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How To Winterize Your Tent – Stay Warm Camping During Winter

how to winterize your tent
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Although camping trips in the the summer are fun, going camping during winter can be equally as enjoyable! Don’t let the cold weather stop you from having a good time in the outdoors. Learn how to winterize your tent and prepare for the winter conditions by reading my tips below. 

One of the most important aspects of winterizing your tent is to make sure you have a good tarp to drape over your tent to hold in the heat. You will also want to make sure your sleeping area is nice and flat. The more flat you lay the less space there is between you and the ground. This space can create extra areas of cold. Make sure you lie flush on the ground. You can also use a Mylar blanket to line the inside of your tent, this will keep all generated heat from escaping. 

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How To Winterize Your Tent

If you want to learn about a specific topic on winterizing your tent during winter camping, just click any of the subjects below to jump right to that area! 

Table of Contents

1. Use Tarps To Winterize Your Tent

Covering both the bottom and top of your tent with a tarp is a great way to stay warm. By using a tarp you will trap the heat inside your tent, and also effectively keep the cold out. Place a tarp directly under your tent on the ground that you are camping on, and attach one to the top too.

The tarp on your tent will be one of the best ways you can winterize the tent. We will talk about ways to winterize your tent and keep yourself warm inside your tent. But, when it comes to actually winterizing your tent, this is probably one of the most important steps. 

If you decide to use something to heat your tent during the winter time like a candle lantern or a propane heater, having a tarp can really help you keep the heat in the tent. Most tents are made with a very thin material not made to retain heat. Tarps will help with this a lot. Check out my video below on how to keep a tent warm with a candle lantern. I also wrote about heating a tent with a candle, you can read more about that below. 

Heat A Tent With A Candle On We Live A Lot

2. Flatten Your SLeeping Surface

While setting up your tent you should be mindful of the ground you’ll be sleeping on. If possible, choose a completely flat surface and clear all the snow from the ground. Smoothing the ground before sleeping makes your body a lot less likely to lose heat. Upsets or bumps in the ground allow for more space between your body and the ground which allows heat to escape. 

3. Sleeping Pads

Using a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag can make you both a lot warmer, and a lot more comfortable. When using a sleeping pad, you prevent the direct contact of your body and the ground while still closing that open space. This will keep you much warmer and you’ll have a soft surface to sleep on. 

When selecting a sleeping pad to help keep you warm, you want to pay attention to R-Value. You don’t want to skimp on a cheap sleeping pad that provides no insulation. To keep you warm, you want to shoot for something that has an R-Value of at least 4.5. I have listed a couple of options below for you to check out over on Amazon. 

The ECOTEK Insulated Hybern is a great option. It is insulated and has an R-Value of 4.5. Many of the customer reviews describe this sleeping pad keeping them warm and toasty in the winter time! 

Last update on 2024-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Klymit Insulated Static V is another great option for an insulated sleeping pad. Check it out below on Amazon. 

Last update on 2024-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Use A Small Tent

When camping in cold weather, it’s best to bring a small tent. The reason for this being that closing as much open space as you can is the key to keeping you warm at night. Closing up all of the ambient space in your tent and sticking close to a buddy for sleeping will prevent the cold from creeping in. Fill up open spaces with bags, blankets, any extra gear, etc. This is obviously not a way to winterize a tent as your already buying a tent that is self winterizing. The smaller tent just makes it easier to heat and keep the heat in. 

Check out the small 2 person tent below that is designed for 4 season camping. It is important to winterize your tent but if you winterize a tent that’s already made for winter, you will be even better off! It’s also not all that expensive, check it out below on Amazon. 

Last update on 2024-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. The Right Clothes

While this one may seem obvious, there’s more to it than you might think. When you are camping in the cold you’ll want to avoid a few things; tight-fitting clothing, cotton, and overdressing. Tight-fitting clothing while worn in a sleeping position can restrict blood flow to certain areas of the body. Cotton may drop your body temperature, and soak up any moisture that you come into contact with, avoid it if you can. 

Overdressing and keeping too warm can cause you to sweat. Accumulated moisture can dampen your clothing or your sleeping bag and cause you to become cold. You’ll want to wear socks and finger-less gloves, and all of your clothing should be composed of synthetic fabrics and/or wool. 

6. Snacking

If you find yourself awake during the night, munch on a high calorie snack! Foods containing a lot of fat and protein will give your body a boost of warmth during the night. You should choose something quick and easy requiring little to no prep. Having quick and easy snacks around is a great way to keep your body a little warmer when camping in the cold. 

7. Candle Lanterns

A very simple way to keep yourself warm inside your tent is by using a candle lanterns. They function exactly like normal lanterns, but instead use a small candle inside. With the right size lantern, you can provide an ample amount of heat for your tent. 

