CAMPING | The Secret To Happy Camping: How To Stay Warm In Your Tent

Camping with Style Camping Blog | Activities • Glamping • Travel • Adventure

Always seem to end up shivering in your tent? Read on, this post is for you!

Pssst….Scroll straight to the bottom if you’d like to skip right to our tips

Tips for camping in cold weatherOur current sleeping set up, Outwell Pasodas with the Outwell Dreamboat SIM on top

Happy Camping Starts With Keeping Warm

I’ve camped in the UK in November before and trust me, it was cold. So cold in fact that I put the kettle on to make a coffee in the desperate hope of warming myself up. After 10 minutes I realised I was still waiting for the kettle to boil. I turned it off and checked the gas bottle, which was full. Back on it went and 5 minutes later, still nothing.

I popped my head out of the awning and asked a fellow camper if they had any idea why my kettle wouldn’t boil. I was cheerfully advised that with the temperature struggling to make it into single figures, the type of gas canister I was using, was simply too cold to work effectively and that I’d have to warm it up first.

When you are already cold, a gas canister shoved under your armpit (the only part of me that wasn’t freezing cold at this point) isn’t my idea of fun.

camping warmI never camp without a hot water bottle!

Thankfully over the years I have learned what works for me in terms of night time comfort, and I’ve now got a setup that, finally, thankfully, doesn’t leave me shivering all night and wishing I was at home. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you don’t have to ridiculously over pack to keep warm. Investing in a few well-chosen items specifically designed to provide camping comfort really is worth it

Just like your duvet at home has a tog rating, so sleeping bags have their own rating which tells you how well insulated it is, and how warm it is likely to keep you. A 1 season sleeping bag is very light and is unlikely to keep you warm in a tent so look for a 3 or 4 season bag to ensure you’ll be snug.

Here’s How I Stay Warm Camping in Cold Weather

I use a folding camp bed and on top of that, I use the Outwell Dreamboat a good quality double SIM which is great at insulating me and keeping my back warm. On top of this goes me in my sleeping bag.  I like room to move and hate feeling restricted (though a mummy style bag will keep you warmer) so I use a SLPY sleeping bag or if we are camping together, we use our Outwell Cardinal and then finally, on top of us we’ll either have our down duvet from home, or a pretty decorative sleeping bag unzipped and laid out on top of both of us. Along with thermals and a a hot water bottle, this set-up always keeps me toasty and warm.

Vango AirBeam TentDouble-height airbeds can be tempting for those with mobility issues, but they are cold to sleep on outside of summer

What To Wear In Bed

Leave the onesie at home and opt for something easy to take on and off. I go for pyjamas (fleece ones aren’t stylish but they will keep you warm) and on all but the hottest nights, I wear a zip-up hooded sweater on top, with a really thick pair of woollen bed socks.

Unless you are camping in the middle of summer, I’d also recommend thermals, plus a beanie hat and fingerless gloves or wrist warmers if you’re camping in very cold weather. My final essential for staying warm in bed, is a hot water bottle and I never go camping without taking one.

Outwell Centuple Double Sleeping BagThis is the warmest and most comfortable set up I’ve ever had

Stay Warm In Your Tent Camping Tips

Please note, my tips aren’t aimed at backpackers who need to travel light!

1. Don’t wait until you feel cold to layer up

As soon as the temperature starts to drop in the evening, grab an extra layer – don’t wait until you are already cold to layer up, by then it’s too late and will take you far longer to warm up again.

2. Thermals are big and clever

Thermals might conjour up images of your granny, but a decent set of long-johns or leggins and a long sleeve thermal top are an absolute must if you are camping in early spring, autumn or if you are insane, in winter.

3. Always pack a hot water bottle

Take a hot water bottle (and of course a stove and kettle), even if you don’t usually use one at home or think that April weather will be warm enough, take one anyway.

4. Don’t go to bed cold

If you get into your sleeping bag cold, even with additional bedding, you are likely to stay cold. Before you get into bed, have a warm drink, have a brisk walk or run to the loo or just do some star jumps to bring your core temperature up a bit before snuggling down for the night.

5. Sleeping bag liners can help

Consider buying a silk a sleeping bag liner, these are said to add an extra ‘season’ of warmth, however the one I invested in ripped almost immediately. You might want to consider a fleece alternative, they’ll help to trap heat and won’t be quite as delicate as a silk liner.

