How To Stay Warm In A Tent In Winter – 9 Things You Can Do To Stay Warm In A Tent In Winter

Photo of author
Jay Elliott

Chief Camping Officer

How To Stay Warm In A Tent In Winter - 9 Things You Can Do To Stay Warm In A Tent In Winter

Though camping in winter has some undeniable benefits, the cold and freezing temperatures, especially at night are something we all need to combat.

This article explores a variety of ways oh how you can stay warm in a tent, so both sleeps better and manage those frosty mornings in a bit more comfort. Options that rely on electricity and those that don’t rely on electricity are explored.

How to Stay Warm in a Tent With Electricity

It’s not that easy to heat a tent. It is, after all, a thin fabric that stands between you and the cold air outside. To keep your tent warm and cozy, here are a few things to have:

Small Blow Heater

These heaters blow warm air into your tent and heat up space pretty quickly. This type of heater has a thermostat that is programmed to turn on or off if the temperature reaches a certain point.

This is a safety feature that prevents the machine from overheating and catching fire. This heater is cheap and easy to carry, which makes it a popular choice among campers. 

Electric Blanket 

Electric blankets don’t heat the air around the tent. Instead, they bring warmth to those who use them. Electric blankets like these also need EHUs, but they are easier to store and carry than portable heaters.

Before investing in an electric blanket, it is important to remember that it will degrade over time, heat conduction may not be as efficient, and the wires may need replacing or repairing. 

Portable Diesel Heater

Diesel heaters are one of the most popular choices for campers and motorhome owners because they are reliable when it comes to producing heat to combat the cold. Diesel heaters also:

  1. Do not require electricity
  2. Take up little space
  3. Use the diesel from cars or motorhomes as a fuel source

Diesel heaters are safe to use as the combustion and the heating systems are separate meaning you won’t inhale toxic fumes.

For using these types of heaters in a tent, you can poke the warm air hose through the zipper and leave the heater outside.

How to Stay Warm in a Tent Without Electricity

Camping without electricity and the proper gear in cold weather makes for an unhappy if not dangerous camping trip. Make sure to bring these to prevent you from feeling the cold:

Quality Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags are great insulators that trap the heat near your body. Heat retention ratings on sleeping bags can be confusing, so select sleeping bags that are warmer than you think you need.

If the weather is extra cold, make sure to bring thermal blankets or duvets that you can put over your sleeping bag to retain as much heat as possible.

Wearing Beanies

Beanies can be made of wool or thermal insulator cloth that keeps your ears and head protected from the cold. You tend to lose heat through your head.

Covering your head is a fast way to heat your body. Another option would be balaclavas, as these do not slip off during the night and still provide heat like beanies.

Thermal Clothing

Wear good quality thermal clothing, as base layers before you go to sleep. Don’t wear too much, though as too much heat can also produce condensation on your sleeping bag, which will make you even colder as it cools down.

Prevent this by packing extra thermal clothing in case you sweat while sleeping.

Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottles are a tested and proven method of keeping yourself warm during cold camping nights. Water has the highest thermal mass, which is the ability to absorb heat from a source, retain it, and release it slowly over time.

This knowledge is also why farmers use water to heat greenhouses during the winter. So don’t forget to bring a portable stove, a kettle, and some hot water bottles when camping in cold weather.

Put boiling water into the bottles and put some inside your sleeping bag, maybe 15 minutes before sleeping. This gives time for the hot water bottle to heat your sleeping bag.

Heat Packs

Here are types of heat packs that you can bring on your camping trips:

  1. Electric heat packs that you can charge before your trip. Some can provide heat for up to 8 hours.
  2. Gel heat packs that you heat in boiling water can be used as hand warmers or feet warmers even when you’re not sleeping.
  3. Japanese heat packs that do not need electricity.
  4. These heat packs just need to be activated through a bit of massage. There are heat packs that you can stick on your clothes or put in your pocket for warmth. 

Tent with ‘Stove Jack’

A tent with a stove jack is a tent with a ventilation hole for a stove so you can light a wood stove inside your tent. These types of tents are made from flame-resistant material such as canvas or nylon treated with flame retardants. These types of tents, although warm, do have several cons when used:

  1. There is a limit to flame-resistant material

Although stove jack tents are treated as flame-resistant, accidents can happen, and things can get out of control. 

  1. Issues with breathability

When a stove is in your tent, people will tend to do things that result in the release of water vapor into the air, such as cooking or drying clothes. This results in lots of steam inside the room, which makes it difficult to breathe inside the tent.

  1. Weight

A stove jack tent has a large space to accommodate the stove inside. This means that this type of tent is not ideal for backpacking as it weighs a lot and can be a hassle to store and carry. 

If you decide on a tent with a stove jack, take the necessary precautions and be sure to be safe always: 

  • Use a fire mat underneath the stove
  • Bring a fire extinguisher
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and never use a BBQ or gas stove inside your tent
  • Ensure that there is proper ventilation in the tent