How to Pitch a Tent on a Wooden Platform

How to Set Up a Tent on a Wooden Platform

Many state parks, national forests, and national parks have campsites with wooden tent platforms. If you’ve ever tried to set up a tent on one of these, you know what a challenge can be if you have a tent that’s not freestanding and requires tent stakes to erect. While these wooden platforms often have metal anchors or loops located around the perimeter, they’re only useful if you remember to carry extra guylines that are long enough to reach them. Even then, it can be a real clown-show to secure your tent against wind and blowing rain so they don’t get swept away.

However, most wooden camping platforms are covered with parallel boards that have gaps between them to prevent water from pooling on top when it rains. If you can anchor some sort of removable hardware between the boards and under them, you can attach your regular guylines to it and erect your tent as you would on the ground.

These anchors are great for setting up tents on wooden platforms
These anchors are great for setting up tents on wooden platforms

Here’s an example of a tent anchor that I discovered for this purpose and that I now carry when I know I’ll have to pitch my tent on a wooden platform. The picture on the left shows the top and bottom of the anchor, while the one on the right shows how you’d place it in the gap between two boards. Sorry about the lack of focus on this extreme closeup, but you get the idea.

There are a lot of ways you can use these, depending on the thickness of the guylines you have. For example, you can wrap your cord around one of the ends as I’ve done or pass it through one of the holes at the end to secure it.

Weighing 8 grams each, these tent anchors are light enough that you can carry a few of these them in your stake bag if you know you may need to sleep on a tent platform. The bright red color makes them easy to spot if you drop them on the ground or they fall through the cracks in the boards and you need to retrieve them.

Plus they only cost 11 dollars for 10 anchors, so they’re really easy on the wallet. I think they’re a great low impact solution and really like them for this purpose.

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Last updated: 2020-08-09 18:02:26

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About the author

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 7500 miles in the United States and the UK and written over 2500 articles as the founder of SectionHiker.com, noted for its detailed gear reviews and educational content. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine hiking and backpacking, Philip is the author of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free online guidebook of the best backpacking trips in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He also volunteers as a 4 season backpacking leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club, a Long Trail Mentor for Vermont's Green Mountain Club, and a Leave No Trace Master Educator. He lives in New Hampshire.
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12 comments

  1. You mean a Milwaukee cordless screw gun, an extra battery pack (just in case), a box of drywall screws and a package of conduit clamps isn’t the optimal solution? Who’d have known?

  2. Thanks – I had no idea this hardware existed! I usually try to use the existing anchor points or I wrap the guyline around a stick placed below the crack in the board.

    I wanted to also point out a correction: “…while the one on the RIGHT shows how you’d place it in the gap between two boards”

  3. You need to go ultralight. The Dewalt is a few grams lighter than Milwaukee.

    • Messed up the comment. It was supposed to be a reply to Grandpa.

      • Learning such useful things is why this board is so beneficial. I guess I’d better buy some new batteries for the DeWalt to save those grams!

    • Solution fix;
      Guy line; down through board gap, around stick, back up through same gap, taut-line hitch. Tension as needed. Done.
      This doesn’t need a solution that costs money and has weight.
      Sticks are free unless you go to a store to buy them.

  4. That looks like The Perch. Great spot!

    • Indeed it is

    • I woke up one frosty morning at the perch -10 degree windchill above Treeline.. it was early October and it today caught us off guard. Worst part about it was my buddy spilled all the hot coffee right after he brewed it b???

  5. Only ‘problem’ with the anchors is they are sometimes a bit too short if the platform was built from thicker wood. A lumberyard 2×4, measuring 1.5″ is fine. But some platforms are thicker.

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