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How to Keep Warm in a Tent: 13 Tips for Winter Camping!

How to Keep Warm in a Tent: 13 Tips for Winter Camping!

If you are planning on going winter camping, you are probably wondering how to keep warm in a tent on a cold night. This guide will walk you through a list of tips for how to stay warm while camping, even if you don’t have a fancy RV with heating!

Staying warm in a tent is super important for the overall success of your trip. No one wants to try to sleep in a tent when you are shivering and can’t get warm all night – sleeping in a tent is difficult enough as it is!

Even in the summertime, it can get pretty cold outside, especially if you are camping in high elevations. The air gets thin, and the nights can get really chilly!

These tips will also help if you are tenting during the winter or early spring months, when there might even be snow!

Staying warm will not only keep you comfortable while camping, but it will also help prevent you from getting sick or worse – getting hypothermia. 

These tips are especially important if you are camping with kids, because you definitely want them to be as warm and comfortable as possible!

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Don’t forget to grab your camping planner before you leave to plan an epic trip!

How to Keep Warm in a Tent

Here are 13 of the best tips you need to know to stay warm in a tent. Whether you are camping in the snow, or it just gets a bit chilly overnight, these tips will help keep you comfortable and safe when camping in the cool weather!

Don’t forget to check out these tips for organizing camping gear so you can keep all your camping essentials in order during your trip!

1. Choosing a Winter Tent

When choosing a tent for winter camping, you want to ensure the tent is insulated. You might want to purchase a winter tent which is specifically designed for cold weather camping. A winter tent will have its own base insulation and insulated walls specifically for cold weather.

A four season tent is also a great choice because it is specially designed for all types of weather and will work in the winter.

You can also use a tent with a fireplace hole. You can heat up your tent with a fireplace or stove and use the same one to cook on, which will also help you stay warm. These are great for glampers! We will talk more about tent fireplace options later in this article.

Outfitter tents are also a great option for staying warm!

Looking for a cheaper option? Check out these tents under $100!

2. Choose the Right Location

When winter camping, the first thing you need to ensure is that you set up camp in the right location. If you are planning to camp in a valley, for example, the cold air will settle there and your tent will not be shielded from harsh winds.

You need to find an elevated area where there are no high winds. This is even more important if it’s snowing outside because then you also have to worry about getting snowed-in by drifting snow.

Another thing to consider is your proximity to the coast, lakes and rivers because you will be losing heat in these areas. If there are tall trees around, it’s good idea to camp under them so they can provide some cover from wind too.

Be mindful of bugs, however. Check out this guide for keeping bugs out of your tent.

Remember that when camping on snow or ice, you need more insulation than normal due to the fact that the ground no longer provides insulation.

You may want to consider using a wind screen or a tent cover if you are camping in cold conditions. This will help protect you from the wind and insulate your tent more efficiently than just using an ordinary rain fly or tarp on top of it.

3. Insulate your Tent

Another tip for how to keep warm in a tent is to insulate it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your sleeping bag will be enough to keep you warm during cold winter nights. Instead, add a layer of insulation between yourself and your tent’s floor or walls by using an insulated blanket. This will help prevent the heat that your body generates from escaping.

You also want to ensure there is no moisture inside your tent. Moisture will lead to condensation, which will then freeze and cause you to become even colder than before. You can prevent this by leaving the zipper open on your sleeping bag when it’s not in use, and make sure your tent has good ventilation.

Additionally, fill up as much space in the tent as possible with your sleeping bags and other supplies. This will help trap the heat inside, keeping you nice and cozy all night long.

It is also a good idea to have everyone sleep in the same tent. This makes everyone’s body heat more easily transferable, which will help to keep you warm throughout the night. You might even want to consider a double sleeping bag to help share body heat!

Need to winterize your RV? Check out our guide!

4. Choosing a Winter Sleeping Bag

The best way to stay warm is to get a good warm sleeping bag. When choosing a good sleeping bag for winter camping, you want to get a bag that is rated for the coldest temperature you expect to encounter. If your winter camping trips are usually in southern regions of North America, then a 20-degree F (-12 C) sleeping bag will likely be sufficient. However, if you plan on going winter camping in northern Canada or Alaska, consider investing in a -20 -degree F (-29 C) bag.

Always check the temperature before your camping trip so you know what bag to bring. We use these 0 degree sleeping bags that have kept us warm during cold nights in higher elevations during the summer time.

Another consideration is a sleeping bag’s “comfort rating” or “temperature rating”. This refers to the temperature at which an average person will feel comfortable in that particular sleeping bag – not necessarily the lowest possible temperature that you could potentially experience overnight. At most outdoor retailers, this information can be found on their website or product description documentation.

If you are camping with your dog, make sure they are comfortable and warm enough too! Learn these tips for tent camping with dogs!

5. Use a Sleeping Pad or Sleeping Bag Liner

Another way to stay warm while camping in winter is to use an insulated sleeping pad. to keep you from sleeping on the cold ground. Sleeping pads are also important for comfort, but in winter it can be the difference between being warm or cold while you sleep under the stars during your camping trip.

If you choose to use an air mattress, be sure to add a layer of insulation between the mattress your body. This will prevent the air in the mattress from cooling too quickly and making you feel cold. A simple blanket or sleeping pad will suffice to add the extra layer of insulation.

When winter camping, you can also bring along a heated sleeping bag or heated blanket if your campsite has electric. These will help keep you warm and comfortable throughout the night.

6. Wear Warm Clothes in Layers

When winter camping, layers are your friend and are an easy way to stay warm! Not only can you peel them off if it gets too hot, but they also trap air and keep the warmth in. Look for breathable fabrics like polyester or wool to help wick sweat away from your skin.

