How to Set Up a Tent Trailer

by Zach Lazzari
Tent trailers provide a nice three-season shelter.

Tent trailers provide a nice three-season shelter.

Tent trailers provide a comfortable camping shelter without the weight and bulk of a large trailer. Numerous different models and brands are available, but the basic concept and design for setup and breakdown are uniform across the board. Some exceptions do exist, with A-frame-style trailers and trailers that utilize a full canvas tent without hard sides.

Selecting a Campsite

  1. Assess the available campsites before parking the tent trailer. Look for camping areas with easy access and a level parking space. Avoid hills and camping sites that are difficult to access. Also look for areas with a combination of shade and sun to maximize comfort. Campsites with windbreaks are also valued. High winds are capable of ripping the tent canvas and damaging the trailer. RV parks provide level sites with hookups for water and electric but camping off the grid is also normal in a tent trailer.

Parking and Prepping

  1. Back the tent trailer into the campsite. Backing the trailer in makes it easy to move out when you are ready to leave. Chock the tires with blocks of wood or rocks. Release the ball latch, drop the pedestal and crank the handle to raise the tongue off the ball. Move your towing vehicle to create space for the leveling process.

Leveling the Trailer

  1. Observe the levels located on the tongue of the trailer. One level indicates the front-to-back position and the other indicates the side positions. Adjust the tongue crank to raise or lower the front until the front-to-back position is level. Place a leveling jack around the tire in the lower position. Crank the handle on the jack and raise the tire until the bubble reads level on the tongue. Some newer models come with electric leveling systems that require a power hookup to operate. The manual procedure still works when power is not available.

Assembling the Tent

  1. Walk around the trailer and release the latches that secure the roof to the lower body. Open the hatch above the trailer tongue to expose the crank. Attach the handle to the crank and turn clockwise to raise the roof. Crank until the roof is two-thirds of the way up. Pull the sliding beds out on the front and back sides of the trailer. Enter the trailer and erect the metal frame on the edge of each bed. Attach the metal crossbar from the top-center of each frame to the center roof of the camper. This forms the cover over each bed. Walk the exterior and attach the canvas loops to the clips on the trailer. Make sure the canvas is attached at every position. Finish raising the roof to tighten the tent canvas.

Final Measures

  1. Close the lower half of the door. Slide the upper half of the door on top of the lower half. The two halves merge with a male-female connection on each piece. Attach the exterior bed supports to the metal connections on the bottom side of each bed. Enter the camper and place the cushions on the sitting area. Screw the table support into the ground attachment near the sitting area. Drop the stabilizer bars from the exterior of each corner to prevent tipping the trailer with uneven weight distribution.

About the Author

Zach Lazzari is a freelance outdoor writer specializing in hunting, fly fishing and the general outdoors. He guided fly fishing trips for 10 years in Colorado, Alaska, Montana and Patagonia-Chile. Zach lives in Montana and splits time between the river and keyboard.

Photo Credits

  • Neta Degany/iStock/Getty Images