Are you planning on putting up a tent for your next adventure? Here are some tips on how to keep a tent warm without electricity.
“Wait, I can heat a tent?” Yes!
As long as you have the right equipment and follow the proper steps. Whether it’s winter camping or staying protected in extreme cold-weather conditions on an expedition, here is advice on tent heating so you stay warm and cozy inside.
Choose the right tent
The best way to heat a tent is to make sure you have the right tent.
Some tents are designed to be cold-weather or extreme weather conditions, so they have a coating on them that helps keep the heat inside. These tents tend to cost a bit more than your average camping tent.
But, if you know you’ll be needing a heated tent often, investing in one of these is worth it.
Keep in mind that even with the right tent and equipment, there’s no guarantee it will always work—especially when Mother Nature has her say.
You should also remember that using any kind of heating system during rainfall or while snowing could pose some hazards such as starting a fire outside of your tent (NOTE: never use heaters within three feet of anything flammable).
If possible, hang tarps above the ground to minimize melting snow or rain from dripping on you.
8 Ways to heat a tent without electricity
You have a couple of heat sources to choose from. Know which one is best for your situation and make sure you have everything you need before starting.
1. Wood stove
This type of heat is not as popular as it once was, but some people still swear by it.
A wood stove works well for heating a tent during the day or night, but only if you have all the necessary supplies and set it up correctly.
First off, make sure you have a stove that’s designed to be used outside. Some stoves come with a mesh screen to help protect embers from blowing out, which can cause a fire on the surrounding tents. Make sure your wood stove is stabilized on something sturdy—a table or chair works nicely.
You’ll need plenty of firewood too (six pounds per hour), so remember to bring enough along with tongs for getting those logs in and out of the stove safely.
2. Camping stove
This is one of the most popular ways to heat a tent in winter.
You’ll find portable camp stoves in all kinds of varieties from single-burner units up to backpack size. When choosing one, make sure it’s safe for indoor use and has been designed for heating for camping (some stove tops are too hot for tents).
If you plan on using one overnight, you might want to invest in an automatic shut-off model or at least set up some kind of protection like bricks under the legs of the stove (NOTE: never place a camping stove on top of any flammable material).
3. Heating rocks
These can provide a steady and portable heat source for up to 24 hours.
They’re made from a special kind of volcanic rock that, when heated, gives off warmth longer than most other methods. Heating rocks are ideal for car camping as they don’t need any type of power source or ventilation.
Bring some newspaper, sticks and twigs—anything burnable—to help get the rocks started once you’ve placed them in your campfire. Once the fire gets going, add the rocks little by little so they have time to absorb enough heat.
Wrap them in more newspaper and use tongs to pick them up. Then, wrap them in cloth and place them under or inside your tent and let the warmth surround you.
4. Solar Heater
A solar heater is a great way to heat a tent during the day. The sun provides enough energy to heat your tent and keep it warm all day long. Place the heater near an open window or vent on one side of your tent, making sure nothing will obstruct the sunlight from reaching it.
If you don’t have either, hang a sheet as an enclosure around the area where it will be placed. Make sure the sheet doesn’t touch the sides of your tent as this could cause damage or start a fire.
5. Heat Pads
These can be a convenient and safe way to heat a tent. You place the pads on a flat surface inside your tent—such as the floor or top of your sleeping bag—and turn them on when you want to warm up. That’s it!
They usually come attached to a built-in thermostat and don’t take up much space. Make sure you read the instructions carefully before using them and avoid leaving them under your sleeping bag.
6. Hot Water Bottles
These are probably one of the easiest ways to warm up if you have access to hot water. Just boil some water and pour it into a water bottle or any other type of sealed container. You can add essential oils or soothing herbs such as lavender for aromatherapy purposes—just be careful not to spill it inside your tent!
Place the hot water bottle in your sleeping bag with you, making sure not to burn yourself.
Units like the Mr. Buddy Heater are great for heating small spaces, including a tent, because they’re easy to operate, portable and affordable (about $40). It’s also very easy to find replacement parts if anything should go wrong with it.
Just be sure that all flammable materials in or around your tent are at least three feet away from the heater and follow directions for use when lighting it up. Make sure you set up in an open, level space in your tent before turning on the heater so air circulation won’t be hampered and you don’t run the risk of starting a fire.
8. Kerosene Heaters
Kerosene heaters are another great option for heating your tent. You can find one at most hardware stores (about $80) and they’ll last many seasons if you care for them properly by changing the wick and cleaning it when needed.
Be sure to follow directions when lighting; never leave it unattended; ventilate well; and keep any flammable objects at least three feet away from the heater, just to be safe.
Warning: Carbon monoxide detectors play a big role in winter camping because many types of heating devices give off carbon monoxide—a deadly gas that smells like freshly cut hay and is poisonous to humans.
A carbon monoxide detector can save your life because it will sound an alarm if this gas is detected—giving you the chance to get out of your tent. You can find them at home supply stores or online for about $20.
Heating a tent is easy as long as you have the right tools and safety precautions in place.
Don’t forget to look for carbon monoxide sensors, keep your fire contained and follow usage instructions from the manufacturer.
Warm tents are comfortable tents, so stay safe and warm on your next camping trip with these tips.