How To Make a Camping Tent From Scratch?


The shelter is one of the main camping essentials. You need to pack your tent first before anything else. But what if you find yourself in the wild with no backpacking tent

Building your own tent from scratch might sound like a complicated process, but once you master it, it becomes easy. When you make your own camping tent, it may not keep critters away, but you are protected from elements.

The DIY tent comes in handy if you are ever caught up in a storm, but you forgot your tent at home.  There are lots of techniques and materials needed to build a tent, and the process might be more tiring than setting a ready tent. However, if you are stuck in the wild without a tent, you will be glad you learned how to make one from scratch.

Here is how to make your own camping tent:

1.Pick a Campsite

This is the first step in making your own tent. You need a flat and even ground away from hills and mountains.  The campsite should also be away from ditches that might flood the campsite if it rains. Choose a low altitude area to avoid strong winds and cold. 

If the campground has trees, choose a site near large trees. Trees block draught, offer shade, and support your tent. However, you need to keep off dead trees as their branches might break and fall on your tent.

Before setting up your tent, you need to remove rocks, leaves, and sticks from the site. You can avoid dust by looking for a spot with short grass, or a little damp.  Depending on your reason for camping, you can set up a tent near rivers and lakes to get a great view and go fishing.

2. Make a Tent from a Tarp

If you have a tarp, it becomes easy to set up a tent from scratch. You will need:

  • Two tarp sheets – one for the ground and another to form the roof
  • Poles and wooden sticks
  • Ropes to hold the poles together

Prepare the tarp by making holes large enough to fit your poles at the corners of the sheet. You can do that using a pocket knife or a multi-tool. Cut your rope in equal sections to tie the sheet to the poles at the corners. The ropes ensure your tent is strong enough to keep your DIY tent standing.

3. Set Up the Structure of the Tent

You do not need complicated DIY camping tent plans as a tent should be simple. Its structure comprises four corner poles and a central pole. Pick a taller central pole to raise the tarp a little for rainwater to flow to the sides. Ensure the corner poles align with the holes you made on the tarp.

4. Secure Your Tent

If you set your tent near trees, it is easy to secure the tent on trees. You can do that by wrapping the rope on a tree severally and stretching out the tarp so that the corners lie diagonally to each other. The central part should be raised to allow rain water to flow.  The raised central part also keeps strong winds out.

5. Building the Walls

Once you make the roof and ensure the corner poles are firm into the ground, proceed to make walls. If your tarp is large, it should extend to form walls on one side of the tent. Use a thicker tarp on the ground to protect you from wet ground or insects.

Hammer the tarp into the ground to align with the tarp that forms the roof. You can tie the corners of the floor tarp into the corner poles, or place large stones to ensure the floor remain stable. Ensure that all knots on the ropes are tight and the tent is well-balanced to keep you protected.

These are the basic steps to follow to make your own camping tent. There are two main methods of making a tent from scratch:

The Two-Tree Method

This is among the easiest tents to set by yourself and it requires

  • At least one tarp, but two will be better
  • Ropes or cords
  • Posts and sticks
  • Rocks to keep the tent secure


For this method, you need to find a campsite in between two trees at least 10 feet apart. Take a rope and tie it tightly in between the two trees at a medium height. The height of the rope from the ground should not exceed a third of the length of the tarp.

Once your rope is secure, throw the tarp on top of the rope to form a triangular shaped tent. Ensure that the center of the length of the tarp falls on the rope. Again, ensure that the rope is tightly secured on the tree and it runs parallel to the ground to ensure the tarp doesn’t fall.

If you have more than one tarp, cast the largest on top of the rope, ensuring it falls equally on both sides. Make holes on the corners of the tarp using a knife. Secure the tarp to the ground by hammering some sticks into the ground. If you do not have the sticks or a means to hammer them into the ground, place heavy rocks on the corners of the tarp to secure it.

If you have another tarp, you can lay it down to form a tent floor. A heavy and durable tent comes in handy as a tent floor.

If you have few equipment and the campsite is near two strong trees, you can set up this kind of tent. The triangular shape of the tent keeps it protective from bad weather, but critters might still crawl into your tent.  For this method to work, you need a large tarp, and your campsite should be in a wooded place.

One-Tree DIY Tent

If you have limited materials and still need an emergency tent, you can make a tent with ease. This one-tree tent is only ideal for emergencies as it is less spacious and less protective of elements. To make this tent, you need:

  • One tarp, but two would be better
  • A rope or bungee cords
  • Peg
  • Sticks

If you are a beginner for camping or hiking, you need to know the ten essentials here.

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