You can also wear a thermal base layer or long johns under your clothes to add an additional layer of warmth. Pair them with some cozy sherpa lined sweatpants and some warm socks and you’ll be warm all day long!

And finally, don’t forget the head. A warm hat is always good to have on your noggin! If you get cold feet or hands at night, put them in a pair of clean socks and gloves before zipping up for bed.

Be sure to take layers off if you get too warm, as sweating can make you feel colder.

7. Use a Space Heater

Another easy tip for how to keep warm in a tent is to use a space heater. A tent heater is the perfect option because they are lightweight and very portable, while offering a great heat source for your tent. If your campsite has electric, consider bringing an electric space heater or a portable gas heater.

If your site does not have electric, choose a propane heater. They are easy to use, just turn on and let warm. Both portable heaters can be used inside your tent to keep you warm all night long.

Like mentioned earlier, you can also get a tent fireplace or stove . The heat from these units can help you stay warm all night long, and they are super easy to use. Be sure to follow all safety precautions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. 

8. Use Hand Warmers or Sock Warmers

Another way to stay warm in a tent is to use hand or sock warmers. These are small bags that you can put in your gloves or shoes to keep them warm. Place one or two into your sleeping bag with you and it will add an extra layer of warmth!

I like to use a rechargeable hand warmer. They are reusable and you can plug them into your car, laptop or even a USB wall outlet.

You can also get heated socks or gloves. These are awesome because they keep your feet or hands nice and toasty. They stay warm for hours on end too!

9. Heat Rocks or a Hot Water Bottle

Another way to stay warm in your sleeping bag is to heat up rocks or a water bottle. Learn different ways to heat up water when camping here!

Make sure they are wrapped in cloth before using them to prevent hurting yourself or damaging the fabric of your sleeping bag! You can also put the heated rocks (or water bottles) into an extra sock and then sleep on top of it for added warmth.

Be careful when using a water bottle in your sleeping bag. The extra moisture can also make you cold, especially if it condenses inside of the sleeping bag and begins to freeze overnight! It is best to place a towel between your body and the water bottle in order to protect both yourself and your sleeping bag from potential damage.

10. Eat a Big Meal before Bed

staying warm in a tent

Your body burns more calories when it is cold outside . Before bed, eat a meal that is rich in calories and carbs. Proteins are also helpful because they provide your body with energy for the duration of the night.

You can also bring a hot drink with you to bed to help keep you warm and toasty!

In addition to eating before bed, consume high-calorie snacks throughout the day as well. Fats can greatly increase your body temperature so you will need to include them in your diet to keep warm. Check out a list of our favorite camping meals that require zero cooking so you don’t have to do any extra work when you are in the cold.

PS. Read these tips for keeping food cold while tenting!

11. Prevent Sunburn

Another important tip for how to keep warm in a tent during cold-weather camping is to avoid sunburn. The sun’s rays are stronger in the winter so you have to be more careful about this and avoid direct sunlight.

This means applying sunscreen as often as possible, wearing a hat and protecting your face with sunglasses. If available, wear long-sleeved clothes or jackets that cover most of your skin because it will prevent burning altogether which is an important aspect if you want to enjoy your time camping.

If you have sunburn, your body will be in a state of inflammation which is why it will feel colder. In the long run, this could even lead to getting sick or being more prone to respiratory infections that might ruin your camping trip altogether.

12. Light Exercise before Bed

exercise camping

Another great way to stay warm while winter camping is to do some light exercise before bed to get your blood circulation going to get your core body temperature up. Not only does this get your heart pumping, it improves circulation and boosts metabolism to keep you warm all night long!

Be sure not to work up too much of a sweat because sweating can make you feel colder .

Try some lunges or squats, sit ups, or a light jog around your campsite just enough to get your body warm.

If you want to enhance your exercise routine, check out these portable workout equipment essentials

13. Fill Empty Space in Sleeping Bag

Empty space leaves more room for cold air to get in. The less space you have, the less there is to heat up! Fill up that empty space with extra clothes or a fleece or mylar blanket to keep warm. You can also put tomorrows clothes in a spare pillow case and use it as a pillow, or put it inside your sleeping bag. This will help keep you warm, as well as keep your clothes warm for the morning!

Additionally, place your boots upside down at the bottom of your sleeping bag, and fill them with clothes & socks for insulation.

Camping with your partner? You can always snuggle up together in the same sleeping bag for extra warmth!

Want More?

Stay warm and toasty this winter with these tried and true tips for keeping yourself comfortable in a tent. Whether you’re camping on the beach or up at the lake, we’ve got all kinds of ideas for staying comfy while sleeping outside – no matter how cold it is!

Check out our guide below for some handy tools that will make planning your next camping adventure as easy as possible. We hope these tips help keep you toasty during those chilly nights under the stars!

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Saturday 14th of October 2023

Nice article, but I think you mixed up the sleeping bag rating thing. Typically sleeping bag ratings are more survival than comfort. If it were rated for comfort at 20°, you’d certainly be able to survive in even lower temps uncomfortably. And the ground doesn’t tend to insulate…it’s a heat sink. Snow is actually quite insulating, although not really when compressed. I like using Reflectix-type mats under my tent all year round. Unless I’m trying to save space, since they’re a little bulky, although they’re very lightweight. They keep the tent floor clean, dry, and add a barrier between the cold ground and everything in the tent rather than just insulation between the ground and sleeping pad. They are slightly cushioned, too. But if it’s folded, it can be used just under the sleeping pad and be even more cushioned.

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