How do you keep warm in a tent in cold weather? (whilst sleeping/resting)

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  1. bulmers94 profile image58
    bulmers94posted 13 years ago

    How do you keep warm in a tent in cold weather? (whilst sleeping/resting)

    After all my years of camping, this still baffles me, and every night spent camping I lay cold in my sleeping bag until the morning, where I am still cold, any help?!

  2. Catorinaa profile image58
    Catorinaaposted 13 years ago

    wear big cosey pjs, with a night cloak too big_smile then a blanket on top. (and bring a big snuggly teddy too, for extra tongue)

  3. annaroo profile image60
    annarooposted 13 years ago

    A lot of it depends on the quality of your sleeping bag.  Many show to what degree (temperature) they will keep your body warm.  Frequent campers that I know where only long underwear or less while in the sleeping bag, because the less clothes you wear, the better.  Sleeping bags stay warm by radiating the heat from your own body around the bag
    fishtiger58 has a great hub about this topic:

  4. Sterling Carter profile image60
    Sterling Carterposted 13 years ago

    In cold weather tent camping can be a bit uncomfortable. You can be cold as well as being damp from condensation. If you become too damp you can develop hypothermia.

    There is a little trick I use that helps to keep me both warm and dry if I use a tent while camping in cold weather.

    This can be a bit dangerous if you fail to use good judgment but these two tips could even prevent frost bite.

    If you are using an open bivouac style tent you can place a candle or 2 at the enterence of the tent and lite them. The seemingly small amount of heat put of by this little flame can actually prevent frost bite from occurring  on your toes and feet.

    If you are in a more normal enclosed type of tent place a couple of tea lights in a small cooler and place it near the door as well.

    Just 5 or 6 of these little long burning suckers are able to keep a 9'X12' tent that is large enough to sleep 9 people considerably warmer than the outside ambient temperature. 

    It is like having a fireplace in your tent, But be certain to use good judgment. Or you risk burning down your tent.

  5. profile image52
    hieroposted 12 years ago

    Annaroo has good advice.

    I am surprised, a little, if you have camped for years, if you haven't already considered some of these things.

    Regardless, I like to see what advice was offered a hundred years ago - since they dealt with such conditions more often than we do. Here is the advice I found - and have used. Go a little farther than Annaroo says - you should take off ALL of your clothing when in your sleeping bag. Your clothing should, however, stay in the bag with you. That way the clothing is comfortably warm in the morning when you put it back on. Your bag should be a quality bag - rated for the temps you are expecting, plus a little. The candle in the tent idea is interesting, and I am sure quite effective, but like that poster said, also dangerous. The air in the tent in the morning will be cold. That's camping. If you leave your clothes off, but in the bag, when you put them on you will find yourself much better equipped to handle the cold morning air. Your choice of a camping spot can have a lot of impact on the morning temp. You can pick the wrong spot - and it may be 10 or even 15 degrees colder than a spot 15 yards away. It may also be damper - from dew, and as Sterling said, dampness can lead to problems.

    1. meecesaddlery profile image54
      meecesaddleryposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I believe the candle in the tent idea comes from sleeping in snow caves, which I have done. A true cold weather tent has venting at the bottom and top to let out harmful gases. Your average tent will only vent at the top.

  6. nasus loops profile image66
    nasus loopsposted 12 years ago

    One way of helping to keep warm is making sure that the sleeping bag you have is suitable for the cold weather.  You can purchase sleeping bags now that are suitable for sub-minus conditions.  If you have one of these then thermal underwear underneath your pj's and then 1 or 2 nice fleece blankets over the top of your sleeping bag should help.  All else fails take a heater you can get some that are suitable for tents and heat your tent up really quick (although not sure how long they last).

