Top Ten Camping Tips to Stay Warm in a Tent

One of the most challenging problems to overcome when camping is how to stay warm, especially when it comes to bedding down in a tent. Even during summer, nights and early mornings can get chilly, and getting a good night's rest is almost impossible.

To make sure that you wake up refreshed and ready to face the adventures that lie ahead on your camping trip, follow these top 10 tips to stay warm in your tent:

1. Head And Feet

We've all seen those triangular sleeping caps that men wore to bed in times gone by. There's a good reason for this. Body heat is primarily lost through the head and the feet. So don a sleeping cap (a beanie is ideal) before getting into your sleeping bag to make sure your head is warm and stays warm.

Double up on the socks way before going to sleep. Make sure that your feet are already warm when you put your socks on. No matter how many pairs of socks you wear, they are not going to warm your feet, but they will help keep feet warm that have already been heated.

2. A Hot Water Bottle

Another old-fashioned remedy for beating the cold at night is a hot water bottle. Simply warm up some water on your camping fire or use your other heating elements that are designed for camping and fill a water bottle. The key here is only to warm the water and not boil it. Boiling water is likely to be too hot and burn rather than warm you up.

Work from the bottom up. Place the water bottle at your feet. Once your feet are warm, place the bottle between your knees, next between your thighs, then your buttocks and lower back, and so on. You should fall asleep toasty and warm by the time the water bottle has reached your legs.

3. Layer It

An hour or so before sleepy time, get dressed for bed wearing more than one layer of every clothing item. Two long-sleeve shirts and a sweater or jumper, a pair of thermal underwear and sweatpants and of course two layers of socks. A scarf wrapped around your neck is an excellent way to keep your chest and neck warm while you sleep.

However, it is essential not to overdo it so that you don't overheat while sleeping. If you wake-up sweaty, you are too hot. The next night, remove one layer of clothing before getting into your sleeping bag.

Some campers will go so far as to sleep with their boots on to stay warm. However, this is not a good idea. Footwear can cut off circulation to your feet. Good flow is critical to keeping warm, and boots that compromise circulation can result in serious health problems. If you are concerned about putting your feet in a pair of cold shoes in the morning, use boot liners to keep them warm.

4. Stay Off The Floor

Heat rises, so avoid sleeping on the floor and get higher up. Camping beds are great to elevate you away from the cold that seeps in through the floor of the tent. Hammocks are even better. If you don't have a camping bed or hammock, a tarp on the floor and a camping mattress will provide you with some insulation against the cold. Foam cell mattresses are ideal for holding the heat from your body and insulating you from the cold.

5. Flooring Materials

As mentioned above, the floor of your tent is where most of the cold is going to come from. So insulating the floor to prevent this from happening is essential. The cold seeps in from the cold ground under the tent as well as the cold air that settles on the ground.

A cloth is the simplest way to do this but not very effective. Those foam, rubber floor tiles that are used to cover kiddies play areas are a far better solution as they insulate against the cold and provide a soft, warm surface to walk or sleep on. They are a great alternative to a camping mattress. And if there is one thing glamping has taught us is that bringing household items along on your camping trip can provide additional comfort and luxury. Rugs or a carpet will help absorb the cold and warm up the tent. There are carpets available that are specifically designed for camping and tents that you can purchase.

6. Your Camping Site

Choosing where to plant your tent is and preparing the area in advance is critical to staying warm. Choose a camping site that is elevated - remember that heat rises! Choose an area that is flat as possible and then flatten it some more while removing any rocks or stones. If you are going to sleep on the floor of the tent, you can make a shallow trough in the soil where you will be lying. This trough will provide some insulation, keep you warmer and prevent you from rolling around in your sleep.

If you are camping in winter weather, remove snow from where the tent will be erected. It is essential to do this before setting up the tent. If the snow melts, it will merely refreeze, making it far more difficult to remove later. It will probably be better to choose a new camping site if this happens.

7. Less Is More

The less space that is available in the tent, the warmer your tent will be. Clutter is your friend in a tent, but this does not mean that the shelter needs to be a mess. The organization is crucial to a successful camping experience. Use S hooks and carabiners to hang goods off the floor. Pack camping mattresses and bedding tightly together.

Hanging clothes along the walls will also provide extra insulation against cold air filtering into the tent from the outside, and the warm air is escaping. As any insulation expert will tell you, the best insulation needs to work both ways.

8. Buddy Up

There is nothing quite like another warm body to keep you from getting cold in your tent. If you are camping with a significant other, invest in a double sleeping bag and cuddle up to stay warm. If you are camping with friends or family members, lay your sleeping gear side-by-side so that you can benefit from their body heat and vice versa. Plus, you have the bonus of having another person or people exhaling warm air for a more cordial atmosphere inside the tent. Sleeping with a buddy is a mutually beneficial way to stay warm in a tent.

9. Dressing For Sleep

Layering clothes is the best way to ensure a warm night's sleep but needs to be performed well before bedtime to give the clothes time to get warm. However, if you have forgotten to layer before bed, you have two options. The first is to sleep in the clothes that you are wearing. Who cares if they are slightly dirty or smelly - as long as they are dry and comfy, they will do just fine to sleep in rather than getting undressed and taking the time to warm a set of layered clothing.

The second option is to get dressed under covers. Getting dressed inside your sleeping bag will give your body less of a chance to lose heat and be exposed to the cold outside air. However, it may take some practice and extreme maneuvering to develop the skill to get dressed inside a sleeping bag. This is also an excellent way to get dressed in the morning before you leave the warmth of your sleeping bag.

10. Just Breathe

Most campers make the mistake of breathing into the sleeping bag under the mistaken belief that this will warm them up faster. But if you have ever woken up in a tent with condensation dripping off the roof and walls, you will quickly see the error in this. Your breath is full of moisture that will condense inside the sleeping bag making for a cold and damp sleeping experience.

Instead, pull the collar of the sleeping bag around your face, cinching it so that it leaves a gap for your nose and mouth to breathe through. Even if your nose and mouth are cold, this technique will soon warm your entire face so that you can sleep more comfortably.


If none of these tips are helping to warm you up, get out of your sleeping bag and move around to get that essential circulation going and warm you up. Don't, however, do any vigorous exercise that will cause you to sweat. Moisture is the enemy when you are trying to stay warm.

If you start shivering and shaking uncontrollably or show other symptoms of hypothermia, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Hypothermia is where your core body temperature has dropped, and this can have extreme health consequences.