Keeping your tent warm when it’s cold can be a challenge. When camping, you don’t have all the amenities you are used to having at home.
An electric blanket, a space heater, you know, the drill. In this article, we will share ideas on how to heat a tent without electricity.
If you are camping in the winter (depending on where you live), it can get really cold. So, here are some tried and true methods that will help keep you warm inside the tent without needing electricity.
Insulate the Floor of the Tent
The best and most practical way to keep the tent insulated during cold winter camping trips is to ensure the tent floor is insulated.
One solution is to place an all-weather carpet or mat on the floor that completely covers the tent floor from corner to corner. You can also use yoga mats to help insulate the floor.
You can typically find an area rug, camping rug, or yoga mat in your local big box or sporting goods store. You can also opt for a durable tent mat designed exclusively for camping in cold weather.
Another effective method to add more insulation to your tent is to place a foam-based sleeping mat on the tent’s floor. These foam mats can help keep the cold from the ground at bay to help you stay cozy and warm.
Insulate the Tent Walls
Apart from insulating the tent’s floor, you can also insulate the tent’s walls for some added comfort. A well-insulated tent will help retain heat and keep you safe from cold outside temperatures.
If you have some extra blankets lying around, simply fasten them to the exterior of the tent to ensure insulation. This solution is ideal for small tents that hold 1 to 2 people. However, it might not be cost-effective or practical when used in a large tent.
Use a Portable Tent Gas Heater
A portable gas tent heater is a great option to heat your tent without electricity. You can choose from a range of options available online.
However, the best choice would be those ranging between 4000 BTUs and 9000 BTUs power. This power range is ideal for heating the tent adequately, even when the temperature is very low on the thermometer.
One drawback to this heating technique is that you must bring the right propane for the trip. This shouldn’t be an issue if your campsite is accessible with your vehicle and you have space for a propane tank or canisters.
But it could be an issue if you need to hike to the campsite. Depending on the conditions, a small propane canister can last you for several hours. So, you will need to take enough canisters to last you throughout your trip.
REMEMBER: gas heaters tend to produce some carbon monoxide. The tent needs to be well-ventilated if you use a portable gas heater. So make sure you read the instructions on the heater, and for goodness sake, make sure the tent is properly ventilated.
Invest in a High-Quality Tent
Before you think about tricks to warm up the tent, make sure your tent is durable and designed for cold weather. Camping in cold weather can be challenging, especially when you don’t have access to electricity to keep you cozy.
Many tents available are designed for 3 or 4 seasons. Tents meant for four seasons can withstand harsh and cold weather conditions.
If you plan on camping in extremely cold weather conditions, it is best to have a tent built for the cold. The downfall to a 4-season, or cold weather tent, is that it might be pricey and pretty heavy.
These tents might not be ideal if you plan on trekking several miles. However, you can also find reliable options available that are affordable and lightweight at the same time.
Use Hot Water Bottles
Hot water bottles are ideal if you are looking for an inexpensive way to heat a tent without electricity. You can also warm up by placing warm water bottles close by.
You can wrap your hot water bottle using cotton or linen clothes and place them under your feet for added warmth when camping in winter or cold conditions.
Use high-quality, durable water bottles that can withstand the heat of hot water. Before putting out your campfire, boil some water and pour it into your water bottles.
Keep these bottles close to you or inside your sleeping bag. Doing this can help keep you warm and cozy inside your tent without needing electricity.
Make sure the warm or hot water bottles will not burn you. You can try wrapping the bottle in a towel, use a sock, or some other material you have handy inside your tent. Moreover, wrapping the bottles would help keep them warmer for longer.
Heating up Stones
Before we get too far here, a little common sense goes a long way if you use warm rocks to heat your tent. Rocks can hold a lot of heat. Therefore, it’s critical to be careful to burn yourself.
I am sure you have noticed how hot rocks get when used as a ring for a fire pit. However, if you are camping in a cold climate, these rocks can help you stay warm if appropriately used.
Rocks can help store heat, and when used the right way, they can help heat up your tent without electricity.
Many times rocks are readily available where you are camping. First, however, you would need to know how to use the heated rocks to help keep warm. So, let’s check out the recipe for this tent-heating technique.