  7. Christina A profile image61
    Christina Aposted 12 years ago

    I agree with the other commenters - a good sleeping bag that is the right size for you is important.  If it is too big, you will have cold pockets of air.  I personally think it is not an item to save money on.  Buy the best quality you can, with a warmth rating to suit the conditions in which you plan to camp. Wear a beanie or do up your bag over your head.  Make sure you lie on an insulating mattress.  Self inflating mats like Thermarest are great as they do not allow the cold  from the ground to seep through.  Use a silk inner sheet inside your bag - that will boost your bag by a rating.  If you are sleeping in a large tent on your own, you will not generate enough heat to warm it.  However, if in a smaller tent (eg a hiking size), the closer walls etc enable the space to warm up more quickly.  Thermals are great too.  I only need those if close to snowing temperature though.

    1. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I missed your comment about the silk liner on my first time through the comments.   I added it here as well.   I think it's the best solution for backpacking as it doesn't require bulky supplies.  Good answer.

  8. pe555 profile image80
    pe555posted 12 years ago

    I agree with all the points Hiero said. We also place a travelling rug on top of the air bed under the sleeping bags. Our bags can be zipped together so we can share it. Make sure you buy a left hand zip and a right hand zip to do this. I also sleep just wearing  boxers, that way your own body heat warms up the stuffing in the bag which keeps us as snug as two bugs in a rug. Buy a mummy sleeping bag that will cover your head.

  9. tenaciousgui profile image60
    tenaciousguiposted 12 years ago

    One time a friend of mine actually experienced hypothermia at our camp site. The first thing we did was cover him up with space blankets. Coleman has a particular foil-like sheet that could double as a good insulator. Try that one out.

  10. profile image0
    KenDeanAgudoposted 10 years ago

    i have experienced camping and most of the time, every night the temperature becomes colder. So if you wanted to keep yourself warm, bring a thick carpet or any blanket. or if you are with you love one's (wife or girlfriend/boyfriend) you can hug each other to keep you both warm smile You can also drink hot coffee or tea before sleeping.

  11. tlmcgaa70 profile image60
    tlmcgaa70posted 10 years ago

    having spent nine months in a tent in south dakota (started in earlyt spring with lots of snow and late winter blizzards) i can tell you the best way to stay warm is to have pets sleep with you, and to have a high quality sleeping bag, like those mummy sleeping bags, and also to sleep off of the ground, using an air mattress really helps. i was always warm because i had a dog and 2 cats that slept with me. even when the tent decided to spring a leak, they kept me warm til i dried off.

  12. Borsia profile image39
    Borsiaposted 9 years ago

    Start with a really good air mattress and a really good bag.
    I usually get some of the cheap paper sleeping bags that are kept by the Forestry Dept from a surplus store and wrap them around the outside and over the top, you can get close to the same effect by using pine needles or leaves and a tarp but whatever you use you want to build up the sides and top. Be sure to cover everything with a tarp to prevent moisture from building up especially if it rains or snows. the idea is to have a multilayer tent walls and top. Of course dig a trench around the base with a drainage ditch just in case.
    Get a big metal bucket and some wood and make a heater. Put large stones on the fire to get them really hot then put them in the bucket and place it on the wood in your tent 10 minutes or so before you turn in.
    Remember that you don't want any kind of flame as it could 1. catch your tent on fire and 2. emit gasses like CO2 or carbon monoxide.
    You can get electric heaters in many forms from sox (very comfy and warm feet help a lot) to bag or space heaters. But you will need to power them which isn't too bad for the sox, a few batteries. A larger heater however will need a big battery, think deep cycle 12v car size. I used to have a Pelzer heater that I made myself which worked very well and didn't use too much power but I've never seen a commercial one.
    I have used a vented Coleman lantern as a supplemental heater but I don't recommend this unless you really know what you are doing. They can give a lot of heat but also a lot of fumes and proper venting is critical.
    Finally wear a soft cap of some sort, I have some "watch" type double layered that I got from Cabela's we loose more heat through our scalps than anywhere else, feet & hands come next so sox and gloves or mitts.

