When you go camping, there are a lot of things you have to take into consideration. One of those things is how you’re going to heat your winter tent.
If you will go camping in the cold period of the year, you will need to warm yourself as staying in a cold tent won’t let you experience the outdoor fun.
If you don’t have electricity, it can be a bit tricky, but it’s definitely not impossible.
In the case of wild camping, you won’t have electricity at your disposal so I am offering you simple and effective ways for the heat tent camping to stay pleased.
In this post, I’ll give you some great tips on how to heat a tent without electricity. So read on and get ready to have a cozy cold-weather camping trip!
Heat a tent camping ideas
What can you use to heat a tent and what are the best methods to heat the structure that doesn’t need an electricity source?
Heating a tent with hot rocks
One of the most common methods to have a hot tent is to heat rocks from nature.
How long will a heated rock stay warm? If the rock is simply heated in the fire and then placed in the shelter, it will gradually cool down after an hour and the interior will be cold again.
But you can place the heated rocks in a pot with a lid; this will increase the time up to three hours. However, this is still not enough for the whole night’s comfort, so what to do?
It is necessary to increase the thermal inertia of the stone so it will radiate heat for 8-10 hours, and gradually cool down. For this purpose, use a non-combustible, lightweight, and compact thermal insulator – aluminum foil.
Wrapped in several layers of foil, a stone will be cooling down more slowly. It will not cause stuffiness in the tent in the first few hours.
When the stone starts to cool, it is best to remove the foil layer by layer, and the interior will be warmer. The heat is retained due to the air between the foil layers.
In order not to burn the bottom of the shelter with hot rock, it should be placed in the pan (it is best if the stone has the size of a human head, and is firmly placed in the pan).
Put an inverted pan or a wooden board under the pan and watch out so the stone won’t burn your tent floor.
An important note
You need to heat the stone gradually to prevent its destruction because of the extreme temperatures on its surface and inside of it.
If possible, heat a 4-5 gallon canister with water and place it inside. Such canister will grant the effect of the battery for 3-4 hours.
Use burned-out campfire place
How do you heat a tent with fire? A burned-out campfire place is another way to heat a tent without electricity. It is a valuable tip for all campers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Another no less widespread variant is to install a tent on the spot where the campfire was burning.
Ideally, the campfire should have the size of the shelter and it should be placed in a small deepening. This tent warming method is appropriate for heating a large tent. The campfire should burn for several hours for maximum effect.
When the large coals are burned, put a layer of earth on the fireplace. Put spruce branches or dry grass on the top of the soil where the shelter will stand. With this method, it will stay warm until morning.
Duralumin collapsible tube
The more advanced method to heat a tent with the help of a campfire is to use a duralumin collapsible tube.
For such a natural camping heater you need a 20-foot long dural tube with a small diameter of 2 inches and a small sheet of asbestos. A fire should be placed 15 feet from the shelter.
The place where the pipe is contacted to the fire is being wrapped in asbestos. One end of the tube is directed to the shelter, and the second one to the outside fire, so that the smoke couldn’t get inside.
The incoming fresh air near the tube is heated and then passed through the tube into the tent.
The distance between the lower and the upper pipe end should not be less than 6 feet. The steeper slope – the better air circulation.
Entering air temperature depends on the pipe heat level. If it is too hot, you can close the deducing end in the tent or decrease the fire.
This is the best way to heat a tent without electricity because the warm feeling will last through the cold night. This is why it is a great winter camping tent heater approach.
Other tent warmers for camping
How do you heat a tent without a heater? How do you do it without using propane?
There are a few more methods that can help you to warm the interior, but some of them are quite complicated.
It is often advised to clear the snow and make a campfire to warm the earth under the shelter.
If you have a kerosene stove, candles, or dry alcohol, then it is possible to warm the shelter with them. At the same time, you need to be very careful; because the tent can burn in seconds.
Make a candle heater
How to heat a tent with a candle? It is simple to do it as you will need a metal tray, a fireproof flowerpot, and candles as a heat source.
Put a tray in the safe place in a shelter (where you won’t be able to turn it around) and put candles inside. Light them and cover the tray with a flower pot that has a hole in the middle.
