Cold Camping Tips: How To Keep Warm In Your Tent
Even the hardiest and adventurous among us have come to a point where they have had to shamefully Google - How to stay warm in a tent? But you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Camping is not for the faint-hearted. Even though it feels like a return to our more primal roots, it is a surprisingly challenging skill to master, even with modern equipment. The most typical issue is not retaining enough heat to have a comfortable night's sleep. Fortunately, several old-school and modern methods can help tackle this problem. Therefore, this article will break down some essential tips and hints to provide you with the best practices for delivering a comfortable, warm night's sleep during every camping adventure.
Sleeping Bags and Liners
Perhaps the first and most obvious issue to be addressed is what you are sleeping in. Sleeping bag technology has come a long way since its inception, and with that has come a lot of variables from shape, size, weight, material, etc.
Looking through the many options, your best bet at finding an appropriately warm sleeping bag is to review its seasonal rating. A season rating is an internationally recognized guide that indicates the conditions in which the sleeping bag has been manufactured to function. Allow they can vary between brands, they are generally as follows:
- One Season For summertime conditions where night temperatures remain above 5°C. Most of these are considered summer sleeping bags which can be incredibly lightweight and comparable to a substantial blanket.
- Two Season Designed for slightly colder conditions which do not drop below 0°C
- Three Season Intended for more technical camping in harsher climates that can drop between 0°C and -5°C. Often considered the best all-rounder that can be used in any non-expedition or extreme setting.
- Four Season This is considered an expedition standard sleeping bag for cold and snow-laden voyages where the temperature can drop to around -10°C
- Five Season These top-tier sleeping bags are for an experienced professional in extremely hazardous conditions that can function up to -40°C. They tend to be very cumbersome and weighty, with an exceptionally high price tag.
If you are experiencing cold sleepless nights while camping, you should consider adopting a better-rated sleeping bag. After a tent, it will be one of the more expensive but also the most significant factor in having a comfortable night's sleep in the wild.
If you prefer not to purchase a top-of-the-line sleeping bag just for a few months of the year, consider upgrading your sleeping bag liner. These are generally employed to keep the inside of your bag as clean and hygienic as possible. However, they also provide excellent additional warmth for a fraction of the cost.
Purchasing the Right Tent for You
Your tent is the first and most significant line of defense against the elements. Choosing the right tent can seem challenging with various shapes, ratings, and sizes, but there are some key characteristics to look out for.
Choose the Lightweight Material and Low-Profile Constructions
Modern tents are generally constructed using synthetic materials and plastics. This benefit is substantial weight saving and production costs while maintaining a robust weather-resistant barrier. Lightweight materials afford a greater variety in tent profiles, significantly reducing weather conditions' impact. Utilizing low-profile constructions like single-person and dome-shaped tents can minimize the severity of wind and rain, which are cold camper's arch-nemesis.
Manufacturers employ a similar 5-season rating system to sleeping bags to represent the conditions the tent was intended for. The seasonal system will indicate your tent’s durability, construction, ventilation, pitching style, and insulation. Similarly, the greater the season, the heavier, more costly, and more technical the kit will become.
Keep Your Tent Well Ventilated
Ventilation also represents a vital contributor to your tent's internal temperature. It may seem unintuitive, but appropriate ventilation will keep you warmer for longer. The reason is that your breath inside an unventilated tent will generate condensation on the tent walls, which will trickle down into the groundsheet and sleeping area. Unfortunately, even the most technical 5-season sleeping bag will have difficulty keeping you warm when damp. It may seem practical to insulate yourself as much as possible, which will help you in the short term, but ultimately it will be your soggy downfall.
The ‘Cozy’ Tent Ensures a Restful Night's Sleep
When you are purchasing a tent, you will want to get as much bang for your buck, getting the largest tent you can for your budget. However, this is an excellent way to guarantee a frosty night's sleep. You should choose a tent that ideally fits your gear, yourself, and your adventure buddies perfectly. Ideally, you will use your gear as an additional insulation layer which keeps you and your campmate's heat from dissipating too quickly. Optimally, your tent should be ‘cozy’ as any excess space may feel decadent during the day, but it will take far longer to warm up at night.
Are You Sleeping On the Right Mat?
An often underrated and overlooked bit of kit is your camping mat. It is more than a simple piece of material trying to emulate your memory-foam bed at home. In fact, it is a protective barrier between you and the cold, heat-stealing earth. To many, it is the secret to how to keep warm in a tent.
Camping mats have come a long way from simple blankets or basic foam sheets. Instead, there are now ultra light-weight self-inflating mini-mattress which prioritize comfort and provide the necessary insulation between you and the ground. If you find that you have the appropriate sleeping bag and tent but are still feeling the cold pinch, then consider upgrading your matt. Not only will you be warmer, but you will also have a much more comfortable night's sleep.