  13. krillco profile image86
    krillcoposted 9 years ago

    The bag needs to be rated for the weather it will be used in. Ground insulation is imperative; a good ground pad (thermarest is good) a wool blanket doubled, or even newspapers are good. Get in the bag in your skivvies, no PJ's or clothes, as these hold your body moisture, and wet will =cold.

  14. GeorgeAllen0 profile image61
    GeorgeAllen0posted 9 years ago

    I normally get warm by my woolen JACKET. Yes woolen jacket. you should get it.

  15. misslong123 profile image79
    misslong123posted 9 years ago

    I'm probably not the best at answering this since I haven't been camping since I was a little girl, but I know when I go snow skiing, my little fingers get so cold they feel like ice. It feels like there is absolutely nothing I can do to warm them up. The trick I learned is to ball up my hands in a fist (for a while - until you get warm) and keep them in the gloves that way for a while. Within half an hour, they should feel much better and ready to go in their little glove slots (for each finger). I know that is just one body part, but it always got me when I went skiing. Best wishes! Michele

    1. Borsia profile image39
      Borsiaposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      You can get a heat gel pack and carry it in a coat pocket. You flex a little tab in the bag and it turns hot for about an hour. We used these for fishing and they are great. Another type is a metal box with a wick don't get as warm but last longer

  16. bethperry profile image86
    bethperryposted 9 years ago

    I have heard sleeping naked in your sleeping bag allows the body heat to circulate better than when you wear clothing. I haven't tried it, but it might be worth a shot!

  17. BuffaloGal1960 profile image68
    BuffaloGal1960posted 9 years ago

    I have two ways to keep you warm. I camp in cold weather months because of Black Powder Rendezvous and we are not allowed to have modern conveniences.  This is what we do.  First we use a buffalo fur. (True).  You cannot be cold in one.  Really.  Secondly, to get rid of the damp air, we take tuna can candles.  Here is how you make them.  Take cardboard and cut into strips that are a little less in width that the tuna can's height.  Roll up the cardboard filling the whole tuna can. Place a wick in the center and pour melted old candle wax on top of the cardboard covering it in strings of wax.  This will burn in a tuna can for about four hours with a flame bigger than a candle.  Try it at home first if you like until you get it right.  It's like a mini cozy fireplace.

    1. profile image52
      Oz283posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Where do you get a buffalo fur?

  18. profile image0
    Grey Templesposted 9 years ago

    Build a Dakota Hole as the Lakota and Dakota Indians did.  Dig two holes approximately 1 foot deep and 1 foot apart.  Start your file inside of the hole, One of the holes will act as a draft to help your fire burn.  Once you have a good layer of coals back fill the holes with dirt and lay your sleeping bag over the top.  You will stay toasty warm all night long.

  19. profile image49
    hannahposted 9 years ago

    Well from personal experience i know how your feeling. What me and my family did was packed lots of blankets and if it was really cold we were hug together. Also we would drink lots of hot drinks next to a fire.
    Hope this helps...
    Extra info
    Curl yourself into  a ball ...

  20. profile image52
    cncmomposted 9 years ago

    Stay warm with layers says daughter C.  C has been camping in Nebraska and Minnesota (and where-ever she has a chance) for years. Air mattresses can get really cold so layer them with a couple of insulators (quilts, blankets). Wear loose natural layers to bed, cotton and wool or something that wicks moisture away (loose lets the warm air stay trapped). She likes socks and footie pajamas and a stocking cap. Layers over and under the sleeping bag usually keep her warm and can be adjusted for the temperature. Tents are great for keeping the wind, rain, frost and snow off the bed and confining the area.
    It always helps to start warm when you turn in for the night. A warm drink or meal and toasty fire time before bed, help a lot. 
    On really cold nights, if you have a few hot rocks in the fire, put them in a can and place them in the tent (on something that won't melt it) to warm the tent area. A mate, child, or warm blooded pet is always welcome for an extra heat source. (Origin of the phrase "two-dog night;).

