How To Stay Warm In A Tent? Super Guide For Winter Camping

How to stay warm in a tent: Tips for your camping trip in the cold season

With the start of the camping season, outdoor enthusiasts face the challenge of cold nights and puzzle over how to stay warm in the tent. It is really difficult to predict a change in weather conditions.

The cold season can easily challenge your plans during the cold weather. In this article, we will give you tips on how to stay warm in a tent.

how to stay warm in a tent

Camping in cold temperatures

When it’s really cold, any camping trip is no fun: You go to bed cold, wake up in the middle of the night in an uncomfortable sleeping bag, curl up and count down the time until sunrise.

Plus, hypothermia is a life-threatening condition that can be caused by not following some strict rules. Of course, this can easily spoil the rest in the tent.

Staying warm in a tent

It is a real pleasure to stay warm in a tent and have a good sleep in cozy sleeping bag after a day on your feet or after a cozy evening with your family singing songs together and roasting marshmallows on a fire.

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We are here to make you enjoy your camping in any condition!

If you are wondering how to stay warm in a tent and not get cold during camping, our time-tested tips will help you!

1. Let’s start preparing for camping in the cold weather

Do not ignore this first and the most important step to keep you warm inside your tent, even during the cold weather, for example, over the Christmas holidays in snowy winter or in the early spring. You have to plan your camping trip. For this reason, make a list.

Make a list of the necessary equipment.

To go camping in freezing temperatures and to stay warm in a tent, you should be equipped with properly selected gear, suitable for the weather conditions and follow our brilliant tips.

This list should include at least

  • camping tent
  • sleeping bag
  • tent heater
  • sleeping pad
  • warm layer clothes
  • warmers
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Find out important information about your camping trip.

Get acquainted in advance with information about the peculiarities of your route, the weather conditions, and especially the temperature at night. Since it is always especially cold at night, this point is so important. Check the weather app before you go camping!

Select your place to stay overnight in a tent rationally.

When selecting the place to stay overnight in a tent, make sure that the chosen location is a dry and flat surface, sheltered from the wind and suitable to set up the tent.

Avoid lower areas such as a valley, because there is a good chance of moist air due to water stream and concentrated wind.

2. Choose the right tent

A correctly selected tent has a great influence on how warm you stay overnight during your trip. It is a good idea to buy a high-quality off-season tent, made of strong fabric with air vents and a raincoat. These tents keep the warmth inside and will not collapse, because of fallen snow.

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Prefer the small tent.

It is a big mistake to use a standard spacious three-bed tent, as it will afford cold air to get into your tent and create a problem with heat retention.

A small tent will be more cozy and warm than a bigger one. Remember the less space inside your tent you have – the easier it will be to keep it warm.

3. Provide a tent ventilation

The main source of heat is body heat, and tent ventilation is important because it helps prevent the occurrence of condensation.

Under normal conditions, the human body releases 30 to 60 grams of moisture, depending on body weight and health.

In other words: If your tent is not ventilated, you will wake up in wet clothes and moisture will form on the sides of your tent.

Wet clothes mean you’ll be cold all day. Read more about tent insulation in this article.

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4. Insulate a tent from the ground on

When choosing where to pitch your tent, keep in mind that a cold ground will deprive you of body heat.

Try to create a layer between the tent and the cold ground. Use a foam mat or place some leaves and branches under your sleeping pad to reduce heat loss from your body and keep your tent warm.

When you are outdoors, you can take your stick out of your backpack and put it under your feet. Place your excess clothing under your lower back to insulate against the cold ground.

This is an extra insulating layer besides your clothes to keep your body warm.

With good insulation, it will be warm in your tent because this method can retain your body heat. Your tent will become a comfortable place to rest in cold weather.

You can find more information about this in our extra article.

5. Buy a suitable sleeping bag

A properly chosen sleeping bag is as important equipment as a proper tent.

When choosing a sleeping bag, pay attention to the comfortable temperature. It must be lower than the expected temperature in the place of camping. There are a variety of types of sleeping bags, which differ according to the synthetic filling material, the season and the number of layers, so you can easily choose the right sleeping bag.

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Pay attention to the parameters of a sleeping bag, such as size, waterproofness, shape and type of thermal insulation.

Do not save money in the wrong place when buying a sleeping bag. A high quality sleeping bag is a guarantee of your healthy sleep.

Make a set of two sleeping bags.

It is a good life hack: zip up two same sleeping bags to create a double sleeping place from one. Sleeping together is a good opportunity to stay warm and save some space in a tent.

Fluff your sleeping bag.

Regardless of the fill material of your sleeping bag, it will be in a compressed state after you unpack it. Shake it up well with jerky movements. This will allow the filling to be distributed evenly throughout the sleeping bag.

6. Use a sleeping bag liner

If for some reason you can’t find a temperature-resistant sleeping bag, just put a sleeping bag liner in your regular sleeping bag to stay warm.

There are a wide variety of inserts for sleeping bags: thin ones made of silk or cotton and thick ones made of fleece.

This small detail can raise the temperature in your sleeping bag and help you stay warm in the tent because of the material and the extra air space between the layers.

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7. Do not forget about using a tent-safe heater

Another indispensable thing is a tent-proof heater, which will help you keep your arms, feet or other parts of your body warm, dry your shoes or gloves and, most importantly, increase the temperature in the tent and make your sleep comfortable.

