Camping in high winds


Whether you’re holidaying in a tent, campervan or other accommodation, camping in high winds can still be perfectly pleasant with the right kit and precautionary measures. While checking the weather forecast before you head out is important to make sure that you sidestep any serious storms, there’s more to it than just that.

Travelling in bad weather conditions is always safer with a group of co-adventurers, just in case there are any unlikely injuries or emergencies. The group will also need to be clued up on preventative measures like protecting your eyes from dust or debris.

With this round-up, you’ll be well prepared for whatever is around the corner under windy conditions, including what to pack, how to position and pitch your tent and specific advice for camping in a tent or staying in a caravan or motorhome in high winds.

Camping in an open mountain landscape (Elias Strale / Unsplash)

What to pack when camping in high winds

1. Windproof coats

Waterproof jackets, while effective at keeping off rainfall, are no match for a windproof jacket. Sold by outdoor gear and camping brands or online retailers, these are made of thin, breathable synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, micro polyester or tricot and act as a barrier against the wind. 

2. Backpacks

You don’t want the wind carrying off any stray belongings, so bring backpacks or bags made from a thick fabric (such as tote bags) to store your clothes, kitchen equipment and other camping gear safely in a sheltered place.

3. Glasses or sunshades

Your eyes are particularly delicate, so shield them from any flies, debris and dust being blown around on the wind by wearing sunshades or glasses.

4. A first-aid kit

A first-aid kit is an essential for any camping trip, and especially in high winds. It’s unlikely you’ll be hurt when you take the right precautions for camping in bad weather, but just in case, a first-aid kit can treat minor injuries and ailments when they occur.

Where to pitch in high winds

1. Pitch away from trees.

While pitching underneath trees might seem like an easy way to shield yourself from the breeze, high winds can cause branches (or even the whole tree) to fall onto your pitch.

If you absolutely cannot avoid pitching in woodlands, examine the canopies for rotten or overhanging branches that could easily be shed in high winds.

2. Pitch beside low bushes.

Low bushes, on the other hand, are unlikely to shed debris in high winds. Instead, they’ll form a nice shield around your pitch by taking the brunt of the wind.

3. Pitch away from piles of leaves, litter or other freestanding items.

These items are prone to getting blown around in the wind and may get into your eyes or potentially damage your tent or caravan. You could sweep away leaves if you need to, or simply go around and pick up any litter before you set up camp.

4. Pitch a metre or two behind your car.

A stationary car can block out a lot of wind, so research which direction the wind will be blowing in when it reaches its peak and then position your car a metre or two in front of your pitch. The vehicle will act as a additional wind break between your tent or caravan, helping you on your way to getting a good night’s sleep.

Advice for camping in a tent in high winds

Whether you’re yet to embark on your camping expedition or you’re already on site and bracing for high winds, there are a few things you can take control of. 

If you’re planning ahead, this may involve considering the type of tent you purchase and planning your course of action upon arrival, while those of you already on your campsite can take precautions to avoid damage to your tent and pitch in a specific way that will fortify your hold.

1. If you’re going to be camping regularly in high winds, consider buying a small four-season tent.

Four-season tents are designed with harsher weather conditions in mind. In particular, they have a thick, rigid skeleton and a low ceiling, which adds extra stability to the structure in high winds.

The less surface area there is for the wind to come into contact with, the better. Small tents are less likely to be blown away because the breeze will easily pass over and around the small surface area.

2. Bring a tent repair kit for emergencies.

A hole, tear or a broken pole will easily interfere with your camping trip, so take care to pack all the equipment you need to perform common tent repairs.

3. Pack some ear plugs and take steps to ensure a proper night’s sleep.

With the wind howling, you may find it tricky to get to sleep, and stay asleep. One way to deal with this is by arming yourself with a reliable pair of ear plugs and nailing your bedtime routine using our guide to getting a proper night’s sleep in a tent.

4. Camp with a group of people.

As well as having extra troops to hold down any stray guy lines or grab drifting belongings, camping with a group of people adds extra weight to hold down your tent in the night.

5. Take down any awnings, porches and other extensions.

Awnings, porches and other extensions increase the surface area of your tent, something you want to avoid in high winds. They’re also easily blown away.

6. Avoid starting a firepit.

Aside from the difficulty of getting a firepit alight in high winds, you won’t want any stray sparks or flames getting anywhere near your tent. Ideally you should off campfires until the wind dies down, but if you do need to get one going to cook food or other essential reasons, set it up in an area away from tents, trees and other flammable objects.

7. Clear up any existing firepits.

Make sure that any campfire remnants are cleared away after use so that ashes, wood and other debris aren’t blown onto your pitch. They could cause damage to your tent or get in your eyes.

How to pitch a tent in high winds

Pitching your tent in high winds doesn’t have to be any more difficult than the traditional method. However, there are some checks that will ensure that your tent is securely tied to the ground, and a few hacks regarding the orientation of your tent that you’ll want to bear in mind.

