Last Updated on March 6, 2020
For people who enjoy outdoor activities, camping is a wonderful experience. However, camping is an activity that also has its downsides. One of the biggest disadvantages of sleeping in a tent is that it can often feel very cold during the night. This can make it tricky to settle for the night and to enjoy an undisturbed sleep. If this is a problem you have experienced while camping, then there are steps you can take to get a better night’s sleep. Here are some ways to keep warm in a tent.
Tips on Staying Warm in a Tent
Buy the Right Tent
Choosing the right tent is probably the most important step in keeping yourself warm at night. You should consider the following points:
- Tent temperature rating- Tents are given a temperature rating according to the season in which you can use them. A three-season tent is suitable from spring to fall, while a four-season tent is suitable for cold conditions. You should choose a tent that is suitable for the conditions in which you plan to camp.
- Read reviews of the best tents- Take your time to read reviews of the best tents as this will give you some idea of the experiences of others sleeping in tents in cold weather.
- Tent maintenance- Make sure you maintain your tent regularly. Repair any tears and seal the seams with a sealant. This will reduce leaks and drafts.
Where you pitch can also make a big difference to how warm you feel at night. Here are some pitching tips:
- Choose a sheltered area- By pitching in a sheltered area, you are protected from strong winds and heavy showers. These are both conditions that can make you feel colder in the night.
- Avoid exposed areas- Similarly, you should avoid exposed areas that are open to the elements as these are the coldest places to pitch. Likewise, elevated points often feel much colder.
Choose a Good Sleeping Bag
The quality of your sleeping bag makes all the difference between a good night’s sleep and a sleepless night. When choosing your sleeping bag, consider the following factors.
- Temperature rating- Choose a sleeping bag that is suitable for the times of year in which you will camp and the conditions you are likely to experience. A three to four-season sleeping bag is enough if you only camp between spring and fall. You will need a four-season sleeping bag if you camp during the winter or in extreme conditions.
- Shape- The shape of a sleeping bag affects warmth. A mummy-style sleeping bag will keep you warmer than a rectangular one, but they also have less room inside. You must decide whether room to move or warmth is the most important to you.
- Choose down insulation- A sleeping bag with down insulation is generally the warmest option. However, this is also more expensive than synthetic insulating fibers.
- Hood- A hood can add heat around your head and make you feel more comfortable. If the hood has a drawstring for adjustment, it will also retain heat in the rest of the sleeping bag.
- Features- There are other features of sleeping bags that will help to keep you warm. Look out for ones with insulated foot boxes and zippers with draft excluder tubes.
Use a Sleeping Bag Liner
An excellent way of adding extra warmth to your sleeping bag is to use a sleeping bag liner. There are many of these to choose between on the market that are made from various materials. The downside to sleeping bag liners is that they can wrap around you in the night and make you feel constricted.
- Silk- Silk sleeping bag liners are one of the most popular choices as they are the warmest. They are also thin and light, which is good for backpacking. The downsides to these is that they tear easily and move around a lot when you move.
- Fleece- Another good option for sleeping bag liners is fleece as this is warm and less likely to tear than silk. However, it is thicker and heavier, so it is not the best choice for backpackers.
- Alternatives- An alternative to sleeping bag liners is to take a few extra blankets with you to lie over the top of your sleeping bag.
Heat Packs and Hot Water Bottles
There are also ways you can add heat directly into the area where you will sleep. These include adding wither a hot water bottle or a disposable heat pack into your sleeping bag.
- Hot water bottles- These are bulky for backpacking trips, but a good idea if you are car camping. Adding a filled hot water bottle to your sleeping bag means you have a nice warm sleeping bag at bed time.
- Disposable heat packs- heat packs are lighter to carry than a hot water bottle but need replacing for every trip.
Dress in Layers
A further step you can take is to wear layers of clothing during the night. Sleeping in thin layers of clothing traps heat from your body between the layers and keeps you warmer for longer.
- Start with fitted clothing that completely covers your limbs as a base layer and then add looser layers on top.
- Wearing thermals below your regular clothing is a good idea as these are the warmest types of clothes for camping.
- Don’t forget to wear a pair of socks to keep your feet warm.
Use a Tent Heater
Technology can also come in useful in your fight against the cold. A tent heater can raise the temperature in your tent, thus keeping you warmer for longer.
- Gas tent heaters- These are the most commonly used as you can use them anywhere with no need for an electrical hook up and they are cheap to run from a gas cannister. The downside is that there is an open flame, so you must use with extreme caution.
- Electric tent heaters- These effectively heat the tent and there is no open flame. However, you can only use them if you are staying on a campsite with electric hook-up points.
- Oil-filled heaters- These do not have an open flame, so they are safer than gas heaters. However, they do not radiate heat as well, so they are better for smaller tents.
- Halogen heaters- A halogen heater radiates a lot of heat. However, floor-standing halogen heaters are a fire hazard and are banned by some campsites.
- Wood burning stoves- A wood burning stove is one of the warmest options if you have the right sort of tent.
- Battery heaters- These are usually smaller heaters, intended to warm only one person. They are good for warming your hands or feet but will not keep you warm all night.
- Safety- You should always take great care when using any type of tent heater. Never leave them unattended in your tent and do not put them too close to the sides. You must only ever use the tent heater to warm your tent while you are still awake and never leave them turned on overnight.
Feeling cold while camping will prevent you from sleeping properly and can make camping a miserable experience. However, there are ways that you can keep warm when camping and using some of these tips for how to keep warm when camping will improve your overall camping experience.