Wall Tents: Step-by-step set up and take down guide

wall tent

Here at White Duck Outdoors, our wall tents are some of our fan-favorite tents. Wall tents, also known as safari tents, outfitter tents, or hunting tents, are distinguished by their vertical, four-walled frame. Though we also offer canvas cabin tents and bell tents, wall tents are arguably the most durable form of any canvas tent. 

Our Alpha Wall Tent comes in six different sizes (8’x10’, 10’x12’, 12’x14’, 14’x16’, 16’x20’, and 16’x24’) so it’s perhaps our most versatile tent. Unlike our bell tents, which can be set up or taken down in as little as 10 to 15 minutes,  our canvas wall tents require a bit more involvement when it comes to setting them up and taking them down, but the process is still quite simple!

Preparing to Set Up Your Wall Tent

With any tent, no matter the style, shape, or size, it’s important to make sure you’ve chosen a viable site for your tent before you begin the setup process. Look for a flat, dry surface, free of rocks, sticks, and other debris. Grass or fallen leaves can make for a softer sleeping surface, but ensure there aren’t hidden obstructions underneath, like rocks. If there are just a few sticks or rocks on the ground, that’s okay, but be sure to clear them away before laying out your tent. 

You also want to be a fair distance away from streams or other water sources, which may rise and flood your campsite during a rainstorm. Nothing’s worse than waking up in a puddle! Try to remain on a higher plane of elevation from any water sources if at all possible, as well. 

You should also look for gullies and other drainages coming from uphill, which could run water down into your site. In addition, aim to pitch your tent away from overhanging trees and other foliage, as sap and bird droppings can fall onto your tent and dirty the canvas outer. No matter which size or model of our cotton canvas wall tents you’ve purchased, all the tools you need to set up your tent are included. So let’s get started!

How to Set Up Your Wall Tent

The included materials you have will vary depending on the size of your wall tent, but in general, the setup process remains the same. 

1. Lay Out the Tent and Materials

It’s extremely important to lay every component out before you assemble the tent, which will make the pitching process as fast and easy as possible. Take the tent cover, poles, and angle kits out from their waterproof bags. Then sort out all frame pieces, such as the poles and angle kits. The adjustment pins on poles and angle kits are color-coded either golden (middle) or silver (side) to simplify this process.

Meanwhile, the foot poles feature a base plate with a buckle clip lock system at the end, so they’re easily recognizable. 

As you’re laying out the tent, be sure to determine the orientation (where you want the entrance to be) and position the angle kits and tent frame accordingly, laying out the pieces in the order in which they will be used.

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2. Assemble the Tent Frame

Now it’s time to assemble the frame, which gives your wall tent its structure. Assemble the middle ridge, forming one long piece, using the three-way and four-way golden angle kits. Place the roof poles into the angle kits to complete the frame, then, attach side ridge poles one by one along the edges of this middle ridge using the silver angle kits. 

At this point, it’s important to look down the frame to make sure that all the Side Ridge, Middle Ridge, and Roof Poles are in line and properly positioned in the angle kits as per their color codes (golden and silver). Once all components are in place, attach the steel wire onto the top of the tent frame on both the side (silver) and middle (golden) angle kits.

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3. Install Foot Poles (One Side ONLY)

Now that the frame is up, attach foot poles (the ones with base plates at the end) onto the end of the side ridge poles on one side of the tent. Do this by lifting the edge of the tent frame and placing the foot poles into the angle kits of the side ridge poles. 

All of the pins on the tent poles and angle kits are color-coded, so the color of the pole button should match the one on the angle kit. As you get better at setting up and taking down your wall tent, you may not have to check this as much, but your first few times make sure you’re keeping this in mind. 

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TIP: For now, ONLY put the foot poles into the tent on one side, which will make the next step easier. You’ll install the foot poles on the other side after you put the canvas tent cover onto the frame.

4. Place Tent Cover onto the Frame

Once the roof is together and the frame is low to the ground at one side, it’s time to put the canvas tent onto the frame. Before beginning, unzip all door zippers to prevent strain on zippers, and flip up the side walls above the eaves of the tent to allow for easy installation of the remaining foot poles. It also helps to tie up the stove jack flap.

Now, pull the tent cover over the roof, making sure to orient the front door as desired and position the tent so it’s over the frame at all angles. Grab the bottom part of the tent and pull up and over the frame.

As you pull the sidewalls of the tent to ground level over the frame, keep it even as you pull. The angles of the tent wall should match the angles of the frame. Work it over the frame gradually. Make adjustments to even or square the tent as you go.


