How To Keep Warm When Camping In A Tent?

If you hate frigid fingers and numb toes as temperatures drop close to sub-zero around your camp, you are not alone. Being a trekking enthusiast, it’s natural to ponder how to stay warm in a camping tent in the winter.

Well, I don’t dread sub-zero temperatures anymore. Thanks to my trek mates, I have learned to stay comfy inside a tent in the winter. In this post, I am going to share this precious knowledge with you!

Himalayan treks and camping sites tend to be annoyingly chilly, particularly during winter. And then you have the wind screaming around your tent all night long. Well, the secret to staying warm in a tent starts with where and how you pitch the tent.

After all, no one loves a restless and broken slumber, shivering in the cold after tramping down miles throughout the day. If you know how to keep warm in a tent, you can embrace a warm slumber after the day’s toiling.

To bail you out of the cold mess, I have listed some of best tricks to keep tents warm and comfortable at night.

How to Keep Warm In A Camping Tent

1. Get A Waterproof Tent

In the first place, I would recommend getting the right kind of tent for your camping during treks. Waterproof tents for camping are suitable for all seasons. If you want to keep warm in a tent, make sure to choose a model with the right specifications.

Any tent you purchase should come with proper ventilation. Get a sturdy waterproof tent, as you don’t know whether the weather has foul sports plans in store.

For me, a waterproof tent saved my day at Satsar Lakes campsite during my Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. The sky was pouring furiously as I rambled with heavy boots into the shelter of this tent.

The weather was cold, and the chilly wind threatened to uproot the tent. Thanks to our experienced guide, we succeeded in securing the tent on that particular journey.

Make sure that your camping tent comes with extra vestibules or compartments. You can use these spaces to store wet clothes at night. This would keep the moisture from dampening the interiors as you sleep.

2. Choose The Right Camp Location

The secret to keeping warm in a camping tent lies in pitching your tent in the right location. I tend to be extra vigilant when choosing campsites. It’s wise to count on natural structures like ridges and boulders to make your tent weather-resilient.

During most of my hikes, I use a weather app to remain informed about weather conditions at the campsite. Besides, I have observed other trek leaders bank on features like hollows, tree trunks, boulders, and knolls to withstand adverse weather conditions. These structures are natural windbreakers, and you need to pitch your tent in the right place.

I habitually avoid low-lying areas during camping and pick higher locations where the early morning sunlight would readily stream into the tent. Being warm in a tent also requires you to avoid exposed ridges to ditch the wind.

Camping at the right location

3. Dress In Multiple Layers

Many of my trek mates ask me about the tricks to stay warm in a camping tent in the winter by choosing the right layers. Well, it’s not about how thick or fluffy the external layer is. I prioritize dressing in layers.

As you know, our body continues to be the only source of heat amidst chilly winters in campsites. Trapping this body heat is the best way to stay warm in your camping tent. While wearing a warm and insulated jacket is a popular choice, you can explore other options as well.

Put on multiple layers, including base layers inside and windproof jackets outside. In between, out on a fleet jacket, t-shorts, and other mid-layers. Along with these, I would recommend you to guard your forehead, head, ears, neck, and throats with proper wool layers.

4. Get Your Tent Insulated

My experience in camping has taught me how to insulate tents to trap internal heat. Well, try to fill up the tent inside with your trekking accessories so that the leftover space is very little. This would allow the least space where cold air can settle in. As a result, your body would get the accumulated warmth.

Also, take care to remove anything wet from inside the tent. The cool air or moisture would dampen the tent, marring all your efforts to keep it warm.

Insulated and ventilated camping tent

5. Ensure Proper Ventilation

If you frequently struggle staying warm in a camping tent, you may not be working on its ventilation. Some campers think that ventilating tents can stream the cold air in.

However, you might have noticed the top parts of your tent have a ventilator. Try not to block these gaps, as they help removing moisture out. As you continue breathing inside the tent, the air gets moist. So, a part of it needs to escape through the tent to keep it dry and warm.

6. Don’t Sleep Alone

Well, if you are thinking about the ways to keep warm in a tent at night, try not to sleep alone. As I explained earlier, our body heat happens to be the only heat source at sub-zero temperatures. So, now you know why I prefer sharing a tent with one or two other campers.

The body temperature of the other people will add up to yours inside the tent, keeping it warm. However, don’t share your sleeping bags, as these trekking accessories are designed to accommodate one person each.

Staying with a partner in a tent keeps you warm

7. Get A Sleeping Bag

Ah! I know how it feels to pamper yourself to sleep as you cocoon yourself with the comfort of your sleeping bag. The first time we saw our trek mates use these trekking accessories was during our Sandakphu Trek, as the temperatures dipped below -5°C in January.

After getting a good quality sleeping bag, fluff it to increase its heat retention capability. Trekkers carry their sleeping bags compressed into the sack for at least eight hours a day. Before you get inside the bag, make sure to fluff it, so that it forms an insulation around you. Also, shake the internal insulation so that the trapped heat from your body gets distributed evenly.

8. Use An Insulated Sleeping Mat

I have often found campers experimenting with crazy ideas. Among these, you might think that using a sleeping bag would be fine if the surface isn’t stony. However, this isn’t something that would help you keep warm in a camping tent. Rather, you won’t get a good night’s sleep, with the cold reminding you of its presence.

Instead, get an insulating sleeping pad or mat. It forms a warmer layer between the ground and you. Particularly, when you try to find out the correct way to stay warm in a tent in the winter, I highly recommend using the right kit for camping.

Sleeping mat for camping

9. Have A Set Of Night Clothes

I have often heard trek leaders instructing campers to carry the least possible number of clothes. So, would you end up sleeping in the same set of clothes you used for trekking all day? What about the sweat it accumulated from your body?

Sleeping in damp clothes during camping is potentially dangerous. Besides, it would chill down your body as the moisture gets released into the tent. Make sure to carry a different set of clothes for sleeping. Before leaving your camp in the morning, put the clothes under the sun to dry up.

10. Take Hot Drinks And Eat Late

The secret to staying fit during tough treks is to stay hydrated with plenty of water. Also, I would recommend taking healthy and warm food so that your body gets the heat.

Try to eat just before you retreat into your sleeping bag for a cosy night’s sleep. The later you eat, the more heat your body can trap. Also, I have seen most trek leaders arrange food high in carbohydrates and fat. This would enable your system to use the energy for longer as it digests this food. Naturally, it would continue to produce more heat.

Before I wind up my guide to staying warm in a camping tent, I would like to give a few additional tips to you.

  • Carry out a light exercise for a few minutes before going to sleep. This will keep your blood circulating and warm.
  • For emergencies, include a thermal insulating blanket to your camping gear checklist.
  • Get a sleeping bag liner if you are trekking or camping in the Himalayas in winter.
  • Be wise while using your campfire, and make the most of it before getting into your tent.
  • Use heated gloves and boots along with hand warmers to stay warm.
  • Now that you know how to keep warm in a tent, brace up for a more comfortable camping experience. Staying warm in your tent is a priority, so thank me later for these invaluable hacks.
  • The rule is the less space you have, the easier it will be to keep it warm.
Photo of author


Author, NatureDiary
Rishi is a travel writer from India, known for his poetic perceptions evident in his travelogues. His writings are rich in insights into tourism, and he pens down his first-hand experiences based on his interaction with the folk he meets and the gears he uses during his hikes, treks and travels.

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