Just as their name implies, pop-up tents practically set themselves up.
Simply take them out of their bag, and—poof!—like magic, you have a fully functioning shelter.
However, folding up a pop-up tent and squeezing it back into its bag is a different story.
Below we show you how to fold a pop-up tent step-by-step, some important pre-folding tips, plus a video to make learning the process that much easier!
How to Fold a Pop-Up Tent
Whether you need to know the basics for folding a pop-up camping tent, play tent or beach pop-up tent, we’ve compiled a list of general tips to follow to help you out.
Keep in mind the instructions below may not pertain to your tent explicitly. However, most pop-up tents typically fold in a similar fashion, so even if your tent is different from other standard tents, you can get a general idea of what to do from our instructions.
- Clean the tent: You don’t want to fold up a dirty tent since it can damage the material during storage and attract bugs. So, be sure to pick up the garbage and sweep up any dirt and debris.
If the tent has stains or mud splashes, you can use a damp sponge or moist cloth with water and mild soap to thoroughly clean it. Try to do so before the stains or mud entirely dry, as you can wash them more manageably when they’re fresh. If your tent needs a thorough washing, check out our guide on how to clean a tent for our exact step-by-step process.
- Dry and air out the tent: Before packing up the tent, let it dry first. Folding a wet tent can lead to damage and mold build-up. If it isn’t dirty or hasn’t gotten wet, then at least let it air out for an hour before packing it up.
- Untether the tent: You can’t start folding without first untethering the tent. Before you start packing up the tent, remove all of the metal stakes that keep your tent secured to the ground. Wash and dry the stakes off after removal and store them in your tent bag.
- Remove the tarp: If your tent comes with a tarp or secondary layer for sun and rain protection, then take this off, fold it, and set it in the bag as well.
Important: It’s essential to follow the cleaning and drying steps, especially if you don’t plan to use your tent for some time. If you skip these steps, you’ll most likely end up with a moldy tent. Yikes!
Now that you’ve taken all of the pre-folding precautions, you can start to fold the pop-up tent. To take preparation even further, let’s watch a super quick take-down video and then walk through each step.
Folding a Pop-Up Tent Video
For visual learners, it helps to actually see someone fold up a pop-up tent to really understand the process. Here’s an example using the popular Ayamya Pop-up tent
Now, let’s walk through how to take down a pop-up tent step-by-step.
While these are general directions, the process is the same or similar for most pop-up tent models.
I recommend looking at your tent’s owner’s manual for exact step-by-step instructions. If you don’t have or can’t find your owner’s manual, these general directions should set you down the right path!
Step 1: Grab the two top points of the tent and bring them together.
To get into the correct position, situate yourself on the side of the tent that’s perpendicular to the tent door. Then, locate the two high arches that create the top point of your tent. Grab the two points and bring them together with one hand.
Step 2: Grab the back end of your tent and fold it to meet the middle.
With your free hand, grab the smaller arch near your tent back, more toward the top. Pull that arch to meet the two points your one hand already holds together. Once the three ends meet, transfer all three into one hand.
Step 3: Bring the front arch together to meet the other points.
Just as you want your tent door open for airing it out, you’ll need the entry available to fold it up, too to release any air trapped inside. With your free hand, grab the top of the arch from above the door. Then, fold the front inwards towards the rest of the tent. At this point, your pop-up tent should look something like a taco.
Step 4: Stand your tent upright and fold it inwards.
While maintaining a firm grip with one hand, turn your tent upwards. Next, use your free hand to push the highest point of the tent down to the ground. The tent should start to close on itself while the arches in your other hand, remain on the outside.
Step 5: Twist the tent to form two circles, then fold them over each other.
After folding the tent downwards, twist it slightly so the arches produce two circles side by side, similar to an infinite symbol. Fold one circle over the other like you’re closing a folder, and line up the edges so that you execute the folding as neatly as possible.
Step 6: Secure the tent if it has such features.
If your pop-up tent is like one of the many models that come with secure attachments to keep it from popping open, you can utilize that feature now. If your tent does not have any of these features, hold it firmly until you’ve stored it where you need it.
Step 7: Place the tent back into its bag.
Carefully insert your folded tent into the accompanying tent bag. You’ll know you’ve folded it tightly enough if it slides into its case with ease. The last precaution? Zip, cinch, or seal the bag.
Remember, even the best pop-up tent can be difficult to take down. And while folding your tent may not be as straightforward as setting one up, with these guidelines, you can learn to fold them back down quickly with some practice.