  21. profile image53
    zebragurl4everposted 9 years ago

    You may want to start with a very insulated sleeping bag, but if you don't here's what you can do

    First, put a few blankets underneath you for warmth on your side/back and for comfort. Then lay your sleeping bag (or whatever you have) on top of the blankets. Make sure that youe tent has no holes or tears in it. If it does close them up with tape. Cover yourself with plenty of blankets. Pull them up very close to your face, but leave enough room to breathe.

    That's as much as I can think of. GOOD LUCK!

  22. profile image52
    vivek80posted 9 years ago

    I put on clothes on my body tooo much. other ways to keep warm in cold day , I and my friends get infront of fire and get warm. By drinking hot tea in cold also make warm.

  23. Bree Pace profile image55
    Bree Paceposted 9 years ago

    I have always been an advocate of some practical options if other things are not available. You have built in heater with u all the time. 98.6 deg. Breath into your sleeping bag and try to
    leave some space between u and the bag for the heat to flow. Make sure u leave a little space by your face get some fresh
    air. Not a lot of space and not directly where you are breathing
    out. You will find the ballance. With each breath out you will be
    heating your sleeping bag. I have used this on a number of occasions.

  24. mrsannestedt profile image60
    mrsannestedtposted 9 years ago

    My family and I put our propane camp stove on low inside the tent for about 20 minutes  at a time.  We stay toasty and warm.

  25. TREVOR ASHER profile image60
    TREVOR ASHERposted 9 years ago

    Very true about the bag quality, but I have something else for you and it may seem strange and counter-intuitive. Sleep naked. Close your bag all the way and sleep nude. I don't really know the thermodynamics of the situation, but that's what we did in the Marine Corps and it worked. Hope I helped.

  26. tehgyb profile image83
    tehgybposted 9 years ago

    Make sure you're going to bed dry and comfortable. Any moisture introduced to your sleeping quarters will bring cold with it. Fresh clean socks are a must.

    Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the temperatures you will be seeing. I personally use a military surplus sleeping system with 3 usable layers that can be used in combination for nearly any temperature range.

    Stay properly hydrated. Hydration plays a big role in your body's temperature regulation.

    Depending on the type of tent or shelter you're sleeping in, you could light a fire for use for warmth. You don't want to just light a fire and go to sleep. What you want to do is use the fire to heat the ground you'll be sleeping on. After the fire has died down you can spread the coals around and mash them into the ground to fully extinguish the fire, put a thin layer of dirt over that for insurance, and now you've got some nice warm ground to sleep on. You can also use the rocks you surrounded the fire with, as they'll hold heat for a nice long time.

    If you want to be more technological they also make hand/feet warmers for hunting and other outdoor activities, battery powered heated blankets are another choice also.

  27. cebutouristspot profile image71
    cebutouristspotposted 9 years ago

    Go with a love one and sleep beside him/her body heat will keep you warm smile

  28. erorantes profile image38
    erorantesposted 9 years ago

    You need to wear warmers,soacks, warm pants, a warm hat, a scarf and gloves. Make sure , you have an insulation in your sleeping bag.

  29. crazyduck profile image76
    crazyduckposted 9 years ago

    You should have a mat between you in the sleeping bag and the floor. That way you won't lose heat through the floor so much, as there is a mat stopping some of that. Also the mat will mean that your sleeping bag doesn't have to rest on a cold floor - so it can be warmish to start off with.

    Secondly, you should have a insulating seeping bag. Don't get a cheap sleeping bag as they are usually thin, which means you will be cold. Get a decent sleeping bag, that is thick to the touch and does up to your neck at least.

  30. ShivaniBharadwaj profile image60
    ShivaniBharadwajposted 9 years ago

    I rub my hands,wear a pair of socks and wrap around myself a really warm blanket..

