You do not have to buy a new 4 season tent for winter camping if you do not have money. You can consider insulating a winter tent camping to experience warm nights in chilly weather conditions. In this post, we are going to share how to insulate a tent for winter camping.
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Camping in the cold is a lot of fun. Knowing how to heat a tent without electricity is even more fun. And if you don’t, you can wear thick socks and clothing with fabric suited for winter nights as initial protection to cold temperatures to enter your human body as most campers do. You can also use something like sleeping bags or a thermal blanket as effective method to retain body heat and stay warm on a chilly night.
If you are not too handy to create tent heater, you can do your tent proper insulation using simple technique and a little effort to enjoy your camping trip. With these 13 actionable tips, you can have your summer tent ready for winter camping. Read on to learn the steps on how to keep a tent warm.
Tips to insulate a tent for winter camping
Keeping a tent warm for cold weather camping is easy. However, you have to follow the procedure to keep your winter camping trip warm. Here is a list of tips as your guide for easy winter camping tent insulation.
1. Pick the right place to pitch a tent
Choosing the best location or spot for your tent on a winter camping trip is very important. Unless you are an expert camper and doing wilderness camping, you should try to pitch your winter camping tent in the best-sheltered place that you can find.
When you find a sheltered place with a great ground surface to pitch your tent, you will be halfway to preparing your cold-weather camping tent. Make sure not to choose wet ground.
Try to find a place that is sheltered from direct winds. It is hard enough having to worry about the bone-chilling winter, without having to worry about the wind blowing over your tent.
By the way, the wind can change direction, so the ideal location to pitch an insulation tent while snow camping should have natural windbreaks. Trees and tall plants often serve as windbreaks.
And for your safety, even when you have pitched the tent in a well-sheltered place, you still should stake your winter tent.
Avoid the low areas for pitching your tent if it is expected to snow. Snow will gradually move and settle in the lower areas. This will be bad for you. Higher areas will not collect as much snow as the low areas. So pick a high ground for camping in the cold. Another alternative is to buy a snow tent. It is designed to let all snow slide to the ground.
2. Stake your tent
This is very important. OK, this is not exactly a means of weatherproofing winter tents. You have to packed tightly the tent.
However, you know that the weather turns without notice when you are on camping on winter vacation. One minute, it can be calm and windless, and a couple of hours later, winds will be howling.
Unless you are camping in the cold in your backyard, stake your tent especially when camping in open areas. That way, should the weather turn, you will not be bowled over.
If you did not carry stakes with you, you can cut down some with your camping hatchet. Knock them into the ground and secure your tent with your camping rope. One more thing is if you have a smaller tent, make sure to keep the heater as close as possible. Staking your tent is just the beginning, follow more steps to set up the best tent.
3. Create a windbreak if you cannot find a natural one
It is a good idea to set your camp in an area that has a rock shelter. Even a thick clump of trees is going to provide a good windbreak for your winter tent. However, this is not always the case as trees or big rocks may not always be there.
When doing winter tent camping, the wind makes the air much colder than it already is. A blast from icy cold wind could give you pneumonia, easily.
Thankfully, it is very easy for you to create a windbreak. You just need to hang a line between two stakes or trees. Hang a tarpon that line, and secure the bottom part of the tarp to the trees too.
If you will make a fire, you can check my post on how to make a fire with nothing here, the windbreak will prevent the wind from blowing it out.
4. Use a ground tarp for tent – Insulate tent floor
Sitting directly on the hard cold ground is not fun at all. You need to buy a ground tarp for tent. It is the most basic step to start winterizing your tent. A well-insulated winter tent must-have tent floor insulation.
Many people ask whether they need a ground tarp for tent when they have tent footprints. Well, the answer is yes. The tent footprint is designed to protect the tent against opportune wear and tear, and keep debris out of the tent. It is a great way to insulate the tent floor.
The ground beneath the tarp for a tent on the other hand is made to insulate the tent. Thus, you must buy the ground tarp even if you have a tent footprint.
The ground tarp for the tent is placed directly beneath the tent, the same as the tent footprint. Since it is waterproof, you will at least have waterproofed your tent. This is very important especially when you are camping in the snow.
5. Layer up an hour or two before sleeping
Whether you are a warm or cold sleeper, you need to layer up when doing winter tent camping. What is all the rage about layering? As you have guessed from the name, layering means wearing clothes in layers, like an onion.
Insulated tents and sleeping bags for winter may not be enough. You still need to prep yourself for a cold night or day.
The first layers will make you warm, or preserve a layer of warmth that your body generates close to the body. The middle layers will act as the buffer zone between the innermost and the outermost layers.
The middle layer will prevent warmth from escaping. It will also prevent the cold breeze from outside from penetrating to the first layer. Thus, between your skin and the cold air outside, there is a buffer. That is how you stay warm when camping in winter.
When is the best time to put on your layers? An hour before sleep time is good enough. Layers are heavy, so they take some time to warm up. However, the best thing is when they get warm, they stay warm.
Most people make the mistake of layering up when they feel cold. If you do this, you will lose more sleep as you will take some time for your body to warm the layers up.
While still talking about clothes, once you come into the tent from outside in wet clothes, change into dry clothes. You should always bring extra clothes with you when camping in a winter tent.
6. Insulation with floor blankets
Believe it or not, when doing winter tent camping, you will have more cold coming from the hard and cold floor, than from the sides. If you can stock up your hiking or camping backpack, also bring your large thermal blanket with you.
Spread them on the floor, after laying the ground tarp. That way, they cannot absorb water.
If you have wool blankets, they work wonderfully well for insulating the floor. However, there is one disadvantage – they are bulky to park.
