5 Tested Ways on How to Heat a Tent Without Electricity

Camping during cold weather is a thrilling experience. Many people think camping during winter is a bad idea. Well, if you pack well, it might be one of the best camping experiences you ever had! As you won’t usually have electricity in your camp, keeping your tent warm is essential. You don’t want to wake up rolling in the cold, after all. Well, in this post, we will show you some ways on how to heat a tent without electricity!

Checklist For Camping In Cold Weather

Before we delve deep into each method of heating your tent in cold weather, here are a few camping tips for cold weather to consider!

  1. Invest in a 4-season tent that will withstand the cold.
  2. Find a seasonal sleeping bag that is fit for cold weather.
  3. Wear the appropriate clothing and make sure to cover your head and toes too.
  4. Don’t pitch your tent in an open space, as you will risk being directly in the wind. In case it’s your only option, learn how to secure your tent in high winds fast and effectively.
  5. Use a smaller tent that will retain heat for a longer period.
  6. Keep your tent ventilated to reduce dampness inside it.
  7. Don’t use air mattresses without proper insulation.
  8. Warm-up before going to sleep.
  9. Eat a high-calorie meal before sleep to warm up further.
  10. Stay hydrated at all times.

These are just a few tips on how to sleep warm when camping! Without further ado, let’s delve deep into the methods of how to heat a tent without electricity.

1) Insulate Your Tent Properly

Tent in winter

Did you know that you can heat your tent for a cold night with your own body heat? Well, to achieve that, you will need some extra gear to help you with your efforts. The most crucial factor in insulating your tent is that you have appropriate flooring.

The best way to insulate the tent flooring is to line it with an all-weather carpet or a blanket (or a few of them, if packing weight isn’t a problem). Also, make sure to put a foam sleeping or exercise mat under your tent’s sleeping pad to increase the insulation. It is a win-win situation, as you will get comfy sleep and be warm throughout the night.

Pro Tip: If you are packing light, make sure to snatch a space blanket. It can insulate your tent properly and won’t load you with unnecessary weight. Wool and natural fiber blankets are better when it comes to insulation, but are very heavy. Here is a fantastic all-weather space blanket that we use time and time again.

Of course, you won’t properly insulate your tent if you just take care of the floor. You will also require a rainfly that will keep the heat inside the tent. A neat thing about a rainfly is that it will also prevent cold from sneaking in your tent, which is another win-win combination!

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a rainfly at hand, don’t worry! You can also utilize a few space blankets and buckle them up on the exterior of your tent. This method is especially effective if you have a one or 2-person tent.

2) Invest In a Safe Portable Gas Heater

If you have a spare 100$ to spend, it might be a great choice to invest in a portable gas heater. These boys are very effective at heating your tent on a cold night. 

A lot of people will tell you that portable gas heaters are dangerous because of carbon monoxide emissions. That’s why you want to snatch a catalytic heater, as it spends and emits less gas. They are usually powered by propane, its molecules breaking down and producing heat for your tent.

During our camping adventures, we used the Coleman BlackCat catalytic heater, which is definitely a bang for your buck. It can run for 7 hours on one regular, 16.4 oz. propane canister, something that many other gas heaters don’t have a privilege of. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t leave the portable gas tent heater on for the whole night. Instead, put it on an hour before sleep so that you can sleep in a cozy environment.

Did you know that with a portable gas heater you can even charge your phone while camping? It will come handy especially if you need to gather information needed for your trip, maps, or call someone.

Note: Stay away from radiant heaters, as they can chug a propane canister in just 4 hours when running on low power. 

3) Use Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottle

How to stay warm while camping in cold weather for a short term period? Well, putting a few hot water bottles in your sleeping bag is an ideal short term solution! When you go to sleep, it will keep you perfectly warm and comfy.

The only downside to this method is that it won’t heat you for a long time. Also, make sure to pick high-quality hot water bottles, as you don’t want them to explode in the comfort of your sleeping bag. The bottles with fleece covers will be the best, as they are leak-free and safe to use in your tent. 

We enjoyed using this fleece hot water bottle from Fashy! It also has an added swagger to its design!

Pro Tip: utilize a camping kettle to boil water so that you can reuse hot water bottles! While it may be busy work, this method is very cost-efficient when you aim to keep your tent warm.

4) Heat Some Stones

Stones in fire

Going into survival territory, this is one of the most effective ways to keep your tent warm in cold temperatures. If you cannot find stones around your campsite, check out a nearby stream or a river.

Now, for this method to work, you will need to make a campfire, have some cloth (socks are the best) on hand to wrap the stones in, and a few 1-2 pound smooth stones. If you have a larger tent, then larger stones might be handy.

Note: make sure that the stones you collect have a smooth surface. You don’t want a stone with a rough and/or sharp surface as it can cut through the cloth you put it in. Also, they are not comfortable at all.

Place the desired stones near the campfire (5 – 10 inches away would be ideal). Turn them around here in a while like you are doing barbecue and make sure that the center gets heated. It will take at least one and ½ hour for the stones to get fully heated. You will know it once the stones are too hot to touch.

Note: never put stones directly in the fire! You don’t want charred rocks in your tent, honestly!

Now, wrap the hot stones in a cloth (again, we recommend socks, as they are the safest for this process!), and you can start putting them in your tent! The cloth will keep the stones hot for at least 4 hours and keep your canvas safe from damage. Even though hot stones get cold faster than hot water bottles, they release heat much quicker.

The best positioning for hot stones would be to spread them out in each corner of the tent. Make sure that they are away from you to touch them while sleeping. Put them around your sleeping bag, and if you are comfortable with extra heat, inside the bag too.

In combination with hot water bottles and warm clothes, this method can keep you warm in your tent for the whole night!

5) Pitch Your Tent On Top Of Extinguished Campfire

Extinguished fire

After you heat the stones on the campfire, will the campfire be useless? You can actually use the campfire to your advantage and stay warm in your tent while camping in the process. First of all, patience is crucial here.

Ensure that you burn a lot of firewood so that there is a hefty amount of coal chunks as leftovers. Let them burn out completely before trying to pitch the tent on top of them. 

Pro Tip: we recommend that you dig up a trench that tailors to the tent’s dimensions and light up a campfire there. That way, the heat will stay in your tent for the whole night!

If you want the coals to stay warm for longer, you can put a layer of soil on top of it. To enhance this effect, put a layer of spruce branches and grass. Before you do this, make sure that the fire is out for good, we don’t want you to get poisoned by carbon monoxide while sleeping.

Note: Don’t put any kind of tent floor padding under your tent, as you don’t want to damage it by fire leftovers! Of course, this only applies if you choose this method to heat your tent.

Conclusion

If you’ve read this post until the end, you are now ready for camping in the cold! You will need to pack some extra gear, but we assure you that this is a fantastic experience every camper should try at least once! 

As always, stay safe and responsible when camping. Leave your camping grounds as they were before to show respect to the nature around you.

Have any more tips on how to heat a tent without electricity? Share your tips in the comment section below, and we will make sure to add some entries to this post!

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.

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