How To Heat A Tent Safely This Winter

Cold Weather Safety Tips
Cold Weather Safety Tips

Hey there fellow campers and welcome to my post where we will discuss how to heat a tent safely this winter.  One of the benefits of camping is the opportunity to get out into nature and for many of us, the beauty that the winter season provides make it worth the effort to get out there in the cold as well. 

However, one of the significant drawbacks is that many tents are simply not equipped to deal with temperature extremes, especially when it gets cold – meaning we may need to add a little heat.  Of course however adding heat to a tent is not without its hazards so for those of you looking to do a little winter camping, here are some tips to help you safely keep that tent nice and warm.

How to heat a tent safely

As above, when it comes to heating a tent during the winter months, there are a few things to be aware of such as things catching on fire or severe reduction of oxygen levels.  Below are some steps that we can use to achieve a warm cozy tent without causing any damage to ourselves, or the surroundings. 

1. Choose the ideal camping ground

The location of your tent can have a significant impact on how warm it stays during the night. Therefore, picking a good camping ground is an essential first step if you want to keep your tent as warm as possible.  In many cases, it is  the wind will be your worst enemy.

For this reason, I suggest you avoid camping on ridgelines or at the tops of slopes because these are windy areas. In addition to this, do not camp in open fields. Additionally, whilst the views from the top of a cliff are spectacular, the higher altitudes and exposed nature of these spaces also mean higher winds. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a calm night, the wind chill may make it difficult to heat your tent correctly.

So if possible, look for an area within trees or against rocky outcrops etc. that will provide protection from the winds. 

How To Heat A Tent Safely - man camping in snow

2. Purchase an insulated tent

There are a plethora of options for heating your tent. However, if you are an avid camper who enjoys going on extended overnight trips in the colder months, I would strongly recommend investing in an insulated tent.  These are especially built for winter camping and designed to keep the heat in.

A second option here is a “hot tent”.  A hot tent is that which is designed to safely house a camping stove which are installed within a tent with an integrated stove jack and chimney. Hot tents are specially designed for the purpose of accommodating a wood fired stove as they are slightly breathable and frequently coated with fire-proofing.

3. Insulate the tent by yourself

Should you tent not be insulated or able to accommodate a tent stove, you can instead decide to insulate one you already own.  This is a simple process in that you add another layer such as a thinker rainfly, a tarp or even a thermal blanket.  Just make sure you keep some ventilation so that the tent doesn’t get too stuffy or run out of oxygen while you rest.

Secondly, insulating a tent entails more than just thickening the walls and roof. You must also consider the ground as it is another area that can seep cold into the tent.  To do this, place a thin layer of tarp, hessian or similar between the tent and the ground.  This will help in keeping the warmth in, and the cold out.

4. Use safe camping heating devices

Now we get into the options to add some heat to the inside of the tent.  All of these are safe to use, however care should always be taken when in a tent with any type of artificial heating device.  This includes placing them in a clear area and not putting any clothing or blankets etc. on top the the heater.  So keeping this in mind, some tent safe heating devices include:

  1. Electric heatersThese devices utilize electricity which is safer than those that run on gas. Camping electric heaters come in different shapes and sizes, and they can do the job of keeping you warm amid cold camping nights. In shopping for electric heaters, you should buy those with a quiet operation and fire proof heating plates.
  2. Propane-powered heaters –   The small but powerful camping propane heaters, which run on a disposable 1-pound propane tank cylinder, have an output of 3,800 BTUs, enough to warm up to 95 square feet for up to 5.6 hours.  Make sure to choose one where the heating flame is fully covered to avoid accidents.
  3.  Tent Stoves – As outlined above, tent stoves includes a firebox where wood or charcoal burns, a chimney/flue pipe that releases smoke outside the tent and extras such as racks or shelves for drying clothes.   They are extremely effective at warming a tent however you must always be mindful that there are flames inside the tent.

Regardless of the internal heater you are considering, always try and choose a heater with in-built safety features including:

  • Tip-Over Switch: This will automatically turn off your heater if it tips over.
  • Automatic Cut-off : Most manufacturers recommend not sleeping with your heater on.  Automatic cutoff will turn the heater off after a set amount of time.
  • Overheat Protection: This means that the heater includes an internal thermostat which will switch off if it gets to hot.
How To Heat A Tent Safely - tent on stretcher

5. Other more natural methods

Should you not have access to a heater, there are some other ways to add warmth to your tent including:

  • Hot water bottles – Placing a couple of hot water bottles in your sleeping bag is an excellent way to improve the temperature inside your tent. The extra heat will keep you warm and cozy, especially when you first lay down.  Keep in mind that this temporary solution will not keep you or your tent warm for long however purchasing one with a fleece cover may help here.
  • Hot stones – When there is no electricity, another clever way to add extra heat to your tent is to heat some stones in your campfire and place them in your tent. While some campers prefer to place the heated stones next to their tents, an aluminum baking pan in the corner of the tent with the stones will work too.

6. Wear clothes that will keep you warm

And finally, whilst not actually heating your tent, Wearing the proper clothing not only protects you from the extreme cold of the night, but also allows you to take full advantage of any heat you have added as well.   I recommend a long-sleeved cotton shirt or a sweat-wicking athleisure top made of absorbent, breathable material for your base layer. Your mid layer is all about insulation, so pile on your sweater or hoodie there. You could also wear an insulated down jacket.

A good winter sleeping bag will of course help here as well.

Conclusion

And there they are, my 6 tips for you to increase the temperature of your camping tent. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences here.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun

Paul

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Paul