[20 Secrets] to Keep Warm in Your Tent when Camping and Not Freeze!

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.

Best Tent Heaters Revealed Here

#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

#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

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

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!

Do you know the #1 BEST way
to keep warm in a tent?

99 thoughts on “[20 Secrets] to Keep Warm in Your Tent when Camping and Not Freeze!”

  1. Candle lantern…I have a 10X10 Kodiak Canvas tent and it works well enough. The tent isn’t necessarily warm, but it’s not freezing, either. And that’s really the point.
    I’ve been camping since 1967, when I was just a wee spot of a lad. We did everything from desert, mountain and winter camping. My parents were definitely outdoorsy, to say the least.
    I was also in Boy Scouts back in the 70’s/early 80’s…back when we learned true survival skills. Their focus has waned as of late, but I digress.
    I have been taking people out into the wild for 25 years professionally and the only thing you need is a good lantern, decent ventilation and a pro-grade sleeping bag. All this other nonsense is a waste of time or money, or both. We used to put fires in the middle of the tents in a large steel bowl with spark mesh atop it. It works most excellent, but nowadays people are babies and get scared of the fire in their tent. I guess 40 thousand years of other people doing it isn’t enough to convince them. : \
    The most important thing is a killer sleeping bag. The second most important thing is a lantern, preferably a candle lantern (UCO). The third most important thing is ventilation. And remember, you’re camping…no devices, no screens…nothing. It’s time to grow up.

  2. No one has mentioned the importance of peeing! In an effort to stay warm during cold temps…your body will eliminate any fluids. So holding your pee in middle of the night bc you are cold, is more harm than good (bc liquid is colder than air)As miserable as it is to get out of warm bag….a quick midnight pee to get rid of the fluid AND the physical hassle of getting up, will quickly warm you back up.

    Also keep high calorie protein bars in tent (unless you are in bear country). A little snack can warm you up. Especially a snack after your midnight pee 🙂

    I love my hot bottle warmer and sleep with it between my legs. The femoral artery is your biggest artery and if you can keep that warm, it’ll pump warmth throughout your whole body.

    Do not cover your face in tent. You’ll be a cold sweaty mess.

    There is something to be said about sleeping naked. That skin to skin contact really helps generate more body heat. But it’s also kind of a crazy idea. But there’s truth to it, and balance so keep that in mind when you are layering yourself up. I have layered myself up way too much and felt it did me more harm than good. Remember quality (wool base layer) and not quantity.

    Idk if this works….but I’ve put tea lights in empty soup cans in my tent. Might help with condensation.

    But I’m mostly here to tell you to get up and pee!

  3. For a little tent, your body heat will increase the inside temperature by a few degrees. However, your sleeping bag job is to keep you warm, not the tent. Ensure that you opt for a bag rated to the coldest temperature you may encounter. Try to eat a hot meal before bed. Always wear a head covering, like a beanie or a balaclava.

    You can also bring your dog with you. A dog has a higher body temperature than we do, and they’ll love to go camping with you. If they are small enough, then they can even fit in your sleeping bag with you.

