OUTDOOR BASICS

How to Stay Warm in a Tent: Bring Your Adventure to the Next Level

How to Stay Warm in a Tent
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Camping in a tent in the middle of nowhere is a perfect opportunity for any adventurer to unleash their spirit. However, it is not all pure fun and you need to prepare yourself well as the days or nights spent in a tent can get pretty cold. Have you been asking yourself how to stay warm in a tent lately? You are not alone!

Whenever you’re out there, you may feel that your options are limited. Luckily, we are here to help you get through your brisk day. There is a lot that a single person can do to keep a tent warm regardless of the weather conditions. We’ll show you how; you just have to check out our ideas and tips and get ready for your next adventure.

Cold Weather Camping

Staying warm in a tent is not easy. Are you up for a challenge? Proceed with reading, and you will discover how to place your tent, how to keep it warm, how to dress up properly, and more. Let’s start!

The Benefits of Camping and Keeping Your Tent Warm

If you’re not yet convinced that camping rules, let us try to change your mind. Staying in a tent offers a special kind of experience. It can help you get closer to nature and view life from a different perspective.

It is also a great opportunity for bonding, especially if you stay in a tent out of technology’s reach. Leave your gadgets at home and take your partner, friends, or family with you instead.

Tent in a Snow

Of course, it is mandatory that you keep your tent and yourself warm as you go camping to ensure that you will enjoy.

What to Bring on an Adventure to Help you Stay Warm?

Plan your next outing in a tent wisely. There are things that you should avoid bringing and those that are a must. Here are some of the items that people most often bring with them when they’re about to spend time in a tent.

  • High-quality clothing including woolen clothes, jackets, bonnets, gloves, socks, and scarves. Always bring more than you think you need!
  • High-quality shoes.
  • A small weather-resistant tent. Avoid large tents unless you’re traveling with other people. Make sure that there’s not too much space around you when you’re in a tent. This will make it easier to warm it up and retain heat.
  • A hot water bottle – If you want to make sure that you can warm up your body whenever needed.
  • High-quality sleeping pads even if you don’t intend to sleep in the tent. They can be used for insulating the tent.
  • A kettle for heating water.
  • A lighter or a few matches.
  • Insulated mattings.
  • Candles – if you’re able to watch over them.
  • Blankets to make the insides of the tent cozy.
  • Thermal liners/blankets and some tape (you’ll see why later).
  • Tarp and ropes to attach it.

Tent in a Snow

Pick a Suitable Camping Spot

The first thing that a camper should do is look for appropriate camping grounds. Know that choosing the wrong spot may lead to problems both for you as a camper as well as for your gears.

The to-do list:

  • Place your tent in a dry area.
  • Stay at high grounds on higher altitudes.
  • Seek natural shelter that the plants offer. They will provide cover from the strong wind.
  • Place your tent on a flat surface.
  • Look for a spot that is well-cushioned with grass, needles, or leaves.
  • Position the tent so that the opening is facing downwards. This will protect you from the chill air that naturally moves downwards from higher altitudes.

The not-to-do list:

  • Avoid wet or damp areas. Cold water cools down the surrounding air as well.
  • Stay away from low grounds. They pose a danger of water coming in your tent.
  • Avoid open areas. They are prone to strong winds and ultimately cold conditions.
  • Don’t place your tent on a slope.
  • Avoid low altitudes. The cold air from the surrounding hills travels downwards, meaning that low altitudes are normally colder than the higher ones (at least up to a certain point).

Tent in a Snow

As you can see, picking a suitable location has a lot to do with keeping your tent warm. Always allow enough time and consideration for this step to avoid further complications.

It’s Time to Place the Tent but, There’s Snow – What Now?

Don’t worry; snow is not your enemy. You can still set up your tent even if the area is covered with snow. Nevertheless, you will have to take extra caution in making sure that the surface is flat. If there are hills around, take caution as well. You don’t want an avalanche to catch you off-guard.

Tent in a Snowy Weather

To place your tent, dig at least 30 centimeters into the snow layer. If you reach soil sooner, you can stop. Never place the tent directly on the snow. Position your tent into the dugout area and allow a small gap on all sides.

Insulate Your Tent – Inside and Outside

Ready to put the tent together? That’s good news! However, don’t forget that it needs to be insulated well. This will help you better capture and retain heat. It will also contribute to decreasing heat loss, and therefore make it easier for you to warm it up and keep it that way.

How to Insulate a Tent from the Outside?

