Knowing how to make your tent warmer is valuable knowledge for any camping trip. I’ve been on more than a few where I was freezing at night and could have used these tips!
Here are several things you can do.
Heating stones to raise the temperature
Some folks like to heat up stones from their campfire and place them inside on the four corners of the tent. Keep in mind if you were to try this method, you’d need to set them down on a metal pan to avoid melting the tent. Also, it works best with a well insulated tent.
Not recommended for active sleepers!
Using a camping heater
Gas heaters like the X are perfect for keeping a tent warm in the winter. They’ve improved a lot over the years and have no risk of carbon monoxide since they sit outside the tent. However, if you’re not interested in using gas heaters, there are electric heaters that can work too. They’re typically a little more difficult because of the lack of outlets / generators on hand to power them.
Camping heaters are a great option, but you need to be careful with anything hot that you’re placing inside your tent. In tight spaces they can be a fire / burn hazard that may not be worth the trouble. You’ll have to use your own situation to determine if they can work for you.
Hot water bottles work
It doesn’t get much more simple than using one of these. First, heat the water using your campfire then pour it into the water bottle to enjoy. These bad boys usually last for a couple hours and when paired with a cover, are comfortable to hold. As a result, I much prefer these to using stones as they’re a safer choice. They will definitely make your tent warmer in a pinch.
Bring clothing and equipment rated for the cold
While it’s not the most fun solution on the list, nothing beats being prepared when you’re going to be in a cold, inhospitable environment. I really dislike packing too much for trips, but it’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around. In fact, as you’ll see below, you can even use your extra gear as additional insulation if you need to.
The golden rule of outdoor clothing is layers! Much like I wrote in my what to wear hiking article, you’ll want to have several layers of synthetic clothing with a thick outer layer to take the chill out. Then, when it’s time to go to sleep you can take them off as needed to be comfortable. You’ll never go wrong by wearing a little extra.
Being in the cold with a sleeping bag that isn’t rated for the temperature is the WORST! It’s a mistake I see a lot of beginning campers learn the hard way. Any decent sleeping bag will tell you the coldest temperature it’s good for as the “Temperature Rating”. If the rating is 20 degrees, it will keep you warm as long as it doesn’t get below that temperature. Easy enough, right?
If you plan on camping even semi regularly, I recommend not going cheap on your sleeping bag to save money. Quality sleeping bags like this one from TETON Sports will be more true to their temperature rating and last longer than their cheaper counterparts.
Also worth mentioning: a good sleeping pad makes a world of difference in preventing cold temperatures from the ground going through your sleeping bag. You’ll want to make sure the pad has a high R value (this is it’s effectiveness at thermal insulation, so the higher the better)
Not all tents are made equal when it comes to the season they are meant for. Most tents are meant for all seasons and don’t have any specific build qualities for cold weather. If you’re looking for a winter tent, you’ll want to make sure it is “double layered” like this GEERTOP one. They’re also called four-season tents.
Like I mentioned with the sleeping bag – you don’t have to break the bank on a tent. However, getting the right one will keep you from being miserably cold and having trouble sleeping! For a complete cold weather gear list, I recommend this article from Backpacker.com
Getting creating with insulation
If you’re needing to make a tent warmer, hanging emergency blankets on the inside of the walls can be a great way to do it. They will effectively keep the heat inside your tent and make for a great option if conditions get more cold than you prepared for.
You can also use spare gear to cover any weak spots your tent may have that are letting cold air in / warm air out. Using things like socks, sacks to insulate the tent even further. Of course, you don’t want to completely block your airflow out of the tent in the process!
There’s a lot of methods to warm up your tent
By now you know a ton of different ways to stay warm in the outdoors. The biggest factor, as usual with camping is being prepared. That means:
- Checking the weather forecast before leaving for the trip
- Checking the gear list to make sure everything gets packed
- Having the appropriate equipment for the conditions
You can have all of the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t bring the right stuff you’re in for a bad time! Part of this is experience too, though. I feel like I get a little bit better at camping each time I go out, so don’t feel bad if you forgot something. It happens.
Personally, when it comes to cold temperatures I rely on my tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag to stay warm. Those are my tried and true pieces of equipment that I paid a little extra for the comfort factor. That being said, I always have at least one or two of the methods listed above ready to go so I’m prepared.