How Do You Stay Warm in a Tent?

Going camping is an incredible experience in nature- feeling the cool breeze, gazing at the open sky, and listening to the quiet noises all around you. But, when the cool breeze starts to impact you a bit too much, how can you warm up in your tent?

Staying warm in a tent involves using an appropriate tent (one that is seasonally appropriate, water-resistant/water-repellent, has appropriate ventilation, and is the right size), a high-quality sleeping bag, thermal layers, elevating your bedding, protecting your extremities, and more.

Whether you are an amateur or have been camping for all of your life, you can quickly learn the tricks that will help you to stay warm even when the cooler temperatures of the season (or time of day) set in. Rest assured that by appropriately preparing beforehand, you can avoid the hazards of becoming too cold while camping. To make it easier for you, we have compiled the most reliable tricks for staying warm in a tent and placed them all in the list below. Take a look!

Use an Appropriate and High-Quality Tent

man fixing orange, white and gray tent in the middle of the hill
© Photo by Courtney Corlew on Unsplash

Staying warm in a tent starts with the tent that you are choosing to stay warm in. While this point of logic might be easily overlooked, take heed not to overlook this yourself. After all, if you choose the cheapest tent on the market, you might have an incredibly difficult time staying warm inside of it- even when following other tips and guidelines.

Finding the right tent for your camping trip involves a few key factors- especially when you are trying to stay warm. These include the following:

Make Sure Your Tent is Water-Resistant

tent in rain in forest - tim-foster-z9LPimZfyfo-unsplash
© Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Keeping the moisture out of your tent is going to be the number one way to make sure you stay warm inside of your tent. What happens when the morning dew or overnight precipitation leaks inside of your tent is that not only will your belongings become soaked but you will soon be feeling the cold temperatures accordingly.

Finding a tent that is sure to keep the water (no matter how strong the precipitation is) outside of your tent is the most important aspect of protecting yourself from colder temperatures while camping. Not only can you do this by ensuring that you invest in a high-quality tent (by reading reviews and purchasing from a reliable company), but you can also place down a tarp under your tent or on the inside floor of your tent for an additional layer of protection.

Regardless of how you accomplish water resistance, this is a critical component to finding the right tent for your next camping trip- especially if you plan on enjoying it and staying warm.

Make Sure the Tent has Appropriate Ventilation

Almost all tents (and definitely high-quality tents) will have ventilation in some type of hidden component- likely through side airways, a system placed on top, or some even have ventilation on sides near the floor. Regardless of which option you go with, you want to be sure to read the reviews of how well the ventilation on the tent you plan to use will work. The key to ventilation on a tent is finding the right type to keep oxygen flowing in without letting all of your warmth escape.

Use a Tent that is the Right Season and Size

tent in right season and size
© Photo by Datingjungle on Unsplash

If you are new to camping, then you might not realize that tents are designed to be used seasonally, and you also need to use a tent that is the right size for you and your camping group. Finding the right high-quality tent that has both of these will be critical to staying warm in your tent.

Let’s start with finding a tent that is seasonally appropriate. Some tents are designed for 3-season use, while others are designed for all 4 seasons. Regardless of which season you plan on going camping in, you need to make sure that your tent is designed to work in that season. 

This comes back to the level of protection that your tent will be able to offer you from the elements. And, when it comes to your protection in the wilderness, your tent’s protection from the elements is incredibly important. You want to make sure that your tent is designed to handle low temperatures, especially as the temperature drops at night. 

In terms of sizing, if you are planning on setting up a mega tent and only having two campers sleep inside of it, then you will have plenty of room for your belongings inside of the tent, but you could be wasting space and ruining your airflow. 

What happens here is that the warm air that you could have been trapping inside of a smaller tent will escape into the open abyss at the other end where there are no campers. To avoid this, use a tent that is specifically designed for the number of campers who plan to sleep inside of the tent.

