How to pitch a D of E Tent in Four Steps

September 23, 2019

If your son or daughter is about to embark on their first Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition but hasn’t pitched a tent before, they may benefit from reading these tips.

Pitching a D of E Tent in 4 Steps

D of E Tents

Vango Mirage Cactus 300

Vango Mirage Cactus 300

For the Duke of Edinburgh Award, the kit is either ‘personal’, such as your clothes, or shared among a group. The tent you use for D of E is typically shared.

Tents are usually supplied by the organisation you are doing the D of E with, which your school, Scouts, Girl Guides, or similar, so you wouldn’t normally need to buy a tent for your D of E expedition.

The tent we are showing here is the Vango Mirage 300, which is one of the tents the Duke of Edinburgh Award recommends groups use and is typical of the sort of tent that you may have on your D of E expedition.

Vango Mirage 300 Tent Layout

Vango Mirage 300 Tent Layout

This is a three-person tent, so be prepared to share 😉

A great thing about this tent is that it has a sheltered porch providing somewhere to leave muddy boots and wet items so that you can keep the inside of the tent dry.

Taking the Tent on the Expedition

Although a tent isn’t a personal item, you may be expected to carry the tent or parts of the tent, in your rucksack. (Click here to see a recommended D of E rucksack).

The Vango Mirage can be split between three for example, with one person carrying the poles, another carrying the inner tent and pegs, and another carrying the outer tent.

Pitching the Tent

Your D of E tent will typically consist of the following items:

  • Tent Poles.
  • Waterproof Outer Tent, known as the flysheet.
  • Inner Tent.
  • Tent Pegs.

On most tents, you insert the tent poles into the flysheet (the outer waterproof part of the tent) to pitch it, then insert the inner tent. However, on some tents, you do the opposite and insert the poles to the inner tent, then secure the flysheet over the top.

It’s essential to understand which type of tent you have before starting to pitch.

The Vango Mirage 300 is like many tents, where you pitch the flysheet first.

It may take you a while to pitch your tent the first few times, but it’s quite simple, and you’ll soon get the hang of it.

How to Pitch the D of E Tent Video

Here’s a quick video we created for a quick look at how easy it is. More detailed step-by-step instructions are below the video.

Step 1 – Put the Tent Poles Together

Slot the Tent Poles together

Slot the Tent Poles together

Slot the tent poles together.

Lay the Tent Poles out on the ground

Lay the Tent Poles out on the ground

Lay the tent poles out on the ground. In this case, there are just two straight poles and one angled pole. The tent you use may be slightly different.

Step 2 – Put up the tent

Position the Flysheet

Position the Flysheet

Lay the flysheet (the waterproof outer part of the tent) on the ground where you want the tent to go.

Avoid placing the tent where there are rocks and stones, twigs and branches, or holes and dips in the ground.

Ideally, you want to place the tent somewhere flat.

If there is a slope, position the tent, so your head is lying up the slope when you sleep in it. Don’t position the tent sideways onto the hill. Otherwise, you’ll roll on top of one another when you are asleep.

Insert the poles into the sleeves

Insert the poles into the sleeves

On the flysheet, you will find some sleeves.

Push the tent poles into the sleeves.

It is quicker to pitch the tent if you all help on one pole at a time instead of each doing your own tent pole. One person pushes the pole in; the other people help guide it through the sleeve.

Insert the ends of the pole into the eyelet

Insert the ends of the pole into the eyelet

When the tent poles come out the other side of the tent, you will find a strap with a metal hole in it, called an eyelet.

Insert the end of the tent pole into the eyelet.

Once all the tent poles are in their sleeves its time for the tent to go up.

Starting with the longer poles, push the tent pole into the eyelet on the side of the tent where you pushed the pole into the sleeve.

You’ll notice it won’t go in easily and the tent pole will start to bend. Don’t worry; it’s supposed to bend.

It can be stiff and may take a few of you to do this.

If the tent pole is not going into the eyelet, check that the pole is not caught on the sleeve somewhere. If it still isn’t going in, double-check that you have the poles in the correct sleeves.

The tent poles will bend and hold the tent up

The tent poles will bend and hold the tent up

Once the tent poles are bent and secured in place, you will have the main structure of the tent up.

Step 3 – Pegging Out

The bag of tent pegs

The bag of tent pegs

Locate the bag of tent pegs.

Insert the pegs into the straps at the bottom of the tent poles

Insert the pegs into the straps at the bottom of the tent poles

Find the straps with the eyelets on that the tent poles are inserted into. Give them a pull outwards so that the tent is nice and tight.

Insert a tent peg through the loop in the strap. These are your main ‘anchor points’ that will stop the tent blowing away.

Remember to peg the porch out if your tent has one

Remember to peg the porch out if your tent has one

If your D of E tent has a porch, pull it out and insert the tent pegs.

Once you’ve done that, undo the guy lines (the ropes around the tent) and peg them out too.

Adjust the guy lines with the tensioner. This is the small plastic toggle on the guy line. You can move it to make the guy line tighter.

Go around to the anchor points (the straps with the eyelets) and adjust those too if needed. You want the flysheet nice and tight, which helps water run off the tent if it rains.

Step 4 – Attach the Inner Tent

Attach the inner tent

Attach the inner tent

Unzip the tent and get the inner tent. Spread it out on the tent floor.

The inner tent has toggles on it that go through hoops found on the inside of the tent.

Starting at the back of the tent, insert the toggles into the hoops at the bottom and then work your way up the inside of the tent until all the toggles are attached.

Your tent is now ready for you to set up your sleeping mat and sleeping bag.

The D of E Tent Pitched

The D of E Tent Pitched

We’ve shown the Trangia in the porch for this photo, but we wouldn’t recommend you have a lit Trangia so close to the tent.


Your D of E tent may be slightly different from the Vango Mirage 300. The steps will be very similar to this but read the instructions for your tent. Instructions are usually printed and attached to the tent’s bag.


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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. You might want to add a small paragraph (or even another article) on taking a tent down too. Less exciting in many ways, but good habits in respect of stowing guylines, checking all the pegs are accounted for and bagged, extracting poles properly (don’t just pull them out!) rolling a tent up neatly, and dealing with wet gear are all worthwhile in a DoE context. I recall one occasion when, with a tent all neatly stowed away again in its stuffsack and tightly packed into the rucksack someone said “where’s my mobile?”. Yes, still in the tent in one of the pockets.

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