What To Use For Heat While Winter Tent Camping

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Tent camping can be a fun and rewarding activity for people of all ages, but having a warm place to hang out is especially important during the colder months. For that reason, it’s essential to have a heat source to keep you cozy. Fortunately, there are many options. But with so many choices, What To Use For Heat While Winter Tent Camping? Here are our top favorites:

Table of Contents

Moisture or Heat Barrier

How to stay warm in a tent? Just like in the summer, you’ll need to sleep with a moisture/heat barrier between you and the ground. This can be a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag on top of your air mattress. You can use a floor mattress, and if weight or space isn’t an issue, you can get a cot off the ground.

Type Of Tent

A four season winter tent is warm and more water resistant than a three season one. Some kinds also have a snow skirt, which means you don’t need to lay an insulated tarp on the ground outside your tent. Vents allow you to ventilate, even when covered with snow, and the sleeping bag should be rated for the temperatures during your winter camping trip. If you plan on sleeping in a hammock inside your tent, choose one that is smaller than you think you’ll need—the smaller the space, the warmer it will be.

 

But when you are in the tent for any length of time and temps drop below zero, it gets fight and uncomfortable. I use a tarp as an extra layer of insulation to help keep me warm, off the ground and give me some added protection from the snow and wind.

Higher Rating Sleeping Bag

We get toasty with a good sleeping pad with a high R-rating and a down sleeping bag with 20 degree rating. This works well for us, but everyone’s heat tolerance is different. If you are coming from the tent camping crowd, you may want to look at your own gear and add additional layers or think about how much you will be venturing out into the cold. Adding a fleece throw to your bag helps keep you warm as well. Zipping up your bag tightly so no cold air gets in is a great way to stay warmer.
Read here for more winter camping tips on better care to prolong the life of your sleeping bag,

Hot Water Bottle

Another easy tip how to camp in winter, is to get a Nalgene bottle with warm/hot water and put it inside your sleeping bag. Then change into thermals before bed and put on wool socks. 

Blanket

 

You can consider an emergency blanket or space blanket (i.e., reflective emergency blanket) to radiate your own body heat back to you under your loft or under an emergency blanket /space blanket insulation barrier (not both). I personally use a USB powered heated lap blanket for my whole body, I love it! There are plenty of options on how to stay warm camping and some can be powered by USB power banks and portable batteries. In general, the larger the battery pack the more power you have, but also the more weight you’ll have to carry when camping in winter.

Tent Heater

A tent heater will keep your tent warm, it won’t get heat through the walls of your tent or other outside temperatures that affect heat loss. If I have electricity, I use a portable electric heater. It dries out the tent, and prevents condensation as long as you have extra insulation in your tent. They are often more expensive than propane heaters. If no electricity, I use a Mr. buddy propane heater. Please be careful using these heaters, especially when you are in an enclosed space. Ventilate your tent, and keep a carbon monoxide detector nearby. 
If you are looking for tent heaters, we have a write up on the best tent heaters for camping in the winter.

 

Wood stove is also another the preferred heat source and will provide equal comfort to you as compared to propane heater. Wood has been used for heating since ancient times and has no bad by-products. The only problem with wood heat is, it takes longer time to get things warm because wood is not as quick as propane but once it gets going it will last all night long. You can get a fire going early for staying warm while camping and keep it going all night.

Clothes

For campsites that are extremely cold, warm pajamas with a clean body underneath the pajamas is recommended for cozy winter camping. Do not wear previously worn clothes to bed, clothes absorb the sweat and oils from your body and will become cold. You need to sleep in fresh dry clothing. And make sure to wear wool socks on your feet, it will wick away moisture keeping you from sweating which helps keep you stay warm camping. Wearing wet cloths from sweating during the day is miserable and does not do much good for your sleeping bag. A hat can be very helpful. 

If All Else Fails

A couple of dogs work when all else fails…

About Us

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

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