One of the joys of camping is that you have the opportunity to get out into nature. However, one of the main drawbacks of this is that we simply aren’t equipped to handle the extremes in temperature, especially when things get chilly.
But that shouldn’t be a reason to put off going camping. If you fancy an autumn adventure or some winter wanderings then camping is an excellent way to do this. But you should always keep in mind that due to the nature of a tent, certain ways of heating it might not be safe.
If you want the safest and most enjoyable camping experience, you need to think outside the box and that’s where our ingenious yet safe ways of heating a tent can come in handy.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do.
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Important Things To Consider
As well as retaining heat inside your tent, it is also incredibly important to make sure that you are warm, to begin with. One of the biggest mistakes for campers is that they don’t wear enough layers and they will get into bed when they are cold.
These are both things that can make winter camping utterly miserable and if you want the best experience, you need to be savvy.
While you may not need very much in the way of insulation when you are camping in the height of summer, winter is an entirely different ball game. You are going to need several layers of clothing and your bedding will need to be switched up.
Investing in a lined sleeping bag and a thicker, more insulated sleeping pad are the things that should take priority. After this, you will want to think about what you are wearing. When you get into bed, make sure that you aren’t already cold. If you are, this can mean that you stay this way as you won’t be moving around and keeping your blood flowing.
For this reason, we would always advise warming up and popping on a few layers before bedding down for the night. Once you are warm, it can be tempting to get into bed wearing just one layer, but this can be a rookie mistake. You’ll likely wake in the night feeling freezing cold and once again, it can be difficult to warm back up.
Our Best Safe Ways For Heating Your Tent
Now that you’ve got yourself toasty, you are going to want to make sure that your tent stays the same way. But we won’t lie to you, this is no mean feat.
In the same way that your tent can become very stuffy and humid in summer, it will retain the cold in the winter.
Always makes sure that you are not using a tent that is too big as these will take more time and effort to heat up. What’s more, if you use the correct size tent for the number of people sleeping in it, the combination of your body heat will contribute to the warmth inside the tent.
You must think about the design of your tent; this type of accommodation has only a thin piece of material between you and the elements. This can make it very tricky to heat up and even more tricky to maintain that warm temperature. However, it is by no means impossible and with a combination of the following techniques, you can have a comfortable and cosy tent.
1. Camp Where You Are Shielded
In the autumn and winter months, it is not uncommon for the winds to pick up. Even if the base temperature isn’t that low, it can feel a lot colder when it gets a little blustery.
One of the first things you should do in your efforts to warm up your tent is to focus on where you will place it.
If it is windy and cold, there is very little point in placing your tent in the middle of an open field. It is going to be battered by the elements.
You should also try to place your tent at a lower altitude. If you camp on ridges or slopes, you will find that it is much chillier.
The best place to pitch your tent is where it will be surrounded by plant life or trees. These will act as a windshield and this is the first important step in maintaining a cosy temperature inside the tent. If you can camp where there are a lot of ferns, it is unlikely that these areas will freeze and this can go a long way in your plight to stay warm.
2. Lay Carpet In Your Tent
We all know that heat rises but it is also true that a cold draught could be coming in from underneath your tent and causing it to become cold. One of the best ways to counteract this problem is to line the floor of your tent with some carpet.
You may feel like this is something of an inconvenience especially if you are backpacking. However, you don’t necessarily have to use the cut-off from the roll you recently used in your living room at home.
Of course, if you want to, a thick fitted carpet is an option but this tends to be better for static camping where you will be staying for a good length of time.
For smaller tents and those who are backpacking, rolling up a lightweight rug may be just enough to insulate the ground, keeping you much warmer as you sleep.
If you are feeling really fancy, there are heated carpets for tents that you can purchase and while they may set you back a pretty penny, they will do the trick!
3. Use Hot Water
Hot water fills your radiators at home so there is no reason that the same concept cannot work in your tent; just on a much smaller scale.
This is a common technique that is often used by farmers when trying to maintain the temperature in outbuildings such as greenhouses.
To use this technique, you will need some large bottles made from either plastic or metal. You are also going to need plenty of water to fill them. This water will need to be heated almost to boiling point but don’t heat it whilst in the bottles.
Use a pan over your campfire to bring the water almost to boiling point and then carefully pour it into your bottles. This is a simple method that is extremely effective. Once the water is inside the bottles, it will retain its heat and this will be slowly released over the course of the night.
However, the downside to this method is that you will, of course, need to carry the bottles with you. It is advisable to use larger bottles over smaller ones, particularly if you are in a bigger tent. For this reason, the water method may be better suited to those camping in one place for the entire trip as opposed to hikers and backpackers. We recently wrote an article about Campervan Heaters, where we suggested many great heaters
4. Use Hot Rocks
When you are out in the wilds, there is nothing if not a wealth of natural resources. You certainly won’t be hard-pushed to find rocks and large stones and these can come in very handy when it comes to heating your tent.