    • I found out many years ago and many cold sleepless nights ago that no matter what rating your bag has, if you sleep in any clothes you hold in your body heat and keep it from heating the bag from the inside, so you will still be cold and need to have a heater or other auxiliary heat. If you sleep without clothes except perhaps your underpants, and let your body heat warm up your sleeping bag, you will be toasty warm all night without sweating, especially with a really good sleeping bag and on some type of insulation beneath you without having to use a heat source. I have a downy comforter with a sheet inside that I use in my truck camper in lieu of a sleeping bag. I fold it like a taco shell and slide into it at night without clothes and sleep like a baby even in temps as low as the 20s. I have a wool quilt I throw over the comforter when the temps drop below that. Having a fear of leaving a heater running while sleeping is what prompted me to do some research about sleeping bags and how they actually work. That is why the “baggy” for your feet works. It is like a sleeping bag for your feet, and you put your feet into it without socks so the heat from your feet warms it up. Your own sleeping bag would do the same thing if you left off your socks. Your feet do not produce as much heat as your body, so putting a heating bottle in the bottom of your heating bag speeds this process up and helps heat the whole bag as well, so you don’t have to shiver while you are warming up your bag after getting inside. I am a single lady and go camping alone, so I feel safer in a truck camper than outside in a tent. I built the camper myself and made it strong and ventilated for warmer weather, but opted for heat shield behind the 1/4″ plywood instead of insulation, so it is cool in the summer, and holds a little heat in the winter, but that’s okay because I can keep plenty warm to sleep in winter, but it is hard to get cool at night in a hot camper. But I digress. I feel it is too small to use a heater safely all night, and using a folded feather down comforter with a sheet inside keeps me warm without sweating, and in weather not quite as cold, I can leave out an arm and shoulder to keep from overheating. Anyway, hopes this was helpful.

  4. no where here did I see the old baked potato trick. This was a thing I had read about going to church in the old days and you would put baked potatoes in your pockets, when camping with the boys scouts we all did this in the evening and had warm (wrapped up) potatoes in our pockets. In the morning we all used the potato for hash browns (cut down the cooking time of the food). We were also lucky we had old hotel tents from the military and could put a cook stove the middle of the cross section (common area) . While these had no floor they were very heavy canvas. They held the heat of 12-16 boys very well.

  5. We have a 45 foot RV toy hauler and the rear garage isn’t very well insulated and the heating vents don’t work so well back there. I bought two of these for Christmas and put one back there and used the other next to my son’s bed. These things were amazing. With two of these running on low (so the fuel would last most of the night), the thermostat almost never flipped on and our furnace hardly ran. It was down below freezing over the New Year weekend and these heaters kept us comfortable. We were camping for a week and I was afraid we would burn through our large LP tanks if we ran the furnace too long. These really helped us conserve LP. I bought a big case of the smaller fuel canisters at Home Depot and we used one apiece every night. Perfect. The only drawback is the exposed flame in the element. Our family has always had Australian Shepherd dogs and they are very bright. We inherited my mother in-law’s Golden Retriever and it’s the first time we’ve ever had a dog with a tail. She is completely loyal and a great dog, but she’s as dumb as a bag of hammers. She loved the comfort of lying in front of these heaters, but twice on this trip she caught her tail on fire. Nothing very bad happened, but it seems like this could cause something horrible. Or maybe I worry too much.

  6. We have a tent with screening and a cover that goes over that ,
    I found one of those bubble things that is either for under a pool or over it as a pool cover so we put it on top of the tent then put a tarp over that and it’s helping keep the wind and cold out and put a blanket over our air mattresses and that helps keep us warmer !

  7. We have a tent with screening and a cover that goes over that , I found one of those bubble things that is either for under a pool or over it as a pool cover so we put it on top of the tent then put a tarp over that and it’s helping keep the wind and cold out and put a blanket over our air mattresses and that helps keep us warmer !

  8. I find the cheapest and most effective way to keep warm is a hurricane lantern and a tea light , one or two will last the night, no worries of fire so you can sleep safe.,! Just remember not to touch the glass

    • I just bought one (hurricane lantern) called UCO on Amazon (sorry-not affiliated). It is awesome! It buns 3 beeswax candles for 9 hours. It kicks out 5,000 BTUs! It is a covered lantern and you can put a metal coffee cup or pot on top to keep it warm. You can even boil a small amount of water on it. The super plus side is that it laps up condensation in the tent, keeping us even warmer.

  9. I have a small heating pad which uses 150 watts and power it with a car battery fully charged with a 600w 12v converter and it will last all night in the sleeping bag on medium setting.

