How to Pack a Tent in a Backpack

Packing the tent properly inside the backpack is one of the most important tasks you have to complete before hiking. Walking up the mountain with a heavy backpack is a job that requires a lot of stamina, and it becomes even more difficult when the items inside your backpack are not placed properly.

We have got you a complete guide on how you can place your tent inside your backpack so that your dream of hiking to the top does not fade just because your tent and other items are not properly packed, causing an early exit before the race even starts. 

Packing your stuff inside the wrong way can also cause injuries during the hike, so make sure that you follow this guide properly so that you can flourish during your journey without a backpack stopping you from reaching your end goal.

Selecting a backpack

Choosing a good quality backpack is as important as packing it, so make sure that you get a little knowledge about the different types of backpacks available in the market to meet your demands. We recommend you choose a backpack with external frames as they provide more space inside them than the external ones.

Make sure that you choose a backpack that has enough space to fit the size of your tent. If you have already bought a backpack that does not fit your tent inside it because of its small size, you can look for compression bags. You can pack your tent tightly inside as these bags are made of materials that allow more stuff to fit inside them.

Once you have chosen a backpack that has enough space to carry your tent and other contents inside it, it is time to prepare the tent. The tent cannot be placed directly into the backpack, as it requires shaping and drying so that it does not make your bag heavier than it already is. It can also be attached to the outer straps of your backpack, which we will be discussing in detail later in the guide.

mountaineering man hiking down a path with his tent packed into his backpack

How to pack a tent

The more comfortable you are with your backpack during the hike, the better you have placed everything inside of it. There is no ideal way of packing your tent inside a backpack to ensure comfort; however, there are some important tips that we recommend you follow to help you find your perfect spot.

Selecting a good quality tent

It is important to have a good quality tent that can retain its quality for a long time even after being used under very harsh conditions. Most of the tents either lose their waterproofing or damage their fabric inside the backpack if not properly placed or placed too tightly. 

Shaping the tent

Before placing the tent inside the backpack, you need to place it on the ground flat. Put the poles of the tent in its bag, ensuring that you place the pole at the corner of the bag to allow the pole to roll. 

Roll the tent with the pole being the base supporting the whole tent covering it. The process shrinks the size of the tent and makes packing easier without taking up too much space inside the backpack.

You need to check if the tent is rolled perfectly without any bump, as it can cause the fabric of the tent to damage before you even take it out to set up for camping.

Drying your tent

man hiking and camping on a mountainside with a bag on his back

It is important to check your camp if it’s dry, or else it can increase the weight of the backpack, making it difficult for you to carry. If you find your tent damp, make sure that you dry it completely before packing it.

We advise you not to roll the camp and let it be placed flat on the ground in the open sun, allowing it to dry as quickly as possible. Check the camp after a few hours and roll it by following the method mentioned above and continue following the steps.

Weight of the contents

The weight of the backpack must be only 30 percent of your own weight,  if you increase it more than that would make it extremely difficult for you to walk. To make your hiking experience better, we advise you to carry only those items which are extremely important for your hiking trip. 

Placement of the items 

We recommend you place all your heavy items at the bottom of your backpack, followed by the lighter ones at the top. 

Placing items in such a way allows a perfect balance between the contents and restricts the heavier items to pull you down by pushing the lighter items beneath them towards the ground. It is advised that you always check if you feel comfortable walking after placing your contents inside the backpack, as most of the items can disturb your back while walking and need to be taken out as soon as possible. The disturbing items can be attached outside the bag to ensure comfort and safety while hiking.

The contents attached outside must be well strapped as they can be at risk of losing the attachment and falling off without you realizing it.

Placement of the tent inside the backpack

The recommended placement of the tent is in the middle of the backpack. Your tent will most probably be the heaviest item of all, which can balance the weight with the lighter items on top of the heavier ones below it.

You can place your tent both horizontally and vertically. Horizontal placement inside the bag allows you to place other contents above and below easily, whereas vertical placement makes it easy for you to take the tent out of the backpack after reaching the campsite.

If you are carrying a sleeping bag with you, it should always be placed at the bottom of the backpack. Sleeping bags are quite heavy and the last items to be taken out of the backpack when you set up your camp. Another benefit of keeping it at the bottom is that it provides ample space for other items, but make sure that it is dry before you place it.

How to attach a tent to a backpack

If you do not prefer keeping the tent inside your backpack, there is another option provided for you by the backpack manufacturers. You can buy an external frame backpack that allows you to attach your tent outside. Attaching outside in internal frame backpacks is also possible, but it is not as convenient as external frame types. 

External attachment of the tents comes with its own benefits and disadvantages. To make it more on the benefit side, we recommend you ensure that you take all the precautionary measures mentioned below.

  • Loops and straps are present at the corners of the external frame backpacks; make sure that you tighten your tent properly to keep it secure.
  • The straps can be doubled up, allowing the size of the item to be compressed. Please make sure that the straps themselves are attached properly to the backpack and undamaged.
  • Loops allow the tent to be secured in its place. It can save your tent even if the straps get loose, but the knot that you put must be in the right place. Check if the tent moves after putting a knot; a well-placed knot would keep the tent still in its place.
  • Once you are done packing, please check if you can walk comfortably to identify if there is still anything wrong or misplaced in your backpack.

Best backpacking tents for you to buy

There are a lot of tents available in the market, but only a few of them can fit perfectly into your backpack while fulfilling all your tent requirements. 

If you are traveling alone, snugpak ionosphere is one of the best tents that you can carry. It has a total weight of only 3.4 pounds that includes all the components such as stuff pack, poles, rainfly, and tent body. It takes a lot less space than other tents as it can be packed down to only 19 by 6 inches.

If you are looking for a tent that you can share with your partner, Msr hubba hubba nx2 and Msr Hubba tour 2 are the ideal choices to make. Msr tents provide the best quality rain flies as they can help you and your partner stay protected from heavy rain if you face harsh weather at the campsite.


Packing your tent in a backpack is not a difficult task; however, packing it in the right way is an art. Most of the hikers these days are unaware of the proper packing procedure and experience the most difficult walk of their life in the mountains. We have provided you with the best solution to keep all your contents, including your tent, in the right place and in the right way. We have also discussed the different techniques that you can use depending upon the backpack-type to pack your tent with ease.


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