Once you’ve placed your tent in a secure location, surround its edges with insulating materials. Most campers prefer using what nature provides – straw, needles, or leaves.

Tent Insulation

Are there trees around your tent? If there are, it’s time to use them to your advantage. Take a piece of grass or something light and check which direction the wind is blowing from. Spread the tarp around the trees to block the wind before it reaches your tent. Use a rope to tighten the tarp.

How to Insulate a Tent from the Inside?

The most important factor when it comes to insulating a tent from the inside is to create an insulation barrier between the ground and yourself. Place those sleeping pads on the ground and use insulated mattings on top to create two layers of insulation. It is vital to stay off of the ground.

Insulating Sleeping Bag from Ground

Are you planning on staying overnight? No problem! This kind of setup will keep the surface warm. Simply put a sleeping bag over, and you’re ready. If it’s not very cold, some blankets might do the trick as well.

Make and Keep Your Tent Warm

Now that the appropriate site has been selected, and the tent has been placed and insulated, the real fun can begin. It is time to heat up your tent!

Retain Heat with Thermal Blankets

Thermal blankets offer efficient insulation when used on the insides of your tent. Spread the liners and tape them on the top and at the sides of the tent. Do it right, and you’ll no longer have to ask yourself how to keep a tent warm. This will significantly contribute to maintaining the temperature within the tent by reducing heat loss.

Thermal Blankets

Image credit: en.wikipedia.org

Starting to feel cold? Wrap yourself in thermal liners before you start shivering. It is crucial to heat up your body before the temperature drops too much. After that happens, it is hard to warm up again.

Use Stones as Heaters

Another effective way to stay warm in a cold tent is by heating up big stones. It will require some effort to heat up stones, but once you’re done, you can enjoy the warmth for hours. Here’s how you can create a comfortable camping sauna.

Look for stones and make sure that they are dry and big, weighing about 5 to 15 pounds each. Start a fire and place the stones around it or on top of it when the fire is big enough. Stay close to the fire to keep yourself warm while waiting for the stones to heat up. Depending on their weight and size, the process may take about an hour or so.

If you are planning to try this method, be careful – stones that contain moisture may explode when exposed to hot temperatures, so do not collect stocks directly from a water source.

Hot Rocks

Image credit: greentechmedia.com

Once your stones are ready, use hot pads or thick gloves to protect yourself when pulling them out of the fire. Move the stones into the tent carefully and place them on a heat-resistant surface, such as a wooden board or an inverted pan. You do not want the stones to melt down your synthetic tent!

Place the stones in the middle of your tent and make to ssure that the thermal blankets are already in place. This will help in retaining the heat provided by stones for extended periods!

Invest in a Catalytic Heater

Are you spending a lot of time in a tent and don’t know what else to do to make it warmer? Check out the catalytic heaters and consider getting yourself one.

Catalytic Heater

These heaters work based on catalytic conversion and require no electricity for operation. They require propane gas instead. As there is no actual open flame, the gas is used at a slow rate. So what exactly is so great about these heaters?

  • The amount of toxic by-products generated is much lower than that of open flame heaters.
  • Carbon monoxide is normally not released unless the platinum within the device gets damaged or contaminated.
  • They don’t consume a lot of gas.
  • They don’t require electricity – perfect for off-the-grid adventures.
Catalytic Heater

Image credit: ramadaponce.com

Nevertheless, caution should be taken because catalytic heaters consume oxygen. You have to ensure that the tent is always ventilated while using this type of heater in it. Luckily, most of the new catalytic heaters come with an oxygen sensor that will alert you if the oxygen levels drop too much.

Light up Some Candles

Who doesn’t love watching a candle burn? If you’re camping, it’s always good to have some candles around, as you never know when other gears may become non-functional.

Not only do they look cool, but candles can also help you warm up your tent considerably. Place them in lanterns and spread them throughout the tent. Make sure that they are stable. As there is a chance of carbon dioxide rising above the recommended levels, you have to allow proper ventilation of the tent at all times. Note that most new tents already include a ventilation system.

Candle in Tent

Image credit: lockharttactical.com

While caution is necessary, the use of candles in a tent is not a bad idea at all. Try it out for yourself!

Maintain Dryness and Reduce Heat Loss

We all know too well how it feels to be wet and it’s nowhere near comfortable. When a person is wet, they start losing heat at a faster rate. They also feel cold more easily.

If your clothes or shoes get wet or sweaty, replace them right away. This is where bringing extra clothes comes in handy. It is important to follow this rule to prevent your body from losing heat.