TIP: Adjust your tent to the frame with care. Do not pull hard on your tent or the seams and zipper doors will be weakened. The canvas fabric should completely cover the tent smoothly, without requiring any force. 

TIP: Do not drag the tent cloth when assembling and dismantling to avoid damage to the canvas.

5. Install Remaining Foot Poles

Now that the canvas cover is on the tent frame, install the remaining foot poles on the opposite side of the tent so that the tent is completely freestanding.

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6. Hammer in the Stakes

Now it’s time to secure the tent to your camping surface. Place the stakes through the guylines, staking down the perimeter of the tent. In line with each bungee cord on the eaves of the tent, place a stake in the ground at least five feet away from the tent, attaching and tightening the guylines gently through the metal runners to adjust the tension. 

Ensure you’re pounding the stakes so that the top of the stake is touching the ground. The first place you should stake is through the bottom eyelet at the front door and back wall. Also, be sure to stake the mud flap at each section. 

Jpegs are used to stake the foot pole into the ground (make sure the clip at the end of the foot pole’s base plate is locked), whereas Vpegs (pictured below) are used to stake the guy lines attached to the bungee cord outside the wall tent to the ground, which you then adjust the tension of accordingly.

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TIP: Stakes should be driven in at a 45-degree angle away from the tent if possible for maximum security. Guy ropes are approximately at the same angle as the tent roof. In case of high winds, tie the guy ropes to trees, stumps, or logs. Another method is to have two guy ropes and stakes for each eave corner.

TIP: All the guy ropes need to follow the lines of the seams in the roof. Adjust the guy rope slider to allow for adjustment in both directions. This is important so that the tent stays symmetrical and tension is evenly spread.

7. Insert the Groundsheet

Finish setting up your wall tent by laying the groundsheet inside the tent. 

When you do so, be sure to fold the mud flap inside and put the groundsheet on top of it to prevent insects or water from coming inside the tent.

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How to Take Down and Store Your Wall Tent

Before storing your tent, the most important thing is that the tent body and all included components are dry. Packing away a wet tent will contribute to mold and mildew growth on the material, reducing the lifespan of the tent.

Of course, sometimes rainstorms hit, and drying your tent completely simply isn’t possible. If drying your tent before packing it up isn’t possible, be sure to unpack it and hang it out to dry within 72 hours after you return home.

1. Clean the Tent

After the tent is dry and you’ve removed all your gear, thoroughly sweep out the inside of the tent. Clear out all trash, leaves, sticks, and as much dirt or debris as possible. Any dirt left in the tent will be pressed into the canvas when the tent is rolled up, which is no good! 

Before removing the tent cover from the frame, be sure to clean the inside and outside sections of your mud flap with the help of a towel. Also, make sure all windows and doors are zipped up before you begin breaking the tent down.

2. Packing the Tent

When packing up the tent, fold your walls to the inside so the interior of your tent always touches the inside of the walls to keep the inner tent clean. Then, take down your tent in reverse order of assembly. 

First, take out the Jpegs. When taking out these stakes, do not pull by using the canvas wall, since this might damage the tent material. Use a claw hammer instead to pull the stakes out directly.

Once the stakes are out, disassemble the frame by removing the foot poles, then the canvas cover and the remaining poles. Count the components while packing the tent and poles back into their bags to make sure you have everything stored properly!

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3. Storing the Tent

Storing your tent only after it’s dry is the most important part of storage. As mentioned above, be sure to let your tent air out and get completely dry before you pack it away for an extended period. 

In addition, store your tent in a cool, dry place with good ventilation, which will stop mold or mildew from building up on the canvas, and ideally keep it out of direct sunlight. 

With proper care and storage, your canvas bell tent will last for countless seasons to come.


Note: The natural waterproofing of cotton canvas means it expands slightly the first time it is exposed to water. This means your tent may leak slightly the first time it’s exposed to the elements. The cotton fibers will then swell and close up, achieving their maximum waterproofing. Any leakage will be minor, but to avoid this, you can hose your tent down at home with water and let it dry out before taking it on its first camping trip.

Although the wall tent set up and takedown process is more involved than the process for setting up and taking down bell tents, wall tents are perhaps the most sturdy, spacious, and durable canvas tents in existence, so the extra preparation time pays off! Besides, the process gets easier and easier every time.

So, now that you know how to prepare, set up, take down, and store your White Duck Outdoors canvas wall tent, it’s time to head out into the wilderness and start camping!