6. Invest in down insulation

Remember that down insulation will keep you super toasty and warm, and it’s worth the investment if you plan to camp in cold weather.

7. Insulate your tent with a tent carpet or rugs

Use a fitted tent carpet and/or rugs on the floor of the tent; they act like an insulating layer and stop cold coming up through the floor. If you don’t have a fancy fitted tent carpet, picnic rugs and inexpensive rag rugs are also useful for insulation and means if you do have to get out of bed in the night, you won’t be stepping onto a cold groundsheet.

8. Invest in some disposable heat packs

Disposable heat packs are really useful, make sure you have some with you whenever you camp as if you are really cold, popping a couple in either pocket of your hoody or sleeping bag can make a real difference.

9. Don’t use a massive tent

A big tent containing only a few bodies will mean the space remains cooler than a much smaller tent. Sleeping compartments in a bigger tent are usually easier to warm up than larger living spaces, so if it’s just a short camping trip for a couple of people, consider downsizing your tent, or switching to a canvas or polycotton tent as these are often better at minmising heat loss.

10. Portable heaters should be used with caution!

If you are camping with an EHU taking a portable electric heater makes a lot of sense. However, just like portable gas heaters you will still need to take extra care and follow safety advice. No kind of heater should be left on whilst you sleep or for long periods of time.

Portable gas heaters are available but should be used with great caution. Gas heaters should NOT be used in an enclosed space like a tent bedroom and you must have plenty of ventilation. Please use common sense and follow the manufacturers safety advice, do not ever leave a gas heater unattended, don’t use one inside your tent in an un-ventilated area and you must also make sure you are using a carbon monoxide alarm.

11. Use the right kind of sleeping bag

Make sure you aren’t attempting to sleep in cold weather using a cheap sleeping bag or a bag that’s only meant for summer use (check out the season rating, you’re looking for a 3 season bag). Remember too that a close fitting mummy bag is your best option for keeping warm. Whilst taking a duvet and using that on top of a cheaper or less restrictive sleeping bag might be tempting, it won’t keep you as warm as a technical sleeping bag designed to keep you warm.

12. Take extra blankets

Night time during the summer in the UK can still often be cold – don’t assume that because it is July you’ll only need a sleeping bag, always take a few extra blankets just in case, especially if you have little people. Thick fleecy thermal blankets can make a big difference on really cold nights.

13. Ditch the double height air bed

Sleeping on a double height air bed is great in terms of comfort for those with mobility issues as they are so easy to get on and off, but boy are they cold! I persevered with one for well over a year and was always cold no matter how many sheepskin rugs I laid on top of it.

Switching to a good quality SIM will make a huge difference to your warmth at night. A SIM can also be placed on top of a folding camp bed, so if mobility is an issue it makes a great alternative. A good quality SIM includes padding and insulation that will help you to retain more body heat, keeping you warmer.

 

Camping Gear To Help You Camp Cosy

Outwell Dreamboat SIM £239

Robens Pamir 250 sleeping bagRobens Pamir 250 Sleeping Bag £164

 

Snugpak

Snugpak Chrysalis 4 Season Sleeping Bag £78.89

Nod PodNod-Pod 100% Pure Organic Silk Sleeping Bag Liner £30

Outwell Collaps Collapsible Camping Stove Kettle 42 Hiking Picnic Accessories Outwell Collaps Camping Kettle £26.95

heat holders for camping

Hot Hands Hand Warmer Value Pack £7.98

KITZ WOMENS TCZ TECH THERMAL SET BERRY

Tog24 Ladies Berry Thermals (I have this, and it’s brilliant!) £24.95

Mountain Warehouse Nevis Mens Fur Lined Insulating Full Zip Pockets Adjustable Hoodie

Mountain Warehouse Nevis Mens Fur Lined Insulating Full Zip Hoodie £34.99

 

Heat Holder Socks

Heat Holders Socks £4.99

Reusable Hand Warmer Red Retrospot @ Dot Com Gift Shop £4.95

Re-usable Hand Warmers £4.95

SLPY sleeping bag

SLPY Sleeping Bags £119

 

Appleby Half Zip Quarry GreyCraghoppers Boys Appleby Fleece £25.00

 

Love Hot Water Bottle £14.95Love Hot Water Bottle £14.95

Joules throwJoules Buckingham Floral Quilted Throw £120

For more stay warm camping essentials and fab finds, check out my Pinterest board here. Check out our new article giving you even more great tips on how to keep warm camping in a tent.

