Do you know the #1 BEST way
to keep warm in a tent?
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For many people, camping season gets into full swing in the spring and summer. Everything is waking up; the birds are coming back, the trees are blooming, the bees are buzzing about. The world is reborn! We can open our windows and dust off our tents to get ready for that first camping trip of the season. These warmer days, however, will often forget to tell their evening counterparts that it’s time to heat up!
Imagine: You’ve just spent a wonderfully warm day in the great outdoors, sat around a toasty fire and now it’s time to climb into your tent for a good night’s rest. But it’s freezing!! Hopefully, you’ve come prepared, and this article will give you a great headstart on how to stay warm in a tent.
Don’t miss #20 – the best kept secrets …
#1 – The Obvious: Buy/Use a Tent-Safe Heater
Tent heaters are one of the most obvious ways to keep your tent warm. These heaters are made for use right inside of your tent.
We don’t recommend running the heater all night, however. Instead, we suggest running the heater for a bit before you go to sleep and then shutting it off before shutting yourself off for the night.
#2 Fun to Try: Mylar Blankets
Mylar blankets, sometimes known as space blankets, are a great way to keep your tent warm. Not just for emergencies, they are usually inexpensive and available at most sports and camping stores. You can use the mylar blanket around yourself to keep warm, place it on your sleeping mat or mattress, or even use it to reflect heat back on to you.
To reflect heat back down at you with the mylar blanket, simply attach it to the ceiling of your tent with duct tape. It will reflect much of the heat in the tent from either your own body heat or from your recently used tent heater. Kind of like a baked potato!
#3 Essential: Use a Temperature Rated Sleeping Bag
Be sure you have a good quality temperature rated sleeping bag. For maximum toastiness, your sleeping bag should be rated for zero degrees. You may also want to invest in a fleece lined sleeping bag liner. Similar to when Luke Skywalker was placed in the tauntaun for warmth on the ice planet Hoth, these will help to increase the rating of your current or new sleeping bag by about 10 degrees.
Check out these highly rated sleeping bags that have great reviews
Image Sleeping Bag Price Prime Buy Top Top TETON Sports Mammoth +20F Queen-Size Double Sleeping Bag; Warm and Comfortable for Family Camping Prime Check It Out Top Top Coleman Dunnock Cold Weather Adult Sleeping Bag Prime Check It Out Top Top Top Hyke & Byke Eolus 15 & 30 Degree F 800 Fill Power Hydrophobic Goose Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base - Ultra Lightweight 3 Season Men’s and Women’s Mummy Bag Designed for Backpacking Prime Check It Out Top Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Degree F 650 Fill Power Hydrophobic Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base - Ultra Lightweight 3 Season Men’s and Women’s Mummy Bag Designed for Backpacking Prime Check It Out Top Hyke & Byke Eolus 0 Degree F 800 Fill Power Hydrophobic Goose Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base - Ultra Lightweight 4 Season Men’s and Women’s Mummy Bag Designed for Backpacking Prime Check It Out
|Top Top||TETON Sports Mammoth +20F Queen-Size Double Sleeping Bag; Warm and Comfortable for Family Camping||Prime||Check It Out|
|Top Top||Coleman Dunnock Cold Weather Adult Sleeping Bag||Prime||Check It Out|
|Top Top Top||Hyke & Byke Eolus 15 & 30 Degree F 800 Fill Power Hydrophobic Goose Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base - Ultra Lightweight 3 Season Men’s and Women’s Mummy Bag Designed for Backpacking||Prime||Check It Out|
|Top||Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Degree F 650 Fill Power Hydrophobic Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base - Ultra Lightweight 3 Season Men’s and Women’s Mummy Bag Designed for Backpacking||Prime||Check It Out|
|Top||Hyke & Byke Eolus 0 Degree F 800 Fill Power Hydrophobic Goose Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base - Ultra Lightweight 4 Season Men’s and Women’s Mummy Bag Designed for Backpacking||Prime||Check It Out|
#4 Pro Tip: Keep your Tent Ventilated
Most people don’t realize that you need to keep your tent ventilated at night. This may sound a little strange at first but there’s a good reason for it! Heat from your body and your breath inside your tent at night can cause condensation to build up and make everything in your tent slightly damp.
