Camping in the great outdoors does come with some risks. Wind is one of the most substantial forces that can cause a tent to fail or blow away entirely. But just how much wind can a tent withstand? The short answer is that tents can withstand wind speeds of 15-30 miles per hour.
There are other factors that influence the wind resistance of a good quality tent. For starters, tents are more than just a membrane, some guy lines, and a couple of tent stakes. A tent also involves a frame, and much of its integrity in the face of wind depends on how it has been pitched.
With a bit of knowledge, you can ensure your family tent stays standing or at least grounded during the next 30+ mph gust of wind.
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Factors Influencing the Wind Speed a Tent Can Withstand
While wind speed may seem to be a simple enough concept, there are other elements that influence whether a 40 mph wind will rip your guy ropes and turn your tent into a balloon or not.
Type of Tent
Not all tents are similar. Tents come with a weather rating.
One to Two Season Tents
A one or two season tent is a basic tent that has some limited waterproofing. Such a tent is designed to keep bugs out, not wind. Therefore, a one or two season tent will easily rip.
The inner tent frame of these two types of tents is usually made from fiberglass rods that won’t be able to stand up to anything more than 15-30 mph gusts.
A Three Season Tent
A three season tent is much more sturdy, and this tent is designed with the elements in mind. It will be able to withstand much more severe wind gusts, though anything upward from 30 mph gusts will begin to challenge the tent’s structural integrity.
The benefit of a three season tent is that this type of tent is more waterproof, which will ensure the tent stays dry and standing when the wind is accompanied by rain or hail.
Winds rarely blow at a consistent speed. While winds may be measured in mph, this is usually the steady wind speed that is experienced. Once gusts start blowing from different directions, it can substantially increase the wind speed your tent experiences.
When pitching your tent, it is important to consider the wind direction. When the wind gusts straight at the entrance of a tent, it can cause the tent to become detached and blow away. When the wind resistance offered by the tent opening is greater than the power of the guy ropes, it can cause the tent to quickly fail.
Therefore, be sure to pitch the side of your tent into the wind to prolong your tent’s ability to withstand the winds.
Natural Wind Shields and Threats
If you are fortunate enough to be near a natural windshield such as a tall tree or a fallen log, you can further anchor your tent to this fixed point. In high winds, it is essential that your tent is the best quality as nothing below a three season tent will withstand powerful gusts.
Nature can also catch you unaware by launching natural projectiles such as branches, seed pods, and debris at your tent during a windstorm. These become projectiles, which can rip or damage your tent’s structural integrity further and increase the risk of tent failure.
Temperature of the Wind
The temperature of the wind you are facing will also influence the staying power of your tent. Freezing cold and boiling heat all strain the strength of the materials of your tent.
Heat can melt or fray guy ropes and acrylic side panels of the tent. Extreme cold can easily cause guy ropes to become brittle and snap. Even the anchor stakes can become brittle when they are rusted with use in the face of a snow storm.
Wind and Other Elements
A wet tent will be less durable and wind resistant. With the added weight of a waterlogged tent flap, it is easy for the tent to collapse under a few forceful gusts.
Likewise, other elements that can further cause your tent to fail in strong wind include falling branches, hail, and an incorrectly pitched tent. Even failing to service and inspect your tent annually can lead to micro wear weaknesses that can cause your tent to become unsound and blow away.
How to Pitch a Tent to Be Windproof
When you are aware that there will be strong winds approaching, pitch your tent so the narrowest section faces into the wind. This will reduce the space your tent occupies, thereby limiting the amount of drag the wind can exert on the tent.
Other tips to follow include:
- Buy the best quality tent you can afford so you are prepared if there are strong winds while you’re camping. A tent such as the Forceatt Tent for 2 and 3 Person is designed to withstand strong winds.
- Use a hammer to secure the titanium or steel tent stakes in the ground. These stakes should be difficult to take out by hand or your tent won’t withstand the winds.
Choose an inverted V-shaped stake where the V-shape will bite into the soil more solidly to help secure the tent ropes. Hammer the pegs into the ground at a 45-degree angle, facing away from the tent.
- Pitch your tent near some form of natural protection when you anticipate windy weather. This may mean pitching your tent in the lee side of a boulder or behind a sturdy tree. If there’s nothing better around, you can always park your vehicle on the wind side of the tent to create a deflective barrier.
How Much Wind Can a Tent Withstand: FAQs
What wind speed is bad for tents?
Anything over 30 mph winds can challenge your tent. Lightweight season one and two tents will struggle to remain upright due to their weaker materials. A three and four season tent may offer better wind resistance, and if pitched correctly, this tent will be stronger.
What to do with a tent in high winds?
When you’re out camping, consider the following if you experience sudden high winds:
- Park your vehicle as a barrier between the tent and the wind
- Place additional guy ropes with weights to help keep the tent anchored down
- Use duct tape to secure zippers and tent flaps
- Take a tarp with you when camping to reinforce the tent as a good quality tarp can shield the tent
- Repair any minor tears with a tent patch to prevent the tent being further ripped open
How much wind is too windy for camping?
Tents are designed to easily accommodate winds up to 25-30 mph, though this starts pushing the upper limits. A three season tent may be able to withstand more wind when pitched correctly. When the weatherman indicates wind speeds in excess of 40 mph, it is best to stay home.
Are air tents good for windy weather?
An air tent has inflated beams for support, instead of fiberglass or aluminium poles. This means the air tent is more flexible. An air tent will bend in windy weather and then snap back into shape without breaking. Being so flexible, an air tent is a good option for moderately windy weather.
Camping is a ton of fun, and it’s something you can do with the whole family, but you also want your family to be safe.
Investing in a high-quality three or four season tent will increase your chances of weathering a wind storm, but when winds exceed 40 mph, it is time to head home or even better, stay home.