This is a simple and smart way to warm a tent without cost. The heat from the candles will escape through the middle hole in the pot and through the sides where the gap is.
Hint: The flowerpot must sit on the sides of the metal tray, leaving a gap for warm air to escape.
You can also place bricks instead of a metal tray for the DIY radiant space heater. This way you will have an easier way to adjust the bricks so the pot will sit on them.
A heater for tent camping
The methods that I have mentioned can be time-consuming and not very convenient when you go winter camping with a baby or move from one place to another.
Sometimes you don’t have enough time to make a large fireplace. Portable tent heaters can help you here.
You can choose between kerosene or gas camping heaters. You can also opt for a solar-powered tent heater or a battery-powered tent heater.
The outdoor tent heaters are very popular in recent years, as everyone can choose what he wants from a wide range of specimens on the market. They are especially convenient for beginner campers.
A camp stove can combine not only a heater but also a tile for cooking, and illumination.
Such burners are usually compact, reliable, and quiet. However, when using such heating devices in a tent, you need to take care of the fresh air inside so make sure you open the vents.
It is best to have an oxygen sensor in the device. And of course, your tent heater must be certified for residential use.
Propane tent heater
You will need gasoline (a propane canister) to heat a tent with a propane heater. The problem that can occur is the presence of carbon monoxide that is made as a side product of heating.
Carbon monoxide can be dangerous for humans if you don’t have optimum tent ventilation so make sure you have sufficient airflow.
Kerosene tent heater
You can opt for a kerosine (paraffin) device for warming the shelter but you will have to take care of good ventilation as this heating method has the same danger as the propane heater.
Interesting fact: Japanese use kerosine heaters as the most preferable indoor heating system.
If you decide to use it, here is the kerosine heater safety alert pdf that will help you to stay warm and safe.
Hot water bottles
Using a hot water bottle is a smart way to warm a tent without electricity. It is a small portable tent heater that will be ready in no time.
The procedure for using this method is easy.
You will need to have water, a heating source like a backpacking stove, a boiling pan, and hard plastic or metal bottles. Forget about those from a supermarket, they won’t handle the high temperature.
Heat the water almost to the boiling temperature and slowly pour it into the bottles. Close tightly and spread them across the shelter.
Additional tips to stay warm in a tent
As you use one of my tent heating methods, you can make your outdoor stay even cozier. These are smart ways that you should try to stay warm inside the tent.
In order not to freeze inside, you need to choose sleeping options wisely. If you want a comfortable winter camping overnight stay, use high-quality camping gear.
Sleeping bags for camping
A sleeping bag is the most common sleeping arrangement for most tent campers, backpackers, and other outdoorsmen.
It is designed to keep you warm at night, allowing for comfort and warmth during sleep. What is better than jumping in a cozy warm insulating bag that keeps you comfortable the whole night?
It is typically made of durable material, allowing the bag to last for some time.
When choosing your sleeping bag, pay attention to layering and the weather conditions you will stay camping as the bags come in different levels of insulation.
Sleeping bags for camping come in quite a variety. The traditional bag comes with quilting and flannel lining, making it very warm and easy to clean.
A down-filled sleeping bag is filled with goose or duck down and is a lightweight and effective insulator.
Mummy-style sleeping bags are very popular these days, being easy to carry around in a backpack when hiking or camping.
Some use synthetic materials for insulation while others are made with silk or fleece lining. Some mummy bags have hoods for extra warmth.
Sleeping cots for camping
How about lifting your bed off the cold ground? In winter camping, the grounds are not pleasant to sleep on directly, so I suggest that you sleep on an elevated bed instead of directly on the floor.
For this purpose, you have sleeping cots that are elevated to offer a comfortable sleep.
Mattresses are great because they are padded enough to bring you extra warmth and comfort. They come in different sizes, materials, and features so take time before choosing yours.
Sleeping pad for camping
A sleeping pad is also a good alternative for winter camping as they retain body heat. It can be placed on the ground or on a camping cot to offer warmth and comfort. Choose an inflatable pad that will fit you.
Warm clothes for camping
Warm and insulating clothes are very important. Since you will be staying inside the tent I advise that you dress up in cotton and wool gourmets.
These two types are not recommendable to use outside in the bad weather but inside they won’t get wet and will keep you warm through the night.
