How to Heat a Tent Without Electricity

One of the hardest parts of camping which nobody seems to warn you about is trying to get some sleep at night. As the atmosphere cools, so does your tent, which can often lead to reduced sleep and, by extension, less desire to get up and about the next day. 

Whilst camping is supposed to be a fun and exciting experience, this can be hampered by the mere fact that your tent gets unbearably cold at night. Being able to heat a tent without electricity is a skill worth having, and consists of ideas worth keeping in mind for your next camping trip. 

Heating a tent without electricity forces you to use your imagination and find some unconventional methods you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Things such as warm rocks, hot water bottles and extra care in insulating are some of the ways a tent can be heated without electricity.

Think About the Weather and Temperature of Where You’re Heading

When planning your camping trip, be sure to consider the time of year and what the temperature is like before you go. Oftentimes, you’re going to struggle to stay warm in the winter, regardless of whether it’s day or night. Whereas sometimes, in the summer, the heat will diminish in the evening, leaving you cold if you’re unprepared.

Considering these things helps to figure out what techniques are best for warming your tent, as some techniques are only capable of warming your tent for a short amount of time, whilst others will be more useful for a constantly cold climate. In this case, it’s also worth thinking about how long your intended camping trip will last as well. For example, you won’t need to invest in a lot of equipment to keep your tent warm if you’re only intending on going for one night. 

1. Insulating a Tent

Insulating your tent should be a habit when you choose to go camping. It’s useful for a lot of different reasons, such as keeping weather damage at bay, and helping to keep your tent in the best condition it can be in. By insulating your tent, you’re helping to keep the warmth inside by trapping it and preventing potential damage to the tent by adding another layer of protection.

How to Insulate a Tent

One advised method of insulating your tent is to use a space blanket (otherwise known as a fire or emergency blanket).

  • Using duct tape, attach the space blanket to the inside of your tent’s canopy in order to trap heat. This method may be better when used in generally cold climates, as it runs the risk of keeping your tent warm throughout the whole day as well. Tents have a habit of getting uncomfortably warm in the morning, and even if you’ve slept well the night before, waking up uncomfortable and sweaty early in the morning can sometimes be just as bad as having a sleepless night. 

There are also other ways to insulate your tent to ensure warmth, comfort and your tent’s safety.

  • Another method used is adding tarpaulin underneath the tent to help your tent remain insulated from the ground up. The trick is to make sure that the tarpaulin is the same size as the base of your tent, to ensure that no moisture can be trapped inside. This is another technique that is more suited to colder climates, as it would be hard to remove the tarpaulin once it’s been placed under the tent, thus keeping the tent insulated throughout the day as well. 

2. Added Blankets and Layers

Whilst insulating your tent is more of a permanent fixture to your tent whilst you’re camping, the use of added blankets and layers is useful as you can easily remove any additional items when it starts getting too hot in the morning. 

This technique works best in warmer climates that dip in temperature at night, and it is even better if you’re camped close to your car so you don’t have to carry excess baggage for too long. As experienced campers will know, blankets, sleeping bags and clothes can be incredibly bulky – especially if you’re trying to camp light or have a hike to the campsite. They’re also a nuisance to repack! Have you ever tried rolling a sleeping bag back up without losing your patience?

The logic behind this method is simple – pack more blankets to cover yourself in the night when it gets cold. Wearing multiple layers also helps when it’s chilly, so make sure to pack some baggy clothing to throw on over your nightwear. 

If you find sleeping in a tent uncomfortable or difficult, read some useful camping bed hacks to help put an end to those sleepless nights.

3. Hot Water Bottles

Similarly to the previous technique, using hot water bottles is much more ideal in a climate where it warms up in the morning. Hot water bottles are effective, will last long enough for you to drift off, and don’t take up much space when camping. Discussed in useful camping bed hacks, the hot water bottle is a handy contraption that a lot of people seem to forget about when camping. If you know how to boil water whilst camping, then taking a hot water bottle is a no brainer, especially if you know it’ll get cold at night.