Person is Changing Clothes

Image credit: huckberry.com

Also, make sure that you remove wet clothes from the tent because they will contribute to additional condensation in the tent.

Ventilate the Tent

There are almost no tents that are completely airtight and for a good reason. The tent should be ventilated at all times. You may think that it will make it colder, but it will, in fact, do the opposite.

  • Keeping a tent ventilated at all times reduces the condensation within the tent. This will allow the tent to stay dry and warm.
  • Ventilation will also provide you with a steady supply of oxygen.
  • Constant airflow will make sure that excess carbon dioxide will be removed from the tent.

Ventilating the Tent

Did you know that a single person releases one liter of water through breathing overnight?

Warm up Your Body

If the air around you is much colder, your body will gradually lose heat. This means that it’s time to warm up! It is essential not only to take care of warming up the tent but also of heating up the body.

If your camping buddies are with you, using body heat is an easy solution to warm up each other. Simply sit or lie down next to one another to share body heat and warm up. Since being alone is often the only option, there are also other ways to ensure you stay warm.

Select the Right Clothing for Spending Time in a Tent

Not all clothes serve the same purpose. It is mandatory to make conscious decisions when it comes to the selection of the types of clothes you want to take with you when you go camping.

Shoes Feet Socks Winter Boots Clothing Warm

In general, you should strive for woolen clothes under cold circumstances. They are better at retaining heat and releasing moisture. This means that they keep your body dry and warm. Cotton clothes, on the contrary, are warm to the touch but lose that warmth after some time. They are also more likely to make you sweat because they don’t release moisture very efficiently.

Here is some clothing that you should consider wearing when you’re feeling cold in a tent:

  • Multiple layers of shirts and pants. The more layers there are, the better insulated you will be.
  • Bonnet that covers your head as well as ears. You can also wear it overnight rather than covering your head in a sleeping bag.
  • Breathable socks and gloves. Make sure that they breathe to avoid sweating and ultimately feeling even colder.
  • A wool scarf. Cover the neck area to avoid getting sick.
Person in a Tent

Image credit: pebbleshoo.com

Don’t forget to always bring extra clothes on your trip and replace them if sweaty or wet!

Prepare a Hot Water Bottle

Even if you do not usually use a hot water bottle, consider taking one (and of course a kettle) to keep you warm throughout your adventure.

Unless you brought a stove, use some logs or gas to create a fire and heat up enough water in a kettle. Make sure that you do this simple trick away from your stuff and surround the fire with stones. If the ground is covered with snow or wet, make a platform using green logs. Cover them with a layer of stones or soil and make a fire.

Bring the water to boil for a few minutes and pour it into your hot water bottle. Put it under your blanket or sleeping bag to enjoy the heat released by the bottle. You can also place the bottle at the bottom of your feet to stay warm and cozy. Hot water bottles are capable of staying warm for hours!

Woman is Boiling Water

Additional tip: Bring extra water to boil and make a few cups of your favorite tea. Drink and enjoy your beverage to warm up your body. Do not consume too much unless necessary as you would not want to go out of the tent every half an hour to pee.

Exercise to Keep the Blood Flowing

One of the best ways to make sure that you will have a comfortable and relaxing outdoor experience is to ensure that you won’t shiver when the cold night comes. Entering a tent without warming up your body will make it difficult for you to produce enough heat.

Luckily, there are many quick exercises that you can try to help you stay warm before snuggling inside your tent. When we exercise, the temperature of our bodies rises quickly. You can try a series of pushups or jumping jacks to get your heart pumping. The more intense the exercises are, the faster you will warm up.

Woman Exercising to Stay Warm

Once you feel warm enough, quickly settle into your sleeping bag or under the blankets and make sure that you trap your body heat.

Wrapping Up!

Spending a day or night in a tent is a unique experience. The benefits make up for all the troubles that you have to go through to reach the desired destination and set up the tent. Nevertheless, even the warmest days can turn into cold nights, so you’ll never be wrong if you prepare for the cold.

Your quest should always start with searching for the right location to place your tent at. Proper set-up and insulation of the tent are also necessary. Once settled in, apply the numerous methods that we explained in this post to warm up your tent and keep it that way.

Winter Camping

Try them all and see what works best in your situations. Need to quickly warm up a tent? Create your own stone heaters! Need to warm up your body? Wrap yourself in wool clothes and get your blood pumping! Now that we showed you the way, it’s time for you to get in action. Let us know what kind of adventure you prefer and how you like to keep your tent and yourself warm!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.