If you're planning to go winter camping anytime soon, it's best to come prepared. For sure, one of the first that comes into your mind is choosing a winter-rated tent. Well, yes, having a tent designed to stand the cold and unforgiving weather of the winter is the right course of action. Although this type of tent can be a worthwhile investment, it comes at a very stiff price, and it could be a little impractical, especially if you're going on winter camping at least once or twice.
Some campers opt for a much cheaper option like three-season tents. However, they're optimized for spring through summer weather only. The best way to go around with this problem is to know how to insulate your tent for winter camping.
In this article, we'll give you some tips and tricks to beat the cold and stay warm and comfortable when going for a winter camping trip.
#1 Start with the ground first
In pitching your tent, one of the first things you need to look at is comfort. Like in spring or summer camping, you start by looking for a smooth and less rocky ground to set up your tent. For winter camping, the same rules apply, but this time, you need to be aware of external factors like wind.
A flat spot that is not too close or far from the water and away from the wind is the perfect place to pitch your tent. If there's snow, start by clearing the ground off it before pitching your tent. By this, you can avoid having snow beneath your tent that could form uncomfortable bumps when it re-freezes.
#2 Get yourself a Windbreaker
A windbreaker is technically a shield used to protect a chosen area from the cold, chilling winds. And, building a windbreaker is essential to keep your tent warm and prevent it from collapsing. You can either purchase a windbreaker or make use of a heavy-duty tarp and rope in which you can tie between two trees that are on the upwind side of your tent.
You can also make use of what we call natural windbreaks like bushes, fallen trees, or mound of rocks. Or, in snow camping, using the snow in building a shallow wall a few feet in front of your tent.
The bottom line is, make sure that you get yourself a barrier to protect your tent from the winds during winter camping. The wind is a significant source of wintertime heat loss; therefore, placing windbreakers at the right place can keep you warm and comfortable.
#3 Winter-proofing your tent
Like what we've mentioned above, four-season tents or winter-rated tents could make a massive difference in keeping you warm on a winter camping trip. However, that does not mean you are required to purchase one before going.
There are techniques that you can follow to winter-proof your tent and make it capable of sheltering you from the cold weather if you don't have a winter-rated tent. The basic and most important thing to take note of in winter-proofing your tent is improving ground insulation. If that sounds a bit jargon for you, it merely means adding a material beneath to prevent heat from escaping.
With that, lay a tarp under your tent to help improve ground insulation. Take note, in doing so, make sure that edges of the tarp do not extend past the edges of the tent, or else snow could gather and penetrate your tent underneath when melted.
You can also improve insulation inside your tent by duct taping a space blanket in the canopy. With this method, you're trapping a large amount of heat inside your tent, keeping 90% of your radiated body heat to keep you warm.
#4 Bring a tent heater
Tent heaters are also a great way to ease the cold inside your tent. There are electric and gas-based heaters you can purchase (check our Best Tent Heaters review here). However, you must proceed with caution since they can overheat and tip over, and could cause a fire. Also, they produce carbon monoxide gas that could build up inside your tent that could lead to death.
Nonetheless, it is best advised to check the product's safety measures before using it. There are heaters with carbon monoxide fumes detector and auto-shutdown features when tipped over.
#5 Choose a well-insulated sleeping bag
A heavy-duty and well-insulated sleeping bag is the last essential gear you'll need to get yourself winter camping ready. The best bags for winter camping generally have a fitted style, with a shape that resembles a human body. Also, make sure that it includes a built-in hood with drawcord to keep your whole body nice and warm.
The rule of thumb in choosing a sleeping bag for winter camping is "the less space, the faster to warm up." You also have to check the bag's temperature rating. The last thing you'll want to end up with is using a 40-degree bag in 10-degree weather.
This should go without saying, but in winter camping, make sure you came prepared in battling the cold, chilling nights. Keep yourself well-informed with the location and wind condition since you'll be needing it to insulate your tent correctly. And, lastly, always check the gears and the safety measures they provide since you have to be extra precautious in keeping you warm, especially when dealing with heat.