  31. lostohanababy profile image57
    lostohanababyposted 9 years ago

    Either buy a small propane tent heater., or gather some dry leaves or pine tree soft bows, lay across the bottom of the shallow pit, without tent.  Using tent, before setting up the tent above ground, lay a tarp that is waterproof and close to the size of your tent.  Place your tent on top and anchor it good.  In the inside of your tent lay down a pile filled comforter.  I will add warmth to the inside of your tent.   Wear a warm pair of thermals, top/pant and thermal socks...That may help to add warmth under your clothes.  Try different ways, to find a way to keep warmer at night.  I can agree with that experience of feeling chilled in my sleeping bag, not really sleeping well, when use to go camping years ago with my husband and sons.

  32. Oztinato profile image76
    Oztinatoposted 9 years ago

    Do what the naked yogis do in the Hymalas and put a small fresh hot chilli in your mouth.

  33. OutdoorsMom profile image64
    OutdoorsMomposted 9 years ago

    You've got some pretty good answers but I wanted to add one that I didn't see. 
    If you have access to an electrical outlet, an electric blanket is awesome.  If you turn it on before you go to bed it will heat up your sleeping area and the air in the tent making for a good nights sleep!

  34. SatendraSaini profile image47
    SatendraSainiposted 9 years ago

    For keeping your tent warm you have to do certain things.
    1 Make your tent air proof. Air shouldn't pass through it.
    2 light a candle inside the tent.
    3 Keep better air jacket.
    4 Use double layer tent.

  35. jbosh1972 profile image93
    jbosh1972posted 9 years ago

    most of the suggestions here are spot on.  I have an oversimplified answer.  Eat lots of high protein like meat and eggs.  Use the smallest tent possible so your body heat is reflected back to you. Kind of like the eskimos.

  36. Virginia Lea profile image80
    Virginia Leaposted 9 years ago

    Well, it is kind of common sese. What is your first reaction when you get cold? You curl up. So... Do just that. Put on more layers and curl up.

  37. connorj profile image71
    connorjposted 9 years ago

    A down filled sleeping bag elevated off the ground approximately 3 to 6 inches. Use layering if possible, wool blankets on the outside of the bag. Cover the top of your head and ears with a wool toque (hat), down filled slip ons to cover your feet and mitts for your hands. Make sure you have a down filled pillow for your head-rest. The last essential is what one would call a "three dog night" I would go with my 2 shepherds and my Belgian Malinois... Other breeds may perhaps be warmer...

  38. PhoenixV profile image63
    PhoenixVposted 9 years ago

    I think a pair of socks with a high percentage of wool in the material might help quite a bit.

  39. pippap profile image81
    pippapposted 9 years ago

    The simplest answer is to put as much warmth underneath you as you put on top.  If it is cold enough that you need a sleeping bag, put a sleeping bag underneath you as well.  If you need a blanket on that sleeping bag, put a blanket underneath as well.  It's the cold from the earth underneath you that causes you to remain cold.

  40. Chris Dela Cruz profile image59
    Chris Dela Cruzposted 8 years ago

    Key thing wear socks and gloves and micro fiber blankets.

  41. Nicole Toni profile image60
    Nicole Toniposted 8 years ago

    ive heard garbage bags keep you really warm! im not a camper .. so hopefully im not wrong!

  42. Lissa Clason profile image95
    Lissa Clasonposted 8 years ago

    Something that really helps is getting a sleeping pad or a mattress to put under your sleeping bag. If you have nothing underneath your sleeping bag, you'll lose heat directly to the ground and be a lot colder for it. You can also try insulating the walls of the tent by hanging up blankets, or sleep with a bunch of those little hand warmer packs in your clothes (this helped me a lot when I was camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the middle of January, I felt perfectly comfortable). If you are comfortable with it, you could also try huddling together with someone else to stay warm. Whatever you do, always waterproof your tent, because rain will make you miserable and could collapse the tent if it's heavy enough. If you're cold in a tent, definitely do not try camping in a hammock. My friend fell out halfway through the night and woke up on the ground the next morning (he's a very heavy sleeper) with every exposed inch of skin covered with frostbite sad. Good luck with your camping! It's so much more fun when you're comfortable.

