How to Fold a Pop Up Tent | Step By Step Guide With Practical, Actionable Advice

Not everyone knows how to fold a pop up tent. If you're new to camping, or bought one for your beach trip, you'd be surprised that there's a learning curve to it, and that it isn't such a simple endeavor. The upside though is that once you figured it out, it could take you mere seconds in setting it up. 

How to Fold a Pop up Tent - Guide In Simple Steps

The following folding tent guide should give you a routine to follow every time you need to fold your pop up tent.

1. Preparing your tent by ensuring that it is completely dry

You might be tempted to just stuff the tent after use, but packing away a tent dry prevents mold buildup. So if you're planning to use your, let's say Coleman instant pop up tent or any other popular 10x20 pop up canopy multiple times, you wouldn't want your next trip to be problematic because of the moldy, damp smell, right? 

Leaving the tent to air-dry is simple, yet important, especially if it had rained while in use. You may just put it under the sun to dry, or quicken the process by using a clean dry cloth.  

2. Brush off dirt and mud

Whether your tent is dry or wet, there's a good chance that some dirt, sand or debris are stuck at the tent folds. Shake off some of the dirt or sand off by tipping your tent to one side. 

Get a piece of cloth with mild soap and wipe some leftover mud or dirt from the insides and outsides of your tent. 

If you don't have any extra cloth or soap with you, pack the tent as is, but clean and dry it completely as soon as you get home. 

3. Leave in open air before packing

Always spare an hour or two before packing your foldable tent. This time is enough to leave the tent in the open air to dry completely. Make sure you open the tent windows and doors as far as they can open.

If you do this extra step, you're preventing any moisture from being trapped inside the tent and causing mold or unwanted odor. 

Folding the tent step by step

4. Remove the stakes out of the ground

You won't learn how to fold a tent properly if the stakes are still on the ground.

After cleaning, drying and airing out your tent, you can now pull the stakes out from the ground. Because these are buried deep into the ground, they will have mud and dirt on them. Clean the stakes completely before packing them inside the tent bag. 

5. Remove the tarp or rain fly

If your tent came with a rain fly or tarp and you used it as extra protection against the elements like rain, wind or snow, make sure to clean, dry and pack it like how you did the tent for steps 1 through 4. 

Note that even if this rain fly or tarp is waterproof, water and dirt can still get stuck if you packed it before drying. 

If you bought it separately from the tent, the tarp or rain fly would most likely come with its own bag. Once cleaned and dried, fold and keep it in the bag.

6. Take two opposite side of the tent and fold it

Folding the tent step by step

If you came here with a clean tent and wanted to learn how to fold a pop up tent, you can skip steps 1 to 5 and begin the instructions here. 

  • First, stand on one side of the tent (about 90 degrees angle from the tent door).
  • From here you'll see two high arches, which make the highest point of the tent. 
  • Grab those points and hold them down together in one hand.

7. Grab the back end of the tent

Now, using your free hand, grab the smaller arch found at the upper part of the back of your tent. Extend this to meet the other two points you were holding on the other hand (from step 6).

Transfer all ends you're holding into one hand. 

8. Bring the front arch to meet the other two points

If the tent door is closed, zip it open or untie to let air escape. Push the air out as you fold and smoothen the tent. 

Once the tent surface feels flat, use your free hand to grab the top of the arch. You can find this just over the tent door. 

Fold the front part of the tent inward towards the bigger chunk of the tent. 

By now, we're nearing the end of this guide on how to fold a pop up tent and your tent should look like any ordinary taco shell. 

9. Stand the tent upright and fold it inwards

Turn your tent upward with your one hand, while grabbing the arches with your free hand. 

Once the tent is in the upright position, reach the highest point of the tent and pull it downward. Doing this would fold the tent on itself, as the arches in your other hand remain outside. 

folding a tent

10. Twist the tent to form two circles

Instructions for folding the tent

The last step folded your tent smaller and made it face downwards. To shrink it some more, you have to twist the entire tent from the middle section so the arches make two circle-shaped pairs positioned side by side. 

Be sure to control these circles because there's a tendency that the upper circle will spring back out. Compact them by pulling the circles over the other. When you overlap these parts, your tent will look like just a single circle. But since there are technically two circles, you have to manually line up their edges as you fold the tent neatly in place. 

11. Secure it

Most pop-up tents are designed with a string or Velcro that keeps the folded-and-twisted tent from popping up once you've folded it. 

Depending on the pop-up tent you have, secure it by tying the string, snapping the Velcro together, or buckling it in place. If your tent isn't designed with any of these, I recommend you make one to keep the tent secured. 

12. Put the tent in the bag 

Just like step 11, some pop-up  tents come with its own bag, while others do not.

If your tent has an included bag, it is usually made so when you place the folded tent, it snug in nicely inside. 

Now place the tent inside the bag. If you were able to line up the edges properly on step 10, inserting the tent would be quick and easy. Then all you have to do is zip the bag before carrying it anywhere. 

Packing the tent

13. Make sure the bag is secure in transport

If your tent didn't come with its own bag and you just manually secured it with rope or something, make sure it is secured during transport. You wouldn't want your tent to pop out at the back of your pick-up truck, right? 

With a couple of tries, you'll be able to master how to fold a pop up beach tent or camping tent for sure. When that happens, you could set it up or pack it away in under 5 minutes. 

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