Camping can be a great way to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. There is something so peaceful about enjoying nature and spending some time yourself or with friends or family in a more natural setting.
But staying in a tent can also be challenging when staying warm, especially if you are not prepared for cooler weather.
It can be challenging to stay warm on camping trips, but there are a few tricks that have helped me over the years.
If you’re looking for a solution on how to stay warm camping in a tent, I’m going to be sharing with you 13 simple tips that you can apply when you’re cold at night.
Let’s get into it!
How To Stay Warm Camping In A Tent
Before we get into the tips, these tips are based on three simple rules:
- You can use your body as a heater.
- Your body loses heat the fastest at the ends of it, meaning your hands, your feet, and your head.
- The cold is coming from the ground up.
With these three things in mind, here are the 13 tips.
1. Keep Your Head Warm
The head is one of the quickest ways for your body to lose heat, so you must keep it covered. You can do that in a few different ways.
The first thing you can do is if you have a hood on your sleeping bag, use that at night. It’ll keep you warm for a lot longer.
If you don’t have a hood or you are still cold, you can use a beanie to cover your head. It will be beneficial always to bring a beanie to the campsite because you never know the conditions will get colder.
I recommend Merino Wool Winter Beanie Knit Hat because it’s very lightweight, and the wool retains the heat a lot longer. It’s inexpensive and can be your lifesaver throughout the cold weather.
However, if you have none of the mentioned items above, then I’d recommend covering your head with a buff. (Here’s the one I’d recommend)
Watch this video to learn how you can change a buff to a headcover,
If you have a down jacket, that also be useful to keep your head covered. It will help you keep yourself warm for a lot longer.
2. Always Bring Extra Pair Of Socks
You can do one of the simple things, and I’d recommend always bringing extra pair of socks. It will keep your feet dry and warm. Essentially, it will retain a lot more body heat for longer.
Bring only an extra pair of socks made from wool because it’s an excellent material to retain your body heat a lot longer.
Don’t bring a pair of cotton socks because cotton is something that you don’t want to bring on a trail. It doesn’t smell good, and when it gets wet, it doesn’t dry quickly.
Instead of keeping your feet warm, the cotton socks will keep you cold.
3. Thermals Wear
Once you’ve covered your head and feet, the next thing I’d suggest is to invest in a good pair of thermal wear, i.e., thermal t-short and thermal pant.
Thermal wears are an integral part of winter clothing. They keep your body warm and comfortable against the cold.
Inner thermal wear is a thin layer of insulating fabric that locks in your heat. So you can stay cozy through chilly days.
The material of thermals can be 100% polyester or a mixture of polyester with other materials—for instance, merino wool, polypropylene, elastane , and spandex.
I recommend a thermal shirt made from merino wool. Here are my recommendations:
- Carhartt Men’s Base Force Midweight Classic Crew (for men)
- Merino Wool Midweight Long Sleeve Thermal Shirt (for women)
Merino wool clothing is known for its ability to wick away sweat from the body. This property of merino wool rivals synthetic materials, although they are different in how it works.
Synthetic fabrics spread moisture over a large area, allowing faster evaporation, while merino absorbs 36% and gradually releases water vapor through pores on their surface.
4. Use Layer System
If you’re still cold, you can use a layering system. A layering system is a common term for seriously extreme outdoor activities like winter hiking and climbing.
The first layer is your base or innermost clothes, which directly contact your skin like a thermal shirt. It’s not just to absorb body moisture but should wick the sweat away from your body.
Eventually, it will send the moisture to the other layers of clothing so it can eventually evaporate. The second layer of clothing is mainly for insulation.
You could use a down jacket or another layer that keeps you warm. In my opinion, it’s something worth investment; especially if you’re actively going out camping.
It’s very warm land, very compact which means it doesn’t take up much space. The only downside is it cannot get wet.
5. Insulate From The Bottom
The next step is to insulate from the bottom. Remember, as mentioned before, the cold is coming from the ground up. You want to use anything in your power to think of to create an extra layer of insulation.
One way to achieve this is to use something like Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress to sleep on.
It has a patent triangular core matrix technology inside, where they have an insulating layer built into their mattresses.  It allows for the delivery of continuous warmth by using a layer of thermal foam nestled between alternating ridges of air and foam.