How do you stay warm when you are camping? What’s the coldest or worst camping experience you’ve ever had? I’d love to hear your own tips and stories, so leave a comment below!

DISCLAIMER: Camping with Style do not endorse or recommend using any gas appliances inside your tent. All gas appliances should be used with great caution and manufacturers recommendations should always be followed. Even when using portable gas appliances in a well ventilated area, we strongly recommend you take additional safety measures including the use of a Carbon Monoxide alarm.

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  • James Goulding

    About to try my special Chinese silk duvet tonight for the first time. I hate sleeping bags and tend to make huge piles of duvets instead. This one is incredibly thin, but apparently keeps people warm in the Chinese winter so, hopefully I’ll be all snug tonight!

    • James, that sounds utterly fabulous!

      I’ve heard similar about silk, you’ll have to report back on how warm it manages to keep you!

      • James Goulding

        Hmm, might be better in summer, on another note, the silk quilt MUST be the top layer, or it just doesn’t work!

  • Tracy

    We went camping for the first time at Easter and I’m slightly ashamed to admit we had an electric blanket! It was lovely.

    • Oh wow, that sounds fabulous Tracy! I’ve never camped with an electric hook up before, perhaps I should!

  • wendy

    I am researching for setting up a glamping site on our dairy farm next year, so all these tips sound great. Check out how we get on at http://www.canvasandclover.wordpress.com

    • Camping With Style

      Loving the new blog Wendy. If you need help with anything or spreading the word once your glamping site is up and running, just let me know! You can email me direct hellocampingwithstyle@gmail.com

      All the best, Shell x

      • That’s very kind of you, I might just take you up on that!
        Wendy

        • Camping With Style

          Please do! 🙂

  • Diksha

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Great advice – virgin camper; I decide to start at 57yrs of age…woke up this morning wondering what I’d wear at night! 🙂

    • Camping With Style

      You’re welcome I hope it helps! I’ve been chatting to a couple of people recently who swear blind that the key is to wearing as little as possible….! Tried that, and it really does not work – hope some of these tips are a help to you 🙂

  • Candy Evans

    Excellent advice – except for one vital point! Please could you remove your suggestion of using a portable gas heater in a tent?

    You mention the danger of fire, but there’s a much more insidious danger with a gas appliance in a tent – carbon monoxide poisoning. Modern tents, especially those with sewn-in groundsheets, aren’t designed to have enough air flow for a gas appliance. If it doesn’t burn cleanly then it will give off carbon monoxide, which can be fatal.

    There’s more information here:
    http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/COsafety

    • Shell Robshaw-Bryan

      Hi Candy, thanks for your comment. I’ve amended the article to indicate that a gas heater should only be used in accordance to the appliance safety instructions and only in areas with adequate ventilation.

    • Thanks Candy. Good point! I’ve updated the article to make it clear that a gas heater should be used with care and only in a well ventilated area like an awning.

  • nosmokewithout

    I had a roll of a few bits of carpet to lay down in the tent. Nice if camping with a car and family!

  • Ed Elder

    Nicking a couple of notes from a few of my mates over the year, a few more ways to keep warm that i can think of are :
    If you’re packing light or don’t have hand warmers, a heated rock from last meal in a sock works well in its place
    If you know you’re likely to wake up in the night for any reason, having a warm drink in a flask is a wonderful thing
    Moving about before getting in your sleeping bag may warm you up quickly, but the trapped moisture in your bag will cool you down quicker when you get in.
    Having dry feet will cool you down quicker at night, even with socks on, so if you get the chance, drying your feet, applying foot powder and wearing clean dry socks will help you keep warmth.

  • Lisa L. Dean

    Wow, what type of camping do you do!?!.!.!
    I go kayak camping and if I took all that extra gear I would sink!

  • Joie Mojica

    Using a good quality thermal blanket like the roadeavour would be a great plus in keeping yourself warm.