This method works in a very similar manner to the water method only this time, you will be heating rocks instead of water. One thing that you will need to keep in mind is that rocks will not retain the heat for anywhere near as long as water so this is a method that may be better suited to emergency use.
You can heat the rocks on your campfire but be sure not to put them directly into it. Doing this will mean that they become charred and will be much more difficult to remove.
You can heat the rocks for as long as you like, there is no time limit. However, you will need to make sure that you have removed them and placed them inside the tent at least thirty minutes before you plan to go to sleep.
It is also important to remember that you cannot simply place the naked rocks into the tent and expect it to make a difference. The key is to wrap the rocks in cloth or fabric so that the heat stays inside. The more rocks you have, the more heat you will be able to generate.
It is a good idea to place them where you won’t accidentally touch them as they will be very hot and could burn you.
However, you must place them in as many locations around the tent as possible. Once in place, close the door and let the heat radiate around the inside of the tent. When you’re ready for bed, it will be nice and toasty!
5. Camping Over A Fire
If you are on the go and using a small tent then a great way to keep it warm is to heat up the ground below you. Of course, you will need to make sure that it isn’t too hot when you pitch your tent as this could pose a safety risk and that is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve here.
The only downside to this method is that it requires you to heat the area before you can pitch the tent. Furthermore, it will take a little bit of grafting from yourself but on the plus side, this will help you to warm up before bed. This way of heating the tent can be tricky when it is late at night but it is an effective method that is worth considering.
You will need to first dig a trench. It doesn’t need to be deep but deep enough that you can have a fire in it. You should also make sure that it is roughly the same width as your tent as this will ensure that the heat is distributed as much around the inside of the tent as possible.
Start a campfire in the trench and allow it to burn.
The best approach to this is to get the fire as hot as possible; use lots of coal or wood to get the surrounding ground nice and hot.
When your campfire has died down, you will need to fill in the trench ( we told you that it would require a bit of hard work) and this will retain the heat in the ground. You can now place the tent on top of the covered trench and the heat will rise into your accommodation, keeping you warm through the night.
6. Use A Propane Heater
One of the major considerations when looking for ways to keep your tent warm through the night is that when you are using powered equipment, it MUST be approved for indoor use. If it is not, there is a significant safety hazard attached.
The thing that you should be looking out for is that the propane heater does not cause dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Some of the best products on the market will automatically shut off when they detect that the oxygen level in the tent falls below a specific level.
The good news is that there are many excellent propane heaters that can be used inside a tent. However, you should think about the size of your tent. Propane heaters come in all shapes and sizes and a small one that would work well for a two-person tent would not be enough to effectively heat a family-sized tent.
Now this is a great idea – the nCamp stove that works on wood, propane or alcohol – around £60.
It folds up very small into a separate carry case and weighs virtually nothing. We do love versatility, so multifuel is very appealing. The stovetop is also very stable for larger pots. A tad smoky, however.
7. Oil-Filled Portable Heater
If you are camping on a campsite where you have access to electricity, it is a perfectly viable option to run an extension cable into your tent where you can hook up an oil-filled heater.
Much like the propane heaters we just discussed, an oil-filled heater will need to be consistent with the size of your tent. If you have a very large tent, you may need to use several heaters but these are a quick and efficient way to raise the heat.
Furthermore, they are safe and easy to use. The only downside is that they will need to be left on for the entire time that you need warmth. This is because these heaters will kick out a lot of heat but this will quickly disperse once the power is switched off.
For this reason, it may be preferable to leave them on a low heat for longer rather than blasting them for an hour before bed.
8. Increase The Tent’s Insulation From Above
As we have already discussed, the only thing separating you from the outside world is a thin layer of canvas and this is not conducive to keeping warm. But one thing that a lot of campers have with them is a piece of tarp.
This can be used to throw over the tent and provides an extra layer of insulation. This is a great way to heat up the air, however, if this method is not executed correctly, it could become hazardous.
In order to feel the benefits and stay safe, you will need to leave a small space that is not covered by the tarp. The reason for this is that tarp is not breathable and therefore, if you cover the entire tent, the oxygen levels may drop.
9. Make Sure There Are No Gaps In The Tent
Even with every heating method in the world, hot air is going to escape if it has a route out of the tent. For this reason, you should always make sure that any gaps between the ground and your tent are filled in.
You don’t need any specialist equipment to do this, you can just as easily use things you find in nature. Try packing leaves into any gaps or simply line the edges of your tent with blankets, bags and any other gear that you have with you. This is your chance to get creative!
Camping doesn’t only have to be a summer activity, getting outdoors in the colder months can be just as much fun. But it won’t stay fun for long if you aren’t warm, so heating your tent should be one of your main priorities.
We have talked about some great ways to keep your tent warm using things you can find around you or by using special equipment like heaters and even tent carpets! Whatever way you choose, you can feel confident that you will stay cosy all night long.