Synthetic blankets are lighter, but may not be as effective as wool blankets. So bring a couple, you will be glad you did.
7. Use a tent heater for camping
In my article on the safest heaters for tent camping, I reviewed several of the very best, and safe tent heaters that you can use for camping. A battery-powered heater will keep you snugly warm. However, buy one that is rated for a space that is commensurate with the size of your tent.
Although a camping heater will add to the weight of a camping backpack, it will keep you warm. Bring extra batteries for your camping tent heater so that you do not go without using it. Because you will need more heat.
With a portable heater, you will dispel the cold air from inside the tent. Insulated tents for winter camping need heaters too.
Now, you have already insulated your tent totally so that the cold air from outside is not coming in. That way, the cold air stays outside while the warm air stays inside.
8. Bring your sleeping pad or air mattress
If you can bring self-inflatable sleeping pads with you, it will make your insulating tents so easy on the coldest nights. Remember, the reason why insulate your tent is so that you can sleep as warmly as possible.
I have covered how you can sleep comfortably in a tent, so you can find out a few tips that you can apply when camping in winter.
The more insulating tents you can have between your insulated sleeping bag for cold weather and the cold ground, the more comfortable you will be able to sleep. Even if you will bring your foam sleeping pad for camping, it is much better than having no pad at all.
You may also bring your inflatable mattress for camping. This will be bulky, but it also folds nicely and is small when it is deflated. And if you still have extra space don’t forget to bring large towels and warm socks, they can help you to stay warm in high winds.
An inflatable mattress for camping will be very helpful if you have a bad back, if you are a senior or if you would like to insulate your tent or yourself totally from the cold. Make sure to bring reflective aluminum because reflective foam can help you in cold temperatures.
This kind of camping mattress is also very comfortable. It is one of the ways to enjoy your beauty sleep when camping in warm or cold weather. If the air mattress for camping is too bulky, just pack your pad for sleeping. It will be enough.
9. Use water packs for how to insulate a tent
This is a more traditional way for how to insulate a tent for winter camping, but it still works. Old is ingenious! Bring disposable water packs with you, heat water, fill them up, as many as you brought and arrange them around your tent. You will create a perfect, insulated tent.
Hopefully, you also brought a small one-person or two-person tent for camping because a small tent is easier to insulate than a big one.
These water packs are going to heat the air in the tent. If you have an insulated tent well from the cold air outside, all the warmth generated inside will stay for a long time. You can sleep peacefully knowing there is no risk of freezing.
10. Learn how to build a fire in a fire pit
When going winter tent camping, you will need to do some planning. Learn how to build a fire for camping. You can also bring store-bought tinder. When you get to the campsite, look for dry wood in sheltered places.
You have to be extra careful because a poorly planned campfire can burn your tent. Mind the direction of the wind when selecting the place to build your fire, in relation to your tent.
Make a small fire. If you can find reasonably thick branches, they will keep the campfire going longer.
11. Layer up yourself before sleeping
Apart from layering up, you can do a few other things to keep as warm as possible. Make a hot coffee drink and take it before going to bed. You do not want to take too much lest you have to arise in the middle of the night to empty your bladder.
You should never leave your travel coffee mug for keeping coffee hot all the time. That way, when you feel it with hot coffee, you know that you will have a piping hot drink when you drink it hours later. While you may wear insulating clothes, but drinking hot coffee or tea helps a lot as your body can generate its own heat.
One of the skills that every outdoor enthusiast must teach him/herself is how to make hot coffee when camping. This is simple if you brought your coffee-making items with you.
12. Your tent must have a rain fly tarp
You must bring a rain fly for your tent if it does not have one. Luckily, for many camping tents, a rain fly tarp is a standard issue. It is easy to set up and it is very protective. You can use it to create an insulated canopy.
A rain tarp for tent or hammock that is coated with polyurethane to make it waterproof. Even when it rains or snows at night, you will be sure your gear is protected.
A rain fly does not only protect you from the rain. It also protects you from snow and sleet. It is great for cold weather tent camping.
13. Keep wet things outside – insulating a tent for winter
To keep the camping tent warm, leave wet camping gear outside. Even the best-insulated tent can get cold.
If you do not keep your wet things outside of the tent, they will eat up all the warmth that your tent heater generates.
Even if you were wearing the warmest boots for winter hiking and they collected snow, leave them outside. Proper winter camp insulating tents requires you to do everything just right all the time.
FAQs for insulating a tent
It is never too cold to go camping if you really want to do it. You just need one of the best-insulated tents for winter. However, you have to use high-quality and professional camping gear. This is going to cost you a handsome amount of money.
If you have children, it would be unwise to take them winter tent camping in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit/10 degrees Celsius.
Conclusion for winter tent insulation
You have now seen how to insulate a tent for winter camping. You can add more if you have any tested and proven ideas. Insulating tents for winter camping will save you money since you do not have to buy a more expensive 4-season tent.
Bring all the gear for winter camping. Bring your flashlight for camping. You will need it for winter camping than you would need it for summer camping.
Do not forget to pack your camping knife as you will use it to make tinder, cut ropes, eat and even defend yourself should the need arise. Plan in advance so that you do not leave anything behind, including your camping food.
The solitude in winter tent camping is very endearing. The air is crisp and clean and in the morning, you can pull your boots up and go hiking.
If you are a true outdoor enthusiast, you know very well that nothing is going to keep you indoors. Not even snow, when you can do tent camping in winter. Insulating a tent successfully is a skill that you can even pass down to your children.
That is it for how to insulate a tent for winter camping. Stay safe!
I learned a lot. I was surprised about leaving wet clothes outside. I didn’t know that.