A tent fly is a smaller tarp that acts as an extension to the rainfly. It’s usually attached with grommets that go through holes in the rainfly and ropes that tie around stakes in the ground.

The purpose of a tent fly is to protect the more important gear, such as packs and shoes, from getting wet underneath the main rainfly. 

It is especially useful for protecting kindling and firewood from dampness, which could make it harder to start a fire.

In addition, a tent fly can provide extra shade during the day. This allows the inside of the tent to stay cooler while you are resting or sleeping inside, which makes it easier to get a good night’s sleep.

With a tent fly, you’ll be able to protect yourself and your gear from rain or snow during the day and catch some much-needed shade at night.

Why It's Important To Use A Tent Fly-In Right Position

The proper position of the tent fly is significant for a tent. As it is just like an umbrella, the height of the vestibule will be different according to its position and angle.

So don’t forget to set the fly up accordingly if you want to get maximum advantage out of it. At first, make sure your tent is parallel with the sun and then raise your fly according to the sun.

Otherwise, if you don’t raise your fly high enough, it will be difficult for you to stay dry and cool in the rain with strong wind. Water might get into your tent from beneath the fly and through the mesh of the body if you set up incorrectly by ignoring the angle at which the rain fly is set up.

How To Set Up A Tent Fly

What Is A Tent Fly by hikingrange.com

The basic idea of setting up a tent fly is to stretch it out above your tent with ropes and stakes, but there are several different methods for doing so.

The simplest way requires two stakes on either side of the vestibule (the area outside the tent door), and then two more stakes used to secure the ends of the fly. A cord is strung between these last two stakes to tighten up the vestibule and create an excellent seal against rain or wind.

A more complicated method involves using an adjustable taut-line hitch knot tied with a thin line (such as paracord) or a shoelace. This knot is firm, and it will hold up your tent fly and give you more room to move around if necessary.

But remember not to tie the line too tight because this might damage the fabric of your rainfly. And if possible, use a thin but very strong material like paracord or shoelace.

Remember to take down the tent fly before you pack up your tent because it is challenging and frustrating to get the tent fly back into its bag if you leave it on. 

The best solution is folding it neatly and rolling it so that the creases do not stay forever. Don’t forget to hang it on a line, if possible, to keep it away from dirt and moisture.

This is because the fly may be torn by any sharp object in your vestibule or just worn out when you remove it next time. If this happens, then putting a new one on will not be an easy task at all. So better take care of your fly.

The Most Common Problems

The most common problems when setting up a tent fly are

1) The material gets loose and

2) The line breaks.

Because of this, you should always check your lines to make sure they aren’t worn out and try not to tie them too tight.

Otherwise, there is a high possibility that the material might get loose or break. And for god’s sake, don’t tie the line with a heavy object like a rock or water bottle as it will fail.

Factors To Keep In Mind While Looking For A Tent Fly

There are several factors to look for in a tent fly:

Material

The first is the material it’s made from. Obviously, you want a breathable and lightweight fabric not to add extra weight to your backpack and make you tired during hiking. 

And make sure the material allows moisture to escape, so that condensation formed on the inside of the rainfly does not drip onto your face and gear during the night.

Durability

The second factor to look for is its durability. You need a strong material that will not be torn apart by tree branches or any other sharp objects in your vestibule, so nylon and polyester are usually recommended.

However, if you want a lighter weight tent fly, you might want to check out alternative materials like ultra-light silicone nylon.

Waterproof

The third is the waterproof rating of the fly. Ensure it has a high waterproofing system ( > 2000 mm or 8000 g/sqm/24h) to provide your tent with total protection against rain and wind, especially when there are strong gusts of wind.

Design

The fourth is the design and colour because you might want a bright tent fly so that other hikers on the mountain will see it easier. And this makes your campsite look more beautiful than ever before.

What To Do If Your Tent Fly Is Torn Or Stained

What Is A Tent Fly by hikingrange.com

Before you try to patch up your tent fly, make sure there are no rips in the actual tent body. 

A small rip in the fly is usually nothing to worry about, but a large rip in the actual tent means you have to either repair it or pitch a new tent altogether.

Once you’re sure that your problem is with the fly itself, then you’ll need some patches and adhesive. And for repairing small holes or tears in the fly, using duct tape might not be such a bad idea.

But make sure you wrap duct tape carefully on the fly so that it does not peel off while you’re pitching or packing up your tent. And you should use more than two layers of duct tape if the damage is considerable.

For a large rip, it’s best to use patches or even replacement parts. Patches can be bought at any outdoor store, and they usually come in the form of adhesive strips that are meant to be applied on both sides of a tear.

It will help if you put it on before you apply your tent fly again so that it covers up and seals up any holes.

If you don’t have patches, try using a patch from your fly that is in good condition and cut it down to size. 

If this doesn’t work, you can always use adhesive tape or even clear packing tape as long as the colour matches the fly. But make sure it’s not sticky because then you won’t be able to use it again.

This is because all adhesive tapes will turn into a sticky mess over time, defeating the point of trying to repair your fly with them in the first place. So no duct tape or packing tape!

And if the damage is too big to be patched or taped, then you can always buy a piece of replacement material and cut it down to size. 

You can get them in outdoor stores that specialize in camping equipment. All you have to do is bring along your damaged fly, and they’ll help you pick out something suitable.

But make sure the material you choose doesn’t differ too much in colour from that of your fly, because the difference will show when your tent is pitched.

There are also replacement tents available if you’re pitching a new tent altogether because of some major damage. But make sure you clean it before storing it away and using it again next time.

Advantages Of Tent Fly

Provides extra shade during the day

Protects gear from dampness

Keeps sleeping bag and tent cooler at night

Can reduce condensation on backpacking tents inside

Can protect against morning dew

Disadvantages Of Tent Fly

Can increase condensation inside the tent; extra moisture collects on the tent fly and drips onto stuff below. Because of this, a rainfly should always be “loose”–not tightly attached to the tent body via zippers or elastic loops–to allow this condensation to drip away from the sleeping area below.