  43. meecesaddlery profile image54
    meecesaddleryposted 8 years ago

    I was a Mountain Warfare Survival Instructor in the Marine Corps. We slept without a tent, on the ground and I stayed warm when it was -20 outside. I had a -20 rated bag with a warm weather bag inside that as a liner. Both where in a bivy sack which is a Goretex, waterproof, outer bag. Under me was a thermocell sleeping mat to insulate me from the ground. I've slept through blizzards without a tent in that setup. Sometimes, if we were packing mules, I'd use the fleece lined mule pads instead of the Thermocell which worked fine too. Ohh, someone mentioned sleeping naked and that does allow your sleeping bag to perform the way its designed. Also, a cheap bag from Walmart is not going to cut it. Slumberjack gave the Marine Corps instructors or -20 bags to test but they cost about $300.00. Kinda expensive but hey, would you rather freeze?

  44. profile image0
    Joshtheplumberposted 8 years ago

    Get naked. Your clothes have absorbed the moisture from your skin which affects the heat transfer in the space between your body and the sleeping bag.

  45. cam8510 profile image93
    cam8510posted 8 years ago

    A silk sleeping bag liner will add 10 degrees to your sleeping bag, meaning a 20 degree bag would become a 10 degree bag.  Sea to Summit makes one that stuffs down to about 4"x2".

    Also, definitely cover  your head.  That's where most of the heat escapes from.

  46. LauraTallo profile image61
    LauraTalloposted 6 years ago

    You can bring a terra cotta planting pot, a couple bricks, a candle, and some matches. Place the bricks on the floor of the tent. Put the candle on the bricks. Light the candle. Gently turn the pot upside down and place it on the bricks over the candle.

  47. profile image52
    Lisacalvin124posted 6 years ago

    Staying warm while camping in winter season can be very challenging. It depends a lot on your experience, age, metabolism, sleeping system air temperature, wind, fatigue, altitude, tent, and ground temp. However, there are a few tips listed that you can utilize to retain heat and stay as cozy as possible while sleeping out in the colder elements during the winters.
    1.    Do not sleep with your head tucked down inside the bag, because if you exhale into the sleeping bag, it will condense the air and will get cold.
    2.    Never ever under any circumstances sleep right on the snow.
    3.    If you don't have a tent, put down lots of Spruce bows to insulate your body from snow. 
    4.    It's much easier to stay warm, than to get warm. So remove any wet layers of clothing, and put on dry clothes as early as possible. Put on a puffy jacket, puffy pants, and dry socks along with warm pair of boots.
    5.    Do not sleep with damp or wet clothes on. Change into a pair of dry clothes before hitting the bed.
    6.    Avoid sweating in your sleeping bag, if you start sweating unzip your bag and / or reduce layers.
    7.    Do a few situps in your sleeping bag to produce body heat without even having to get out.
    8.    Eat foods rich in fats or carbohydrates, these are great sources of fueling or warming the body while camping in winter to help you stay warm and cozy.
    9.    Keep yourself well hydrated with juices, hot tea, hot chocolate, water, etc
    Very importantly position your tent’s opening in a south eastern direction. That way you'll be able to take advantage of the sun’s morning rays.
    Also Avoid “as much as you can” camping on ridges, mountain tops or at the very bottom of a hill.
    Keep in mind that cold air settles and hot air rises, so ideally you want your campsite or shelter to be located somewhere between the ridge line and bottom of a hill.

  48. felipe cora profile image58
    felipe coraposted 6 years ago

    If camping outdoors, it's really important to bring warm jackets and some waterproof clothing. to combat the coldness at night, a lightweight but warm sleeping bag is real essential. usually, goose feather sleeping bag are light but very warm. some can be used for -40 degree.


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