Nowadays, the market offers a wide range of heaters to keep your tent warm, from kerosene heaters to electric heaters. Just choose the heater that will help you stay warm.

Don’t leave the heater on during the night inside your tent

Of course, the portable heater is the easiest answer to staying warm in a tent, but you need to keep an eye on it throughout the day and turn it off before bed to avoid a wildfire and electrical problems.

8. Dress properly to keep you warm

Use a thermal underwear

Ideally, it should be thermal underwear, made of breathable material. This layer is perfect for keeping warm inside the tent.

Put the extra clothes layers on

Take a few warm clothes with you to wear during the night’s rest.

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Wear an extra layer of warm clothing, such as a fleece or duck down jacket, when the sun goes down or after a day on your feet before you sleep.

You can also use clothing in unusual ways: Put your warm fleece under your lower back to add extra insulation from below, and cover your sleeping bag with a duck down jacket to stay warm when you go to bed.

Try to maintain a constant body temperature to retain your body heat and create more warmth while you nap in your sleeping bag to stay warm.

9. Take a hot water bottle

There is another method of staying warm in a tent during winter camping. That is heat from the inside. Fill the metal camping thermos with hot water or hot tea and put this hot water bottle inside your sleeping bag.

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A hot water bottle helps warm a certain part of your body quickly, but it cools down again in the morning.

A hot water bottle can help add more warmth to your sleeping bag and keep you warm during the night’s rest on your trip.

To make a hot water bottle under field conditions, heat water on a campfire, wrap the bottle with something insulating, such as a scarf, and place this homemade hot water bottle in your sleeping bag.

10. Treat yourself with some warm food or hot drinks

Food is energy, the energy is heat.

Do not neglect the high-calorie and high-carbohydrate meals, hot water and warm drinks before bedtime.

A small snack or even a cup of hot water will kick-start digestion, promote blood circulation, increase body heat and keep you warm in your tent during the cold season.

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A hot meat soup with clarified butter is a perfect example of a late dinner before a cold night.

11. Exercise or walk before going to sleep

Before bed, it’s a good idea to do a little workout.

Some exercises will stretch your muscles after a long walk, make your heart work a little harder, increase blood flow to vital organs, and warm up your body.

Be active

After you lie down in your sleeping bag, it is advisable to move a little to stimulate blood flow: you can lie down, bend and stretch your knee, and stretch your muscles.

However, don’t overdo it with exercise to avoid sweating too much.

If you wake up with a wet sleeping bag and damp clothes, you will be cold all day, which will prove to be very uncomfortable during the trip.

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12. Choose the sleeping pad rationally

A sleeping pad makes the night’s rest more comfortable and provides a layer of insulation that protects against hypothermia and keeps you warm.

The air mattress should not be used as a sleeping pad, because you can not create a warm place to sleep with a mat alone.

Using an ordinary thick air mattress increases heat loss because our body heat tries to warm the air gap between the mat layers.

Look at foam sleeping pads, better known as SIM (self-inflating mats), which will insulate you from the cold ground.

Experienced tourists recommend using one or two extra sleeping mats in winter.

13. Try the mylar blankets

The rescue blanket is a cheap and available solution to insulate against cold air and keep the tent warm. If you cover yourself with the blanket, leaving some air space, it will act like a greenhouse without letting in the heated air.

On the other hand, you can also hang the blanket on the walls and ceiling of the tent to stay warm during the cold season.

Cover your tent with the Mylar blankets to create a barrier throughout the tent to keep the cold out and the heat in.

This gear reflects body heat back well, but don’t forget to ventilate the tent to keep it warm.

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14. Keep your body warm from head to toes

The head is the main source of heat loss from the body, so it is necessary to cover the head with a warm knitted hat to reduce heat loss and ensure a good night’s rest in the tent.

A scarf or balaclava is not only a fashionable garment, but also a good way to keep your mouth and nose out of the warm sleeping bag, but still covered.

Try to keep your feet warm: Make sure the socks you wear are completely dry.

Feet lose heat faster because blood vessels are vulnerable. If you feel that you are getting cold, wear two pairs of socks.

We recommend that you choose socks made of soft wool or fleece.

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15. Use warmers for your feet and hands

A warmer can serve you well on cold nights. How to use it?

If you want to stay warm, place one warmer near your foot and hold the other against your chest while you sleep.

A little tip from us: use the warmers to warm up your sleeping bag before you go to bed. Try it out and thank us later!

16. Use your campfire carefully

The heat from the fire is the most effective available and free-of-charge solution to make the tent warm.

Pay attention, that in the case you decide to warm up a tent by the fire, you should follow some rules to prevent monoxide poisoning and wildfire.

17. Avoid dehydration.

Bring a water bottle and try to drink enough water.

It is involved in almost all biochemical processes, helping to support thermoregulation and stay warm.

18. Try not to go outside the tent.

Unbuttoning the doors of your tent, you will let the cold air inside the tent. Try to avoid it, for staying warm for a longer time.

19. Watch your breathing.

When it is freezing, you should breathe measuredly and not that deep. This way you can keep calm and your body will not spend a lot of resources to deal with stress.

Remember that health comes first! The outcome of the trip depends on you. Observing the simplest safety rules, while camping, will save you a tremendous amount of time and trouble.


We hope that we could help you with our staying warm tips for Winter camping. So you would not get cold and your tent is warm enough for a good night’s sleep under the stars.

Chek our Destinations guides about Winter camping:
Yosemite winter camping – the best places

Crater lake winter camping


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