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Tent Guy Line Types

Tents and canopies are attached to anchors by guy lines, either rope tie downs or ratchet assemblies (consisting of ratchet buckles and straps). Guy lines connect the poles or frame fitting locations to the anchors, creating tension that keeps the tents installed. While each guy line option is effective, ropes and ratchet assemblies have significant differences.

Ropes have been the original type of anchoring system since the beginning of the industry. Still the most common type of guy line, ropes are connected to the pole or frame fitting location and then attached to the chosen anchor. Many different types of tie-offs are used depending on the tent style and installer. When considering guy line options, the biggest advantage to using a rope system is the price, as it is the most economical way to anchor a tent.


Some rope systems are equipped with a rope adjuster - a bar with holes at either end that is used to create a loop in the rope and act as a device to place tension on the rope. These systems are used by attaching the rope to the anchor (normally a hooked stake) and then pulling on the adjuster until the rope is taut.

tent rope adjuster
man installing tent ropes

Ratchet Assemblies are a newer guy line option in the tent industry and are standard on all CELINA systems. The ratchet buckle half of the assembly, a buckle sewn to one end of a strap with a loop sewn into the opposite end, is attached to the anchor and then connected to a strap that is attached to the tent top. The ratchet is then worked until the entire assembly is tightened down, holding the tent in place.


The benefit of the ratchet assembly system is the efficiency provided when compared to traditional rope systems. Ratchets assemblies allow for a reduction in labor costs due to their ease of use and can be tightened by a single person. The ratchets are also much stronger, achieve a higher level of tension, and require less maintenance over an installation. A major draw back of ratchet assemblies is the initial cost, though over the life of the tent and repeated installations there are tremendous labor savings in setup and tear down.

ratchet assembly
men installing ratchet assemblies on tent

Anchors are integral to both options for tent guy lines. The anchor provides the amount of resistance necessary for tension to be placed on the guy lines and safely keep the tent in place.


By far the most common anchor used for tents, stakes are driven into the ground with guy lines attached to the tops. Each stake should be installed vertically at a distance that is half the height of the side pole (approximately 42" - 48" for a 7' or 8' eave height). This will create a 45 degree angle, which in turn produces vertical forces that are equivalent to the lateral forces on the tent stake.


Stakes can be standard steel rods or auger stakes with blades for more loose ground.


The common deadweight is a cement block or slab that is large enough to withstand the standard amount of tension required to keep a tent aloft. Moved with forklifts, deadweights are the most highly recommended form of anchor used in areas where staking is less than ideal (for example, on exceptionally loose soil or paved installation sites).

Water Barrels

CELINA does not approve the use of water barrels as any form of anchoring for any structure, but we have seen them used in this way. Due to many factors, there is very little holding power in a water barrel, which greatly increases the danger of being in a water barrel-anchored tent.