  10. Except when I go hunting and tent camp doing so, I car camp usually. Witht he car one can have more access to creature comforts like a hot tent. One main item I use, when car camping, is a a Mr Heater Big Buddy. I use it in the evening just before falling asleep, and then during the night if I wake cold, I turn it on for 30 minutes, and then in the morning, I turn it on again as the time from 3 AM to 7 AM are usually the coldest of the day. There is nothing like a hot tent to enjoy a tent camping outing. In Winter during hunting season and tent camping, I have various areas where large rocks are located, there are three areas with large rocks I frequent to tent camp. The rocks are wonderful to build a fire against to reflect the heat of the fire toward our tent. I place the tent about 15 feet out from the large rock, (large like bolder size, and always place the tent on the EastSouthEast side of the rock. The strategy coupled with the prudent things of using extra items others shared in the posting, and the tent camping is wonderful and very comfortable. I even rigged the Mr Heater to heat some water with a shelf mesh wire to allow me to place the metal cup on with water for coffee or hot chocolate, either one. The warm fluids really help one to keep warm during winter tent camping. It is wonderful to find a thermal zone, and beat the cold with your mind, and strategy, of doing pointed, planed methods, that work for keeping warm. Once you get in the grove of knowing the best ways you will always do the warmest method and enjoy the out of doors more. On occasion I tie a tarp high over our tent from one of the larger rocks and a distant tree to keep rain, and cold air away. Every item you do helps you be comfortable, find the ownes that work with least amount of extra gear. You will be surprised how some specific ways will be so effective, with little, or no extra gear.
    I learned this over 50 years of outdoors camping in 4 seasons. I love it

  11. I have a camping cot in my camping trip, sleeping inside the tent almost feels like you are sleeping on your bed in your home, as it offers more comfort and privacy which is what you need for a good night sleep when camping in the great outdoors

    One good reason I pick a camping cot over a sleeping pad is that they keep I elevated above the ground which makes it a perfect fit for almost all terrains and any weather condition. Imagine camping in a rocky terrain and having to sleep flat on the ground on a sleeping pad. If at all you do get enough sleep your back is going to ache when you wake up in the morning

    • I agree. Very comfortable. Excellent rain fly. I had a cot tent years ago and I just bought another one. The only issue I had with the old cot tent is condensation building up on the small pouch above my head. Cold water would drop on my head in the morning. My new one doesn’t have the pouch so I’m hoping it will not drip.

  12. Take hot rocks from the fire. Put them in a emptied mini bbq.($20 walmart)
    Lock the bbq if you feel you need to. Open the top vents for the bbq. Go to sleep.

  13. I thoroughly enjoy winter camping. (coldest was -22 deg. F Jan. 26, 2005 near Baldwin, MI). I lay tarp on ground, pitch tent, lay carpet on tent floor and (absolutely) use a cot. My heat source is a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy. (Catalytic Heater) It has settings of 4,000/9,000 BTUs/hr. I use the 4,000 BTU setting. I use a propane filter, 4′ extension hose and attach it to a 5# propane tank. 5#=100,000 BTUs so I get 25+ hours of heat out of each tank. I run all night as the Portable Buddy has a low oxygen sensor. I also bring down a small jump-start battery and stick a 3.4/4.5 watt 12volt articulated fan into 12v port to move air around. This fan only uses about 1/3 amp per hour. 5# tanks are quite easy to move and are quite a bit cheaper to use than the standard 1# bottles. This is not a backpacking solution obviously but I can park my Ford Ranger nearby and use a small expedition sled to tow all items to campsite.
    Works well! I’ve been doing this 20 yrs and am still alive. p.s. I own 4 Coleman Black Cat (3,000 BTUs/hr each) catalytic heaters and prefer the Mr. Heater brand. More safety features. Hope this info helps someone get into Winter camping. FUN!!!

    • I appreciate the info. Going to be doing a winter camping trip and we are native Floridians. 20 F is very cold so hopefully there tips will make our trip nicer.