Think about dressing up from head to toes properly. Bring your wool socks to keep your feet warm, scarfs, and hats, and take care of the nose and ears that are most exposed.
Sleep in an insulated tent
How to make a fully insulated tent? This is a clever option that demands some material and work. The insulation will keep your shelter cozy as the warm air won’t escape through the fabric and seams.
Use air bubble reflective foil, and reflective foam to do it. If you are interested in this method look at this video that shows how a man made his insulated tent.
Use a space blanket
Did you hear about space blankets yet? They are also called emergency blankets that offer insulation. The blankets are lightweight, foldable, and made of heat-reflective material.
There are plenty of heat-reflective blankets to choose from and can be stored as a small package.
If you wrap in it it will prevent body heat loss and make your body warm so you will sleep more comfortably and won’t wake up in the middle of the night because you feel cold.
The blanket can be used for other purposes too, as for survival shelter or a survival bag so it’s good to have it on your camping trip.
Warm camping meals and drinks
Food is a fuel that warms us and gives us the energy we need to do tasks over the day. When choosing food for your cold-weather expedition, consider the ingredients that have a high nutrition value.
I always make soups and stews when camping in cold temperatures as they make me feel good and warm me up. I don’t recommend you to bring sandwiches or other dry fast food.
Take a camping stove with you and cook yourself a nice hot meal that will warm you and provide enough energy that will last for hours while you explore the surroundings or hike on your favorite trail.
If you will cook inside you will also heat a tent without electricity, so this is a great way to keep you warm. However, put some heat-resistant tarp under the cooker to prevent a burn-out of the tent floor.
Is there a safe way to heat a tent?
Not each warming method is safe to use inside a camping tent.
The problem with propane and kerosene heaters is that they produce carbon monoxide that can be harmful to you if there is too much of this odorless gas inside.
You can accidentally turn candles around and burn the floor of the shelter.
The safest way to warm yourself inside is to use a burn-out fireplace, hot water bottles, or hot rocks that you place in a container.
Is it safe to have a heater in a tent?
As mentioned, the kerosene and propane-powered heaters are safe to use in a tent as long as you pay attention to the tent air circulation.
These heater types produce carbon monoxide gas, which can be harmful to humans and animals if there isn’t enough oxygen available.
So, make sure to ventilate the tent the whole time so you won’t be exposed to it. Also, keep a heater away from the tent’s fabric to not experience a fire.
What stones hold heat best?
Different stones will attract heat, and hold it to varying degrees, depending on their weight (heavier usually) and shape (rounder usually).
Rocks that hold heat best are those that have a high energy density such as granite.
Granite is a type of igneous stone. The heat might dissipate out over time if the rock isn’t covered up by something, e.g., soil or other organic material that will also absorb heat from the sun and release it slowly overnight.
Soapstone, gypsum, basalt, marble, sandstone, limestone are also appropriate to use if you want to have a warm tent for some time.
How do I keep my camping tent warm?
Let’s say you use one of my tent heating ideas to stay warm but how to keep the heat for as long as possible?
Camping tents are not designed to retain heat. Unlike in houses, the walls of a tent are very thin.
They’re made to be waterproof, but they’re not built for insulation. Waterproof tents are mainly used for outdoor living – even though there are some pretty pricey ones that have insulation, it’s just not something you need if you will camp in cold weather for a few days.
On this point, it is important to get a winter tent as 3-season ones won’t let your heating device have the effect that you want.
However, you can make an insulated tent to be more comfortable.
Even though tents are designed to let air in and out, you can still make them airtight by using duct tape to seal all the seams. It makes a huge difference in keeping warmth inside your tent.
Which tent heating method will you use?
How to heat up a tent without electricity? It is your choice which method will you try. When going winter camping, make a good plan on how will you stay cozy outdoors.
If you’re more of an adventurous type then go for natural choices and have fun during preparation. However, you can also bring a portable tent heater with you and just enjoy your stay in a winter tent.
If you’re camping this winter and want to stay warm, I’ve covered some great options for you, so choose your favorite tent heating ideas and try them on your next getaway.
Also, consider my additional tips so your adventure won’t be torture in a cold and wet environment.