Whether it's Bonnaroo in Manchester, TennesseeLouder Than Life in LouisvilleKentucky, or any of the other countless music festivals across the country, one of the most important things you can do is be prepared. Every festival is different, but there are some things you can do to prepare regardless of which festival you're jetting off to, and knowing how to stake your tent is one of the best ways to be prepared.

To Tent or Not to Tent When Camping at a Festival

There are some mixed opinions on the use of an actual tent but personally, I don't feel secure trying to sleep under just a pop-up canopy. We use an 8-person darkroom tent that measures 9x10 with a 10x10 pop-up canopy over it. This gave us the opportunity to sleep a little longer each day.

If you're using a tent, and you're able, place it on the west end of your site, farthest from the point of sunrise. This will help it stay cooler just a little bit longer. We use a total of four 10x10 pop-ups. One over our tent, two as shared “living space” in the middle, and one on the east end of camp where the other half our crew slept. Don't forget a heavy duty tarp, slightly smaller than your tent's foot print. Placing one of these under your tent can protect your tent floor from any sharp grass or rocks that may be on the ground. By making sure it's a little smaller than the tent itself you prevent the possibility of rain catching, running under, and pooling under your tent.

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Best Way to Stake Your Pop-Up Canopy

When it comes to securing and setting up the campsite, pop-up tents, etc… I initially thought that I may have been overpreparing, but honestly, I am grateful that I was a bit extra when it came to staking down our campsite. The storm that tore through on Sunday night of Bonnaroo 2023 left tents and canopies a mangled mess come Monday morning, but our set up held tight.

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Screw-In Stakes Saved the Day

We bought screw-in stakes like you would use for a dog tie-out – one for each of the four corners of our campsite, plus one for each “joint” where the legs of two 10 x 10s meet. We then use ratchet straps to secure the canopies to the screw-in stakes. This added stability and security, and using the screw-in stakes, we didn’t have guy lines to trip over or encroach on anyone else's campsite. The video below is the reference I used for doing it this way.

Proper Staking Techniques Are Important

If you use straight stakes for a tent or a pop-up, be sure you put them into the ground the proper way: at a 45-degree angle, with the head of the stake farthest from your canopy leg or tent. This will help prevent them from pulling up out of the ground as easily and hopefully keep your tent from going flying.

Pro Tip: Cheap solar lights from the dollar store are a great addition to mark your stakes so you don’t trip over them or their guy lines at night!

Air Mattress Is the Way for Me

Much like the tent or no-tent argument, there are mixed opinions on air mattresses for camping festivals. Personally, I want to be able to sleep next to my partner and not do it on the ground. We have a double-tall queen-sized air mattress that we have used in the past and have since added a large, queen-sized folding cot to get it up off the ground. It feels much more like a real bed this way.

Prepping Your Air Mattress in Advance

To prevent the usual deflating issues, I aired up our mattress in advance at home in my basement and left it for several days. Occasionally, going down to add more air because it was new and I wanted to give it a chance to stretch itself out. I also have a USB-rechargeable air pump from Amazon and once inflated at Bonnaroo, I only had to ad a little more air to the mattress once or twice.

Regardless of how you plan to camp at your next music festival, remember to look out for your neighbor and each other. ❤

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Gallery Credit: Kat Mykals

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