7 Rules Of Tent Etiquette That Make You A Great Tent Mate

On a high altitude trek, there are enough challenges to put up with – the weather, the strain from trekking, the lack of homely comfort. When this is the case, a tent mate ought not to be a problem.

We have always held that a good trekker makes for a great tent mate. One of his prime qualities is that he thinks “giving is better than getting.” Added to that, he is genuinely concerned about his tent mates, even if they are strangers. He’ll do everything under his control to make his tent mate’s stay comfortable.

Keep your shoes outside your tent, in the balcony area. If it is raining, put it in a plastic bag. Picture by Amrita Krishnan

So here are a few rules of tent etiquette that you as a trekker should follow to make camping easy for your tent mate. Hopefully, you can set an example so that your tent mates reciprocate too.

1. Change your socks everyday. Even though you think your socks aren’t smelling after two days of trekking, there’s a good amount of bacteria growing on it. This bacteria latches onto the insides of sleeping bags and tents and spreads. Over the next few days, the sleeping bags and tents begin to smell. The very thought of it makes me cringe. So please change your socks every two days.

2. Keep your shoes and used socks ONLY in the balcony area. If it is raining, put it in a plastic bag and keep it out. Do not bring it into the tent at any cost.

3. Don’t constantly unpack and repack. I always see and hear people shuffling their belongings in their tents. This is the sign of an inefficient trekker. If you are leaving from Camp A to B, keep your requirements for Camp B in the top layer of your backpack. Your toilet essentials should be in outer flaps. Ideally, your aim should be to never unpack fully. That way you don’t inconvenience your tent mates, making them shuffle in and out of the tent and struggle for space.

4. Keep your things neatly organised. This stems in from my previous point. If your backpack is efficiently packed, you won’t really leave things lying around. Apart from a few basic things that you need – your head lamp and cutlery, nothing else should lie around in the tent. Keep your backpacks stacked neatly in the balcony area, even if you aren’t in the tent. So when you or your tent mate enter, the tent looks spacious and clean.

5. Don’t dry clothes on top of your tent. I’ve seen trekkers do this on many of my treks and frankly it looks ugly. The constant wet patch damages the tent over a period of time and the clothes don’t dry either. If you really want to dry clothes, take a small 6-10 ft string with you. Tie this up to two trek poles perhaps and hang the clothes a little away from the campsite.

6. Clean up everyday. It is a myth that you don’t sweat at high altitude. If you’re exercising, you sweat. So every evening, before getting into warm layers, wipe your sweaty parts with a wet tissue or a wet cloth. This makes a BIG difference to your tent mates. If you’re using wet / scented tissues, make sure you put them in a ziplock after use and dispose of them back at home and not at the campsite dustbins.

7. Leave your tent clean for the next set of trekkers. On my previous trek, I entered a tent and saw tissues and wrappers in the side pockets of the tent. This is never welcoming. Our staff members do clean tents often, but they too could miss something. Besides, it is your job to clean up after yourself. So make sure you leave the tent spotless, in a way that you would like to find it.

These are rules of tent etiquette that are practiced world wide. Besides, I’ve noted down just a few of the basic things you can do to comfort your tent mate.

You surely may have other thoughts around this topic. Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

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10 thoughts on “7 Rules Of Tent Etiquette That Make You A Great Tent Mate

  1. Dog n other animals may enter and may not leave any space for you so always ZIP tent fully including balcony area. During Rupin Pass trek it took me 30 minutes to push dog entering my tent when I went to loo past midnight?

  2. This is most essential and basic to any HUMAN, more so to a TREKKER.
    Make a printed pamplet and do distribute to all prior to start of the trek.

  3. Three additional things :
    1. Do not put wet clothes/shoes inside the tent sleeping area.
    2. Please avoid farting in the tent because it will make the tent the worst place to be.

  4. Please do not sit at the spot just as you enter the tent, that is, from where the zip to your tent opens up. Please move to the end of the end side of the zip or inside the tent. This gives other tent mates space to enter the tent, especially when it is freezing or raining and you need to get in fast with a small of the zip of the tent opening, you need that space and to find someone sitting as you enter gives you no space. This is a problem I faced a lot and it made me wait outside our tent for quite a while.

  5. 1. Can we get our own tents? A snoring teammate is the only concern that I had. Another day of trek without proper sleep will just spoil your day.
    2. I remember during one of the treks where the trek lead had mentioned to drink a lot of water. A tentmate of mine had more than few liters of water which is much more than what the person usually drinks. And at night, he/she went to toilet break more than 6 times waking everyone in the tent. On the last day, I was dead tired without sleep for few days, went to dining tent to sleep. And this person even got best trekker award at the end 😀

  6. Honestly, all these things are good to remember, mostly from the perspective of keeping the tent clean for future use for a long time. But the most important thing I feel is if we could all be generous and forgiving, while keeping an open line of civil communication. At worst, the person whose habits are annoying you so much will be sharing your sleep space for only 5-6 nights. Keeping a generous spirit can help you enjoy your trek ten times more.

  7. Loved this article! I hope everyone reads this before they begin their trek. I have two points which are trek etiquette’s, more than tent etiquette’s. Although, it’s not completely in context to this article, I’m posting it here.

    1. Please do not pee on the trail, or along it.
    2. Use earphones if you want to listen to music. Please don’t carry blaring Bluetooth speakers to the mountains. Most people would prefer some quiet time, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

    Happy Trekking!