warm tent

This Is How Your Tent Always Stays Nice And Warm

When the temperatures drop at night, the mood usually drops too. The cause is quickly found: you feel cold at night and you don’t know what to do about it. Here are a few tried and tested tips.

Insulation

Most of the heat is lost to the ground, especially at night. That is why good insulation against the floor is essential for a night in the warm. Even if you are out and about without a tent, the insulation to the ground works wonders.

Air beds and air mattresses (yes, those things for the swimming pool) offer very little insulation, as comfortable as they may be. If you want to sleep on an air bed, be sure to put a sensible sleeping mat underneath!

Camp beds lift the body off the ground, but do not prevent the air below them from cooling down. Here, too, additional insulation must be created, optionally using an insulating blanket or mat on the camp bed.

The right insulation

Insulating blankets are one-sided coated blankets that are suitable for sitting on the floor during picnics. Unfortunately, these are mostly designed so that whoever uses them is still moving. They are therefore mostly unsuitable for sleep use.

“Real” foam mattresses are better at this point. These don’t cost the world, they are always on offer for less than 10 dollars.

Advantage: Thicker foam sleeping mats also “insulate” against uneven floors and small stones. Disadvantage: A rolled up sleeping mat takes up space in the car. But you can compensate for this by using them in the car as foam protection for fragile things like lanterns etc.

The luxury variants are inflatable or even self-inflating sleeping mats. Please make sure, however, that you actually buy a sleeping mat here and not just a nicely labeled air mattress! In addition, sleeping mats that work with air should be fully filled (in contrast to the instructions for air beds!) So that you do not squeeze them at night and then lie on the floor again.

Insulating blanket

Support the sleeping mat

If the sleeping mat is too thin, you can reinforce it with blankets or spare clothes by placing them under the sleeping mat. Such a reinforcement is particularly useful in the pelvic area.

Stay on the mat

Pay attention to whether you wake up at night and have left the sleeping mat with any part of your body – if so, take appropriate precautions to prevent this in the future. For example, you can use a larger sleeping mat, put several sleeping mats next to each other (but make sure that they don’t slide apart) or, if these are only fleeting touches, place a camping thermal blanket under the sleeping mat.

If everything does not help because you tend to rotate at night, try sleeping on your stomach or going to the “stable side position” before going to sleep – this prevents such rotations very effectively, even if you are not in the most comfortable sleeping position is.

The quieter you sleep, the warmer it gets. This is also because you exchange less air in the sleeping bag, so you draw less cold air into the sleeping bag.

camping sleeping mat

The sleeping bag – a story full of misunderstandings

We come to the second big sticking point: the sleeping bag. Unfortunately, this is where most of the mistakes are made.

Find the right sleeping bag

The more extreme the temperatures, the better the sleeping bag has to be. At this point I strongly advise against sleeping bags from the discounter – sleeping bags should definitely be purchased in a specialist store for trekking, especially since the seller can give further tips there.

Every good sleeping bag has a specified temperature range in which it works best. This area is usually called the “comfort zone”. For our latitudes, it is important that the comfort zone extends a little into minus degrees, because that can happen from time to time. But of course you don’t need a -40 ° polar sleeping bag.

It is also important that the sleeping bag fits you. A sleeping bag that is too small is uncomfortable and cramping (and is therefore often left open), while a sleeping bag that is too large does not get really warm.

If you tend to freeze, make sure that you get a mummy sleeping bag with a hood, which can also prevent you from cooling down over your head.

How a sleeping bag works

A good sleeping bag is designed to reflect body heat back.

The more the skin comes into contact with the sleeping bag, the better it works. So there is a paradox here: the colder it is, the less clothes you should wear in your sleeping bag. So you should really only wear something when you get too warm.

If you climb into the sleeping bag with three jogging pants, two T-shirts and a sweater, you will not be able to heat the sleeping bag.

winter sleeping bag

Blankets on the sleeping bag!

If it is so cold that the sleeping bag has reached the limit of its capabilities, or if you just don’t trust the sleeping bag, you can put any number of layers of blankets on the sleeping bag or wrap it around the sleeping bag. But please don’t put these blankets in the sleeping bag.

Pay attention to the head

People lose a lot of heat through their heads. So if you get cold at night, try to cover your head, preferably with the hood of your mummy sleeping bag. You can usually pull the hood shut except for a small breathing hole.

If you don’t have a hood, you can also try a good cowl, provided it is thick and warm enough.

Bundled hoods, headscarves, etc. are usually not enough to keep your head warm while you sleep.

Store the sleeping bag

Most sleeping bags use down feathers. The more they puff up, the warmer the sleeping bag will keep. Sleeping bags lose their “loft” and thus their heat output over time, which is why they should be replaced at some point.

In order to keep the bag up for a long time, you should never roll the sleeping bag – even if it was delivered rolled. Better to stuff it in the pack sack or, if possible, leave even more space for it.

