6 Shelter Tips for Camping in Windy Conditions
Windy conditions are bound to find you in the backcountry at some point. Especially when you’re camping above treeline, it can be hard to find places to pitch a tent that are fully protected from the wind. However, you don’t have to let windy conditions or rainstorms prevent you from having a secure night’s sleep in the wilderness.
There are steps you can take to perfect your backcountry shelter’s storm mode. Below, we highlight six tips you can follow for faster, easier tent set-up when you have to deal with wind or storms. We hope they help you minimize frustration, get cozy faster, and maintain a safe shelter for waiting out the blustery conditions.
1. Select the right spot to pitch your shelter.
Site selection is always important when setting up your shelter, but it becomes particularly vital when high winds or other stormy conditions are expected.
Before choosing a spot for the night, look around for potential hazards. Avoid setting up under or down-wind from trees with precarious branches, also known as “widowmakers,” that could fall during the night. Look for other natural features that could become loose in a storm as well and stay out of their path. Also, consider which areas may be prone to flooding to stay in locations that drain well.
Ultimately, look for natural wind blockers, such as large boulders or sturdy trees and bushes, to set up down-wind from to break some of the force of the gusts.
2. Position your shelter with the wind in mind.
Whenever possible, pitch your shelter so the lowest and smallest end of it faces the wind. This will minimize your tent’s profile, reducing the chance of it becoming like a sail in windy conditions.
If you can, also plan to set it up so that the main door faces away from the wind. This makes for easier entry and exit without battling a headwind.
3. Prepare for shelter set-up before you begin.
Many of us know the scenario well: You pull out your tent to set it up and find yourself trying to keep it from blowing away in the wind while locating your stakes, getting your poles set up, or any number of other tasks needed to pitch your shelter. To avoid chasing your tent through the wind, prepare everything you’ll need for set-up in advance.
Have other gear, such as your sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and backpack, ready to throw into the bottom of your shelter to act as an anchor. This will hold your tent in place while you complete staking it out. Speaking of, store your stakes in your pocket or in another easy-to-reach location when setting up your shelter.
If your shelter uses poles for set-up, assemble those in advance. This includes adjusting your trekking poles to the height you need them to be for set-up of free-standing tents like The One and The Two. The more you can have ready to go, the easier and faster shelter set-up will be during windy storms.
4. Stake down your shelter and use your guy lines.
On calm nights, you may choose to forego staking out each corner of your tent, depending on the design. However, firmly staking down your tent is important in windy conditions to avoid having the wind get under the tent and lift it up.
As you stake out your shelter, begin on the windward side and let the other side of the tent blow away from you. Insert your stakes into the ground at a 45-degree angle toward the tent for extra strength. You can also place weight over the stakes, such as rocks, for additional security.
Windy and stormy conditions also call for the power of guy lines, as they help distribute the stress of wind and rain more evenly across your tent. Keep your guy lines taut, though not so much that they stretch your tent’s fabric too much. Practice staking out your guy lines at home before a trip. Watch some YouTube videos about it or ask a friend for tips. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to learn the best guy line techniques for a windy storm when you’re in the middle of a windy storm.
Our shelters, The One and The Two, have a highly adjustable pitch thanks in part to their tie-outs for additional lines in high winds. The reflective guy lines are knotted so they can be handled with gloves and the tensioners make it easy to get a taut set-up.
5. Add your groundsheet after shelter set-up.
Have you ever tried to lay a groundsheet down and keep it positioned where you want it while it’s windy out? Yeah, it’s awful. Get your shelter set up first. Once you do, you can slip your groundsheet under the tent, keeping it secure under your existing stakes and gear while you do.
6. Secure loose parts on your shelter.
Gear left loose in high winds can get damaged and undermine the stability of your tent. Avoid leaving flaps or doors open on your shelter during windy storms, as these can get pulled in the breeze quickly and with force. As much as possible, keep things buttoned up and hunker down while the weather passes.
Keep Your Shelter Secure in Windy Storms With a Little Prep
Sometimes windy conditions are unavoidable on trail. However, with a little preparation, you can make your shelter set-up easier, leading to a more restful night of sleep and dreams of a calmer day by morning. Use the tips above to get started.
Do you have any tips or tricks for managing your shelter during windy storms? We’d love to hear about them! Share your windy stories with us by tagging Gossamer Gear on social media (@gossamergear) and using the hashtag #takelessdomore.
Looking for more outdoor adventure inspiration and backcountry shelter knowledge? Check out some of our other articles on the Light Feet blog:
- 21 Uses for Gossamer Gear Lightweight Tarps (Beyond a Shelter!)
- Glen’s Whisper: An Ultralight Shelter’s Journey From Ideation to Execution
- How to Take Care of Your Gear Post-Hike (And Get Motivated to Do It)
- Hydration 101: Your Guide to Water While Hiking
- Learn the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
- Cold Weather Layering for Hikers: The Ultimate How-To Guide