While you may think, colder weather is when camping in the winter. In reality, this isn’t the case. You can find many nights; the temperatures drop to the wrong side of comfortable.
When packing all your camping gear, you may forget this fact because you are in a warm home. While it will depend on where you are heading off to camp, there are things you can do and take for winter camping. Alternatively, even when you know, it will be on the cool side in the evening.
Here, you can learn the tips and tricks on how to keep warm in a tent at any time of the year.
Top Tips on How to Insulate a Tent for Winter Camping
While it can be elementary to say use heater for tents, winter camping needs a bit more thought to make sure you are thoroughly warm. While there are many advancements in heater technology, their use while sleeping in an enclosed area isn’t advisable.
All the following will rely on other means of staying warm in a tent without resorting to heaters that you need to carry with spare gas cylinders.
You can break it down into sections for the different stages of the night. Here are the tips that will make any camping trip comfortable.
Read our Best Tents for Camping guide
Keep Gear and Clothes Dry
When you breathe in a tent, you will cause condensation, so naturally, as you sweat, the same thing will be happening against the skin. It is essential to keep as much dry as possible.
Using Smaller Tents
Unless you need the extra room, you can take the smallest tent possible. It is much easier to keep a small tent warmer than a larger one.
When you’re ready for bed, you must have a set of dry clothes to change into. For this, you need a good warm pair of socks and the right under layers (base layers). You must make sure they are not too tight to restrict circulation. Include a decent hat to keep your head warm.
While cotton can be pleasant to the skin and warm at first, it is advisable to choose synthetic or woolen materials as these wicks sweat from the body while retaining body temperature while also drying faster.
Keeping your sleeping bag dry is essential, as it’s your most significant protection against night cold.
Down sleeping bags, go flat when damp and take a long time to dry, and thus reduce their warmth. Besides, moisture draws heat from your body when you’re touching it.
Synthetic bags retain warmth if they become damp; however, be sure to store it in a waterproof stuff sack, and you can dry it out in the morning.
A warm sleeping bag is vital, as you can’t warm something that won’t keep you warm. A recommendation is to use a bag rated for 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than the lowest night temperature; it is easier to unzip your bag if you are too warm, rather than trying to warm up more.
When choosing a sleeping bag, you can invest in a mummy bag, these come with a hood, drawstring, and often tubes that retain heat across the shoulders.
One pro tip is not to breathe into your sleeping bag as the cold air condenses. Mummy bags allow you to breathe fresh air while able to stay warm.
Sleeping bag liners are also advisable; they offer extra warmth and can keep your sleeping bags clean.
One thing often overlooked in keeping warm in a sleeping bag is using the right size. Bigger is not always better as there is more air inside. Likewise, bags that are too small are restrictive and don’t fit correctly.
In the same manner, like your tent, you will have bags that come with a rating, although these are not always accurate. However, the higher the rating, the better they should be.
Read our Best Double Sleeping Bag Guide
Sleeping on the cold ground isn’t as warm as on a well-insulated sleeping mat. There is a variety of sleeping mats to choose from these days.
You can choose from closed cell foam, thinner insulated mats, or you can choose from any number of air mattresses to keep you away from the cold floor.
The more layers between you and that heat-sucking ground, the warmer you’ll be.
Sleeping pads will come with ratings like your bags, so the higher the R-rating, the better. Things that can affect the classification are the construction, the materials, and the thickness. Closed-cell offers the highest R-rating. Inflatables provide the lowest ratings.
Warm Your Sleeping Bags
While your bags need their section, so does making sure you can pre-warm them before you climb inside.
There are a couple of tips here, which can have your bag nice and toasty. One of the first being the use of a hot water bottle. Fill with hot water and place inside something to insulate them and keep them warmer longer.
Besides this, you can toss in a hand warmer. Many of these are designed to last for hours so that they may survive the night.
You can fill a Nalgene water bottle with warm water and place it down by your feet. You will find these stay warm for a few hours as well.
You may find that doing some exercise before you get into bed is just the thing to make you nice and warm when you climb inside your sleeping bag. All it takes are a few minutes of jumping jacks before you zip up your bag.
If you wake, it is possible to do some sit-ups while inside your sleeping bag. Again, this exercise will warm you up a treat.
While a bit of exercise can warm you up, be sure not to start sweating, or you will lose your heat through your sweat.
Eat to Stay Warm
Although not generally advisable to eat too close to bedtime. If you eat a large dinner or snack before bed that is high in fat and protein, it can keep you warm through a slower digestion process. Anything packed with sugars and carbs is ideal for eating if you wake in the middle of the night.
Cheese, chocolate, or nuts are ideal snacks to munch on before you fall asleep.
When cold, the body can’t tell if it is hydrated or dehydrated. Make sure you drink sufficient fluids to stay hydrated; although don’t drink too much, you need to get up halfway through the night.
It is possible to have a ‘yellow bottle,’ which you can use if you have drunk too much, although you do need to be careful if using one of these.
How to Heat a Tent
While the above is all you can do to keep yourself warm, there are other things you can do to help warm the tent’s environment.
It is here where you can use portable heaters, though, as mentioned, it is advisable not to use these in confined areas.
Here are a few tips that can help to keep your tent warm, as well as you.
Pitching Your Tent
The location where you decide to pitch your tent can have a bearing on how warm it will be inside. Here are a couple of things to consider:
- Keep your tent out of the direct wind
- Avoid pitching tents in the bottom of valleys
- Never pitch tents exposed to large bodies of water
Any exposed location should be avoided as it can help reduce the amount of heat loss through convection.
When searching for how to heat a tent. Much of this heat can come from your body heat, rather than any external source of heating.
Here are a couple of pointers to consider when looking at keeping your tent warm.
- Tents should be 4 seasons rated
- You are controlling your condensation and ventilation
- You pitch your tent correctly
Having the right tent, or making you’re your tent is protected from the elements can make a difference. Depending on where you pitch your tent, you can fasten a tarp or tent fly above to make sure rain or snow won’t settle on your tent.
On the inside, you can lay down space blankets, and it is possible to duct tape a space blanket to the inside of your tent above to reflect heat down onto you.
With some foresight, you can prepare yourself for the cold nights, no matter where your camping excursion takes you. Once you go through all your camping gear, you quickly see there isn’t much that adds to your overall weight.
Matts and space blankets are very light and take up very little room. Therefore, it is better to be over-cautious and take extra, even if you are not going to use them.