how to stay warm in a tent

How to Stay Warm in a Tent on Chilly Nights

A camper’s dream is to return to a cozy tent in the evening and have a good night’s sleep in readiness for the following day’s activities. But many don’t enjoy the tent experience, especially when they have to shiver till they fall asleep. This is the main reason why camping is a major fun activity in the summer. Remember, summer nights can be pretty cold if you are camping in areas such as deserts. This post will look at proven tips on how to stay warm in a tent on cold nights.

Today, more people are camping all year round, even in the colder seasons. Some have even found ways to enjoy camping in the winter. If you have never gone camping in cooler weather, then this article is for you. With a few hacks and the right gear, you will keep yourself snug throughout the night.

Without further ado, let’s look at some tips to keep your tent warm and comfortable when camping.

Are You Ready to Camp?

How much information do you have about the camping site? If you have never camped in that area, you need to dig for information about it or go and inspect yourself.

You can start by asking if any of your friends have ever camped there. If you can’t go and see the site for yourself, you can google information about it online. Just the click of a button and you will have all the information you need.

In addition, check the weather before you head out. For example, if there have been rains recently, pack your rain gear.

How to Stay Warm in a Tent

  1. Carry a Hot Water Bottle

This is one of the best ways to keep your body warm in a tent. For this, you will need to pack your stove and kettle to boil water before you put it into the water bottle. Even when the weather is warm during the day, always pack these because it may change at night, and you don’t want to spend hours trying to sleep. Place the hot water bottle inside your sleeping bag, and it will provide warmth for many hours.

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  1. Use a Rug or Tent Carpet

If you want to prevent cold originating from the ground, one of the best solutions is to use a tent carpet or rug. Know the size of your tent and buy a god quality tent carpet that fits. If you don’t have a tent carpet, a picnic rug will do. With a carpet, you won’t be stepping on cold ground when you wake up to go to the loo at night.

  1. Ditch Your Day Clothes

You will probably spend the day hiking, playing games, fishing, or any activity of your choice. When it’s time to retire, remove your day clothes on. As you engage in activities during the day, your clothes will likely be filled with sweat. At night, the temperature drops making the clothes feel cold. So, make sure you change to clean, dry clothes before sleeping. It only takes a few minutes, so fatigue should not be an excuse. Besides, who likes sleeping in garments worn throughout the day?

  1. Choose the Ideal Campsite

tents at a campsite

The campsite you pick influences how warm the inside of your tent will be. That’s why I mentioned that you need to know the campsite well so you can choose a suitable position to pitch your tent.

Hot air usually rises while cold air sinks. So, if you put up your tent at the foot of the valley, you will have to bear the cold till morning. You must already be thinking that having your tent in the highest position is a wise decision. Well, it’s not. At higher elevations, there are strong winds, so this option is also out of the question.

Do not go so high or so low. Instead, choose a moderate elevation point that will enable you to keep warm throughout the night.

  1. Do Some Exercises Before Going to Bed

You must be wondering why you need to perform some exercises before going to bed. Getting your blood flowing just before you get into your sleeping bag will help you gain warmth quickly. You can do simple exercises such as squats. Workouts are a great way of improving your body temperature and will help you fall asleep easily. Make sure not to overdo it as you will sweat, which means you will have trouble staying warm.

  1. Have a Good Sleeping Bag

Going for a cheaper bag will help you save a few dollars, but you will be cold anytime you go camping. Therefore, when shopping for a sleeping bag, pick one designed for the season you are camping. A summer sleeping bag is not right if you are camping in the winter. I recommend using a mummy sleeping bag as it not only fits well but also keeps you warmer than other types.

  1. Pack a Top Quality Sleeping Pad

A good sleeping bag is necessary because when your sleeping bag is in direct contact with the hard, cold ground, you may never sleep. So get an excellent sleeping bag, one that is suitable for the temperatures you will be camping in. You can also improve ground insulation by using either a tent carpet or a layer of leaves/branches. Be creative with the ground insulation, and you will never have to worry about the cold.

  1. Consider Using a Smaller Tent

If you are looking to keep warm, packing a large tent to the campsite is a bad idea. Sure, a large tent provides more space, but what good is it if it can’t keep you warm? If you are camping with a group of friends or family members, consider reducing the number of tents. More heat is generated when there are more bodies in a tent, meaning you will have a warmer tent. I have done this personally, and it works, so if you haven’t, try it out!

  1. Keep Your Sleeping Bag Dry

When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is pack up your sleeping bag for use in the evening. This is not advisable, as the sleeping bag usually contains moisture, and you may come back to dampness in the evening. When you wake up, roll up your sleeping bag so that the moisture escapes. Leave it till it dries completely.  And when you climb into the dry sleeping bag at night, it will take a short time to gain warmth.

sleeping bag at in a tent

  1. Use a Tent Heater

This is one of the most effective ways of increasing temperature levels in a tent. These heaters are specifically designed to be used by campers.

