How To Keep A Tent Warm Without Building Fire

Do you like camping but held back by the chillness that bites your skin and make your upper teeth grate upon the lower ones?

Camping is one of the most popular recreations practiced all across the world. Statista studies show that in 2015 there was a large revenue of about $ 5.8 billion generated from campgrounds and RV parks. Further studies show that consumers spent about $2.5 billion on equipment used for camping.

However, according to The Lancet, 6.5% of deaths in Australia is caused by cold weather. This alarming rate of deaths by cold weather prevents some campers from going all out to enjoy camping.

In spite of this the former statistics show that a whole lot of people still camp and enjoy the bliss under a warm tent. It will interest you to know that I’m one of the few fortunate ones who has learnt the tricks or techniques of keeping a tent warm. Before I finally discovered the techniques that work well, I had tried the method of building small fire close to a hard rock at a distance to create something of a heat reflector.  But this method has been proven unsuccessful and disastrous.

“Fire is a good servant but a bad master.” So the saying goes. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDAFS) recorded that in 2000, one out of every five persons caused wildfire that resulted from campfire. Also, in 2002 more than 6.9 million acres of land were burnt from the same cause. 

Who says you can only keep a tent warm by making fire?

If you are like me (that you enjoy so much the adventures of camping), you wouldn’t want anything to interrupt your comfort. But if you don’t plan yourself well or you’re not skilled at keeping your tent warm, the cold in the night will deprive you of all the pleasure in camping.

I’ll like to tell you that there’s no easy way to keep a tent warm by fire. This is what I mean. When I used to make campfire, I just couldn’t sleep deeply. I was always awakened at intervals to watch the fire and check if everything was alright. The risk of fire burning my tent was greater than the pleasure of camping. But this came to an end when I eventually discovered some ways to keep my tent warm.

Today, I’ll like to share with you how I overcame the chillness that envelops me when I camp . I hope that you’ll find this guide worth your time and perhaps you’ll also conquer the cold that bites in the night. Read on to discover how to keep a tent warm.


I do not infer that the method of using fire to keep the tent warm is totally bad but there are far better techniques and materials you can use. Before I go further, I’ll like to highlight some materials you will need to stay warm when camping in cold.

The above are some of the materials I always take along with me when I go camping and I can boldly say that they’ve really helped me a lot.

  • A tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Extra blanket
  • Base layers
  • Hot water bottle

Tents can be very cold and when you are camping alone, it can be lonely too. My goal here is to help you enjoy camping out and derive maximum pleasure from the entire adventure, just like I do.

Now let’s go deeper. Without risking the possibility of disastrous wildfire, you will learn how to keep a tent warm. By insulating yourself against cold you can sleep warm at night. The following ways are what I have done when camping and I’m sure they will work for you as well.


If there was ever anyway I had defended myself against cold while camping, this would have been to keep my sleeping bag totally dry. It’s obvious that wet bag will also find a way to get dried and one of its ways is to draw out heat from any source. So, wet sleeping bag will draw heat out of your body and contribute to the cold that blasts you.

Another thing is that if you use down sleeping bag, as long as the bag is wet, it will loosen up, thereby give way for cold breeze to flow in. Alternative to a down sleeping bag is a synthetic bag. I have used it before. it is made to be waterproofed and doesn’t loosen up when wet while retaining the warmth inside the tent.

Why you need this dry sleeping bag:

  • It serves as thermal insulator
  • It lowers the cold that penetrates into your body
  • It serves as a sleeping pad
  • It disconnects your body from the cold ground

How to set it up:

  • Set your tent and ensure it is well fixed
  • Use a sleeping stand if you have one, so that there’s no direct contact between your body and the ground
  • Make sure the sleeping bag is dry and you should carefully place it under the tent

I shall recommend a few sleeping bags below:


What is the essence of a dry sleeping bag when the clothes you’re putting on are somewhat wet? Dry sleeping bag is not enough to keep you warm. Your clothes also contribute to the warmth in your tent.

If there’s one material I have avoided wearing when camping, it’s cotton. This is because cotton materials draw heat out of my body when I wore them. I have discovered that a good pair of socks is perfect and a head warmer that covers my ears. I have come to notice that some parts of our body are more prone to cold than some others and ears seem to be most prone. So wearing a hat that covers your ears a bit helps a lot.

Let me also add: from experience I came to know that using a set of base layers also matter a lot to the overall protection of yourself against cold. Base layers help me prevent numbness. You know that feeling as though there’s no blood flow through your body. So wearing base layers keep you warm.

Why you need these dry sleeping clothes:

  • It protects you as you wrap them around you
  • Wearing head warmers that cover your ears reduce cold
  • Socks keep your feet warm
  • It disconnects your body from the cold ground

How to set it up:

  • Make sure they are dry before wearing
  • Wear wool and avoid cotton
  • Tuck them in properly


As a camping enthusiast, I’ve camped out many a night and discovered that the layers between me and the ground play a crucial role in keeping my tent warm. Can you compare how warm you feel when you sleep on one mat to sleeping on two or three mats? No!

