If carrying a three person tent when backpacking, what's the recommended way to split it up so that the weight is balanced out among all three people going?

  • 5
    You are putting 3 people into a 3 person tent? Good luck...
    – Lost
    Mar 21, 2013 at 19:25
  • @LBell It's cosy, but as long as you understand the limitations and you don't expect loads of room, I've found it more than do-able for short trips!
    – berry120
    Mar 22, 2013 at 0:07
  • 1
    @LBell, oh, you seem to never have slept 5 in a 3 person tent, lucky guy) But it's very warm and friendly, I should say)
    – Steed
    Mar 25, 2013 at 5:08
  • 2
    @LBell -- We're all pretty narrow people. My wife and I will both fit in a 1 man tent... (cozy, but we fit) Mar 25, 2013 at 13:10
  • @RussellSteen congrats, you have discovered that the gender and relationship of the people also matters. With a (romantic) friend we used to sleep in 1 sleeping bag to save on weight.
    – Vorac
    Sep 9, 2020 at 8:27

3 Answers 3


Generally I find a three person tent small and light enough that you don't need to split it up when backpacking - indeed I find it's much less hassle to keep it all in one place so when you come to put it up, you know exactly where everything is.

Instead, I'd advocate balancing the weight via other means - distributing food differently is probably the easiest, but this could work with anything else you're carrying (cooking equipment, clothes, etc.)

If you must split the tent up, then I'd move the poles and pegs into a separate bag and put that in another pack (but personally I'd make sure you keep them together.)

  • 1
    Thanks, this is a pretty relevant point since the tent is only 3lbs 3oz. I'd always just divided out of habit, but there is something to say for doing it this way and having it all together. Mar 21, 2013 at 17:25
  • 2
    Yep this is what my friends and I do. One guy has the tent, the other has the food and stove, or some similar arrangement. Mar 21, 2013 at 21:15
  • @whatsisname Just make sure you both arrive at the same destination...
    – Lost
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:31
  • 1
    @LBell: If someone in my group is lost or dead, then I've got more important things to deal with than not having a stove. Mar 26, 2013 at 20:36
  • @whatsisname True - but I once met 1/2 a party at 'Island Lake' who were hungry... the other 1/2 were (we determined) 3 miles away at '1,000 Island Lake' -- fat but cold.
    – Lost
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:40

I'm assuming there won't be three parts of equal weight. Depending on the tent design, you could be talking main room, fly, and poles. You could break it into threes that way, then swap other items to equalize the load. So, if you're carrying the main room, perhaps someone could carry some of your share of the food, for example.

  • Yeah, I think we can use small things to balance it out. To further complicate, each person has a different "target pack weight" but I though it would be good to see what other people's ideas are. Mar 21, 2013 at 16:20
  • Well, that's my idea given the circumstance. My real idea is to pull out my soapbox on ultralighting, and ask why you're carrying a tent. ;) Mar 21, 2013 at 16:32
  • 2
    Feel free to ping Clare Steen on here and try to sell her on tent-less camping ;) Mar 21, 2013 at 16:56
  • I hear ya @Russell - I liked camping light, but now have a tent that can sleep 12, and that I can park my car in... we only have 3 kids!
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 22, 2013 at 9:53

Don't split it.

  1. Not all people on a trip are equally strong.
  2. There is a bunch of other group stuff too.

Look at the total group gear when dividing things up.

Having one person repsonsible for the tent also makes it less likley to have bits left behind.

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