  1. Stay Hydrated During the Day

Yes, drinking water during the day will help you stay warm at night. How? When you drink a lot of water a few hours before going to bed, you will wake up to go to the loo a couple of times during the night. And when you come back to your sleeping bag, it takes a while before your body gains warmth again.

So, to avoid this, drink water early in the day. This way, when you go for a pee right before sleeping, you will be sure you won’t wake up in the middle of the night. Pro tip: have a pee bottle in the tent, so you don’t have to get out of your tent at night and endure the biting cold. Note that that is just a suggestion; if it doesn’t sound okay to you, you can pee outside. Drinking some warm water/beverages in the evening will also raise your body temperature.

  1. Avoid Air Mattresses

Air Mattresses are fantastic. You can easily pack them, and they provide maximum comfort to a camper. Many campers carry their air mattresses when going camping. The only issue is that these mattresses are not the best option if you want to stay warm.

Air mattresses are known to keep the temperature of their surroundings. So at night, when temperatures are low, you will have to endure the cold that comes from above and below. If you must use an air mattress, then have ground insulation material. You can use a tent carpet, sleeping pads, tarps, or Mylar blankets.

  1. Know When to Layer Up

When the day ends, you know the temperatures will go down, and the campsite will be much colder. So, if you want to have a great night, layer up early enough. Do not wait till darkness sets in. I have made this mistake in the past, and it took a long time before my body gained enough warmth for me to drift off. So, as soon as you notice a temperature drop, start layering up immediately. Remember, even if you get too hot, you can always reduce the layers. The earlier you layer up, the better.

Related: What to wear hiking in the summer

  1. Cover Your Head

Often, campers forget to cover their heads when sleeping. A lot of heat is usually lost through your uncovered head, so not covering up can make your night long and cold. Wearing a beanie hat is a great way to keep your head warm.

beanie hat for use in a tent

Alternatively, you can use a mummy sleeping bag. Just makes sure that only a small part of your face is exposed. Remember not to breathe into your sleeping bag, as this will create excess moisture and cause condensation. The last thing you want is to feel cold in your sleeping bag! If you do not have a mummy-style sleeping bag, then a good-quality camping beanie hat will do the trick.

  1. Wear Dry Socks

Your feet can be another source of heat loss. So, if you cover all parts of your body and forget about your feet, you will have a hard time getting sleep. Always have a pair of good quality, thick and dry socks for the evenings. Ensure the socks are completely dry before you put them on because any slight dampness will mean you lose your body heat.

You can pack a pair of sleeping socks in your sleeping bag so that you always find them whenever you want to sleep. Never sleep in the socks you were wearing during the day. Your feet sweat, and what happens when the temperature dips? The socks become damp, and your feet will feel cold.

  1. Have Extra Blankets

Winter nights can be pretty chilly. A sleeping bag will do in most seasons, but an extra blanket will save your night in extreme cases.

  1. Use a Tent Tarp

If there are strong winds at night, you will have a hard time keeping warm. The solution is to cover your tent with a tarp. A tarp reduces the amount of heat lost as the wind blows past your tent.

  1. Get a Sleeping Bag Liner

A sleeping bag liner adds some extra warmth and keeps you snug throughout the night. A silk sleeping bag liner is excellent, but it’s not strong. One made of fleece is the best as it is more durable.

  1. Strip Down

We have talked about layering up and how it helps improve your body temperature. Well, trying the opposite also works for some people. Strip down to your undergarments. There will be no barrier between the skin and the sleeping bag, which means you will gain warmth quickly. Try it to see if it works out for you.

  1. Avoid Cotton

Cotton and synthetic fibers retain moisture, so they are definitely not appropriate for a camper trying to keep warm. Instead, go for wool which wicks away moisture and dries quickly.

  1. Eat More Calories Before You Sleep

Not many campers understand that eating more calories helps improve your body temperature at night, especially during the cooler seasons. The digestion process is what causes the body to produce more heat. The scientific term for this is thermogenesis.

cooking at a campsite

So, before you go to your campsite, ensure you pack foods rich in proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. These foods typically take longer to digest, and the heat generated during the process will raise your body temperature. Some foods you can eat before you hit the sack include trail mix, peanut butter, bananas, ginger tea, and red meat.

You can use the tips above to keep warm in a tent. When you have a great night’s sleep, you wake up feeling invigorated and ready for the new day. If you have other tips I have not mentioned, please post them in the comments section.

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