it in an upright position against one of the corners of the backpack. You can then start filling the space with the rest of your camping gear. Make sure that you pack everything nice and tight so that there’s no room for your rolled-up tent to wobble while you’re walking.

Importance of Properly Packing Your Tent

Despite being a truly enjoyable experience, going camping generally means that you’ll be carrying a huge backpack for a long-distance which can be exhausting. And having an incorrectly packed backpack will make your backpack more burdensome and heavier, which in turn can make the whole trek rather miserable. To avoid such situations, you’ll need to pack your backpack properly, and this includes learning how to pack a tent in a backpack.

Your tent will probably be one of the bulkier and heavier items in your camping or backpacking checklist. By packing it properly before sliding it into your backpack, you can save a lot of space as opposed to just stuffing it inside. Also, a poorly packed tent puts it at risk of being damaged by your other camping gear. Repairing a damaged tent fabric can be quite frustrating and takes up time which you could have used to enjoy the outdoors.

Another reason why you need to pack your tent properly is that a poorly packed tent can make your backpack feel heavier than it is. This is because the weight is poorly distributed, and walking long distances under such conditions is a recipe for severe injury to your lower back.

Tips and Considerations

  • Practice the packing methods at home at least a few days before your intended adventure. This will help develop your skill and make packing it away much easier for when it’s time to head home. This will also allow you to see just how much space you’ll have left when you pack the tent inside your backpack and at the same time check for any problems.
  • If you would rather learn how to attach a tent to a backpack and carry it outside instead of placing it inside, note that there are significant risks to doing so.
  • Packing a tent on the outside of the bag is worth considering, especially if you already have an external frame backpack and don’t want to spend any more money on purchasing an internal frame backpack. Besides, having a tent outside the bag will leave more room for your camping gear like backpacking stoves, water bottles, and others.
  • Choose a waterproof backpack if possible to ensure that the tent inside and all your other camping gear don’t get wet.
  • If you plan to carry your tent outside your backpack, know that it can get wet if it rains or if you accidentally slip and fall into a stream, river, or a puddle of water. You can wrap the tent in plastic to minimize the amount of water that will get into the tent, or use a backpack rain cover that goes all the way down to the bottom of your backpack.
  • One of the biggest drawbacks of carrying your tent outside your backpack is that it can get snagged by thorns or tree branches. This can cut the tent fabric and leave a large tear on it. The best way to avoid this is to simply be careful of where you’re going. It also helps to pack along a tent repair kit should accidents like this happen.



Q: How do you attach a tent to the bottom of a backpack?


To learn how to attach a tent to backpack, follow the steps below:

  1. Get an external frame backpack with a tent holder. These tent holders are usually set on the top or bottom part of the backpack, and it is advised to use one with the tent holder at the bottom since this will help remove some of the strain on your back. 
  2. Prepare the tent canvas and poles by following steps 1-3 mentioned above.
  3. With the tent nicely rolled and packed, secure it to the bottom portion of your backpack. The external frame backpacks have ties and loops to help secure the tent to the backpack’s frame. If there aren’t any, you can use whatever rope you have available.

Globo Surf Overview

Going on a camping trip or backpacking trip generally means carrying a huge backpack on your back while walking long distances. By knowing how to pack a tent in a backpack you can reduce the stress, both physically and mentally, that comes with the process. Whether you choose to pack your tent inside your backpack or externally by learning how to attach the tent to a backpack on the outside, the tent must be packed properly to prevent the early onset of fatigue and thus make your outdoor adventure much more enjoyable.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!