Manage Your Eating and Drinking
A simple trick to keeping warm on a camping trip is timing your eating and drinking habits correctly. It may come as a surprise, but if you manage your consumption right, you may have a warmer and more peaceful night's sleep.
Eating Can Raise Your Body Temperature
One of the most effective methods of raising your body temperature is eating. This is because our heart has to pump more blood to our organs and stimulate our metabolism when we eat. In turn, this heats our core temperature through an effect known as dietary thermogenesis, turning our stomach into a mini furnace. If you plan your meals closer to bedtime, you will heat your sleeping bag and tent more quickly. If you have cooking equipment, you can double down on the benefits of eating if you have a hot meal.
Having a Hot Drink before Bed is Enough
Fluid intake is another manageable factor. Remaining hydrated is especially important during arduous outdoor expeditions. However, you should be mindful about drinking too much in the evening. It takes time for the warmth inside our tents to build up and create a comfortable sleeping environment. If we have over-hydrated and need to use the bathroom during the night, we will have to open the tent and expel all of the invaluable warm air. Therefore, having a hot drink before bed is definitely satisfying, but you might be paying for it with your peaceful night's sleep.
Layering your Clothes
You should consider layering if you are looking for the most simple and cost-effective technique.
Layering works through heat retention. Air held close to your body between material heats up, creating a warm border that surrounds your insulated body. It is effective because adding multiple layers makes it more difficult for the hot air to escape. The most effective technique would be to wear a reasonably tight base layer and incrementally increase the thickness of garments, which will provide the greatest protection against heat loss.
It should be noted that it is advisable that you have a change of clothes to sleep in. If you carry your camping gear, you will most likely end up wearing sweaty damp garments. Any moisture will render this technique ineffective. Therefore, you must ensure you have clean, dry clothes to sleep in.
Go to Bed Warm
Getting into your sleeping bag when you are cold is an excellent way of guaranteeing a frosty night's sleep. Sleeping bags store the heat created by your body and keep it there. If you enter your sleeping bag cold, you will have a tough time raising your body temperature first, never mind anything else.
The best technique to address this is to prepare your sleeping arrangements before the sun goes down. Ideally, your tent will always be ready to jump straight into. After dinner and trading stories over a campfire is when you will be at your warmest and at the optimum point to go to bed. So the worst thing you can do, which we are all guilty of, is slowly follow your leisurely bedtime routine as the temperature drops outside.
If you are in a position where you are cold and need to get into bed, then you should do some basic quick exercises like squats, jumping jacks, and push-ups to increase your heart rate and temperature. This may seem like the worst thing to do before you sleep. But you will then dive into bed and let your body dump all your body heat into your insulated sleeping bag. Guaranteeing a warm and cozy sleep.
Portable Camping Heaters
The most practical solution to keep your tent warm is to use a portable heater. Typically these are gas power heaters that are lightweight and portable. Unfortunately, they are renowned for being hazardous as they produce potentially harmful carbon monoxide gas. To be safe, you will also require a gas detector, as you cannot rely solely on good ventilation to be safe.
Another heating option is a catalytic heater which generates flameless heat through a chemical reaction. These heaters are beneficial in potentially hazardous environments, but their major drawback is that they are very inefficient in fuel usage.
Ideally, electrically powered heaters are the most appropriate and least precarious option for inside a tent. They are a safe heat source and produce a dry heat that helps tackle the dreaded moisture build-up in poorly ventilated tents.
The problem is that most camping enthusiasts tend to opt for wild or isolated spots to enjoy their adventure rather than at a fully equipped camping ground. Luckily, there is a modern solution by utilizing a portable power station.
Buy a Portable Power Station
Many individuals rely on camping heaters during the cold winter months to keep warm. In the event of off-grid living, having a portable power station that can manage the load of your camping heater is critical.
Innovative portable power stations are an excellent way of generating heat for camping. They can go beyond simple electric heaters by providing power for cooking, boiling water, and electric heaters or even electric blankets for a more luxurious experience. These systems offer benefits beyond just heating. They would be a worthwhile investment as at least a backup heating system.
Unlike the gasoline-powered generator that may produce monoxide gas, which is very dangerous when inhaled, especially if your tent is not well-ventilated, the portable power station can give you a safe and comfortable camping experience.
There is a multitude of options to help you stay warm in a tent. A lot of the techniques may seem rudimentary. However, they are tried and tested to deliver results. Critically when you camp in winter, you should learn some winter camping tips, and you must be aware of all of the minor elements of heat storage and insulation that all contribute to having a warm tent. To ensure that you will have a more robust understanding of how to keep warm, you should easily integrate the above techniques to ensure a pleasant camping experience. Who knows, you may prefer it to your bed at home.