How to Stay Warm in a Tent

You can’t escape cold, shivering nights during winter camping. Spring and fall are high seasons for camping, but even then, the temperature can suddenly drop at night. And if you haven’t been prepared for that, you’d end up spending the whole night lying awake from the cold.

But we don’t want that to happen to us, do we?

That’s why learning about how to stay warm in a tent is going to help us from tuning into a block of ice. Selecting a secure site, layering clothes, keeping a hot water bottle inside the sleeping bag, eating and drinking hot meals, and following other advice can help you heat up and remain toasty warm.

So, let’s dive into it and discover new tips and tricks for getting warm, shall we?


how to keep a tent warm while camping or hiking

Before worrying about keeping warm in a tent, you should first secure a location. Finding the perfect spot to pitch your tent will save you half the battle of warming up. Avoid low lying exposed areas and go for higher ground. But there also could be too much wind and potentially dangerous weather conditions. So look for a high ground surrounded by trees. Before setting up your tent, clear away the site and flatten the land where you’ll be sleeping.

Also, you need to find the right type and size of the tent. You should get a tent with at least a three-season rating. Best if you can invest in a four-season tent. Don’t go for too large tents. Instead, choose the smallest tent that can fit you. Make sure to use a sturdy tent with adjustable ventilation, which is easy to secure in the ground.


  • Choose a secure location to pitch your tent.
  • Find the right size and type of tent.
  • Keep your tent ventilated at night to reduce the dampness and condensation.
  • Add extra layers to the bottom of the tent. You can put extra blankets or tarps between the ground and the sleeping base.
  • Use a camp bed to raise up the floor.
  • Use a tarp or wind cover to protect your tent from extreme elements.


  • Avoid placing your tent near bodies of water or low-lying areas.
  • Do not camp in a tent, which is too big. If the tent is too large for the number of people camping in, then it’ll struggle to warm up.

Sleeping Bag

When thinking about how to stay warm in a tent, usually sleeping bag is the first thing to pop out in people’s mind. Whether you will spend the whole night sleeping peacefully or lay awake shivering with cold, it largely depends on the state of your sleeping bag. So, you need a good quality sleeping bag which is right for you.

However, there are just so many different types of bags available. How would you know which ones most suitable for you? Well, consider these things before buying:

  • Check temperature ratings: All bags come with a temperature rating assigned by the manufacturer, such as – All-season, 3-season, 0 degree, etc. For camping in cold weather, you need a sleeping bag specifically suited for 0 or minus degree weather.
  • Look for features: Mummy bags are more appropriate for preventing cold as you can cover yourself fully and keep the body heat inside. If you need extra insulation, sleeping bags with down filling would be a better choice.
  • Get the right fit: You need to be like Goldilocks to get the right sizing. Your bag can’t be too small, or too large. You need wiggle room inside to move around. If the bag’s too tight, you won’t be able to move. But if too large, then your body won’t heat the extra space.

Therefore, investing in the best quality sleeping bag would save you from a lot of trouble. For recommendations, you can check our guide on the best sleeping bag for cold weather.


  • Get a sleeping bag with an appropriate temperature rating. Choose one that can handle the nighttime temperature you’ll be sleeping in.
  • You must keep your sleeping bag dry. When not in use, let it air out to dry any moisture it collected overnight.
  • Fluff your sleeping bag and shake up the inner insulation before using it.
  • Consider a sleeping bag liner as it offers better defense against cold. Also, liners keep your bag clean from accumulating dirt and filth.
  • Add layers inside and outside your sleeping bag for extra warmth. You can place towels, blankets, mats, rugs, or even spare clothing on top of your bag.
  • Share your sleeping bag. Be it human or a furry companion, two bodies releasing heat will always keep it warmer than one!


  • Don’t try to sleep in the cold using a cheap sleeping bag or a bag only appropriate for summer use.
  • Don’t breathe into your bag to warm it up. It may seem like a good idea, but instead, you’ll end up adding moisture and cold inside. Put your head inside the hood and cover your face. But keep your nose and mouth open so you can breathe out.

Sleeping Pad

Only a sleeping bag placed directly on the cold ground won’t save you from the chill, even if it’s of the highest quality. You wouldn’t want to wake up in the middle of the night shivering, would you? A well-insulated sleeping pad can take care of this problem easily.

There are various types of sleeping pads to choose from nowadays. However, the main three types are:

  • Closed-cell foam pads
  • Air pads
  • Self-inflating pads

An R-value rating refers to the ability to retain heat. The higher the R-value rating, the more effective the pad is at thermal insulation. So there’s less chance of losing heat. Usually, foam pads have the highest R-value, while air pads have the lowest.


  • Get a sleeping pad with an R-value appropriate for the temperature where you’ll be camping
  • Foam pads or closed-cell foam pads will be able to provide you with better insulation
  • If one pad can’t give you enough warmth, you can use two pads for greater insulation and warmth


  • Try to avoid using air pads or air mattresses as much as possible. But if there’s no other option than to use air pads, then put blankets, extra clothes, tarp, or even a pile of leaves to add more warmth under you.