    • I enjoy winter camping too! The challenge of the perfect plan to stay warm while I sleep gets me every time!

      I have a large 12-person tent for the four of us. I lay large rubber-bottomed rugs (like bathroom mats) on the tent floor. I have a mesh ceiling on my tent so I lay and weather tape Mylar emergency blankets on top of the mesh and under the rain fly. I use an UCO candle lantern for heat (5,000 BTUs) and laps up condensation!. I sleep on a cot (with side pockets for organizing my belongings). My clothing is underneath the cot neatly organized.
      And on top of the cot?….
      -Wool throw blanket
      -Cheap twin air mattress
      -Costco 2″ memory foam lounger/mattress topper with terry cover
      -Fitted sheet with corner ties so that the entire contraption does not shift around
      -My awesome, comfy bag (Teton Celsius xxl)
      -Down throw blanket (2-pack Costco) in case I need to stuff in some extra warmth

      I layer clean PJs and socks and beanie
      I use a real pillow…gotta have it!!!
      I have floor vents in my tent. I keep those open for ventilation.

      oh…and…I have a hot water bottle on hand in case I just can’t warm up.

  14. Get a warm enough sleeping bag and a pad. You simply need to buy the right gear. Unless you are a single guy winging it and want to sleep on hot coals with a tarp for a shelter- a lot of this is extreme and I’ve slept in -30 (I’m in Colorado). Hot water bottles are a decent idea.
    It’s a FACT, that sleeping naked is not efficient. You can still sweat and get cold. The right fabric would wick it. Get a liner, if ULTRA COLD- a vapor barrier but don’t exit it at night. You can check what I said on places like backpacker and such. Hats are useful, socks are too. Good thermals that are thin with a WARM down bag or even synthetic. I have a -40 bag. Works for me as do my down bags with a liner.

    • Oh and the tips given by the author are good.
      Key thing to realize is that most sleeping bags are really only warm to about 15 above their rating. Sort of depends if you sleep warm or cool (consider how you sleep at home temp wise).

      Hot rocks- I would never put them in a good tent, tarp sure. COTS do rock but not for backpacking- car camping. I cannot backpack any longer as my spine failed. I’ve camped in feet of snow and all year at over 12K feet so it’s not that tough. Drinking a lot of booze works against you for those that enjoy a nip. I get it but it does get u later.
      Also, if you have the bucks- look at Kifaru tipis. You can get a full shelter that’s packable and a light oven that is under 5 lbs. I’ve slept on the side of mountains (with some room) and the stove glowed and was a sweat lodge with that packable stove.

      Candles do work in 2 man tents to a point unless it’s really cold. The Kifaru tipis really do work but they don’t come with ground cover so better have a mat (always should) and you can heat that thing up with little wood (even cow pies) and warm the ground and such. Wake up at night and throw some small pieces of wood in that aluminum collapsing stove. I don’t use mine now as I need a cot and that’s too big for my tipi not to mention I sleep in my 4Runner at times like I did in my F250 with a topper. Backpacking- tipi is invaluable or a great 6 man tarp that self stands (almost) as I’ve done and pulled close to the ground with a fire next to it.

  15. I purchased a fleece liner, regular sleeping bag and a double sleeping bag. So I can layer my bags. When it is really cold I can add layers of clothes. I have trouble feeling confined with too many clothes on, so I found a different way to layer.

  16. I swear by using 1 or 2 melon sized rocks heated red hot to radiate heat and then pile some smaller grapefruit sized and smaller to put in my bag when I can hold my finger on tgem for 5 seconds before the heat is too intense to make sure they don’t burn anything. I also swear by wool thermals and army surplus wool socks to my knees so my legs and feet stay warm. I’ve been camping out since May and live in northern Ontario canada so it’s been getting down to just about 0c˙but with the rain and snow it feels like it’s -5 C˙
    if you sweat, wool is the only material that will be safe to get wet since it stays warm for a relatively long time but you still need to get dry a.s.a.p before hypothermia starts or you can spend hours trying to get warm again. I’m still experimenting with things to use to keep the glowing rocks in while hot that is safe

    • I had read that wool socks will still keep your feet warm even if they get wet. I have wool socks for hiking, and its true. No matter how damp my wool socks get, they still keep my feet warm until I get back to camp.

