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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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16 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!

  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.

  6. I made something for pitching my tarp using 2 inch cotter pins. You just bend the ends to make a T and attach a cord through the eye They work ok, but these look much better. The price is very reasonable.

  7. I’ve tried these out in my duck blind and they work pretty well for me. It’s only been a couple months so we’ll see if they hold up long term, but I’m happy with them so far.

  8. Unfortunately I did not know about those when the big flower pots on my porch blew over and cracked… The anchor shown has the significant disadvantage that is easily falls into the gap when setting up. If you can’t reach into the space below the deck – it’s gone. There are two other version that are better in my view: (1) same fishbone shape but with a spring around it so it is clamped to the deck even when not roped. They are about 16g/piece. The spring is rather soft and does not fully lock the anchor, it just prevents it from falling through the cracks. (2) A version with just wire double hook and spring design (14g), which is minimally lighter but possibly not as robust with strong load (I didn’t test this). Weights are without carabiner. Both are quite inexpensive on a certain Chinese sales plattform if you search for “deck anchor”, or “octopus deck anchor” for the second one. You can easily make these yourself if you have some struts (is that the right term?) from an old parasol or other stiff wire and anything to secure them sitting around.

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