Pitching a tent can be challenging even in the best of weather. Many tents are just confusing and, often, the directions have been lost. If one has not set the tent up before, it can be hard, as many tents are different — they have different amounts of poles, different lengths of poles, and even different amounts of sheeting that need to be set up. Pitching a tent in foul weather is much worse for a number of reasons. First, it is darker than on a bright, sunny day, and that makes it hard to see what poles got through what loops, how many poles there are supposed to be, and how the main body of the tent is supposed to stand. Second, there is the additional discontent from the rain and wind, or from the snow. This can make the tent hard to handle. Third, there is the added sense of urgency, since the tent is the source of cover, and one of course wants to be out of the foul weather as quickly as possible. In short, it can be a nightmare. There are a few things that can be done, however, to make pitching a tent a quick and painless process, even in the worst of weather.
First, find some cover from the wind. One of the hardest parts about pitching a tent is fighting against the wind, especially if it is gusty and seems to be coming from all directions at once. The sheeting will roll up and fold on itself and blow away entirely if it is left unattended. Sometimes trees can work as a source of cover, if they are very thick and close together, but these are not perfect, as the wind can move through them. What one really wants to find is a large rock or, better yet, the side of a cliff. One should get up as close to this as possible. If there are two rocks or cliff walls that come together, go as far into the middle area as possible without going so far that the tent will not fit. One wants to get the wind under control first, as it will make the rest of the process easier.
After the wind is taken care of, set up some sort of a light source. If the storm is in the middle of the day, it may be alright to go without light; however, if it is in the night, evening, or morning, a storm will make the whole area darker than it would normally be. Setting up a tent correctly without being about to see is more than difficult, so a light source can eliminate much of the problem. Having an outdoor lantern is the best, since it throws up more of a field of light than a flashlight, and putting it at the base of a thick tree will keep it as much out of the weather as possible.
Above all else, be patient. One needs to take one’s time and be deliberate about each step of setting up the tent. This feels almost impossible with rain or snow coming down, but it is necessary. If one goes as fast as possible, working frantically, more mistakes are going to be made. In the long run, this will cost more time than going slowly. It will also be more frusterating, and frustration breeds even further mistakes. It is a perpetuating system that one wants to avoid if at all possible. Going slowly will make sure that the tent gets set up in as little time as possible, and that it gets set up right. The last thing one wants is for the wind to take the tent right back down after it is finished because it has been set up incorrectly.
There are not two ways about it: setting up a tent in foul weather is never going to be a fun and enjoyable activity. Still, if one is careful and works with the environment as much as possible, a tent can be set up quickly and efficiently, even during a storm. This will get one out of the elements and into the shelter without too much in the way of frustration or injury.