You’ve managed to put up your tent (after hours of trying), and you haven’t forgotten any supplies – but when you try to get some sleep, you just can’t stay warm.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
It can be really hard to get a good night’s rest when you’re constantly shivering, and no one wants to spend their camping trip tired and cold. No matter if you’re a camping expert or are just starting out, sometimes everyone needs a little help to stay warm in a tent. With the right advice, you’ll be able to make sure that your tent is as cosy as a 5 star hotel!
Luckily, this little guide will take you through our top ten tips for staying warm whilst camping. With advice on what to pack and how to conserve body heat, you’ll be warmed up in no time. If you’d like any further information, scroll to the bottom for the answers to some key questions, too.
Top Ten Tips for Staying Warm Whilst Camping
If you’re struggling to stay warm while winter camping, here’s our best advice on how to keep yourself cosy when you’re spending a night in the wilderness. These top ten camping tips will take you through everything you’ll need to make cold weather camping a breeze.
1. Layer Up
Firstly, it may seem simple, but layering up is one of the easiest ways to keep warm in a tent. Wearing extra layers will help you to trap your body heat close to your skin, so you don’t end up losing it to the cold air. It’s much easier to unzip your sleeping bag slightly if you get too hot, than to try and warm up again once you’ve started to freeze!
The best thing to do is to make sure as much of you is covered as possible. Wearing full length pajamas that cover your arms and legs is a good way to protect most of your body with at least one layer. You can also wear an extra jumper, and even try gloves if you’re prone to cold hands.
Try to choose clothing that provides a lot of insulation with less fabric. You don’t want to carry around a whole suitcase of clothes, so make sure you pack smart. Items made from fleece or wool are able to trap heat efficiently, and can even help you to regulate your body temperature so you’re never too hot or too cold. Remember not to wear anything too tight or restrictive, either.
One last thing to remember is to try and make sure your sleeping clothes are just used for sleeping. Climbing into your sleeping bag in dirty clothing can actually damage the lining, and make it less likely to keep you warm.
2. Bring a Hot Water Bottle
A hot water bottle is a classic option that can really make a difference to your winter camping holiday. They’re super easy to stuff in your backpack, and you can even find mini options if you’re going on a long hiking trip.
It’s really easy to fill up a hot water bottle with steaming water from your camping kettle, so it’s an incredibly quick and easy solution. Make yourself an evening cup of tea before you go to bed, and fill up your bottle at the same time!
The best water bottles will be able to trap heat for hours, ensuring that you stay snug all night long. Try to choose a durable steel bottle if you really struggle to stay warm, because they’re really long-lasting and are some of the best at warming you up.
It may be pretty warm at first, but try to hold your hot water bottle as close to your body as you can. Don’t let it fall out of your sleeping bag or work its way to the bottom of the bag, but try to keep it around your stomach area for the best effect!
3. Insulate your Tent
You can make your sleeping bag as cosy and inviting as you like, but the cold air and ground can still make your whole tent cold, and make it harder to stay warm as you sleep.
The best way to stop this from happening is to insulate your tent as much as possible, to prevent the ground from stealing that all important heat! You can invest in tent carpets that are specifically made for camping, but there are a range of inexpensive options you can find too!
An old rug, towel, or even a blanket are great ways to add an extra layer to the floor of your tent. Try to select something that’s fairly thick with a waterproof underside, like a good picnic blanket! Insulating your tent isn’t just a good way to keep you warm, it can make your tent feel more homely, and it’s really easy to do with things you have lying around at home, too!
4. Invest in Heating
If you’re a winter camping enthusiast, or live in colder climates, it may be a good idea to invest in heating options that you can use again and again!
A disposable heat pack can be really useful, and they’re definitely a good way to warm up fast. However, they might not be the best option if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly camping trip, and it can be hard to find a good place to dispose of them when you’re on the trails.
If you’re got the space in your pack, or a staying at a campsite, a portable tent heater is another good option. They’re surprisingly light weight, and are an excellent way to make sure that your tent is toasty before you go to bed.
However, portable heaters are either powered by gas or electricity, so you do need to be very careful when you use them. Ensure the heater isn’t too close to the tent wall, and that it doesn’t get covered by anything, because this is a fire hazard. Never leave your heater on overnight, or while you’re away from your tent for long periods of time, and always follow the safety instructions issued by the manufacturer.
