Are Tunnel Tents Good in the Wind

A girl sitting in front of an orange tunnel tent

When planning a camping trip, you’ll want reliable gear by your side. This is especially true when you’re camping in a windy area. Some campers prefer to have a tunnel tent when camping in these situations. But, are tunnel tents good in the wind?

For some campers, tunnel tents are the number one choice when going into rough and windy weather. However, in order to make them as wind-proof as possible, you’ll need to consider all the factors that come into play and know how to set up your tunnel tent in the wind.

Differences Between Tunnel Dome Tents

A tunnel tent is a bit different from your regular silnylon dome tents. Apart from being shaped like their namesake, they come with a bunch of other peculiarities and perks. Tunnel tents usually have fewer poles than other similar shelter setups. This has numerous advantages, and a few drawbacks as well.

Benefits of Tunnel Tents

Most tunnel tents are much easier to set up than any other type of tent, short of self-inflating. When you pack them properly, you can just peg out the vestibule and then “stretch” the tent out. Insert a couple of tent poles and you’re about done.

Apart from this, tunnel tents offer more headspace inside the tent, which is a luxury you can do without, but it’s hard to go back once you’ve tried it. More headspace has added value if you want to string up a line inside the tent and dry your socks. Just make sure there’s enough airflow to avoid condensation.

Because of their peculiar shape, tunnel tents have very good ventilation. Proper air circulation is especially beneficial when camping in very cold weather where even a bit of condensation can turn into ice in minutes and seep the warmth from inside your shelter. In windy conditions, this can be a lifesaver because it can allow the air to flow through your tent, as long as it is coming from the right angle.

Tunnel Tents Drawbacks

While they do fairly well in the wind, there are some serious challenges when it comes to setting up tunnel tents in a windy area. Since tunnel tents aren’t freestanding, you’ll need to stake them out and deploy a number of guy lines to keep the tent steady. If you’re expecting strong winds, you’ll need more guy lines.

In some areas, it is impossible to place the stakes or affix the guy lines to the ground. This is where you’ll need to get creative.

The tunnel shape is also not the perfect solution when you get caught in a rainstorm or heavy snow. The inverted U shape can bow and allow water to pool on the top. Additionally, since tunnel tents have fewer poles, there is usually more space between them which will bow further under the weight. If you’re not careful, you can wake up with a little pond on top of your tent.

If you have your heart set on a tunnel tent, despite all this, you can still make it work. Make sure you get a durable tent and set it up to counter the elements you’ll encounter on your camping trip. You can even bring an additional tarp to counter precipitation. However, tarps don’t do very well against wind, and if you’re planning on camping in a windy area, you might want to look for alternative solutions we’ll talk about later.

Are Tunnel Tents Good in the Wind?

The short answer is – they can be. As long as you set up your tent properly and know where the wind is coming from. If you can find some natural shelter, this will be an added bonus to a safe camping experience.

A tunnel tent in the Arctic, in front of an Aurora Borealis

There are a lot of ways to properly pitch a tent and they mostly differ depending on what brand, make and model of tent you are pitching. However, there are a few things that all tunnel tents need to have to be considered properly pitched.

  • All stake points firmly affixed to the ground
  • At least 2 guy lines secured to something immovable
  • The vestibule should be completely taut
  • All sides of the bottom edge of the outer tent should touch the ground

How to Set up a Tunnel Tent for Windy Weather

If you’re caught in bad weather and you spot strong winds coming your way, you should probably start looking to make camp, no matter what time of day it is. You have your trusty tunnel tent ready and your first priority will be to find the right location to set up your tent.

Tip: Dome tents are quite popular! There’s a query about whether dome tents are better in the wind and why?

Find the Right Campsite

When looking for a perfect campsite to battle strong winds, you’ll want to head for any safe natural cover you see. Don’t be too picky, though, the sooner you set up your camp, the safer you’ll be.

If you’re able to tell where the wind will be coming from look for places that are sheltered from that side. Hillsides, buildings, and large rocks are the safest bets. Just make sure you clear the area of anything the wind could pick up and drop on your tunnel tent.

Low shrubbery and bushes also make decent windbreaks if you’ve got nothing else to rely on. Apart from softening the winds, these types of natural windbreaks offer protection from things that the wind could carry your way. A branch at 40 mph can tear up even the toughest tunnel tents but a bush can stop it.

Woods do not make good windbreaks because while they offer protection from the winds, they introduce another even greater danger in windy weather. Branches falling from trees and onto your tent can cut any camping trip short. If you have no alternative to pitching a tent under trees, make sure the forest is thick and look for a place that’s not directly under a tree.

Finally, when setting up a tunnel tent for windy weather you should avoid clifftops, hilltops, or any exposed areas with no cover.

Set up Your Tent in the Right Direction

Once you’ve found the perfect spot for your camp, it’s time to pitch the tent. If you have some cover, adjust your tunnel tent to it. Try to hide as much of your shelter as possible behind the windbreaks.

Unfortunately, in some cases, there is no shelter to be found, and you have to pitch your tunnel tent in the open. To avoid turning your tent into a kite, you’ll need to pitch it in the right direction.

You should set up your tunnel tent parallel to the direction the wind is coming from. As little of the tent surface as possible should be directly facing the wind.

And compared to pitching a tent in the wind taking down a tent in the rain is a piece of cake.

Secure the Tent to the Ground Before Raising It

Start with pegging out the vestibule of your tunnel tent and make sure it’s firmly secured to the ground. Then, going from the front to the back of the tent peg put the rest of the points. This will prevent the tent from moving around in the wind while you’re trying to pitch it.

Only after everything has been secured to the ground can you start to insert the tent poles. If you’re having trouble getting them in, you can temporarily take them out one at a time to better adjust the pole. Just make sure you return them after you’re done. You never want to have more than one tent peg out, after you’ve secured the tent to the ground.

Other Windy Weather Camping Tips

Camping in windy weather isn’t a breeze and setting up your tunnel tent in those conditions can become pretty challenging pretty fast. You’ll need to keep your wits about you and have a camping trick, or two, up to your sleeve. Here are some tips that will help you better set up your tent, stay safe and avoid your tent flying off.

  • Be prepared – before going on any trip in nature, you should check the weather forecast from at least 3 different sources.
  • Grooved pegs – they are more resistant to winds and more difficult to pull out of the ground. You can buy them or make your own by filing down your pegs.
  • Learn basic bushcraft skills – making pegs out of wood is one of the most fundamental bushcraft skills. Practice making stakes and have a few extra tie-off points when the winds pick up.
  • Pegs and guylines safety – while you want to have more guy lines to support your tent, don’t overdo it. You don’t want them set up in such a way that will prevent you from moving around the camp without tripping on guylines.
  • Don’t step on your tent – to keep your tent down in windy weather, it is easy to step on it. This can tear the tent or damage it in other ways. Use your knee to hold it down instead.
  • Practice makes perfect – remember to always practice with your gear before you take it out on a trip. After preparing a new tent for its first use and practicing with it a bit, you’ll get the hang of where you can pitch it and how long it will take.

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