How to Set Up Your Tent in the Dark: 10 Tips & Tricks

How To Set Up Your Tent In The Dark (10 Tips & Tricks)

In some instances, we underestimate the amount of time it will take for us to reach a campsite. Sometimes, although we set out early, traffic and other obstacles may hinder us from getting to our destination on time, and other campers intentionally head out after sunset.

Either way, pitching a tent in the dark is not the best idea because of the reduced visibility that makes it harder to set up a tent. Although, it is not an impossible task. You just need the right equipment, knowledge, and preparation to successfully pitch your tent in the dark.


The heart of your campsite is your tent. No matter how comfortable your camp may be, if you do not have a good camping tent, your camping experience will not be as satisfactory as you want it to be. If you want to invest in a good tent, check out our article on the best tents for camping where we listed and reviewed the top tents available in the market today. 


Is it hard to set up a tent in the dark?

Adequate visibility is an important factor in setting up a good campsite. In the daytime, you don’t have to worry about visibility at all. Once the sun sets, the situation will be different as the surroundings will turn pitch black.

If you ever went camping, you know how dark it gets in the woods at night, and your main source of light is the moon, which sometimes isn’t helpful enough when setting up a tent.

If you are an inexperienced camper, you will soon find that setting up a tent is already hard in the daytime, and even more so when it gets dark. Thankfully, some tips and tricks can help you with this problem.


10 Tips and Tricks for Setting Up Your Tent in the Dark

1. Carry Artificial Light

To set up your tent in the dark, you need to pack artificial light sources as these will enable you to navigate and see anything in the woods.

  • Headlamps

    It is always a good idea to carry a headlamp, especially if you think you will be pitching a tent in the dark. As a headlamp will allow you to use both your hands in setting up camp, it’s a smart move to pack one or two.

  • Flashlight

    Flashlights are also a reliable source of light. However, they shouldn’t be your go-to source when setting up a tent. Rather, they can be used when you are looking for something or if you have a friend to hold it for you while you set up the tent.

  • Solar-powered light

    These are environmentally-friendly light sources for camping. However, you need to prepare and charge them during the day so that you can have a good source of light to help you set up a tent in the dark.

  • Phone/Camera Light

    If you are carrying your phone with you, you can also use its light to navigate. However, phone and camera lights are not good light sources when trying to set up a tent. Although they do provide additional visibility, they are not reliable.

  • Headlight

    If you are driving to the campsite and can park near your camping spot, you can use your car’s headlights to help you see everything while setting up. However, most campsites tend to be away from the parking areas. Thus, this is not a reliable light source.

  • Floodlights

    Floodlights can provide great visibility. However, carrying them can be an issue. To set up floodlights, you will need a portable generator, which could add weight to what you are already carrying. If you have a car, maybe you could manage to bring all this equipment.

2. Carry extra batteries

When carrying headlamps and torches, it is also important that you bring extra batteries. If you are camping for a few days, the extra batteries will help you power your artificial light whenever needed.

3. Type of Tent

One of the first things you have to consider when planning a camping trip is the type of tent you are bringing. There are many types of tents available out there, from one-person to family tents. If you are expecting to set up camp in the dark, you have to choose one that is easy to pitch because the more complicated the tent is, the more difficult it will be to set it up at night.

4. Practice

If you do not know how to pitch your tent, it will be difficult for you to set up camp, whether it is daytime or nighttime. That is why, by the time you are ready to leave, you should already be familiar with how to pitch your tent. Most tents come with instructions to give you a more detailed view of how to set them up. Practice pitching the tent every day until you are confident that you can set it up easily, whether in the day or in the dark.

5. Make a checklist

All the necessary parts of the tent must be included on your checklist. These include the stakes, the poles, the tent itself, the footprint, guylines, and the rainfly. To drive in the stakes easily into the ground, you may want to add a small mallet. When you are ready to set up, lay the components on the ground and cross each item off your list.

6. Clear your camping spot

Before you start setting up your tent, turn the lights on and begin clearing the area to remove rocks, small branches, and anything else that might rip your tent or trip you over. Once everything is cleared, set up your light source. You can also build a campfire for added visibility. However, remember to set up camp far from the campfire to prevent the tent from catching fire.

7. Pack smart

Before you head out, pack essential items in more accessible or easy-to-reach areas, so that you do not have to take all your gear out to find the tent’s parts. Your headlamps and flashlights should also be within reach.

8. Don’t keep your light on for a long time

If you do not pitch your tent fast, you may find that bugs have made their way to your camping area since they are attracted to light. Likewise, do not keep your lights on after setting up your tent. If you have a headlight with a red color option, use that instead if you need to keep your light on longer.

9. Follow the guidelines

To ensure that you are camping in a safe area, you have to follow the guidelines of setting up camp:

  • Do not camp in low lying areas to avoid flooding or water overflows.
  • Do not pitch your tent near a water source as mosquitoes tend to gather near them and carry diseases that can make you sick.

10. Eat beforehand

If you think you will be pitching your tent at night, it is best to eat before heading to the site as you may be tired from setting up and may not have the energy to cook afterward. You also need to carry dried foods or trail snacks in case you get hungry. Make sure you hang your food or pack it in air-tight containers to avoid attracting animals.


If you’re looking for more ways to make your tent and campsite more comfortable, check out our article on how to set up a comfy camping tent for tips and tricks on how to set up the most comfortable campsite. We have mastered the art of being comfortable outdoors and we’re more than happy to share what we know with you. 


What do you do in a tent at night?

Here are some activities you can do in a tent at night:

  • Sing songs with your companions
  • Play musical instruments
  • Make shadow puppets
  • Play Truth or Dare
  • Turn on your headlamps and play card and board games
  • Turn on your headlamps and read, or read aloud to each other
  • Tell stories
  • Watch a movie on your portable devices
  • Play on your electronic devices

If you are prepared and know what you are doing, setting up a camp at night will be a piece of cake. It will even become easier if you know the area well. Therefore, we can say that with the right preparation, you can easily pitch your tent at night.



Setting up a tent can be really frustrating, but setting up a tent in the dark is on a whole other level. That is why it is important that you practice setting up your tent at home and know what part goes where. Practicing will help you set up your tent easily and quickly, even in low lights.

Whether it’s your preference to start your camping trips at night or plain old unfortunate timing, setting up your  tent in the dark will be challenging. We hope that with the help of the tips and tricks that we shared above, you’ll be able to set up your tent without any problems, even when the sun has already set.

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