  17. Hi. As far back as I can recall I’ve wanted to try winter camping. I’m now a senior and figure that if I want to do it, I’d best get on it. I have a small woods behind my house and will set up there- I live in Saskatchewan, where it can get pretty cold. I appreciate all the comments but would like to know if putting a small tent into a larger tent would be good.

  18. Many of the most useful looking family-sized (6, 8, 10 people) 3-season tents have amazing ventilation due to mesh ceiling panels, with a rainfly to provide protection from rain. But in early Spring & late Fall, the weather can unexpectedly get downright COLD! Why do the tent manufacturers NOT provide zip-on or velcro-on covers for those mesh panels that could be,attached from the inside? It seems like that would certainly help to keep a LOT more heat inside the tent. (Of course, the rainfly would still be required to keep rain out.) These tents don’t need to be beefed up to 4 season strength (being able to deal with the weight of snow); just the capability of doing a better job of keeping body (or even heater-generated) heat in the tent when desired.

  19. When camping in the snow, it helps to heap the snow up against the sides (and top if you can) of the tent. This acts as windbreak and insulation also.

  20. Back when we used canvas tents, (which I prefer in fall camping), it got very cold one night, froze the lake we were camped by. I heated three rocks, hot and put them on a pile of sand in the centre of the 8 X 8 tent, then when we were about ready to turn in, I changed them for three more hot ones, put the others back in the fire, got up to urinate during the night, changed them again and built up the fire. Did the same in the morning. It was quite warm, the guys camping nearby had a tent camper and damn near froze, “All that kept us going,” they said, “was knowing how cold you fellows must have been !”
    We told them we had been quite comfortable.

  21. Yutanpo can be purchased through ebay or amazon.the best hot water keeping container in the world is yutanpo made in Japan.

    Do not carry the hot rock into a tent,possibly due to a burn injury.

  22. 1.Hot water keeper for 7-8hrs: Japanese youtanpo in a sleeping bag.

    2.Cover tent with a tarp and spread a tarp under the tent.card board spreading in tent floor would be a good idea.

    3.2-3 candle lights boost inside tent temperature up.do not worry about oxygen exhaustion.
    4. Eat a warm-hot chicken noodle soup before going to a bed.
    5.no smoking at night.

  23. Pour boiling water into a nalgene bottle, they’re rated for boiled water, and throw that in your sleeping bag. It will stay warm for 4-6 hours. I also found robaxacet self warming back pain relievers that work like hand warmers. But these are much larger and have a Velcro strap to go around your waist. Another thing I do is lay down a pad made of that mylar bubble wrap insulation, most power companies give this stuff away in the form of a hot water heater tank jacket, just make a rectangle as big as your sleeping pad and away you go.

  24. where can I find the kind of rocks that can be heated (without exploding) for warmth. I want to use in my chicken pen during winter and also under my sink when power is out to prevent pipes from busting.

  25. I got myself a Teton sleeping bag. I sleep in my boxers in 30 degree weather. My gf is very sensitive to the cold and she slept in her panties and t shirt. Teton bags are the best. We have a queen size Teton Mammoth Bag.

  26. I have cut a sheet of carpet the exact size of the tent groundsheet. Then I sleep on a standard foam mat and in a sleeping bag. However the weight of the carpet limits you to a small tent and camping with transport.

