Pop-up tents are, as their name implies, simple to set up. Take them out of the bag and—poof! —like magic, they take their form in the air and land on the ground ready for you to settle in. How to fold pop up tents and fit them right back into an incredible small bag, however, is a different story!
If you’ve been trying to win the folding part without success because by some strange reason yours doesn’t come with a manual, or you’ve lost the cheat sheet, then we’re here to provide some help. Yes, you haven’t run out of luck yet!
We give you two general guidelines on how to fold pop-up tents: one for the beach type and the other one for the camping type. Again, these are general guidelines, and there’s a slim chance that they may not apply to the type of tent you’re working on. Proceed as you deem appropriate.
Step 1: Clean the tent.
Brush off dirt and debris from the tent using a broom or brush. If the tent has been stained or muddied, then use a damp sponge or moist cloth with water and mild soap to clean it.
Step 2: Dry or air out the tent.
Before packing up the tent, let it dry first especially if it has been rained on or if it’s wet from the cleaning you’ve done. If it isn’t dirty or hasn’t gotten wet, then at least let it air out for an hour before packing it up. For close tents, keep the door wide open.
Step 3: Untether the tent.
Pull out the metal stakes that keep your tent secured to the ground, and put them in your tent bag.
Step 4: Remove the tarp.
If your tent comes with a tarp or secondary layer for sun and rain protection, then take this off, fold, and set it in the bag as well.
The steps above should be taken when you have the ideal setting (i.e., it’s not raining), and you have enough time to fold up the tent with the intention of storing it away already.
If you need to pack quickly, then jump to steps 3 and 4. Shake off water, dust, and what have you from the tent, then do the drying and cleaning at home. The cleaning and drying steps are important especially when it would take a while before you use the tent again. If you skip them, then you’ll end up with a moldy tent. Yikes!
Step 1: Open the entrance of the tent.
This is to make sure that as you proceed in folding the tent back into its compact shape, air can escape.
Step 2: Go for the tortilla or taco shape.
Stand on either side of the tent. Then, grab the two top arches and put them together. Hold them with one hand. As you do this, you will notice an arch hanging on each side. Grab those, too, towards the two arches that you are already holding together. That should leave you with a tortilla shape.
Step 3: Get it into a figure of eight.
Next, position the “tortilla” upright, holding the arches together with one hand. So, you have the arch on one side and the flat side on the other side, forming an upright letter D or reverse letter D, depending on your handedness.
With your free hand, grab the highest point of the tent and turn it downwards. All the while, make sure to keep a firm grip on the arched part. As you pull in towards the center the part where the end of the arch meets the end of the straight line, the tent will close in on itself. This leaves you with two circles flat on the ground or the figure 8.
Step 4: Make one circle.
From the figure eight position, the goal is to bring the circles together to form one circle. To do that, just slide the circles in. Then, line up the edges.
Step 5: Secure and pop into the bag.
If your tent comes with a tie or a Velcro lock system, then use it. Then, pop the tent back into its dedicated holder, and zip it up. Your tent is ready for storing and your next adventure.
Step 1: Go for an oval or circle shape.
Stand at the entrance of the beach tent. Grab the sides of the front arch. Push one side towards the center. As you do this, you will notice the tent closing in on itself. Holding one side down to the ground, bring the other side on top of it. This left-over-right or right-over-left movement should leave you with one big or oval circle.
Step 2: Get it into a figure eight.
Next, set the flattened tent on an upright position. Put pressure on the top edge. As you push it down, the tent will slowly get into a figure eight. Pin down the figure onto the ground.
Step 3: Make a mini circle.
The next goal is to combine the two side-by-side circles into a mini-circle. Unlike the larger tent where you slide the circles to bring them together, in the pop-up beach tent type, you have to fold one side over the other.
As you do this, make sure you have a firm hold of the key points. Otherwise, the tent will “spring back to life.” Keep the circles flat on the ground and call in your knee to assist in holding the point where the two circles meet. Gently release hold at the middle point as you fold one circle to the other.
Step 4: Put it in the bag.
The flat mini-circle should then be ready to be tucked back into the bag. If your tent came with an elastic band or any attachment to hold it in place, then make use of that before stashing the tent back into its case.
There you have it! Two step-by-step guides on how to fold pop up tents. While packing tents certainly is not as easy as setting up one, you’ll be able to fold them back in a cinch with some practice. Keep this article bookmarked so that you can access it in a flash!