Perry Simon September 10, 2021 at 11:52 AM 6 min read

How to Stabilize Tents, Inflatables, and Movie Screens

Improperly anchoring a tent or inflatable can become dangerous and costly if wind or inclimate weather arises, so it’s important to know what you’re doing during setup. You’d hate to have one of your tents collapse in the middle of a wedding ceremony, and you’d hate dealing with the consequences even more. There are several methods for stabilizing tents, inflatables, and outdoor movie screens. Let’s go over the common methods for anchoring, and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Stakes

Stabilizing with stakes is one of the easiest and most effective ways to secure a tent or inflatable. This is done by driving a stake into the ground and anchoring it to the tent or inflatable with a tensioning device. You’ll also want to clear off any debris first so that the stakes go directly into the ground. There are many different types of stakes and methods of anchoring with stakes. If done properly, stakes can hold a substantial amount of weight while being very easy to transfer, making them an often preferred option for tent and inflatable stabilizing.

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However, stakes may not always be an option if the ground you’re working with has a hard surface or the soil conditions do not allow for stakes to be effective. In these situations, you will have to use a deadweight to anchor your tent, inflatable, or movie screen. The two most common types of weights use either concrete or water, although there is also sand for smaller objects.

Concrete

Concrete is widely regarded as the best alternative for deadweight anchoring. It has a rough texture so it won’t slide on any sort of surface, meaning it uses its weight very effectively as an anchor. While that is a great quality for stabilizing tents and inflatables, it is also the primary drawback of concrete anchoring, as they are difficult and expensive to transport. Concrete blocks can also be considered an eyesore at formal events, but tent vinyl can be used to cover them up if this is an issue. Overall, concrete is a very effective and reliable option for anchoring.

Water

Water barrels as deadweights are somewhat controversial when it comes to commercial tents and inflatables. The main complaint against them is that their rubber surface makes it relatively easy for barrels to slip and slide around, which is not a desirable quality for deadweights. If inclimate weather conditions occur, water barrels have been known to be ineffective at holding tents in place, and can be dragged around, which can be hazardous for people and property.

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While using water barrels is not a recommended practice for many in the tents and inflatables industry, there are some who swear by them or claim to have a specific method that works effectively. The primary advantage of using water barrels is that water can be dumped out after use, leaving relatively light and sometimes stackable barrels. This makes for easy and space efficient transportation.

Sand

Sandbag deadweights are smaller and aren’t used for the same types of tents and inflatables as concrete and water barrels. While sandbags are not heavy enough to be used for event tents or large inflatables, they can be effective for smaller pop-up tents, inflatables, and movie screens. If you’re looking for a small and cost efficient weight that can be reused on a smaller sized tent, sandbags are a solid option.

Take Stabilizing Seriously

There are several other factors to consider when stabilizing your tent or inflatable including slope, weather conditions, and surface material. As a rule, always set up on a flat surface as opposed to sloped surfaces and be weary of storm conditions or heavy winds. If you do not pay attention to these details, it can easily result in damaged equipment or injury. In the tent and inflatables industry, safety always comes first.

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Perry Simon

Perry Simon is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and is a marketing intern at Goodshuffle Pro, a software company dedicated to empowering events industry professionals.