Setup Tent (Steps and Tips) Using Rocks

It is often not possible to setup a tent using tent stakes. Using rocks around the campsite is all that you need to do the job. This technique will work with virtually with any (free and non-free standing) tent on the market today. Every backpacker should learn this valuable and possibly life saving skill.  Many locations, where the ground is too soft or the ground is too solid, you definitely can't get stakes in.  This opens a huge amount of areas (from soft river sand to high alpine granite) to camp and safely pitch a shelter tightly so that it won't budge in high winds and rain.  Generally, you need to use 1 long-shaped small rock and 1 large heavy rock to do the job. Let's go over how to setup a tent using rocks.


Loop Tent Cord Around Small Rock

Tent Setup Steps Using Rocks

  1. Tie line around small rock
  2. Put a much larger rock on top of the line
  3. Pull out rock until the tent is pitched tightly
  4. Tada! You are a backpacking genius



Use Long Tent Tie-down Cord

The tie-down cord needs to be a longer length than what you would typically use to setup your tent. Lines not long enough? You can add extra length by adding some lightweight cord or rope. Additional length is needed so that the line can be looped around the smaller stone. This small stone will prevent the line from slipping out from under the large rock and collapsing your shelter. Long cord ensures that you can loop around the small stone and under the large rock, before connecting to the tent.

Large Rock for Tent Stake

Chose Four Large and Heavy Rocks

It is important that you chose 4 large and heavy rocks for the main tent corners. Generally, the larger the rock, the better. Very large and spacious tents need heavier rocks to hold them in place firmly.

After placing the first four rocks, some tent designs will have more stakeout points where you can add additional medium sized rocks. Structurally they do not hold the tent up in place, but these extra points pull out the tent walls and improve airflow inside the shelter.


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