How to Use Tent Guy Lines For A Secure Shelter

tent with guy lines

Tent guy lines are an essential piece of equipment used to help hold up camping tents and rainflies. However, many inexperienced campers find them tricky to set up, which can lead to them being left in the tent bag for your entire trip.

This is a mistake that can make your camping trip much less comfortable, or worse, cause your tent to collapse from a gust of wind. Fortunately, it’s not hard to use guy lines if you know what you’re doing.

In this article, our team of experts goes over exactly how to set up your guy lines, the benefits of using them, and some extra tips and tricks that will make a huge difference in your camping experience.

How To Set Up Tent Guy Lines: Step-By-Step Guide

Below, we’ll show you an easy guide to setting up your tent guy lines so that they hold up perfectly for your entire camping trip. Make sure you have the following materials before starting:

  • A camping tent with all other included equipment

  • Guy lines

  • Tent stakes or pegs

    guy line tent

1. Attach Guy Lines To Tent Loops

Once your tent is standing up, you should notice several loops around the body. These are called the guy line loops, and you’ll want to tie a guy line to each one of them. Any standard knot will do, although we typically use the taut line hitch when we go camping.

When tying the lines, make sure that you leave enough slack so that they can reach your stakes, plus a little extra in case. You can tighten the lines after hammering in your stakes, so no worries if they end up a bit loose at first.

guy line knot

2. Tie Other Side Of Guy Line To Stakes

Take the looped end of each guy line and attach it to the tent stake. If they have hooks or divots on them for extra support, make sure that you put the loops over them.

tent guy line setup

3. Hammer Stakes Into Ground

With the loop attached, position the stake so that the guy lines will be slightly loose but not completely sagging when they’re hammered in.

Then, take a hammer or mallet (if you don’t have one, a rock will work) and pound your stakes into the ground. To give each guy line maximum stability, hammer each stake straight down.

If you don’t have stakes, you can also stretch out the guy lines to the ground and use heavy rocks (ideally found in nature) to hold them in place. While not as effective, they’re still far better than nothing.

stake and guy line

4. Adjust Tension

Once the stakes are secured into the ground and the guy lines are attached, you should adjust the tension on each. This is where the tensioner, which is the little plastic or metal piece on each guy rope, comes in.

Using this, you should go around your tent tightening each rope to about the same level, so that there’s no uneven pressure. As for how tight you should go, you want taut guy lines, but not so tight that they’re pulling the tent down. We leave ours just firm enough so that there’s no visible slack.

Also, if your guy lines don’t have tensioners, you can use the taut line hitch knot mentioned before to tighten them instead.

tent with guy lines

Other Tips And Tricks

Here are some additional tips to make your guy line setup process even easier when you decide to go camping.

  • Practice before you go. If you’ve never set up guy lines on your own before, it can help to set up your tent in your yard or a field and practice before you go camping. It’s a much lower-pressure environment than being out in nature and will let you work through any issues stress-free.

  • Use guy lines with bright colors. When you walk out of your tent in the middle of the night, it can be hard to see a dark, narrow piece of rope extending from it. To avoid tripping over your guy lines, use bright-colored ones if possible, or tie some reflective tape on them for the same effect.

  • Always pack extra equipment. Tent stakes and guy lines will break over time, even if you purchase high-quality ones. Bring a few extra so that you can secure your tent even if something goes wrong.

tent with guy lines

What Are Tent Guy Lines?

Tent guy lines (sometimes called tent guy ropes) are pieces of rope or cord that are used to secure the tent body and rain fly to the ground. They’re included with most camping tents and usually tie to areas that the tent poles might struggle to hold up on their own.

Guy lines are an important piece of equipment for tents, and provide many benefits including improving stability, weather resistance, space, and ventilation.

tent with guy lines

Why Are Guy Lines Important?

While some campers neglect to use their guy lines and let their tent stand more freely, we don’t recommend this. Here are some reasons that you should always use your tent guy lines when camping:

Improves Tent Stability

When your tent is facing heavy winds, it will often struggle to stand if the poles are the only thing supporting the structure. When attached to the tent walls, guy lines pull on them and keep them tight.

This stops the walls from sagging and improves their wind resistance, as a tight tent wall will push the wind away from the tent rather than allowing it in.

For non-freestanding tents, guy lines are not just nice to have but necessary. The tent won’t stand on its own without them.

tent with guy line

Keeps Out Rain And Snow

When a tent rain fly is not properly secured by guy lines, it will tend to sag over time. This is an even bigger problem if there’s heavy snow or rain, as sagging can let it accumulate on top of the tent and weigh it down. In some cases, it can make the tent leak or even collapse.

Using your guy lines makes the rain fly taut, which allows it to shed rain and snow instead of letting it build up. This keeps your tent dry and comfortable.

Creates More Space Inside Tent

As we mentioned, not using guy lines on a tent can cause the walls to sag. When this happens, it reduces the space you have inside.

Securing your guy lines around the tent frame will tighten everything up and give you that space back.

saggy tent

Better Ventilation

The rain fly goes directly over the mesh, breathable part of your tent. While it’s designed to sit far enough above that the air will still flow, a sagging rain fly will limit the airflow inside your tent.

Guy lines will keep your rain fly taut, which will give your tent proper ventilation even in a rainstorm.


Tent guy lines might initially look hard to handle, but with this article and a little practice, you’ll be setting yours up like a pro in no time.

If there’s anything else about guy lines that you think we missed, please let us know in the comments below. Happy camping!

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