The method is pretty similar to that of heating water. However, heating the rocks might take much longer than heating water.
The things needed to get this job done are:
- Smooth, round rocks work best (depending on what is available to you)
- Some thick socks, a towel, or other tough material that won’t melt
- A campfire
While your campfire is still burning, place the rocks close enough to warm up but not so close that they are extremely hot. Hot coals also work nicely to warm up rocks.
How close you set the rocks to the fire will depend on how big the rock is or how big the fire is. The bigger your rock (or fire) is, the further they should be kept from each other.
Make sure you don’t forget to rotate the rocks using a tong, stick, camp shovel, etc. This would help you heat up all the surfaces of the rock evenly.
It is ready to heat the tent if the rocks feel warm or hot. So again, be super careful when you are handling hot rocks.
First, put your hands inside the socks and reach for the end. Now, carefully grab the stones, turn your socks inside out, and wrap them up. If you have thick material, like leather gloves, this is ideal for handling the rocks.
You can wrap the stones in a towel or other material that won’t melt. Now, these heated rocks can be used to warm up your tent. Carefully place these rocks in your tent, where you can most benefit from them.
You can also place a heated rock inside the sleeping bag for additional warming. Just make sure the rocks are not enough to melt your sleeping bag. Also, note that hot rocks can fracture, so be careful.
Dress in Layers
Before insulating any part of the tent, make sure you insulate yourself first. If your clothes aren’t meant for cold weather, you won’t be able to enjoy your camping experience as you should.
Select your best winter clothes that include undergarments as well. Select good-quality thermal underwear, which will help ensure the heat doesn’t escape your body.
Remember that most of the heat escapes from two parts of your body, your head and your feet.
A nice warm hat and good quality socks will go a long way to keeping warm. Wear gloves to keep your hands warm if the temperature is very low.
Use a Camping Candle Lantern
In your house, a candle might not emit enough heat to keep you warm. However, inside a small area, like a tent, it can help keep the area warm and cozy. They can even increase the ambient temperature by a couple of degrees when kept inside.
However, you must also practice caution when using candles inside the tent. They can be inherently dangerous. Don’t go to sleep with your candles still burning.
You also need to ensure proper ventilation within the tent for fumes being emitted during the burning process.
Choose a Good Location for Your Tent
The place where you set up a tent can also be critical in retaining warmth. Unfortunately, many new campers might not be aware of this.
If you are camping in a hilly area, do not set up the tent in the highest possible place, or your tent might get hammered by a cold wind. Setting up the camp in a lower location can help break the wind and keep you warm.
Camping in an open field might not be the best option because you lack protection from the wind. An ideal place to camp is a place covered all around with trees. Try to set your tent up with ample coverage but still gives you warm sunshine during the day.
Set up a Windbreak
Cold winds can be your enemy and contribute to lowering the temperature inside your tent. Although an adequately insulated tent will help keep the cold out, they can only do this up to a certain extent.
Setting up a wind barrier would help ensure the wind doesn’t enter your tent.
There are several ways to set up an effective wind barrier:
- Use bushes as a natural windbreak
Setting your tent up next to bushes can act as a natural windbreak to help keep your tent warmer. Also, by using the area around you to limit the wind as much as possible, you can help keep the chill outside, which can help keep your tent warmer.
- Use Snow If Available:
This might sound like an oxymoron, but snow can help keep you warm inside the tent. If the area you are camping in has enough snow, create a snow wall around the tent to block the wind.
Or you can dig out snow in a bank, which can work well too. Whatever you can do to use the snow to build up a wall to act as a windbreak can help keep your tent warmer. Snow can act as an insulator as well.
Gas Tent Heater Safety
When using a gas-based tent heater, you need to keep the tent well-ventilated. Propane tent heaters produce carbon monoxide, so you must have adequate ventilation using a propane heater.
So, the next time you are in a situation where you need to heat your tent without electricity, follow these simple steps. Remember that it is important to have good insulation and an efficient heating source.
If you go with a propane tent heater, you should also ensure the tent has plenty of ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you have any questions, comments, or other suggestions for heating a tent without electricity, please leave them below.
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.