Stuff, Roll, Or Fold? How To Pack Down a Tent?

When it comes to packing down a tent, a question that is asked surprisingly most often by the camping folks is whether to stuff or roll a tent? There is a never-ending debate going on among the backpacking community on how to pack a tent the right way. Every hiker/backpacker has his own method of packing a tent.

stuff, roll, or fold a tent?

Should a Tent Be Rolled Or Stuffed?

Most tent manufacturers recommend loosely folding and then rolling a tent. Rolling is compact, convenient, and a lot easier to manage.

Should you roll or stuff a tent? This has been one of the greatest mysteries in camping for decades. Today I am going to attempt to solve this mystery in light of the recommendations and personal preferences of the most popular tent manufacturers in the world.

Whether you are packing the tent for the outdoor adventure or storing it back home you should roll your tent. 

However, there is one instance when you should consider stuffing the tent. It is when you’re caught in a storm, packing in the rain and you’re in a hurry. 

Is It Better To Stuff Or Roll a Tent?

Rolling a tent is easier and more convenient. It allows you to save a lot of space in your pack. If space is not a concern then you can stuff a tent. 

Keep in mind that whichever method you follow is not going to affect the fabric of the material in a bad way.

Rolling Is More Convenient and Easy To Manage

A common theory is that rolling creates a lot of stress in the tent fabric leading to wear/ tear issues. But this is not the case. Also, rolling and stuffing don’t depend on the type of tent fabric.

It is very less likely that someone would fold a tent the exact same way each time when packing the tent. The coatings on high-end tents are durable. 

Therefore you don’t need to worry about losing the technical coatings on your tent.

Rolling a tent looks better in appearance. Also, it ensures that all the pieces of your tent( tent body, rainfly, poles, and pegs) are together. So it becomes easier for the backpacker to manage. 

Rolling/folding a wet, damp tent will stop the dirt, dampness, and moisture from transferring to the dry parts of the tent.

Stuffing a Tent Can Be Difficult To Handle

Stuffing a large tent would be difficult. If you have been stuffing your sleeping bag you might believe that you can do the same with the tent. But stuffing the tent is not the same as stuffing the sleeping bag. 

The tent fabric is different. It is hard compared to the sleeping bag. So stuffing the tent is not that easy. 

I have written this other article on whether you should roll or stuff a sleeping bag. Check it out as well.

Stuffing creates a lot of wrinkles in the tent that can be difficult to handle when setting up the tent. Rolling is clean and neat. It ensures that everything is in place. 

This is the reason why all the tent manufacturers sell their tents rolled in the stuff sack. A rolled tent takes up less space in transit and is a clean presentation to the customer. Plus it looks better when set up for the first time.

Best Way To Pack a Tent For Backpacking?

When backpacking space is a big concern. In order to save space in your backpack, you should roll the tent. Not only does it pack the tent smaller but also helps the backpacker to manage the stuff. 

The tent should sit on top of your backpack. So that you can pull it easily anytime the weather changes and you need to set it up.

How Do You Pack Down a Tent?

After taking down the tent you need to check how wide the tent poles are. So that you can fold the tent in the same width as the poles. The tent poles are the same length as the tent bag that is why they fit in the bag. This way everything will be packed in the bag easily. 

How To Fold a Tent?

Spread the tent body on the ground. Fold the tent body loosely in thirds lengthwise. Make sure that the doors of the tent are left open before folding so that the trapped air can escape easily. You can fold a tent solo but it would be easier with a friend helping with the folding.

How Do You Roll a Tent and Fly?

After folding the tent body, bring the fly on the folded tent body. The fly should not be wider than the tent body. 

Put the tent poles on one end of the tent. Start rolling the tent around the tent poles from this end to the other. The weight of the tent will help push the tent and eliminate any air inside.  Keep pushing by your knees. Once rolled, put the tent in its bag. 

How Do You Stuff a Tent?

Grab a handful of the tent and start pushing it to the bottom of the bag. Keep pushing until the tent is completely filled in the bag. Then pull the straps. Pack the poles and stakes separately. Poles go inside the side of your backpack.

Closing Thoughts!

You should roll the tent in the field and for storage at home. Rolling is compact, clean, easy to manage, and most importantly- saves a lot of space in the backpack. 

If you’re in a hurry and need to quickly pack away the tent then stuffing is the way to go. 

Either method is not going to hurt the fabric of the tent.

When storing the tent during the off-season, clean and dry before rolling. Store in a large breathable cotton sack. Home storage is more important than how you handle it on the trail. 

You can also hang the tent in your closet. That way you allow the tent to breathe better.

When backpacking, rolling saves a lot of space. It looks better, packs better, and is convenient for the backpacker. 

On the other hand for car camping where space is not a concern, you can definitely go with stuffing.