Overall, portable heating options are a great investment if you often enjoy cold weather camping, but it’s always important to use them carefully!
5. Sleep Smart
If you’re still struggling to stay warm in your tent, it might be time to assess your sleeping situation. Choosing the wrong supplies for your environment can make a huge difference, so making sure you’ve made the right choice will really boost your cold weather camping experience.
Firstly, always go for a sleeping bag. You can find so many different shapes and sizes, and they’re the best way to trap body heat. A duvet may seem cosy, but they’re bulky and won’t insulate you in the same way.
You also need to ensure that you’ve chosen the right sleeping bag for the weather. If you live in a milder climate, 3 season sleeping bags will probably be enough to keep you warm in a tent for most of the year. However, if you enjoy extreme cold weather camping, or are going mountaineering, you’ll need a sleeping bag that’s specifically tailored to that environment.
A good general rule which will help you pick the right sleeping bag is to select a sleeping bag with a temperature rating that’s lower than the temperature you expect at your chosen camping spot. A temperature rating represents the lowest temperature at which your sleeping bag can keep you cosy, so it’s best to choose one that can comfortably insulate you at your destination.
Not only this, but you’ll need to leave your air beds behind. They’re definitely more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, but they aren’t the best at insulating you as you sleep. A great sleeping pad is actually a much better option, whether you lay them on the ground or on a camp bed. Whether you select a foam or self inflating sleeping pad is down to personal preference, but both will do a great job at keeping you warm and comfortable all night!
6. Try Mylar Blankets
If you’re looking for an affordable way to make cold weather camping more cosy, then a Mylar blanket is a great choice. You can find packs of 50 blankets for a surprisingly low cost, and they’re incredibly insulating, so you’ll stay snug all night!
Mylar blankets are also incredibly versatile. Sleep under them like a regular blanket, or even use them to insulate the floors or walls of your tent. With so many ways to use them, Mylar blankets are a really cost effective way to ensure you stay warm in all weather conditions, and they won’t take up much space in your bag, either!
7. Ventilate your Tent
This might sound like the strangest of our camping tips, but making sure that your tent always has good ventilation is another great way to stay cosy all evening.
You might think that encouraging cold air into your tent is a bad idea, but having a well ventilated tent is the best way to stop moisture building up inside. Having too much condensation trapped in your tent will make it cool down very quickly, so ensuring there’s good ventilation will help prevent too much water accumulating.
This is actually the same reason why you shouldn’t breathe into your sleeping bag. Your breath can condense into moisture inside the bag, which will cause your body to get cold. For this reason, making sure that both your sleeping bag and tent have access to good air flow will help you to keep warm and dry all night long!
8. Dry Out your Sleeping Bag
It’s inevitable that you’ll breathe into your sleeping bag a little, or that you might sweat as you sleep. If this happens, don’t ignore it! It’s a really simple issue to fix, and will stop you from having to spend a cold night in your tent.
Each day, take your sleeping bag and tightly roll it up. This will help to press out any moisture that has built up throughout the night, and make certain that your bed is warm and dry by the evening.
You may want to fully air out your sleeping bag if you’re camping somewhere that isn’t too wet. Hang your sleeping bag over a camping chair or table to help any moisture evaporate quickly! It might also be a good idea to do this with your sleeping pad too, but keep an eye out for any rain showers!
9. Protect your Head
Protecting key areas can have a huge effect on your body temperature no matter the weather, and your head is one of those places! Your head is such an important area, meaning it uses up a lot of your body’s resources. For this reason, it’s really easy to lose heat through your head.
A great way to better insulate your head is to choose mummy style sleeping bags that have a hood. They make it easy to shape the insulation around your body, and are able to radiate heat back at your head, so it doesn’t get cold too easily!
However, even if you’ve got a 3 season sleeping bag without a hood, you don’t have to worry about head heat loss. Wearing a hoodie or a wool hat to bed will give you just as much insulation as a hood, and you can even use a hat and a hood for extra protection if necessary!
10. Don’t forget your toes!
It’s easy to forget about your feet, but they’re another area where heat loss is common. Because they’re so far away from your core, they’re one of the first places to get cold in winter weather. Making sure your toes are well insulated is another easy way to make your evening in a tent more enjoyable!
