OUTDOOR BASICS

Tips on Sleeping in a Cold Tent: Maximizing Your Next Outdoor Experience

Tips on Sleeping in a Cold Tent
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

May it be long winter nights or cold summer breeze, there are countless situations that can make you shiver while sleeping in a tent. Delay your adventure no more; this is a perfect reason for you to collect some tips on sleeping in a cold tent and start enjoying camping!

However perfect this may seem, you surely don’t want to end up freezing in a tent in the middle of some forest. By exploring the web, you’ll probably end up with a bunch of ideas of which some work and some don’t. Luckily, we are here to help you with the top proven techniques to keep you warm in a tent at night. Let’s venture into the woods together and find out what you can do to ensure a pleasant experience.

Cold Weather Camping

Fortunately, there is a lot that one can do. From preparations to clothing to insulating your tent, we have prepared tips and methods that will allow you to make your next night out more comfortable.

Why Spend a Night in a Cold Tent Rather Than in a Warm Bed?

‘Why?’, you might ask yourself. Bed and four walls around it provide a perfect spot for sleeping a night. It’s safe, warm, quiet, and mostly bug-free. Nothing can get better than that, or can it?

Cold Weather Sleeping Bag

Spending the night out in a tent may not be as comfortable as sleeping in a warm bed. Nevertheless, special experiences come together with unforgettable moments.

  • Do it for the experience
  • Do it for your personal spiritual development
  • Do it to experience nature first-hand
  • Do it with the purpose of building additional bonds between you and your partner, friends, or family

Preparations before the Adventure

Once you start your adventure, there is no going back. Well, there is, but that’s not something that you should hope for. Be sure that you’re ready for your next night in the tent by creating a checklist of equipment you need to take with you.

Cold Weather Sleeping Bag

Image credit: gizmodo.com.au

Here are some of the things that might help you stay warm at night:

  • Weather-resistant sleeping bag
  • A kettle for warming up water
  • A hot water bottle
  • Candles
  • Matches and a lighter
  • Warm clothing, including bonnets and gloves
  • Cold-resistant shoes
  • Weather-resistant tent
  • Insulated mattings
  • And some extra blankets

Spending the Night in a Tent

You’ve reached the desired location, and now it’s time to start working. There are many factors to consider if you want to make sure that you’ll make it through the night without shivering. You need to choose the right location, properly set up the tent, and keep the insides warm overnight.

Choosing the Right Location

If you intend to sleep in a tent, you first need to put one together. In order to do that, you need to locate appropriate grounds. This is an important step and should never be rushed. Keep in mind that choosing the wrong location may lead to a very cold night and a story that you’d rather forget.

Tent Location

Check out these pieces of advice that will help you on your search:

  • Look for dry areas. Avoid damp locations at all costs. Water will make the surroundings even colder than they should be.
  • Search for high grounds. In case of storm or snowmelt, you don’t want to risk the water flowing directly in or under your tent.
  • Seek shelter around trees and bushes. They will protect you from strong winds and help you capture heat better. Avoid open spaces.
  • The spot should be flat. It’s also suggested that it has some cushioning on the ground. May it be leaves, needles, or straw, any insulation will make you feel warmer at night.
  • You should avoid low altitudes. The cold air travels downwards, and if you’re about to settle at the bottom of some valley, it’s going to get pretty cold.
  • As you place your tent, also make sure that the opening is facing downwards. This will prevent the cold air from higher altitudes from getting in.

Insulating Your Tent

The location has been chosen, and now it’s time to insulate your tent. By doing so, you will manage to capture more heat in the tent overnight.

What can you do around the tent?

Start off by insulating the surroundings of the tent. Find some leaves, straws, or needles and place them around all edges. This will prevent the cold air from getting under your tent.

Setting the Tent

Image credit: msrgear.com

If you have some tarp and ropes, consider spreading it around the tent or around the side of the tent from which the wind is blowing in. Most tents are already very efficient at countering wind, but the second layer of protection always helps.