  27. I camp each month, including in the winter. The tips listed here are all good. A few others that I use are: 1) Eat just before going to bed. This will jumpstart your metabolism and cause your body to generate more heat. 2) Use wool. It wicks moisture better than anything else. 3) Use a good 4-season tent – not a 3-season tent. 4) Place your winter bag inside your compact summer bag. 5) Always use your tent fly in cold weather. 6) Use the smallest tent you can get by with. Less area = less airspace to heat. 7) If it’s windy, stake the fly edge to the ground on the windward side of your tent. 8) To absorb excess moisture in your tent, place some rice in cheesecloth and hang it from the top. 9) Place your tent under a tree canopy, where the air temperature will be slightly warmer, but where the morning sun will strike it. 10) Always sleep with dry clothes on…

    • Thanks Chris! We’re gonna be re-writing this article based off all our awesome reader’s comments, so we’ll be sure to include yours.

      • I don’t like to wear socks at night when I’m camping. It doesn’t take much to restrict the blood flow to your feet even a little, so sometimes socks can make your feet even colder. If you do wear socks at night make sure they are real loose, or maybe house slippers!

  28. I bought a 12 volt electric blanket for my wife to use to keep warm in the car on road trips. Next time I camp in the cold, I’m gonna bring it and plug it into a 12 volt deep cycle battery and stuff that critter in my sleeping bag.

    I never used a sleeping pad under my air mattresses but I’ll try that too. If I sleep on a cot I always put a crummy wool moving blanket under my sleeping bag to keep the cold air from coming up through the cot.

    My brother showed me the hot rock from the fire trick last time we camped. We put two big rocks on a small piece of plywood I had brought along. The plywood also makes a good manual fan for super charging the campfire if it gets oxygen starved. The rocks were hot but I don’t know if they really added much heat inside a 10×12 tent that’s tall enough to stand in.

    Wearing an OJ hat to bed is the best thing I ever thought of to stay warm when sleeping outside.

    Try picking up a couple moving blankets from a storage center that rents moving trucks. They occasionally have some blankets that are too wrecked to rent out any more but they’re good dog blankets and good for camping. Just be careful washing them cause they tend to disintegrate easily.

  29. i sleep with my hair down, a hat on and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up. i put handwarmers in the area my feet will be when i start switching into my sleep clothes. i also put one handwarmer in my hoodie front pocket. i make sure the hoodie is way oversized. wool socks, long underwear and sweat pants. i can’t sleep in a sleeping bag, but use wool blankets and finally cover with an elk hide. it makes it hard to move, but toasty.

  30. Stripping down to your underwear in a sleeping bag will keep you more warm while you sleep than if you wore layers. The least number of layers between your skin and the sleeping bag the better. That includes socks, if your feet get cold take off the socks. I learned this in the boyscouts and tried it both ways. It made a huge difference.

  31. I use hand warmers in the bottom of my sleeping bag to help keep warm during cold nights. The one time I camped in 31F overnight I put the hand warmers in the bottom of my sleeping bag and then had an extra sleeping bag to put over me since I don’t have a bag rated for that cold. I’m going to be camping here in northern Ohio in 3 weeks, so I will be pulling out all my tricks so that I can stay warm if it is very cold. I camped about 2 weeks ago and when I looked at the weather forecasts, the low was supposed to be around 50F overnight. It actually got to the high 30’sF and I was freezing since I wasn’t prepared for that cold weather.

    • Thanks for the comment!
      I too have used the hand-warmers in the foot of a sleeping bag. It was -8F when we woke up the next morning. Try holding one close to your chest all night as well, it helps!!

  32. I use a ski mask/balaclava that covers most of my face, so I don’t breathe in the cold air. yea it gets a bit moist but it’s mandatory for low temp.

    dunno about this Catalytic Heater… it has 7 hours worth of heat, keeps none, and weighs 4 pounds. too heavy and inefficient. I like the water bottle idea a lot.

  33. Silk is the best insulator. My sister sent me a silk sleeping bag liner from Australia…toasty! Thanks for all the tips – my next camping trip will be more comfortable than the last.