By keeping your tent ventilated, you can reduce the dampness and condensation thereby keeping you and the inside of your tent dryer – which keeps you warmer throughout the night.
It is equally important that you try to keep yourself from sweating. If you wake up and notice that you are sweating, remove some layers to keep dry. You don’t want to get too hot inside your tent. In the immortal words of Survivorman Les Stroud, you sweat, you die! Ok, so you probably won’t die on your weekend outing, but you will definitely become chilly if you sweat on a cold night!
#5 Smart Locations: Choose a Protected Campsite
Choosing the perfect camp spot is essential. When the evening weather calls for cold temperatures, you’ll be happy you chose a protected campsite.
You’ll want to avoid low lying areas where cold air settles. A site that is 50 feet above the valley floor should be sufficient to keep you warmer. Look for a campsite that is also protected from too much wind. A chilly wind on cold night can cool you to the bones.
#6 Dry It Out: Roll Out your Sleeping Bag
After you’ve slept snugly all night in your temperature rated sleeping bag, it’s a good idea to roll out any moisture from the night.
Remember, dampness equals chilliness and the last thing you want to do after your first night of sleeping warm is to crawl into a chilly, damp bag.
Simply lay out your sleeping bag and roll up, from feet to head. Extra points if you are able to lay or hang your sleeping bag to dry completely.
#7 FAIL: Air Mattresses are a HUGE No-no!
Many people like to bring a few creature comforts from home to make their camping trip as comfortable as possible. Air mattresses are one of those comforts often brought along, but it is not the best option if you are trying to keep warm.
Air mattresses hold on to whatever the current air temperature is, so if it’s below your comfort level of temperature, you will have the cold air hitting you from above and below. If you do bring an air mattress with you, remember to insulate! Use sleeping pads, mylar blankets, tarps, a foam yoga mat, or even a bed of pine needles under your tent where the mattress will be placed.
Investing in a quality sleeping mat can not only save you room, but it can help keep you warmer in your tent.
#8 Toasty Toes: Keep your Feet Dry & Warm
Like mom always said, don’t go to bed with wet socks. Actually, not many moms probably ever said this, but it’s a good piece of advice anyway! Make sure your socks are completely dry before you climb into your sleeping bag for the night. Even slightly damp socks can cause you to lose a lot of heat through your feet (remember, dampness equals coldness!!). We recommend having a pair of socks just for sleeping, and putting them on right before you climb into bed for the night.
It is important to remember not to bundle up too much to prevent any sweating. If you get too warm at night and start sweating, you can be sure to wake up damp and cold! Dress in layers that you can easily remove from in your bag.
Some campers may want to look into purchasing an elephant bag for camping. Elephant bags, or half bags, are like little sleeping bags for your feet. You simply slide your tootsies in and you’re done!
#9 Use Science: Insulate from the Ground Up
A sleeping pad is great, but sometimes it might need a little help. A cold ground can suck the heat right out of your body. Try placing a foam exercise mat under your sleeping pad to bulk up the heat retention in your tent.
Alternatively, place a layer of leaves and pine branches underneath your sleeping surface in lieu of bringing another pad with you. It shouldn’t be too hard to find these out in the woods! If it is, you’re probably camping in the wrong spot!
#10 Headgear: Wear a Knit Cap to Bed
Now, this might seems like a given, but wear a knit cap to bed. You can lose a lot of body heat from your head when the rest of your body is covered. Wearing a hat is much better than just pulling your head into your sleeping bag too. Breathing in your sleeping bag will cause condensation which leads to, you guessed it, dampness! And I know you know what dampness equals by now!! (Hint: it’s coldness)
#11 The Right Pajamas: Clean Dry Sleeping Wear
Wearing the correct clothing to bed is crucial to keeping you warm in your tent. Always have clothing that is expressly for sleeping only.
Loose, cotton thermals are a first rate choice for tent camping sleeping wear. They won’t restrict circulation to keep your blood pumping. Having a good flow of blood to your body will help keep you warm.
#12 Get the Blood Flowing: Go to Bed Warm
Get that campfire burning inside of you by doing some aerobic activity before you hope into your tent. Try some jumping jacks, squat thrusts or burpees before you get into your sleeping bag to get your blood flowing.