The UCO Candlelier is the one that I use to warm my tent up. You can see my hands on review of the UCO Candle Lantern below. It holds 3 candles and if you do a good job of winterizing your tent this will help keep you warm and toasty. I also have a written review below or you can watch my video review! 

UCO Candle Lantern Review On We Live A Lot

8. Blankets

After using a tarp to protect the underside of your tent, it’s time to insulate the inside. Bringing blankets to place on the floor of your tent can provide a lot of extra insulation to keep the heat trapped inside. Place them on any open spaces inside your tent, and underneath your sleeping pad/sleeping bag. This will keep the cold out, and the heat in. 

9. Heaters

While not as simple as candle lanterns, heaters can also be a good option for the tent. Using battery powered heaters, or propane heaters can easily keep you warm while asleep. Something important to keep in mind, is that when positioning your heater you shouldn’t place it directly in front of you. Choose a spot where it will reach the open space of the tent. By keeping the air inside of the tent warm, you are also keeping yourself warm and being mindful not to overheat yourself. You should also be sure to read any safety instructions provided with your heater. This could include not placing your heater next to or under cloth, as this could lead to a fire. 

If you winterize your tent with the suggestions above and combine that with a good propane heater you will be sure to stay warm and cozy when camping in the cold of winter. 

Some propane heaters will also put out a small amount of carbon monoxide. It may be a good idea to have a CO2 meter if you are using a propane heater in a tent, just to be safe! 

You can check out the Mr. Heater Buddy heater that works with a propane tank. It’s small and easy to use and will run for quite a while on a can of propane, click the photo or button below to read more about it, see price, and see more photos on Amazon. 

how to winterize a tent

10. Heat Packs

Heat packs are another great way to keep you warm, but without the safety risk of heaters. They don’t require batteries or anything to power them. You can easily place them inside your sleeping bag or clothing. Another option is hand warmers. While these are a lot smaller, they will provide the same effect. 

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

11. Windbreak

Cold winds while camping can be devastating and tough to combat. A windbreak is an area where the wind is blocked by things like bushes or trees. Placing your tent in a natural windbreak can prevent the wind from getting to your tent. If you can’t find a good example of a natural windbreak, you can make your own using a tarp. Tie two ends of a tarp to two separate trees and hang/attach it over your tent. This will have the same effect as a natural windbreak, but can be made on your own. 

12. Mylar Blankets

Mylar blankets, commonly known as space blankets, are a great way to keep heat inside your tent. They are lightweight and can be found in most camping stores. You can use it by wrapping it around yourself as a normal blanket, or taking advantage of its reflective abilities. The unique thing about Mylar blankets is that they are great at reflecting heat. Tie the blanket directly above you to have heat from inside the tent reflected back onto you. 

camping during the winter

13. Roll Out Your Sleeping Bags

If you’re going to be camping for more than one night, it is important to roll out and dry your sleeping bags. A night’s worth of sleep can accumulate a lot of moisture inside of your sleeping bag. Rolling them out and leaving them to dry the next day can prevent you from bringing new moisture back into your tent. 

14. No Air Mattresses

Air mattresses are often brought along on camping trips because they are comfortable and easy to set up. The problem with air mattresses is that when you fill them up, they are being filled with air that is the current temperature of your location. If you’re camping in the winter, your air mattress will be filled with cold/freezing air. This will cause you to be cold at night, even when using a sleeping bag on top of an air mattress.

You are much better off going with a sleeping pad with a high R-Value. This will keep you closer to the ground and will help you retain heat. Check out the pad below with an R-Value of 8. I own this pad and love how comfortable it is and how warm it keeps me. It’s much warmer than an air mattress. 

warm sleeping pad for cold camping

15. Protect Your Head

If you’re wearing warm clothing to protect the rest of your body, why wouldn’t you cover up your head? Use a knit hat, a warm scarf, or even a balaclava. A balaclava is a stretchy head garment that can be styled in a variety of ways. Covering your mouth, ears, head, and/or eyes. You can choose how to wear it to protect yourself from the cold while feeling most comfortable. 

Protecting your ears is also important. Our ears are especially sensitive to cold due to the fact that they are made out of cartilage instead of the softer and more stretchy skin that covers the rest of our body. Wearing earmuffs or pulling a hat down over your ears will ensure that they are well protected from the cold.


Don’t allow the winter’s harsh weather conditions stop you from doing what you love! Camping during the winter can still be a fun and exciting experience if done safely and with the correct preparations. By following the above tips you can plan an enjoyable, warm, and safe winter camping trip! 

Learning how to winterize your tent is just one of the things you need to know about camping in the cold of winter. Make sure you do your research and learn the ins and outs of winter camping as it can be dangerous. 

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