How To Stay Warm While Camping In A Tent

How to stay warm while camping in a tent pinpoints some helpful advice that may come in handy on your next winter adventure.

For many, a tent might come across as a safe haven where you can relax in toasty warmth, but in reality, it could get too cold for comfort in there.

A tent or other shelter on its own is far from a safe spot if the weather turns nasty or the gear you have is not up to the job so having the right gear and a bit of knowledge will help you have a more enjoyable trip.

The thing is, as much as a tent is built to shelter you from the elements, it also takes a few other pieces of equipment to make it as warm and comfortable as you would need.

And this certainly holds true when camping in an area with extremely cold conditions.

Not to worry we have some simple tips on how to stay warm in a tent, that way, you will remember the adventure for all the right reasons.

Here Are Some Steps On How To Stay Warm In A Tent?

Be Prepared

Do your homework well, know the area you’re going into or familiarize yourself if you’re not local to the area, a basic knowledge of the current weather patterns and the likelihood of any chance of extreme conditions is relatively easy to gain with all the information we have at our fingertips.

National park service is an extremely good place to find lots of information when planning your trip. From finding a park to the local conditions make bookings and getting active alerts of issues that may affect that area you wish to visit.

So the first thing that you need to do way before setting off on your expedition is to check the weather report for the area you are visiting and know you are capable and equipped to handle the expected weather conditions.

Wearing the right clothes

Having the correct clothing for the climate and layering will be a necessary step, the type of clothes that you wear when going to sleep matters a lot when it comes to keeping warm in your tent.

You need to wear clothes made with the right materials such as merino wool, which is incredibly warm, can wick moisture from your skin, and allow you to remain dry warm, and comfortable.

The number of layers that you may want to sleep in is a matter of choice depending on the season, however, I believe long woolen underwear is a must in winter tent camping. I would rather be too warm than to lay shivering and cold throughout the night.

In an extremely cold climate, woolen socks and woolen beanie to keep your head warm will make the difference when the temperature plummets.

Sometimes you just can’t sleep naked, so make the right choice of clothing, you cannot die from being warm and comfortable.

woman in woolen beenie and scarf

Have the right equipment for the task.

For instance, if you have camping gear designed for 30 degrees F conditions, you don’t want to take chances with a trip to an area where temperatures are likely to plunge below 0 degrees.

Having a good quality 3-4 season tent is something that is a necessity and the importance of shelter should not be discounted. Essential equipment like this could very well be the difference between life and death in some cases.

The same goes for the bedding you are taking with you, a simple sleeping bag is not going to cut it if you are in a cold forest area with a high chance of rain or snow.

Making such a decision beforehand on the equipment you will need could make a world of difference.

Workable and in good condition

Be sure that you test all your gear to make sure it is in good condition and working correctly. How long has the gear been sitting idly in the shed?

When was the last time you set up the tent to make sure there was no damage and that all the parts were accounted for? These simple steps alone will go a long way to assure your safety and wellbeing.

Shelter Is A Priority while camping outdoors

A tent or shelter pitched on the right ground has to be your priority in cold climates, it’s good to scout the campsite well before setting up your favorite tent so you can select the ideal position.

If placed in the wrong spot your tent could become wet, which may lead to plummeting temperatures inside.

You need to make sure you don’t set up the tent on low grounds or valleys, as these tend to be colder and wetter than on a rise. 

On the other hand, high grounds on top of hills are usually windy, which might not be the best experience.

Thus, consider a place in between for setting up your tent, but if you are not sure where to settle, make sure to go higher, as this helps prevent precipitation from collecting on top or around your tent. 

In very hilly or mountainous areas set your tent on the leeward side of the hill, below the rise. This side is protected from the prevailing wind and tends to be warmer and dryer.

orange and green tent pitched in a snow forest

Choose the right sleeping bag

One of the pieces of equipment that are sure to keep you warm in your tent is a good quality sleeping bag, but not just any sleeping bag, find the best in the link just above.

Whatever you do, don’t bring a summer sleeping bag on a winter expedition, as it will not offer the amount of warmth you need in extremely cold conditions.

It pays to spend a little more for a sleeping bag that can keep you warm if you are heading out to an area with punishing conditions. (Sleeping bags for extremely cold climates are usually more expensive)

One excellent sleeping bag for cold weather climates and one that I have written an in-depth review on is the super warm and super lightweight Outdoor Vitals Summit Sleeping Bag.

A sleeping bag liner could be of help

Remember what we said about investing in a quality sleeping bag? Turns out, a sleeping bag liner would also make a worthy addition to your arsenal as it adds extra warmth and does a whole lot more. 

Besides helping keep you warm, these liners are also great for keeping the inside of your sleeping bag clean, and free of sweat and bugs. 

