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How To Protect Your Tent When Camping

More and more often, campers are reporting robberies and stolen gear – stop playing around

Whether you’re an experienced camper or a beginner planning your first camping trip, you need to know how to protect your tent – there’s no way around that. If it’s rain that concerns you, we got you covered; if it’s thieves, we also have you covered. If it’s both, well, you’re in luck: this article was written for you. Let’s get started

Protecting Your Tent From Intruders or Thieves

Understanding Tent Zippers and Doors

The tent door is the main point of entry and exit to your tent, so understanding how you can use tent zippers is essential. Most tents come with dual zippers, which can be locked together, providing an extra layer of security. While using dual zippers may not be foolproof, it can prevent opportunistic thieves and is certainly way better than not using anything.

Remember: you cannot be too cautious nowadays.

Invest in Tent Locks

Last month we wrote about how people normally lock a tent: via a tent lock.

Very briefly (because you can read the article here for more detail), these are specially designed for tents and ensure that the tent zippers remain securely closed. In other words, to open the tent by sliding its zippers, you either need the lock combination or to break the lock.

Because of this, you should remember that using a tent lock can be a double-edged sword: while it keeps intruders out, it can also make it difficult for you to exit your tent fast in case of an emergency.

Combination Locks

If you’re into tent locks, then you need to know about combination locks: these are tent locks that instead of being locked and unlocked by a key, they require a combination code (normally 3 or 4 digits). As long as you & and your family or friends are the only ones who know the combination, a combination lock will be easier to operate since you won’t need to be afraid of losing the key.

PS: obviously do not choose an easily guessable combination like “0000”.

Use a Flexible Cable Lock

Another option within locks that you can consider is a flexible cable lock.

This type of lock can be threaded through the tent’s zipper pulls and then secured around a heavy or fixed object, ensuring that your tent remains secure.

The Importance of The Sleeping Bag

One of the major unspoken rules in camping is: always keep your sleeping bag close to you.
One of the major unspoken rules in camping is: always keep your sleeping bag close to you.

Your sleeping bag is a crucial piece of camping gear that is normally a target for theft so if you always keep it within your reach, you minimize the risk of it being stolen.

Storing Valuables Safely

While it’s tempting to keep all your valuables inside the tent, it’s normally a wise move to distribute them/keep them in different places.

For example, if you’re car camping, you should keep some items inside your car or invest in portable safes. Although a basic move, this ensures that even if someone manages to breach into your tent, they won’t walk away with all your valuables.

Gear Safety

Apart from your tent and your sleeping bag, other camping gear like stoves, lanterns, and chairs can also be a target for thieves. Always ensure they are stored safely when not in use and if you’re away from the campsite, consider packing them in the car or using additional locks.

Be Neighborly

Finally, many times the best security comes from building relationships.

Make friends with your neighbors on your next camping trip. Not only you meet new people and your children can play with new friends, a close-knit camping community can look out for each other, ensuring that everyone’s tents and gear remain safe.

How To Stop Someone From Stealing Your Tent – The Summary Version

Before we talk about how you can protect your tent against natural elements like the rain, let’s close the loop on preventing thefts and avoiding that someone steals your tent or camping gear.

When planning your next camping trip, take a look at this list of quick but effective tips – they will make your trip safer overall.

  • Lock Your Tent Zipper: Use a small padlock or combination lock to secure your tent zipper and make it difficult for someone to easily enter your tent

  • Choose a Visible Campsite: Set up your tent in a spot where other campers can see it. The presence of potential witnesses can deter someone from attempting to steal your tent or gear

  • Get to Know Your Neighbors: Introduce yourself to nearby campers and meet new people! A close-knit camping community is more likely to look out for one another, enhancing campsite security

  • Use Reflective Cords or Flags: Attach these to your tent to make it easily noticeable, especially at night. This will likely discourage potential thieves as your tent becomes harder to move without drawing attention