Clothing Gear

Always pack expecting the worst weather possible. You never know if the weather will turn for worse, so it’s better to bring an extra pair of socks or sweaters.

Layering is the key if you want to stay warm and dry while sleeping. You can wear several thin layers of clothing rather than wearing bulky clothes. Then there will be less chance of overheating at night, and you can shade some layers if needed. For instance, vest, underwear, long sleeve t-shirt, leggings, socks, and sweater can be your bottom layer. You can put on thermal wear too. And remember, no matter what people tell you, don’t sleep naked.


  • Put on completely dry clothes while sleeping. Keep the dry clothes in a waterproof bag and air them out in the morning.
  • Change your wet day clothes before going to sleep.
  • Layer clothes strategically to peel off if necessary. If you feel too warm during the night or need to get up to use the bathroom, then you can easily peel some layers off.
  • Wear a knit hat to bed. Keeping your ears covered will ensure your head stays warm too.
  • Keep your feet dry and warm. In case, you tend to get cold feet, try booties for extra warmth.
  • Wear hand warmers, heated boots, and heated gloves if needed.


  • Don’t wear sweaty clothes inside your sleeping bag.
  • Avoid silk and cotton and choose a breathable fabric like wool.
  • Don’t sleep naked or nearly-nude.
  • Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes to sleep in.
  • Avoid overdressing as it can cause overheating and sweat.

Camping Gear

Along with having appropriate clothing, camping gear such as portable heaters, heat packs, hot stones, etc., works great at keeping hands and feet warm. These accessories are readily available and not that hard to find. For instance, putting a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag prevents the chill away. If you remember to bring the gear with you, it’s not too hard to stay warm while camping.


  • Fill a hot water bottle with water and place it on your toes. For more warmth, you can also place it next to any of these critical areas, such as – your core, inner thigh, and neck.
  • Using portable tent heaters- be it electric or gas heater – are an easier and faster way to warm up a tent. But be very cautious while using it and follow the instructions to a tee.
  • Use disposable heat packs. You can put the packs in your pockets or place near body areas that are susceptible to cold while sleeping.
  • Heat some hand-sized stones in your campfire and place them in your tent. You can also wrap up large stones in towels or clothing and place them in your tent’s center.
  • Hang a reflective blanket from the tent ceiling. Mylar blankets can reflect light and heat. By attaching it to the tent with duct tape, your escaping body heat will reflect back to you during the night.


  • Don’t burn or scorch yourself with hot water. Make sure the lid remains tight.
  • Don’t run the heater all night. It’s better to run it only at bedtime and wake-up with supervision.
  • Never run a fuel-burning heater inside a tent. There’s a greater risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and the tent catching fire.
  • Never heat up wet rocks or touch them with bare hands.

Food and Drinks

If you’re trying to stay warm, eating is essential as your body needs the energy to produce heat. Eating a high-calorie meal before bedtime will give your body an added boost.

And to keep your digestive system running smoothly, you need to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and hot beverages during the day and less at night. Along with coffee and teas, hot chocolate, hot milk, or even apple cider are great beverage alternatives.


  • Eat a high caloric dinner before going to sleep.
  • Munch on a midnight snack high in protein, fat, and sugar. Chocolate, cheese, nuts, or energy bars are pretty good snack options.
  • Drink water and hot beverages to stay warm and hydrated.
  • Try straw to prevent spilling drinks on your gear. A reusable straw is highly recommended as it’s highly durable and easy to disinfect, also no chance of pollution.


  • Drink liquids to stay hydrated but not too much. If so, then be prepared to go for frequent bathroom breaks.
  • Don’t take too much coffee before going to bed; otherwise, you’d find it hard to fall asleep.
  • Avoid alcohol. Generally, alcohol can make your body feel warm, but in reality, it does the opposite. Consuming too much alcohol can actually lower your body temperature and increase the risk of hypothermia.


Until now, we only talked about gear, but a little bit of preparation never hurts. You can endure a cold night better if you’re prepared for what’s coming.

Here are some tips and tricks to consider for staying warm:

  • Always check weather conditions, research weather trends, recent changes, and upcoming hazards. Make a trip plan and keep your close ones posted of your whereabouts and expected return.
  • Get active to get warm before bed. Doing some physical exercises like going for a short walk or doing jumping jacks will warm up your body quickly. Just don’t exercise too much, or you’ll start sweating and cool down.
  • Don’t wait too long before going to bed. Get into your sleeping bag before it turns too cold. Check the weather and nighttime temperature of your campsite region ahead of your trip.
  • Protect your electronics from the cold by stashing them in the foot box of your sleeping bag. Also, check your device’s minimum and maximum operating temperature before heading out into the wild.


Hopefully, our guide on how to stay warm in a tent helped you to learn a few tips and tricks. Even if you’re new to camping in cold weather, with time and experience, you’ll become a pro at staying warm in a tent in no time. Maybe you’ll come up with some tricks of your own and have a whole new routine to go through. So, don’t hesitate to experiment!

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