What can you do inside the tent?

First of all, you should insulate the grounds. Take some insulated mattings and spread them all over. You can also compile them in multiple layers. Keep in mind that you should always elevate yourself from the ground or have sufficient insulation between yourself and the ground.

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If possible, insulate the inner edges of the tent as well. You’re probably running out of materials to use, so you can use a natural alternative such as leaves instead. When it comes to camping, always consider utilizing anything at your disposal that can help you stay warm.

There is snow all around, and snow is cold! What to do now?

Worry no more; there is a solution for everything! If you want to camp in a snowy area, that’s perfectly fine, just make sure that the ground where you will place your tent is flat.

Proceed to dig into the snow in the shape of your tent. Make sure to dig at least one foot downwards or until you reach the surface below. As you are digging, allow an extra inch gap on all sides of the tent.

Preparing a Hot Water Bottle

Hot water bottle serves as a container that can be filled with water and sealed off. It is used to provide heat for hours before going cold.

Boiling Water

Start off by heating some water in a kettle. Use gas to create a fire or use logs if you are allowed to. Either way, be careful with it. If there is a chance of something catching fire, like branches or leaves, don’t risk it. You should first properly secure the area and surround it with stones.

Once you manage to warm up some water, pour it into the water bottle and place it in your sleeping bag. The heat from the bottle with help you stay warm all night. You are suggested to place the bottle around your feet as they are most likely to get cold.

Tip: Save some of the hot water and prepare yourself a cup of hot tea. You should drink this right before going to sleep to warm up your inner core and capture the heat within the sleeping bag. Note that you shouldn’t drink too much of it because you surely don’t want to be waking at night and going out of the tent to pee.

Heating up Rocks

Heating up big rocks will allow you to stay warm during the night. The process works similarly as with regular house furnaces. It requires a lot of energy to heat up a rock, but once it is hot, it will stay like that for hours.

Heating Up Rocks

This practical trick is being used by campers all around the world, even in deserts, where the temperatures between day and night change drastically. Here is how you can create your personal heater for the cold night to come:

  • Find some big rocks, preferably the size of your head or bigger.
  • Start a fire and wait for it to settle in. In the meanwhile, make sure that the rocks are dry.
  • Now that fire has nicely spread, place the rocks on or around it and wait for them to heat up. This may take a while, depending on their size.
  • Safely move the hot rocks into the tent.

While there are many benefits of this method, there are also things to watch out for. If the rocks are wet, dry them before putting them on fire. Adding wet rocks directly on fire may result in cracking of the rocks or even a small explosion.

Caution should also be taken when moving the rocks. They may become extremely hot and not show it at all. Handle them with care. Use thick gloves when moving them around.

Heating Rocks

Once you get them in the tent, your job isn’t over just yet. Avoid placing hot rocks directly on the tent or any other objects that could melt due to the heat. Ensure that the rock is sitting on a heat-resistant and stable surface. A thick piece of wood may do the trick.

Wearing Appropriate Clothing

Dresses and tuxedos, swimsuits and lingerie – those will have to wait for you at home! Choosing the right clothing for your trips is crucial regardless of where you’re going. When you’re on camping, know that most likely nights will get cold, even if days are hot. Therefore, thick clothes are a must for spending the night in a tent.

Layers, layers, layers – be like the onions!

This one is simple. The more layers of quality clothes you wear, the warmer you will be at night. The air gets trapped between the individual layers of clothing, causing better body insulation.

When it comes to the selection of clothes, stick to the woolen ones. Woolen clothing is effective at pulling the moisture off of your skin and keeping your skin dry. This way, you will naturally feel warmer. In case you begin to sweat at night, wool will help you evaporate the sweat and maintain the temperature.

Layering Clothes

Cotton clothes, unlike the woolen ones, feel very warm at the beginning but lose heat over time. They are better at locking in the moisture so you may be risking sweating. In general, they are not advised to those spending the night in a tent. If you’re going to use them anyway, do so in combination with the woolen ones.

What else can you do?