  • Store Valuables in a Gear Safe: Instead of leaving your valuable camping gear outside your tent, store it inside when you’re away or sleeping. Alternatively, consider using a lockable storage box or your car to keep your valuables safe

  • Mark Your Tent: Personalize your tent with markings or stickers. This not only makes it more easily identifiable but also less appealing to potential thieves who might find it harder to resell it

  • Avoid Displaying Expensive Gear: Flashy and expensive gear can attract unwanted attention so keep those items out of plain view when you’re not using them (we are big proponents on not taking luxury items when camping anyway)

  • Stay Alert: Always be aware of your surroundings and any unfamiliar people lurking around. If you notice someone suspicious, let your neighbors or campsite management know

Protecting Your Tent From The Rain

Your tent may be waterproof, but you'll still need to protect it in tough weather
Your tent may be waterproof, but you’ll still need to protect it in tough weather

Ensuring that your tent remains dry when camping is crucial not only for your comfort but also for the safety of your belongings. Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose the Right Location: Always prioritize setting up your tent on elevated ground as this prevents water from pooling around your tent & avoid areas like the base of hills where water can run down. If you’re in a crowded campground, try to find a spot that’s not at a low point

  • Use a Groundsheet or Tarp: Place a groundsheet or tarp beneath your tent. This creates an essencial barrier between your tent’s base and the wet ground, preventing moisture from seeping through

  • Invest in a Rainfly: A rainfly is a separate waterproof cover designed to fit over the roof of your tent (it basically waterproofs your tent). Always ensure that it’s taut and angled so that any water runs off and doesn’t pool on to

  • Seal the Seams: Over time, the waterproof sealing on your tent’s seams can wear out, so consider re-sealing them before your trip. If you don’t know, waterproof sealants can be purchased from most outdoor stores

  • Proper Tent Zippers Care: The tent’s zippers are potential weak points for water entry, so ensure they’re always fully closed, especially during rain

  • Avoid Cooking or Eating Inside the Tent: We know this might be tempting, especially when it’s raining, but cooking inside can increase moisture levels, making the interior damp. If you really must do it, make sure you have proper ventilation and there’s air flowing

  • Use Tent Padlocks Sparingly: While tent padlocks can be useful for security, they should be used carefully during rainy weather. Keeping the tent zipped up and locked can reduce ventilation, leading to condensation buildup inside, so if you’re using them, occasionally open the tent to let it air out

  • Ventilate Your Tent: Even when it’s raining, it’s essential to ensure that your tent is well-ventilated. Good ventilation reduces any condensation buildup inside, which can make the interior damp & create mold. Use the tent’s built-in vents or occasionally open the doors or windows

  • Stay Prepared: Finally, always check the weather forecast before heading out. If rain is expected where you’re going to camp, bring all necessary gear like waterproof jackets, boots, and extra tarps


If you’re trying to protect your tent from rain or from potential thieves when you’re planning a camping trip, you need to remember the main rule: stay alert and always bring all necessary gear and items. If it’s rain you are concerned about, then bring a rainfly, extra clothes and think about ventilation; if you’re just scared of thieves, bring locks and keep your valuables hidden (or don’t bring them at all!).

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Combination Locks Better Than Regular Key Locks for Tents?

Yes. Combination locks eliminate the need for keys, which can be easily lost during a camping trip. However, you need to choose a combination that’s not easily guessable and you can’t forget it.

How Can I Protect My Camping Gear Outside the Tent?

You should pack your gear in your car if you’re not using it. If that’s not possible, then you should use additional locks or chains. Finally, placing gear in a less visible area can also reduce the risk of being robbed.

What Should I Do If My Tent or Gear Gets Stolen During a Camping Trip?

You need to immediately inform the campsite management and local authorities about the theft and provide as much detail as possible. Rtivities’ pro tip: take pictures of your valuable gear before your trip, so it’s easier for the local authorities to identify it. This will help you protect your tent when camping proactively.