Sometimes I hear that, when making camp in the mountains, a tent should be pitched so the door is facing a certain direction, usually downhill. I've repeatedly asked why I should do this, and the answers I've received are always "I don't know".

Should I pitch my tent so it faces downhill - or some other direction? Why?

4 Answers 4


Depends on where you set it, where I'm from the wind is almost always the determining factor, when you're in thick trees and wind isn't a factor, then you set your tent wherever it fits. Which direction you're facing depends on the terrain and your exposure.

When we went camping a couple weeks ago, we set one of our tents up specifically to take advantage of the view:

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Another determining factor for how you set up some tents is how level the ground is. If the ground is not perfectly flat, you want to orient your heads uphill, this way you don't wake up with a head rush, or if you're in a tent with a bunch of people, you don't all roll over and end up on top of the poor souls who got the spot furthest downhill. If your foot print is round, then you can still put your door wherever you want it, then set up you beds inside with the heads uphill.

Water is yet another factor when setting up your tent, you don't want to put your tent anywhere water might flow or accumulate. Low spots are great for protection from the wind, and are often flatter, but if there's rain in the overnight forecast, you might consider setting up on the high ground so you don't wake up in a puddle.

  • Doesn't this also slightly depend on the design of the tent? :)
    – Aravona
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 15:45
  • 3
    @Aravona Ya, for sure, you have to put it where it fits.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 17:07

The answer and reasoning I've heard is place the door facing upwind, or South / Southeast, as this is where the warmer winds tend to come from, northerly winds being colder. Face it east to wake up by the sunrise.

Note, this is regarding the Northern Hemisphere, but the same logic can be applied for the Southern one.

  • 1
    Only true for the northern hemisphere.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 0:25
  • True, I just kinda assumed but the distinction is important
    – Avik Mohan
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 1:20

You pitch the door downwind to help prevent blowing rain/snow from entering when you go in and out. Orienting the shelter to prevailing/expected winds is even more important for those of us that use tarps rather than tents. We don't have a door per se, but have less coverage so need to make sure we take wind into consideration when pitching it.

  • Also to prevent a gust with the door open from grabbing at the tent. Plus the back of a flysheet often goes right down to the ground on tents where there's a little gap at the front.
    – Chris H
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:41

Pitch the tent flat. If not flat then most people prefer feet down hill. You may prefer feet up. Lay down and decide what you what. Most people sleep head at the opening. Across the grade you roll - not good.

I like feet down hill and head at the opening so opening up hill.

  • I think the asker is referring to when nowhere is quite flat, and the feet down/up relates to once the tent is pitched and your inside, rather than the direction to pitch it in.
    – Avik Mohan
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 1:22
  • @AvikMohan And you assume a tent is symmetric. Most are not
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 2:38
  • 1
    @AvikMohan thenorthface.com/shop/equipment-tents-2-person/… Even this is asymmetric as you have to sleep length ways thenorthface.com/shop/equipment-tents-2-person/… This symmetric tent - I could decide how to sleep after it is pitched - thenorthface.com/shop/equipment-tents-3-person/…
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 15:38
  • 2
    "Most people sleep head at the opening." Really? I much prefer feet at the opening, as I can then see the opening at all times, and a bear would gnaw on my feet instead of my head if he went at me...
    – AnoE
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 11:43
  • 1
    @AnoE Good for you. Sleep how you prefer.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 17:11

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