How to Heat a Tent Without Electricity with Some Simple Hacks
Camping in winter months, or even on a cold summer’s night is never fun if you can’t get to sleep due to the dreaded shivers. There are many ways in which you can increase the heat in your tent, even if you don’t have power or an electricity supply.
In this guide we list our favourite ways in which you can heat your tent without electricity. It includes hacks that you can do yourself, plus some products you can purchase to help you keep warm.
Cold weather rated sleeping bag
The most basic and easiest thing you can do is to make sure you have the right gear with you. We recommend a decent cold weather rated sleeping bag. For cold weather camping, it will need to be rated for zero degrees.
If you are going to be camping in very extreme weather conditions, look for something that has a minus 40 to 4 degrees rating and down. For expeditions in extreme temperatures lightweight down filled sleeping bags are recommended.
Reflective space blankets
You can buy reflective space blankets (also known as emergency all weather blankets) very cheaply, and then use them to keep heat in your tent. They will help to reflect body temperature back towards you, increasing the warmth.
To attach them inside the walls of your tent using laundry pegs or clamps with you, as you can then fix the blanket in place to the tent poles.
Make sure that you leave some gaps for the condensation from your breath to come out.
Sleeping bag liner to catch frost
To get even warmer, add a lightweight rectangular sleeping bag liner. In summertime you will place it inside of your sleeping bag, but in the winter months you can use it on the outside of your sleeping bag to help catch frost.
By placing your zero-degree heavy sleeping bag inside it, plus a fleece liner inside of that, you will keep a lot warmer.
It’s then this frost liner that will get wet, rather than your sleeping bag.
On the floor of your tent, put down a specialist tent carpet. They come in all shapes and sizes, and offer not just a more comfortable sleep, but can also help to insulate you against the cold weather.
Closed-cell foam pad
For comfort and heat we also recommend a waterproof sleeping mat, also known as a closed-cell foam pad.
Typically, they will have an aluminium foil layer backing, will be durable and lightweight, and will help keep your tent heated without electricity.
Place it underneath your regular sleeping pad to create a great layer of insulation between you and the cold ground underneath.
Hot water bottle
One product that is so often overlooked is the common hot water bottle. You can buy smaller portable ones to fill with boiling water heated up on the camp fire, and then get all snuggly and warm inside your sleeping bag once night falls.
You can also put hot water into normal bottles, but don’t pour boiling water in plastic bottles. Use the insulated bottle products instead.
Disposable heat packs
Disposable heat packs are a cheap and effective way of getting your body temperature up. Whilst it won’t heat your tent up, they can warm your hands and feet up if things get really chilly.
Heated Tent Carpet
And finally, this guide is all about heating a tent without the use of electricity, but we still wanted to recommend one product which works very well, but it will need power.
It’s an electrical heated tent carpet manufactured by Outwell. You can see it in action in the video below.
Portable tent heater
Another electrical solution is a portable tent heater. The electrical tent heaters are the best option, as they won’t emit harmful carbon dioxide.
Cheaper or DIY hacks
Some additional heating hacks we’re aware of are commonly used by those camping in very severe weather conditions. You can see a selection of those non-electrical tips and DIY hacks below.
Use a plastic trash bag on your lower half
One tip we learned for a military friend was to use a trash or rubbish bag. All you do is pull the trash bag over the bottom of your sleeping bag, but to cover your lower half only (up to your thighs).
What this does is create a barrier to vapour, meaning heat loss is dramatically reduced from the lower half of your body and can increase the warmth by up to 15 degrees.
Heated rocks in socks
Bear with us on this one, as it sounds crazy but works very well.
You place smooth rocks near your campfire, and not in the campfire. After a while they will become too hot to touch.
This is when they are ready to use, but just be really careful not to burn yourself.
What you do is place a sock over your hand and get the heated rocks into the socks. This then make awesome little heat packs that you can place into the corner of your tent and they should provide some good heat for a short while.
Additional tips for extremely cold weather
If after those tips you are still cold in your tent, then here are some additional tips you might want to consider.
1. Wear a balaclava whilst you sleep.
2. Don’t wear wet or damp clothes.
3. Construct a wind break outside your tent.
4. Drink warm fluids before you go to bed.
5. Eat a midnight snack of slow digesting high calorie food before you sleep.
6. Do some push-ups or sit-ups before you sleep to raise your temperature.
7. Keep wet items outside your tent so they don’t absorb heat.
8. Shake snow and ice off the tent before you go to sleep.
9. Wear multiple layers of clothing including long johns and thermal socks.
What not to do
There are also things we don’t recommend you do if you want to keep your tent heated and warm.
Don’t close up all ventilation gaps
Your primary concern is to keep the cold out and the warmth in, and many people would assume that means closing up any possible gaps in the tent.
This is actually bad advice, because if your tent is not ventilated, the vapour and moisture from your breath will turn into condensation and drip down onto you during the night.
To avoid this situation, leave some open gaps in your tent’s ventilation flaps so the heat from your body and breath can escape and not condense.
Don’t cover your mouth and nose with your sleeping bag
And as tempting it might be in very cold weather to keep your head inside your sleeping bag, this can create condensation onside the bag. Keep your mouth and nose outside of the sleeping bag whilst you sleep.
Don’t use naked flames or candles inside your tent
We’ve recently seen some YouTube videos where people are using candle lanterns inside of their tent. Whilst most will have a disclaimer saying they only do this before they go to sleep, and extinguish before bed-time, we just don’t think it’s worth the risk.
If you did do this, and fell asleep before blowing them out, the consequences don’t bear thinking about.
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