It’s important to stay safe and aware when camping, so make sure that the water bottle is leak-free and that the water is transferred safely between vessels. If using this technique to help children get to sleep, make sure to remove the hot water bottle from them when they’ve fallen asleep to prevent any nighttime accidents. 

4. Using Warm Rocks

This is more of an opportunistic method, but even though it only makes a small difference, it’s a difference that will probably be felt if you’re shivering in the dead of night. The idea is similar to that of a hot water bottle, but minus the hot water. 

Usually when camping, a campfire is one of the main fixtures. Campfires are useful for staying warm outdoors, cooking, and even entertainment. But have you considered using them to help warm the inside of your tent? One of the staples of a campfire is the use of rocks and stones to keep the fire contained in a pit. Once the fire has been extinguished, the rocks around it will still be warm. This technique focuses on these rocks and uses that excess heat to provide some short-term warmth in your tent. 

  • After the campfire is extinguished, carefully wrap some of the warm rocks up in an old blanket or clothes and bring them inside the tent.
  • Ensure that these rocks aren’t too warm or smouldering, as it could potentially harm you or damage the tent. If a tent becomes damaged, you might have to patch it up.
  • These warm rocks can mimic the effects of a hot water bottle, albeit briefly. Although, however brief the effects are, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind the next time you’re freezing on a camping trip. 

How to Heat a Tent With Electricity

There are a variety of ways in which a tent can be heated using electrical appliances. Whilst these methods may not be useful to some, they’re worth keeping in mind for if you’re an avid camper or you find yourself unable to shake off the cold whenever you go camping.

Using electricity to heat your tent is the most reliable method and probably the best way to make your camping experience as cosy as possible. Of course, it’s always worth having backup plans in case something goes wrong or your power supply runs out.

1. Electric Heaters

Electric heaters are used frequently in heating up enclosed spaces that don’t have other heating solutions. They’re used frequently in marquees and gazebos, so why not try one out in your tent if you have the means to do so? If your heater is rated for indoor use and has heat options, it can definitely be a candidate for heating your tent up whilst you’re camping. 

There are a couple risks involved with using electric heaters inside a tent, but these risks can easily be avoided if your heater and tent are optimized in a way which minimizes the risk. 

2. What Heaters are Safe to Use in a Tent?

Heaters are generally safe for use in tents, but ventilation is a requirement as Co2 emissions will be high from the heater. To avoid opening the front of the tent, and making the act of heating it up redundant, you can open one of the tent’s vents. Most tents have these vents and they are usually located towards the base of the tent. If you’re considering using a heater in your tent, make sure your tent is ventilated beforehand. Otherwise you’ll need to open your tent’s door, which is counter-intuitive if you’re trying to heat the inside up. 

It’s also important to ensure that the heater doesn’t get too hot when in use. Whilst the whole reason behind using a heater is to warm up the surroundings, they run the risk of becoming too hot, thus damaging the tent. Keeping the temperature moderated and at a reasonable level will ensure that you’ll be as safe as possible. 

3. Electric Blankets

Electric blankets have seen a rise in popularity over the last couple of years, and a lot of people swear by them. They’re comfortable, warm and are kept at a reasonable temperature. It only makes sense to take one when camping, where it can get uncomfortable and cold at night. One drawback of using an electric blanket is that you need to be wary of how long the lead is to the power supply. You will need a power supply or generator close to the tent to ensure that you can use your blanket effectively.

WARNING- Additionally, it’s well advised to keep your electric blanket outside of your sleeping bag. If you cocoon yourself within the sleeping bag, it could lead to overheating as the blanket won’t be able to regulate the temperature as effectively. The use of electric blankets when camping is the safest way to keep yourself warm when using electricity.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re heating your tent with or without electricity, it’s essential to stay safe and use only methods that are tried and tested. The good thing about these techniques is that a lot of them can be used in conjunction with one another and can be altered in a way to ensure that your tent – and yourself – are at a comfortable temperature.

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