  • Use warm bonnets to cover your head. As you sleep, your head is exposed to the surrounding temperatures. This means that a lot of heat is lost through the head. Secure it with a warm, breathable bonnet and make sure to cover the ears as well.
  • Protect your hands and feet with gloves and socks. Know that feeling when your feet or hands are colder than the rest of your body? We all do! Both feet and hands are hard to keep warm, and if they become too cold, everything else feels cold as well. Wear breathable socks and gloves to retain some extra heat.
  • Use a woolen scarf to cover your neck. This will not only help you stay warmer but also reduce the chances of waking up with a runny nose.

Tip: Always bring extra clothes as you go camping. In case your clothes get wet, and they always do, you need to replace them right away, or you will start losing body heat. This is especially important before going to sleep.

Burning Candles – For Heat or Romance

There’s something simply magical and relaxing about burning candles. May you be alone or with your better half, candles might come in handy when you’re about to get ready for sleep.

Candles in Lanterns

Candles are not only romantic, but they also provide some heat. Know that you should not sleep in a tent with candles on because there is a chance of CO2 levels rising too high. You should also keep in mind that candles should be in lanterns while burning. You don’t want to burn up your tent before you get the chance to sleep in it.

Despite all the precautions required, this method can help you raise the temperature in the tent significantly. Even though candles don’t emit much heat, the small capacity of a tent will make it possible for the candle to warm it up. So, light some candles, warm up your tent, and blow them as you go to sleep.

The Power of Body Heat

Using body heat with the purpose of better retaining heat and staying warm is nothing new. People used to do it commonly during the times when heating options were limited. Even the penguins are doing it when a cold storm hits their waddle.

Sleeping With Partner

For trying this out, you’re going to need a sleeping partner. Preferably, this should be someone who doesn’t mind their private space getting crumbled. Ideally, you would have a sleeping bag of the size that allows you both to fit in. Alternatively, you can place two sleeping bags in proximity and position yourselves back to back.

Warming up Your Body before Sleep

If you’re planning on falling asleep without shivering, you’ll have to warm yourself up first. When you go to sleep with a cold body, there is a high chance that it will take long before you warm up. This means that you will have troubles falling asleep.

Luckily, you can easily warm up your body in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Do some fast movements and a few sets of push ups. This will raise your heart rate and get your blood flowing faster, resulting in your body starting to warm up.

Exercise Before Sleep

As soon as you feel warm enough, jump into the sleeping bag and zip it. This will help you capture most of the heat that your body just produced.

Another way to warm yourself up is by drinking hot beverages. May it be tea, water, or soup; they will all help you feel better instantly.

Adjusting Your Sleeping Style

Yes, even your sleeping style matters when the cold is kicking in hard enough. In general, you should aim to keep your legs and arms next to the rest of the body. As soon as you isolate one part, you will start losing heat through it.

Sleeping in a Tent

If there are two or more of you in the tent, don’t forget to get close enough and use body heat to keep each other warm.

Are you thinking about covering your head with the sleeping bag as well? Try not to. If you’re going to do that, you will trap the moisture inside the bag as well. This will make you wet and cold. Remember that it is much better to cover your head with a bonnet and wrap your neck with a scarf instead.

Wrapping Up

Sleeping in a tent is fun and adventurous but shivering due to the cold is not so entertaining. We all like to get a good night’s sleep, regardless of where we sleep. Before you go on your next adventure, remember the tips that we’ve mentioned in this article to help you stay warm at night.

Evening Landscape in Mountains

Now you know how to choose a proper location for the camping site and how to insulate your tent. You will also be able to make yourself a nice hot water bottle and heat up rocks that will keep you warm all night. Don’t forget to choose the right clothes as well and take someone with you for double fun and double body heat.

We have presented numerous solutions on how to stay warm overnight and the rest is up to you. Try out what works best in your situations. Are you ready to take on a new challenge and spend the night in a cold tent? Tell us where you’ll go next and how you prefer to stay warm!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Foster

Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.