  34. Wearing clean dry socks at night is good, but if also put on some Vicks vapor rub it will definitely keep you warm, clean cap for head, we loose heat through our furthest extremities. Head, feet and hands. Also change your clothes before bed. During the day your body produces sweat or perspiration that in turn is absorbed into clothing, at night when our bodies cool down the wetness in clothing causes you to be colder, and when I say change clothes I mean all clothes, including under garments. I once changed everything but underwear and was cold all night no matter what, the cold over took the heat in my sleeping bag.

  35. I have excise Matt then a qwilt then air matters then a queen size half inch thick foam bed cover then small blanket over that then a fitted sheet only problem I have matters keep going flat and can’t find were they are leaking leaking. And have a tarp under tent folded double the tarp folded twice over the top .and left enough to have a awning over the front van anyone think anything else that would help to keep it warmer in the winter

  36. I use the fanfoil that is used under vinyl siding to put on our tent floor works great. It’s light weight and folds up .

  37. Two Words – HAND WARMER. I am surprised to see only one mention of Hand Warmers in these comments. Zippo makes some smaller ones, but they are really pocket warmers. For winter camping, the Peacock Giant hand warmer is by far the best, lightest, and most effective solution. You need to carry a little lighter fluid, but it is far simpler than heating rocks or water, and there is no open flame. Get a big 5 X 3 inch warmer and you can get 5 nights of warmth out of a single small can of naptha lighter fluid.

  38. I put a movers blanket under my air mattress along with a tarp , helps keep some warmth . If its cold & windy where i’m camping I carry big clips and clip extra traps around my tent this helps a great deal . I like the rock ideal

  39. Great tips! Instead of hot water in a bottle, I make hot chocolate. It’s still warm in the morning and you have a great burst of energy to get the day started!

  40. RangeTracker, we’ve done the heated rock thing and it was still warm the next evening at 6pm, so I don’t think you’d have any issues with it cooling off through the night.

  41. It’ll be a LONG time before we see small batteries with enough power to provide any significant heat. To raise the inside of an 8×8 tent by twenty degrees for 6 to 8 hours would requires something like 3000 watts total energy. That’s the total energy of several car-sized batteries (total weight of about 300 lbs). The tech isn’t there yet, even with lithium technology. Propane is probably the best weight-to-power ratio available today for camping use (it burns relatively clean, especially with catalytics, unlike other fuels).

  42. If you can sleep without clothes then I am guessing it is not actually that cold to begin with or you have an amazing sleeping bag.

  43. Just returned from camping in Torres Del Paine at altitude and it was bloody freezing. Ice and snow covering tent in the morning. We survived by heating rocks and also raiding a recycling bin at a Hotel on the way up for a load of cardboard boxes which we laid out on the floor of the tent below our rollers and extreme cold weather sleeping bags. Saved us! Would take tarp and groundsheet next time. Also had to wear thermals, socks and a hat.

  44. I throw a couple of body handwarmers in my bag
    and also have poured warm water into my water bottles
    and placed them in my bag and always wear a face mask

  45. A dry longsleeve cotton T-shirt and cotton pajama bottoms will keep you toasty and keeps the synthetic sleeping bag away from your body. An alternate is to have a cotton sleeping bag interior liner (It’s like a cotton sheet). Contact with synthetics seem to make me sweat and uncomfortable. Anything clothing you have hiked in contains moisture and will keep you from getting warm.

  46. I like the heated rocks in the tent. Although it would seem that once the rock cools down it would make it colder in the tent. From 3-6 am is pretty chilly. I use extra tarps and will try the mylar ceiling, that sounds great. Thanks Dave!

  47. Throwing a blanket over your tent will keep the whole inside of the tent cool to warm, unlike a blanket laid over your sleeping bag which will only warm you under the bag. Being warm in a bag, but breathing in frigid air can be uncomfortable. With a blanket on the outside trapping the heat in, you will breathe in cool to warm air.