Try to pick thick, woolen socks to wear while camping. The natural fibers are perfect for regulating your body temperature, so you won’t feel uncomfortable.
It’s also important that your socks are completely dry when you get into bed. Socks you’ve worn all day will inevitably be slightly damp, which can make your feet cool down fast. Try to save a clean pair of socks to wear to bed, because they’re much more likely to keep you snug.
How do you safely heat a tent?
Many people who enjoy cold weather camping find it hard to keep their tent warm. No matter if you’ve got lots of experience, or have never gone camping before, it’s really important to have the right information so that you can heat your tent safely.
Portable gas or electric heaters can definitely make a difference in cold weather, but they can’t be used over night or for a long period of time. You might be tempted to keep a campfire close to your tent, but this is actually really dangerous and can cause carbon monoxide poisoning or fires.
A really safe way to keep warm while camping is to bring a hot water bottle that you can tuck into your sleeping bag when you go to bed. They’re really easy to fit in your camping bag, and keep you cosy all night long!
You can also ensure that you wear enough layers. Wearing full length clothes to bed, including a hat and cosy socks, will trap heat close to your skin, so you won’t have to worry about losing warmth!
It’s also really important allow air flow inside your tent and sleeping bag. You may think that this will cool you down, but it’s actually a key way to prevent water condensation from building up as you sleep. The more moisture that surrounds you, the quicker your body will feel cold, so make certain your tent is well ventilated, and air your sleeping bag out each morning for the best effects.
How do you keep a tent warm without electricity?
If you’re a keen camper, you might be tempted to try camping without electricity for a really authentic experience. However, it can be tricky to heat your tent without extra power, especially if you’re used to warm water bottles and portable heaters.
When you’re camping without electricity, it’s key that you bring the right supplies with you to avoid being caught out in the cold weather.
One good idea to keep warm while camping is to use disposable heat packs. They aren’t the most environmentally friendly option, but they’re perfect for tucking into your sleeping bag or even taking with you on a hike! If you’re looking for a cost effective choice, choose Mylar blankets to not only insulate yourself as you sleep, but trap warmth inside your tent too!
Another great idea for insulating your tent is to use a tent rug. Whether you select a high quality tent rug or simply use a spare picnic blanket, adding an extra layer to the floor of your tent is sure to help you keep warm, and make your camping experience a much more luxurious one.
You should also try to avoid using an air bed where possible. They may be comfortable to lie on, but they won’t insulate you and can actually cool you down faster – just like the ground. The best option is to use a sleeping pad that self inflates or is made of foam. They provide an extra layer of insulation, and are surprisingly comfortable to sleep on! If you don’t enjoy sleeping on the floor, try layering a sleeping mat on top of a camp bed instead!
Overall, there’s lots of ways to make certain you’re warm while camping without electricity, and many of them are inexpensive and can be achieved with spare things you have at home!
How cold is too cold to camp?
The answer to this question often depends on your personal ability to cope with the cold, and your level of experience.
Keep in mind that if you have gear suited to camping beginners, then it’s less likely to provide you enough insulation for a comfortable night in a tent. Additionally, if you’re used to camping on summer evenings, then your regular gear may not be adequate for cold weather. However, many people enjoy camping outside in winter, and are even able to keep warm while mountaineering, so it’s definitely possible to have a cosy night when it’s cold.
Generally, if you’re not a mountaineer with years of experience, try to avoid camping trips where you’ll be sleeping in temperatures below freezing. It’s unlikely to be very enjoyable, and it will be harder to make certain that you’re properly insulated.
If you do decide to go winter camping, it’s vital that you have the appropriate gear. In particular, make certain that your sleeping bag has good insulation, and is a shape that’s able to trap hot air effectively. You should also check that the temperature rating on your sleeping bag is lower than the lowest temperature you expect at your campsite. If not, you won’t be properly insulated in the cool climate.
The temperature rating of your bag highlights the lowest external temperature at which your bag can keep you completely warm. It’s best to choose bags with a temperature ratings that are a good amount lower than the temperature that’s expected at your destination. This way, you won’t get caught out, and will be able to remain completely cosy all evening.
Keep in mind that if you’re going mountaineering, that you’ll need to double check the temperatures on the mountain itself, as they’re likely to be much colder than the weather forecast for that area.