1. Pitch your tent when it’s less windy.

Wait for a break in the wind before you begin pitching your tent. Otherwise, flapping parts and stray items can easily complicate the pitching process. If you can’t avoid setting up camp in the wind, consider weighing bags, pegs and other parts down with rocks or belongings when you’re not handling them.

2. Pitch your tent with the lowest and narrowest wall facing the wind.

Gusts of wind that meet the lowest, narrowest side of your tent are easier to deflect than those that come into contact with tall and wide walls.

3. Position your doors away from the wind.

One thing you don’t want is wind getting inside of your tent. With no opening to let wind pass through, your tent will act like a balloon if it’s not properly tied and weighed down, resulting in the worst-case scenario: a blown-away tent.

4. Firmly hammer your tent stakes at a 45-degree angle.

Angled tent stakes are sturdier and less likely to be torn from the ground. Hammer them firmly into the ground so that they don’t come loose in high winds.

5. Double check that your guy lines are secure.

Your guy lines are what stakes your tent and your rainfly to the ground, so make sure that you have correctly tied your guy lines and that they are securely attached to your tent stakes. We’d recommend using a secure knot such as a bowline knot to tie your guy lines if your tent doesn’t already provide hooks.

6. Consider adding additional guy lines.

 Additional guy lines will reinforce your tent, making it less likely to collapse in the breeze.

7. Consider keeping the rainfly down.

While the rainfly is a valuable asset in rainy conditions, which often come hand-in-hand with high winds, it is vulnerable to billowing in the wind due to the gap between the fly and the tent roof. If there isn’t any rain in the forecast, it may help to leave your rainfly down, as they can pull on the roof of your tent in the wind.

Is it safe to camp in high winds?

If there’s a severe storm rolling in and weather warnings issued, it’s probably best to reschedule your camping holiday. However, high winds don’t necessarily have to put an end to your plans.

As long as you pack the right gear, wear sensible clothes for camping in bad weather and be smart about how and where you set up your pitch, you’ll be well prepared for high winds.

What is considered too windy for camping in a tent?

Wind speeds over 30mph could damage your tent, according to the Met Office. However, taking the right precautions will help you to battle very high winds:

  • Camp with a group of people if possible.

  • Pitch away from trees and sheltered by low bushes.

  • Position your tent so that the short, narrow edge is facing the wind.

  • Hammer tent pegs firmly into the ground, add additional guy lines and check that they are secure.

Advice for staying in caravans or motorhomes in high winds

1. Position the vehicle so that it is facing the wind head-on.

The wind will batter any holiday home that is facing sideways, so face the wind head-on to create a more streamlined vessel. The wind will move up and around the structure and as a result, it will be sturdier and less likely to tip over.

2. Consider moving your caravan or motorhome to a sheltered location.

When wind speeds are particularly high or dangerous, consider moving your caravan or motorhome to a position where it is sheltered by a sturdy structure such as a brick wall or secure building. 

3. Take down any awnings.

Take down any awnings or other structures because they are as prone to tearing in the wind or, in the worst-case scenario, damaging your holiday home.

4. Weigh down the vessel using awnings or water containers.

When there are very high winds forecasted, you could anchor your caravan or motorhome to the ground by placing heavy objects such as awnings, water containers and furniture in the centre of the interior. The weight of extra guests will also help to weigh the caravan down.

5. Consider strapping your holiday home to the ground using storm straps.

Storm straps can be ordered from online retailers and fitted to the outer corners of your caravan or motorhome to fix it to the ground. You’ll need powerful screwable pegs to anchor the storm straps to the ground – these are often provided in the same kit.

Storm straps are especially helpful when there are strong, short bursts of winds, or high wind speeds where the caravan is at risk of toppling over.

6. Remove any outdoor furniture and items that could be blown into the caravan.

This includes fences, gates, ornaments, furniture, barbecues and any other items that could be blown into the vehicle, causing damage.

Is it safe to tow a caravan or motorhome in high winds?

You’re best off delaying towing your caravan or driving your motorhome until calmer conditions return. However, if it’s absolutely unavoidable, it’s advisable to take things at a slow pace and avoid high bridges, exposed roads and motorways.

Whether you’re facing windy conditions or camping in the rain, it’s still possible to have a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing trip no matter the weather.

Browse our guide to camping in bad weather

Browse our tent buying guide


What is considered too windy for camping in a tent?

Wind speeds over 30mph could damage your tent.

Is it safe to tow a caravan or motorhome in high winds?

Winds can blow you off course, so it's better to delay towing your caravan or driving your motorhome until there are calmer conditions. If necessary, drive slowly and avoid high bridges, exposed roads and motorways.

Is it safe to camp in high winds?

It’s best to reschedule your camping holiday if there is a severe storm or weather warnings. However, camping in high winds is safe when you take precautions such as packing the right gear and pitching sensibly.