  48. I always pick a camp site for the tent to be low and out of the wind on a small rise so if it rains the water from the tent will run away from the tent and the wind will not be so strong. I also build a large stome back to the camp fire andlet the heat radiate toward our tent. I also try to get on the Eastsouth East side of a rock if possible (large rock) as it will turn wind and rain also. If that is not available and I will be staying a few days I will build a log wind break, if no natural one is available. For winter camping I find a cot to get me up off the ground is best and also put newspaper under me or cardboard under me under the cot to keep the cold floor temp from penetrating into the tent as much. Also put a large tarp not only on top of the tent but under the tent to act as a moisture and thermal stop under also.

  49. In the cold weather below 32 degrees Wool blankets is one the best it breaths better then most sleeping bags and the socks thing you right on, buy wool and keep a set just for sleeping or a set of neoprene dry socks used for Kayaker’s and canoes . Yet for both sleeping bags and or Wool blankets sets or even with a wool inside your bag no less then 90% wool. I found making a long narrow shallow trench you make a fire in that then your hot coals with no more then 2 inches of cover dirt will help dry the ground out below you and help keep you warmer on real cold nights. The Hot coals in such manors make good for types of char for the next days fire or to have to take with you to start your next fire.

    • I agree, I always fold up a few squares of cardboard, and put a tarp over the tent. There have been many nights where it’s been so warm I could unzip the sleeping bag and keep it open. Cardboard also makes it easy to move around in the tent on your knees. Then you can burn it in the fire pit on your last morning before leaving

  50. Put a tarp over the tent during winter camping. Helps hold heat in and rain out. I’ve been winter camping for 14 yr and the tarp has save me many times.

  51. Great tips! I swear by thermals under my PJs, thick woolen bed socks, hot water bottle and finally, never go to bed cold! If you are already cold you are more likely to stay cold, so try and warm yourself up before you get into your sleeping bag. Have a hot drink and do some jumping jacks ….though not at the same time 😉

  52. for mungo……..im always cold or my hubby says so….. I don’t use fleece shirts at night but I do use layered sweatshirts/long sleeved tshirt type shirts and sweat pants. a lot of people use wool and or knit type blends but im allergic to wool so had to find a alternative….. hope this helps

  53. Is it true that fleeces are a bad idea to wear at night? What would you recommend that is light and easy to transport in a rucksack? Sorry for the questions, I’m relatively knew to camping

      • Sorry Mungo, I just saw your comment! I think that fleeces might be a bad idea to wear in your tent at night because if it’s too warm it could make you sweaty. Sweating at night in a cold tent is something you definitely MUST avoid! It’s better to be chilly and stay dry than to get too warm then sweat. If you do end up sweating, you’ll end up freezing afterwards for sure once your body cools down. Hope that helps!

  54. I place my air mattress on top of foam exercise mats and also place a silver Mylar folding car sunshade between our head and the tent at night. During the day when it is hot out we use the sunshade to cover our coolers.

    • Actually your breath inside the blanket will cause moister so not the best idea to cover your face with your blanket from what I hear anyway.

      • You should never put a heater inside your tent

        Worst case scenario you’ll slip into a state of unconsciousness and die of asphyxiation. Depending on the concentration in the air, this will all happen in less than 3 minutes. Low concentration can still make you sick though – headache, nausea, dizziness, increased heart rate, and convulsions are all symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    • Also you don’t want to put your pillows and blankets around the inside base of your tent. Anywhere that something touches could cause it to leak in if it were to rain.

    • There is a simple way to keep your tent warm all night:
      When you first start your campfire, place a large dry round rock right in the center to heat up all evening.
      When you go to bed, simply remove the hot rock and place it on a tripod of 3 cool round rocks inside center of the tent – a safe distance from your sleeping bag. This will emit heat all night, and the base rocks will keep it from touching anything directly.

      For those worried about it steaming and exploding, it would have done that in the heat-up phase on the fire and not the cool-down phase in the tent.


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