Another option is to bring a reflective tarp like this one. It’s not that expensive, but it will create an extra layer on the bottom, reflecting your heat into your tent or on top of your body.
If you don’t have both, another hack you can do is create a layer under you with your clothes. So you will find that if you put your clothes under you, you will retain your heat a lot longer.
6. Keep A Hot Water Bottle Inside Your Sleeping Bag
The next thing you can do to stay warm in a tent is to fill your water bottle with hot water. You need to heat a little bit of water before boiling points.
Then put it inside your sleeping bag in between your legs. Wrap a cloth around it if it’s too hot. It will act as a sauna inside your sleeping bag.
It usually retains the heat all night. If that’s not enough, you could use two bottles, one for your feet and one for your upper body.
It’s better to use a hard plastic bottle because you’ve done it a few times with soft plastic. It will start to wear out. Even better if you have a stainless steel bottle.
Related: How to start a fire for camping.
7. Eat Or Drink Something Hot
Do you know calorie-dense meals and water can supply warmth inside your body? When you eat or drink something hot before sleep, your body will start working to digest the food.
What will happen is that your blood will be flowing, and your body heats up. A cup of ginger tea could help your body fight the cold.
If you drink some soup or tea, you will have that warm feeling inside, and it will keep your mind off the cold.  They will retain the heat a lot longer when you’re sleeping.
8. Pee Before You Sleep
Is it worth getting up in the middle of a cold night to go pee when you’re all tucked in? Probably no.
Your body will be dispensing a lot of energy, keeping the pee inside your body when your bladder is full.
It’s better to pee first before you go to bed. Else, you have to restart all over again because you have to face the cold.
9. Simple Warm-up Before Go To Sleep
Similar to point number 7 above, you don’t want to go to bed cold. By doing a simple exercise or warm-up, blood will start flowing, and your body will gain body heat.
You can do anything you feel comfortable like push-ups, stretching, or jumping jacks. The key point here is to keep your body as warm as possible before tucking it into your sleeping bag.
Your sleeping bag will retain the warmth from your body longer.
10. Keep Your Tent Ventilated
Do you know that our bodies give off moisture at night? That moisture needs to escape, or it will become trapped inside with us and our gear.
It would help if you created an airflow inside your tent. So that the wind can get through it and it will not retain that moisture inside.
The solution would be to leave an opening on one side of your ten. A great tent will have two doors with mesh vents or windows. So there are more ways for the moist air to escape.
Always keep in mind that dampness creates coldness.
11. Use a Portable Tent Heater
If you have the convenience to carry propane camping, using a portable propane heater is a great little addition to keep you warm inside a tent.
An excellent tent heater comes with built-in safety features. It has integrated safety mechanisms that allow them to be used in enclosed spaces safely.
It will help keep your tent warmer in the wintry weather, so you don’t have to worry so much about sleeping on below-freezing nights.
Keep in mind, that only use the heater in a well-ventilated tent.
There are many tent heaters on the market. I’d recommend Mr. Heater Buddy Propane Radiant Heater because it will auto shut off if tipped over or when it detects low oxygen levels inside the tent.
12. Candle Lantern
There are many types of candle lanterns, but most campers favor the electric candle lantern. They are generally safe to use inside the tent.
What makes an electric candle lantern a better choice for your camping is that most lanterns are rechargeable or battery-operated. It often comes with the necessary battery packs, so you don’t have to worry about finding power sources.
For instance, LE LED Camping Lantern is a battery-operated lantern that can be adjusted brightness setting up to 1000 lumens. This brightness level can generate an additional source of heat when you sleep close to it.
There are plenty of options in terms of size, weight, and design, so you can choose which fits your needs best.
13. Select A Protected Campsite
The last tip is to choose your campsite wisely. One great way to stay warm during those chilly winter nights is by choosing a campsite that will protect you from the wind and other elements.
If you’re camping in the forest, the leaves will act as the first base layer. The surrounding tree-line can offer some protection from the wind.
So I would suggest keeping them in mind. Of course, we don’t always have a choice.
These were my most important tips to keep myself warm at night. I know there are probably a ton of other things out there that I haven’t mentioned.
Always remember, you can always use your body as a heater. Also, the cold generally comes from the ground up.
I hope these 13 tips will be able to help you stay warm in a tent when it’s time for you to sleep.