Keeping Warm When Camping: Ultimate Guide
When you go hiking up to your campsite where you stay overnight, it can get quite cold. That’s obviously true during winter, but even in the summer you can get a chill while sleeping outdoors at night. That’s why it’s crucial for you to keep warm when camping. It’s not just uncomfortable, but in extreme conditions it can be fatal if you overlook this factor.
You do have several ways of keeping warm effectively while you’re out camping. You can choose among cold weather camping tents, find the warmest sleeping bag to sleep in, and use a camping tent heater too. You may want to bring along warm sleeping wear too.
Winter Camping Tents
The best hot tents for winter camping are general those with double walls. It’s true that you can use a tent with just single walls, especially when it’s designated for 4-season use. But you need to make sure that it’s not too spacious and that you use a great winter sleeping bag and a nice heater too. You ought to wear really warm pajamas as well.
But with hot tents for winter camping with a 2-wall system, you’re definitely better off. While you do have to deal with the extra bulk and weight, the point here is that you can ensure that you won’t be uncomfortably cold during the night.
If you only have a tent with a single wall system, you can still customize it so you have a makeshift double wall. You can at least place a fitted tent carpet on the floor to help keep the tent warm. You also won’t have to step on a cold ground sheet at night.
A fitted tent carpet may be too fancy for you, so instead you can just use rag rugs and picnic rugs on the floor. They should also work to stop the cold from coming in from the floor.
As for the material for the tent, go with fabrics like canvas or poly cotton. These materials are quite effective in minimizing heat loss. You may also want to use a durable water repellent for your tent, and the best repellents contain silicone, polyurethane and PTFE.
Now let’s talk about space. It’s very tempting to get a large camping tent nowadays because they give you a lot of room for storage and for walking about. The problem is that when you use a large tent but you only have a handful of people in your camping group, you end up with a cold tent.
This means that you should only use a large tent when you have enough people for the tent. If it’s supposed to be an 8-person tent, it’s not ideal for your family of 4. At the same time, the tent should also be large enough that the sleeping bags are located away from the tent walls. The problem here is condensation, and if it’s cold where you’re camping you really don’t want any water on your sleeping bag.
You should also check that the rainfly is designed for a winter camping tent. A rainfly for a winter camping tent is quite different from that of a summer camping tent. The rainfly for a summer tent doesn’t really reach the ground and they mostly only go ½ or ¾ of the way up. This design is mainly to keep out the rain, but it’s not as effective as keeping out the cold.
Instead, you want a full-sized fly that’s more effective in keeping out the rain and while it keeps the heat in. The rain and snow won’t even reach your tent wall at all.
Winter Sleeping Bag
You can’t really use a sleeping bag designed for summer use only, even if you have a nice tent for winter camping. Don’t worry about being too warm—you only need to open the sleeping bag a bit to feel more comfortable. The main worry is about being too cold, and you won’t have that problem with the best winter sleeping bag.
The first factor here is insulation, and for that you have to choose between down and synthetic insulation. There are pros and cons to either choice.
Down offers better insulation in regards to weight. This means that you can get the same level of insulation as synthetic but the down sleeping bag will be less bulky and lighter.
The downside to down (aside from how expensive it is) is that its insulating properties degrade very quickly when it gets moist or wet. Nowadays many of these down sleeping bags are treated with Durable Water repellant (DWR) to at least retain some insulation even if the sleeping bag becomes moist.
Synthetic sleeping bags are a lot more affordable, and they work even when they get moist. Of course, they’re a bit bulkier and heavier, but lots of people don’t mind the extra weight. This may be a mode ideal choice if you’re on a tight budget or if you’re likely to have your sleeping bag wet in your camping site.
By the way, you can always use blankets when you sleep in your sleeping bags.
Temperature Rating of Sleeping Bags
Sleeping bags may come with a temperature rating to help you determine if it will suit your need for warmth. The bags may come with these temperature ratings:
- Upper limit. This means the bag is meant for an average male to sleep in without sweating too much. It’s assumed that the man will sleep in the bag with the hood and zippers open with their arms out of the bag. This works well for a summer sleeping bag.
- In this sleeping bag, an average female in a relaxed position may be able to sleep comfortably.
- Lower limit. A bag like this lets a man in a curled position sleep without waking for 8 hours.
- This is a true winter sleeping bag, in which a woman can be inside for up to 6 hours without dying from hypothermia, even if frostbite is still a possibility.
There aren’t all that many options when it comes to sizes of sleeping bags. Usually, either you get the regular or the long. If you’re taller than 6 feet, get the long. Remember that you’ll feel colder if you have a larger sleeping bag for your smaller frame.
For winter sleeping bags, you should just pick the mummy sleeping style bag. You have a draw cord at the neckline to make your sleeping bag fit you like a cocoon. This keeps warm air from escaping the bag.
Heaters for Winter Camping Tents
You can use a heater in your winter tent just like you’d have one in your home during the cold winter months. Larger heaters will provide more heat (BTUs), so you need to size the heater according to the size of your tent. You can go online and use a BTU calculator to make sure you get the right number of BTUs to heat your tent.
Here are some additional tips on using safe camping heaters for tents:
- Use only your heater when someone’s still awake.
- If you pick a gas heater, make sure that the heater is stable. It’s best if your heater also has a tilt-over safety shutoff (or a tip-over switch in an electric heater) that automatically turns off the heater if it tips over.
- Don’t use gas heaters in an enclosed space.
- Use a carbon monoxide alarm.
- Keep flammable objects away from tent heaters.
- If you’re using an electric camping heater in a campsite with an electrical socket, it’s best if you don’t use an extension cable. But if you have to, buy a heavy-duty cord.
- Don’t plug in your electric heater with other appliances also plugged in beside it.
- Remember that an electric camping heater will also require you to bring along a heavy generator if you’re using this in a campsite without electric sockets. Generators are also noisy, and they can lead to sleepless nights if you’re not use to the noise.
- Portable stoves can also work, but only if you have a lot of ventilation in your tent. In this case a carbon monoxide detector is required too. Your tent must also use a flame-retardant canvas.
- Buy a heater with automatic cutoff, so even if people fall asleep with the heater on it will turn the heater off after a while.
- Overheat protection is also a good feature. This has a temperature sensor that turns off the heater when the insides of the heater become too hot.
- Always follow the heater manufacturer’s directions for use.
Winter Camping Sleepwear
Once the temperature drops in the evening, you should start to layer up. You shouldn’t wait until you’re cold as it’ll take you a longer time to warm up again. You should get yourself a nice set of leggings or long johns, even if you think you look unstylish or ridiculous. A nice long-sleeved thermal top is also a good idea.
Sleep tight, and take a hot water bottle with you. Disposable heat packs can help you feel warm as well. Use blankets too. Make sure the heater is turned off, and enjoy your sleep!