How to Carry a Tent on a Backpack

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As a hiking enthusiast, it is essential that you learn how to carry a tent on a backpack. Hiking and camping typically require a great deal of walking, so you will undoubtedly want to make your journey as easy as possible.

Tents can be substantial in weight, but they still need to get from point A to point B.

Packing your shelter improperly can make for an uncomfortable trek and may even lead to injury. In this guide, we will cover the most common ways to carry your tent, as well as how to attach a sleeping bag to a backpack.

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Methods of Carrying Your Tent and Sleeping Bag While Hiking

There are two main ways to carry a tent and sleeping bag on an overnight hike: inside your backpack, or outside of it. The one you choose will usually depend on the type of pack you have.

Know your Backpack Type

The two main kinds of backpack are internal frame and external frame. Internal frame backpacks are more common these days, but both types are available for purchase.

Packing a Tent and Sleeping Bag Inside Internal Frame Backpacks

You’ll almost always pack your tent and sleeping bag inside your internal frame backpack since they have so much more interior room than their external frame counterparts. It is possible to strap things onto the outside of some internal frame backpacks, but it is generally done by more advanced hikers who can carry more weight and need more gear.

Pack your tent up as tightly as possible, according to the instructions of the tent manufacturer, to save room in your backpack. You'll want to do the same with your sleeping bag, using compression straps which are available at outdoor gear stores.

​Also, make sure you arrange your equipment in the backpack by weight, with the heavier items at the bottom, and the lighter items at the top. Usually, this means your sleeping bag goes in first, followed by your tent.

Carrying a Tent and Sleeping Bag Outside External Frame Backpacks

External frame backpacks have a smaller interior section. As the name suggests, the bag itself is attached to an outer frame, which is exposed. Because the bag is smaller, the frame extends further on the bottom.

To carry your sleeping bag and tent with this type of pack, you'll need a waterproof "stuff bag," also available at outdoor specialty stores. You will roll your sleeping bag and tent together for storage; the best way to do this will depend on the type of tent you have, so practice ahead of time. Then, use the straps on your pack to attach it to the bottom of the frame. That's it!

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Helpful Tips

  1. Make sure your tent is dry when you pack it. It's worth waiting for it to dry out because while it may not seem like much, water of any amount will add significant weight and could damage your other gear.
  2. If your tent is packed on the outside of your backpack, stay aware of branches, thorns, and other objects that could puncture it while you’re hiking.
  3. If you’re having trouble figuring out the best configuration, consider checking the backpack manufacturer’s site for a “how to pack a hiking backpack diagram.”
  4. If you’re new to hiking, be conservative about your backpacking tent weight. The heavier it is, the longer it will take to get to your campsite

Learning how to carry a tent on a backpack can make all the difference in the world!

Happy travels!

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