How to Stay Warm in a Tent

Keeping yourself warm whilst camping is essential if you want to stay comfortable and make the most out of your experience. Whilst in the daytime you may not even think about the temperature, at night time it might begin to affect you. The temperature usually drops very low at night time, even in the warmest months. And if you’re out in the wilderness with no traditional ways of keeping warm, you might find yourself in a bit of trouble. 

Staying warm in a tent can be difficult at the best of times, even if you’ve previously taken precautions and have insulated your tent with tarpaulin.Luckily, there are other effective ways to keep warm inside a tent. Some ideas include heated blankets, hot water bottles among other techniques that you may not have already thought of.

Check out How to Heat a Tent Without Electricity for even more techniques for keeping warm whilst camping. 

How to Stay Warm in the Tent

  1. A Heated Blanket – Electric blankets are great for camping if you have access to electricity. They’re portable, safe for inside use, and they can be kept on whilst you sleep. The only thing to be aware of when using an electric blanket is that they only regulate their own temperature, so wearing one under a sleeping bag could stifle you in your sleep by overheating. 
  2. Extra Layers – Wearing extra layers of clothing is a foolproof way of staying warm in a tent. Layering socks is a great way to keep your feet warm! Using thermals under your regular clothes are sure to give you a little extra warmth. 
  3. Warm Rocks – A rather unconventional way to help stay warm- using rocks that were used around the campfire as a radiator is a method that isn’t spoken of often but seems to be somewhat effective. Once a campfire has died down, remove a rock from it (make sure it’s safe to pick up first!), wrap it in some towels, and place it somewhere in your tent. This should help warm your tent up a little bit, and might keep you warmer for just a bit longer. 
  4. Hot Water Bottles – Hot water bottles add very little weight to your camping luggage and can be packed away fairly effortlessly. They make excellent heaters when there’s no electricity available and are great for when you’re trying to sleep at night in the tent. Be sure you know how to boil water while you’re camping, to ensure that your hot water bottles are reaching their full potential. If you’re giving children hot water bottles to sleep with, make sure you remove them when the kids have fallen asleep, to avoid any accidents involving hot water during the night. 
  5. Lots of Blankets – Bringing lots of blankets and warm bedding with you when camping can be used as a quick way to warm up in the cold. Being able to layer up using blankets can make you feel a lot more comfortable than just wearing extra clothing. The only downside to this method is that it requires carrying extra blankets and duvets to the campsite, which can be a hassle if you’re not parked near the campsite. Blankets and sleeping bags are notoriously hard to pack due to the added bulk, but if you’re car camping it might be worth considering. 

Dangers of being too Cold

Being too cold, especially for long periods of time, can have detrimental effects on your health and wellbeing. Even though these conditions are normally very rare, there are cases of injuries pertaining to the cold weather that pop up every now and then. Camping in the winter is especially hazardous, as it’s harder to warm up and the temperature will drop a lot lower at night than it does during the summer months. It’s important when camping to pack in accordance to the weather and season you’re planning on camping in. 

Hypothermia is the most serious condition that can be caused by spending prolonged time in cold conditions, and has the potential to lead to death if left untreated. 

Additionally, there are other conditions known as “nonfreezing” injuries which can also be caused by cold weather, and it’s important to know the symptoms. 

  • Immersion Foot – A condition which occurs in people whose feet have been wet and cold for extended periods of time in cold temperatures – but not freezing temperatures. It can cause permanent damage to the nerve endings in the feet and the symptoms include a tingling sensation, numbness, swelling of the legs or feet, and blisters may develop. 
  • Chilblains – A condition that can develop after long and repeated exposure to cold air, but not freezing air. The affected skin will turn red, swell, and begin to tingle before blistering and pain sets in. Chilblains aren’t particularly serious, but infection can occur if they don’t clear up on their own.
  • Trench Foot – Often associated with the trenches of WW1, trench foot is a condition that hasn’t been left in the past. It’s very similar to immersion foot in its symptoms, but its onset is different as it usually occurs in damp or wet environments rather than cold and freezing ones. 


It’s good to know the symptoms of hypothermia if you’re worried about how cold you are. Knowing the signs and onset can help you decide whether or not medical assistance should be called. 

Hypothermia symptoms get worse as the condition progresses, and there is mild to severe hypothermia to be wary of. 

Mild Hypothermia 

  • Uncontrollable shivering and complaining of the cold
  • Lack of physical function or activity
  • Being unable to care for self, or struggling to perform normal tasks

Moderate Hypothermia 

  • Possible unresponsiveness
  • Weak or intermittent shivering that can sometimes stop without warning
  • Poor or impaired judgement
  • Lack of coordination and speech impairment 
  • Confusion or unusual behaviors

Severe Hypothermia

  • Unresponsive
  • Breathing has stopped or slowed down
  • No pulse
  • Stiff and cold body
  • Shivering has stopped

If you or any campers have symptoms of hypothermia, it’s important to immediately call for medical assistance as it is considered a medical emergency. Hypothermia can get worse very quickly and it’s important to seek attention as soon as possible to give the individual the best chance of survival. 

If you think one of your campers has hypothermia, and you’ve already called for medical assistance, there’s a couple of things you can do to help. 

Check the airway, breathing and circulation of the individual. Ensure that they’re lying down, and try to insulate them as best as possible by using a fire blanket or something which can be laid over them. Don’t attempt to heat them up too quickly by using warm water or a fire, as this can only make things worse. CPR is necessary if the individual stops breathing and is unresponsive. If the individual is suffering from mild hypothermia, try giving them a high calorie snack or drink to provide them with some energy. 

How to Warm Yourself up when Camping

Whilst staying warm in the tent is important whilst camping, it’s also vital for you to stay warm whilst outside the tent. Afterall, we don’t go camping just to spend the whole time sitting in the tent!

  1. Keep yourself active – One of the fastest ways to warm yourself up when camping is to go on a hike or to do something active. Campgrounds normally have natural trails that are perfect for hiking and exploring. Sitting still is bound to keep you feeling cold!
  2. Drink Hot Drinks – A warm cup of coffee or tea in the morning will be sure to wake you up and warm you up if you’re experiencing a particularly chilly day. Hot drinks are a great way to warm up as they warm both your hands and face up. Making them could also be turned into an activity as well!
  3. Sit Around the Campfire – This may be almost too obvious, but the campfire is a staple for camping for its multifunctional properties, so it’s only right that it gets a mention here. A campfire can be kept burning all day and night if necessary, and it is one of the primary sources of warmth when camping. Making a campfire can also include some activities which will keep you on your feet and moving, like gathering kindle and tinder. With a campfire you can boil water for hot drinks and make hot food, so it certainly is a necessity when it comes to staying warm when camping. 

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