Use a High-Quality Sleeping Bag

woman sleeping in warm cozy tent
© Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Moving on from the various components you need to look for in a tent, you also need to invest in a high-quality sleeping bag in order to stay warm in your tent. Now, while your high-quality tent should keep out moisture and wind, you will still need to bundle up inside. This starts with your sleeping bag.

There are a few key components to look for in a sleeping bag if you want it to keep you warm. First, you can look at the temperature rating on your sleeping bag. This will tell you how low the temperature outside can get that the sleeping bag can resist. In essence, this allows you to gauge the temperature that you would begin feeling the cold air inside of the sleeping bag.

Another component to look for in your sleeping bag is the material that it is made from. While there are many different varieties, you will want to consider finding an option that either has a synthetic filling that has high reviews in terms of keeping you warm, or you can choose a down option (that will be a little heavier). 

Finally, you want to make sure that your sleeping bag is water-resistant, or you can use a sleeve on your sleeping bag for additional protection. Not only do you want the sleeping bag to be water-resistant to any dew that happens to come in through your tent (although a high-quality tent would prevent this), but you want the sleeping bag to be moisture-wicking in case you sweat throughout the night. This will be sure to keep you clean and warm.

Wear Thermal Layers

It is likely no secret that if you want to stay warm in the outdoors, you will need to bundle up. After all, you have been learning this since early childhood when you and your friends and family would go outside for a snowball fight. The lesson carries over when trying to stay warm in your tent.

Now, you can wear thermal layers in a few different ways. Primarily, you can wear thermal layers underneath your clothing (such as wearing thermal underwear or investing in some less fashionable, but entirely warm long johns or fleece-lined tights. The other option you have for thermal layers is wearing your blankets inside of your tent. As long as these stay dry while you are en route to your camping spot, they should keep you extra warm.

Protect Your Extremities

staying warm in tent marek-piwnicki-OCHliW4m-2c-unsplash
© Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Speaking of wearing layers to stay warm in your tent, you want to particularly focus on protecting your extremities from the cold as you begin to prepare for a cooler night (or day) of camping. What this means is that you will want your head, hands, and feet all layered and protected to keep the warmth in. 

Heat can quickly escape from your extremities, so by protecting these you can help to stay warm in your tent. To do this, you can wear thermal socks, hats, and gloves while moving around and also while drifting off to sleep.

Elevate Your Bedding

Now, when we talk about elevating your bedding, we are not just talking about purchasing a high-quality sleeping bag (although this is obviously important, as previously discussed). We mean finding a way to take your bedding off of direct contact with the earth floor. In recognizing that this is not always possible, it is still worth the effort if you are able to do so.

Taking your bedding off of direct contact with the floor of your tent can help to separate your bedding from the cold ground- and consequently will help to keep your body heat inside of your sleeping bag instead of seeping into the ground below you. 

You can elevate your bedding by bringing a cot if you are camping right outside of your car, but if you are not doing this, you will want to think more strategically as you will have to carry this to your camping spot. Instead of something incredibly heavy, consider placing a thermal layer under your sleeping bag or inflatable mattress. This can go a long way to ensuring that the cold ground does not steal your body heat.

Keep a Hot Water Bottle by Your Bedding

As we take a look at another experienced camping hack, you can heat up water by using your portable camping stove or kettle and placing it in an insulated water bottle near your bedside. Then, if you are feeling cold throughout the night, this can act as a quick item to grab a hold of to almost instantly warm you up. It is like holding a warm cup of coffee, except this can be a bit more long-lasting and is more effective wherever you happen to be camping.

Use Disposable Heat Packs

Disposable heat packs are another item that you can pack along with you that can instantly provide you warmth within your tent. These come in many different varieties from packs that you would place on your back to something that you would hold in your hands. 

Realistically, there is not one style that is definitively better than another, but finding the right option that will work for you can help to add instantaneous heat when you need it. Just be sure not to leave these behind, as you will want to respect nature and leave no trail behind.

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