Also if it does get a little damp you can simply remove it. This item is certainly worth the tiny extra weight.

sleeping bags in a tent

A sleeping pad is also a worthy addition

One thing to keep in mind is that without sufficient insulation between you and the ground, your body will be struggling to warm up the entire earth beneath you, and you know too well that’s no easy feat.

As such, you need enough insulation to keep the cold floor from sucking up your body heat, which is where a sleeping mat could come to the rescue. A closed-cell mat, for instance, does a great job at keeping you warm, even better than that air mattress you’ve been thinking of buying.

What’s more, you also need to keep an eye on the R-value of the pad; the one with a higher rating is the better option for colder weather. Check out the information here on Wikipedia sleeping pad.

Hot water bottle

Another great way to go about staying warm is heating some water before going to bed, fill a hot water bottle and place it inside your sleeping bag. 

It’s best to place your bottle in an area where you feel that you are losing most of the heat to compensate for the lost heat. Place it close to your core on your chest or belly for maximum comfort.

With such extra warmth inside your sleeping bag, falling asleep becomes easy and fast. But remember, if you wake up in the middle of the night and the water has cooled off, just remove it, as it will be taking up your body heat rather than helping.

Some ventilation is needed

The thing is that the breath that you are producing contains moisture and this will then condense on the walls, creating water droplets that will begin to rain down on you. This could make things even worse as they will be cold by the time they come down.

It’s also worth noting that you need to have some ventilation in your tent, no matter how much you feel like sealing them off. This is where quality camping equipment is a must.

Have more people in your tent

The essence of having more people in the tent is to warm the space inside the tent, as the heat that more people will produce will be more than you would release when alone.

Body heat is a real winner and really takes some beating so sharing the space with a friend will produce a warmer environment inside.

The same applies to when you are camping alone, be sure that you use a tent that suits your size which will make it easier to warm it up as space is smaller.

hikers overlooking a lake

Bring along some heat packs

Also known as heat pads, these packs are handy additions that you can keep with you if you want to stay warm through the night. All you need to do is just keep several of them inside the sleeping bag to assist with keeping you warm.

If you wake up feeling cold, massage your heat pack and it activates, enabling you to feel warm again. But they are not only great for use while sleeping, but you can also use them when sitting inside your tent, and even when out hiking.

camp cot

A camp cot

It’s hard to resist the comfort that comes with sleeping off the ground, and when it comes to keeping warm in cold weather, a highly rated camp cot surely takes some beating, but getting it to the campsite may not be that easy. 

This, of course, depends on how you are getting there, carrying a cot on your back is not going to be possible over long distances.

However, when car camping, a good comfortable cot to keep you off the ground is an excellent way of helping you stay warm inside your tent.

camping in snow

Let’s break it down

Here’s a summary of everything in a nutshell.

To begin with, check the weather condition in the area you are planning on going before leaving. Do your homework and prepare well.

Pack the correct clothing for the expected conditions and wear the right clothes to insulate and protect you from the cold. This is a crucial step in being warm inside your tent in cold climates.

The same holds true for the season as well, so make sure to consider that factor too when shopping for your gear so you can get just the right gear for the right season.

The correct equipment is of utmost importance so take the time and be satisfied in your own mind that you have everything you need.

Check that every piece of gear is in good working order and that nothing is missing loose or damaged.

Choose the right tent for the trip, these come in all ranges depending on seasons. Some are a 1-season tent, others are ideal 4-season tents and everything in between, so pick the right one for you.

A good quality tent may be the difference between a happy camping and outdoor adventure or a nightmare that you will never want to repeat

While still on it, make sure you pick a tent that’s just the right size. If you are on a solo camping trip, a 4-person tent will have a whole lot of space that you just can’t warm up enough to create some warmth in there.

Not forgetting, a double-walled tent would keep you warmer than a single-walled one, so keep that in mind too. And most importantly, select the right location to pitch your tent.

Next, get the right sleeping bag, and if need be, pack some heat pads, or warm a water bottle and toss it in there to help you keep warm. Get a scarf instead of putting your face inside the sleeping pad, to avoid dampening it.

Sleeping pad and bag liners are all little things that may make a big difference to your enjoyment so be sure to toss one in with your gear.

One of my favorite pieces of gear is a comfortable camp cot if you can get off the ground while outdoors in the cold you are more likely to say your trip was a comfortable and joyful experience.

girl dressed in snow gear


With all of these things taken into consideration, you will be able to sleep or spend your time in the tent in toasty warm conditions.

It might be costly getting the right gear to keep you warm out there, but it’s definitely worth every penny as you’ll be able to stay comfortable and safe even in extremely cold conditions.

Mother Nature could throw surprises your way, so it’s always wise to play it safe and be ready for everything and it’s the preparation you made for your trip that could mean all the difference.

 Winter camping is great fun for all the family so take the steps to keep yourself and your family safe and warm and return home with many happy memories.

Remember! Leave it cleaner than you found it, only footprints not rubbish.


Leave a Comment