If you get cold inside your sleeping bag, do a few crunches to warm back up. This way you don’t even have to leave your bag or tent! Exercise just enough to get you warmed, but not enough to sweat.
#13 Drink Up: Hydrate During the Day
Keep yourself hydrated during the day and avoid drinking too much right before bed. Doing this will greatly reduce the possibility of having to get up and go during the night.
If you absolutely must urinate during the night, try using a pee bottle. I know, I know, super gross right? But this can function in two ways: you don’t have to get out of bed and you can use the now tepid bottle to warm you up! Hey, we do what we must in the woods! Besides, “holding it” uses precious energy you need to keep warm!
Speaking of bottles of hot liquids…..
#14 Easy Heater: Take a Bottle of Hot Water to Bed
Pee is not the only hot liquid you can take to bed with you, there’s also a lesser known liquid called water that is just as useful. I kid, I kid, you know all about water, being a human and all ( you are human, right??)
All joking aside, water is wonderful, precious and extremely versatile. For our particular situation, boil some water and put it in a leak-proof, resealable bottle. We suggest Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle or any Hydro Flask to keep that water warm for hours, but any resealable bottle should do. Use caution if you are using a bottle (glass, plastic or metal) that is not made for hot liquids.
The old school hot water bottle is another tried and true option for all you campers out there. Like the Nomader and Hydro Flask bottles, these are made specifically to hold hot liquids and insulate them to keep them hot (or cold if you are using them for that reason)
#15 Nom Nom: Eat a High Caloric Dinner
Calories are a unit of heat. Higher calories equal more warmth. So don’t feel bad about eating that second or third hot dog on a chilly night.
Eating a small meal before you hit the sack will give your belly something to do during the night. Just the act of digesting will help warm up the body.
#16 Cover Up: Use a Scarf or Balaclava
For those of you who don’t know, a balaclava is a form of cloth head gear that is made to go around and cover your head and neck while leaving your face more exposed. Use one of these or grab a plain scarf to wrap around your head and neck before sleep. Using one of these is a great way to keep your mouth and nose out of your sleeping bag, but still covered when needed.
#17 Geology: Heat Rocks
Place a few good hand sized stones in your camp fire.
Let them heat up for and hour or so and allow to cool for a bit. Once they are able to be handled but still warm, wrap the rocks in towel and place in the foot of your sleeping bag.
You could also place them in the center of your tent and use in combination with the mylar thermal blankets on your tent’s ceiling. This should keep your tent warm for hours!
As an alternative method, try digging a hot rock trench. While your rocks are heating up in the fire, dig a trench under where your tent/bed will be. Make sure it is the full length of your body and deep enough to cover all the stones with a few inches of dirt. Carefully place the heated rocks inside the trench and cover with a few inches of soil. Make your bed on top of the buried stones and have a toasty sleep!
Using hot rocks is not recommended for unsupervised children or inexperienced campers. Never heat up wet rocks as they are likely to expand and burst in the heat of a fire. This could cause hot embers and rock shards to shoot out, possibly causing serious injury.
#18 Fun for Kids: Use Hand & Foot Warmers
On extra cold nights, open two disposable hand warmers. Place one of the them near the foot of your sleeping bag to keep your feet cozy. Hold the other one against your chest while you sleep. Even if you drop it during the night, it should remain inside your sleeping bag, keeping you nice and warm.
#19 Snuggle Up with a Loved One Furry or Not!
Cozy up to a loved one in a shared sleeping bag. There are many zip together sleeping bags on the market, as well as extra large bags meant for two people.
Dogs make for a good snuggle partner while camping, just be sure they are comfortable in a tent!
#20 … Our readers share their personal experience!
Of course, there are many different ways to keep your tent warm. Everyone has their own tried and true methods that work for them. The list of tips here will set you down a great path for getting you started. Whether you’re getting ready to camp for the first time, or you’re a seasoned pro, being prepared for any situation you may encounter is paramount to a great tent camping experience.
Tried any of these tips yourself?
Do you know a great one we might be missing?
Let us know in the comments your best method for keeping your tent warm on those chilly nights in the forest!