Under no circumstances should you stow the sleeping bag immediately after getting up, but let it air out beforehand, ideally completely open.

winter sleeping

Extra tip: hot stones

If your body heat is not enough to heat up the sleeping bag or you have notoriously cold feet, the following trick will help: Put a stone near the fire so that it heats up. You then take the warm stone with you into the tent and put it down in the sleeping bag.

But make sure that it doesn’t get too hot – you should still be able to touch the stone. If the stone gets too hot, the heat can damage the sleeping bag!

Extra tip: Inlay when it is warm

If it is too warm for you in the sleeping bag, you can of course reduce the reflection of body heat through clothing. A washable cotton inlay is more comfortable. You can either buy it ready-made or do it yourself: Get a good cotton bed sheet, fold it once and then sew it together on the long and one short side. Complete.

Actually a no-go: partner sleeping bags

Partner sleeping bags seem like an interesting idea at first glance, but unfortunately the disadvantages outweigh the disadvantages. Especially when it is cold, they let in way too much air through the enormously wide and not sensibly closed head end, so that both partners are cooled down rather than warmed. On the other hand, the effect of mutual warming unfortunately does not work either. Pure partner sleeping bags are therefore absolutely not recommended in cold weather.

Here it is more worthwhile to use normal sleeping bags and simply open them on warmer nights and convert them into a common blanket.

There are also sleeping bags that work individually or can be put together as a partner sleeping bag. Pay attention to the comfort zone, especially the one in combined mode. These sleeping bags should be taken apart and used individually on cold nights.

On normal nights you still have the partner sleeping bag put together – or, depending on the system, a sleeping bag for three or four people if necessary … The meaning and use are up to you.

Keep the tent warm

Lock the entrance

The best sleeping bag won’t help if it gets clammy or even damp at night. The same applies to blankets, clothing, etc. It is therefore extremely important to always lock the tent properly, especially at night. This may fail at some entrances due to the general laziness – here you just have to give yourself a jerk.

Another advantage of a locked tent: it heats up better over time due to the air you breathe.

Tent communities

The colder it gets, the more people should stay in the same tent in order to heat up the tent better. Here it is important to balance privacy and warmth, I leave that to you.

Extra tip: the candle

You can “preheat” the tent by simply placing a candle in the tent half an hour before going to bed – of course only in a suitable and safe lantern so that it does not fall over and light the tent. This also pulls residual moisture out of the tent and through the hopefully existing roof ventilation outside.

A fire is burning

Some tents allow a fire to be maintained in the tent. You should only do this if you know what you are doing.

If you sleep in a tent with a fire, sleep with your feet facing the fire. In other words, sleep with your head as far away from the fire as possible. As a result, you breathe in less smoke and, above all, fewer gases that are produced during combustion.

people sleeping in tent

Tent heaters

Tent heaters replace the candle or the fire in the tent with a mostly gas-powered burner. The problem with tent heating, however, is that the tent has to be designed for this – most tents are not.

First: A burner in the tent produces exhaust gases, and these must be able to escape. Fire-proof tents such as yurts have a smoke hole, and simple tents can handle the exhaust fumes from candles or pit lamps through the roof openings. However, the roof openings of most tents are undersized for the exhaust gases from a gas burner, which can lead to exhaust gas accumulation in the tent.

Second: the burner draws oxygen. This means that it competes with you for the breathable air in the tent and usually requires one of the lower tent vents to be left open. There are heaters that can get their combustion air with a hose from outside, but this problem does not exist here.

Third: heating versus groundsheet. It is essential to pay attention to how warm the underside of the heater gets during operation. When the burner is mounted on its gas bottle, it usually stays quite cold, as the decompression of the gas cools the bottle. If, however, the gas is supplied through a hose, the heater itself may become warm on the contact surface and thereby damage the tarpaulin.

Fourth: external heating? Most tent heaters are designed to stand in the tent they are heating. But there are also systems that stand outside the tent and convey warm air into the tent. These do not have some of the problems described above, but two new ones: They usually generate a fan noise, and they are not exactly IT-compatible.

Two dangers must be mentioned here. On the one hand: If the gas system of the tent heater is not tight, or the burner is defective and goes out, the heater pumps the unburned gas into the tent. This happens very rarely, but it does happen, so it is important to take great care with the device. On the other hand, the burner should be secured against falling over, because it is quite hot enough to set the tent on fire.

In summary, one can say: I would advise against tent heating and choose more traditional methods. If you want to use a tent heater, you should definitely seek advice and make sure that your tent can be safely heated with this type of heater. In any case, please read the operating instructions for the heater carefully and follow them.

tent heater for camping

Final tips

An empty stomach likes to freeze

Be careful not to go to bed hungry. When the body has to heat at night, it needs energy to do so.

A warm meal before bed is most effective. If for various reasons you no longer want to eat a full meal before going to bed, try to eat at least a banana or something similarly energetic.

A last warm tea before going to sleep is also not to be sniffed at.

Warm in the morning

Finally, a tip for the morning after: If you pack your clothes for the next day in the sleeping bag, they will be preheated the next morning.

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