This is because the ground draws a lot of heat from you, so the need to increase the layers between you and the ground is very important. The following materials can be used to increase such layers:

  • Woll blankets
  • Foil blankets
  • Some spare clothes

Why you need to use many layers:

  • It reduces the heat drawn by the cold ground
  • It provides a thicker sleeping pad

How to set it up:

  • Arrange the materials you want to use one after the other
  • Use a lot of wool layers
  • Keep them tight under the tent


Like I said earlier that you don’t need to make fire before you keep your tent warm, you can generate a little heat by taking a hot water bottle along with you. You may be wondering how a hot water bottle can make you warm. Research by an expert, Philip Werner shows that keeping a hot water bottle at some cold places or close to that part of your body where arteries are close to the skin will keep you warm.

Research by OCR 21C Additional Science on the effect of cold on the blood vessel also shows that when we become too cold, there is constriction in the blood vessels that supply warm blood to our skin. This decreases the blood flow near the skin surface.  So keeping a bottle of hot water close to that part is necessary. Apart from this, it also helps to hydrate your body when you feel thirsty. However, you must ensure that the bottle cover is well tightened to avoid accidental spill of hot water.
Why you need hot water bottle:

  • To avoid the discomfort and risk of building fire, hot water bottle serves as an alternative.
  • It generates heat inside of the tent
  • It prevents your body from sickness that could be caused by lack of blood flow

How to set it up:

  • Warm some water and pour it inside a water bottle
  • Make sure the lid is well tightened
  • Wrap it around in a thin layer and keep it under your tent


There’s been a lot of discussion or controversy about this: whether campers should sleep naked or not. I have tried both and I can say that I’m in the best position to offer an advice.

Keeping a lot of base layers around me while I sleep naked inside the tent worked for me. Yes, it kept me warm until one night when I wanted to get up to pee. Before I could put on anything, I began to feel cold gnawing at my skin the way I had never felt before. Since then I’ve been sleeping with my clothes on using some clothing layers that allow me to breathe well as well as layers of blanket. I now even discovered that it was warmer than ever before.

However, if for one reason or the other, your clothes are wet (I hope you haven’t forgotten my second point in this article), it’s better to sleep naked and swaddle yourself in a lot of blankets

Why you need to avoid sleeping naked:

  • In case of the need to awaken in the night
  • It is warmer than sleeping naked

How to:

  • Wear the right amount of blankets


I can tell you boldly that your body is the greatest heat generator that you have when camping. But the question is this: how do you generate heat from your body?

The greatest way is through exercise. There are various ways to exercise when camping:

  • You can take a brisk walk around, somewhere near your tent
  • If you feel that will not generate enough heat, you can do light jugging

Why you need exercise:

  • Your body will generate heat
  • It will keep you warm before you enter your tent

How to:

  • Do some light exercise
  • Avoid sweating
  • Relax and go back to your tent
  • Change your wear before you sleep


  • The type of tent that you use
  • Camping location
  • The meal you consume

Type of Tent

As important as the above tips are, your success in keeping your tent warm largely depends on the type and size of tent you use. You don’t want to use a tent that only at the slightest breeze it will fall apart. So you must make sure that the tent can withstand wind to some extent and is well tightened and secured. A well tightened tent will prevent cold from penetrating. And a tent heater is a good idea if you want your tent always warm.

And for the size make sure you use a tent that is small enough to provide comfort. This will close you over and offer a kind of security.

I shall recommend a few tents below:

Camping location

I remember one night when I didn’t pay attention to my camping site before I made out my tent. By the time the cold breeze descends, everywhere was cold. As hard as I tried to prevent that cold, I still felt my body shivering intensely. Thanks to these techniques I had acquired before then.

So you should avoid setting up your tent where there is much exposure of cold like a hill or valleys. Places like under a robust tree where cold is shielded away a little are fine.

The meal you consume

I usually consider this before any other thing. I noticed how my body reacts to different meals before bedtime. Meals that are high in calories help retain the heat inside. So rather than eating a lot of doughnuts, you should consume meal that contains much proteins as this will prolong your metabolism rate and hence generate more heat.


Camping during the winter is very adventurous and fun. It’s something I love to do and I wish for you to derive as much pleasure as I do from it. But to enjoy this adventure as I do, I have taken my time to offer you the techniques I have been using effectively over the years.
My only hope now is that you should find this article worthy of your time and perhaps you can also contribute to the adventurous life of camping to make it much more fun for camping enthusiasts, just as I hope I’ve done.
Feel free to contribute your opinions in the comment section below. Cheers!

  • Updated 10/01/2018
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Just Here - 06/01/2018

You’re wrong. Lay a ground meat and one half of a large tarp on the ground and then a Mylar reflective blanket, setup the tent on top of this arrangement. Install another Mylar blanket on top of the tent then install the rain fly and wrap the other half of the huge tarp over the tent. If it is below freezing, you might wake up being too hot using only your body heat. Your methods are incomplete and somewhat useless in a real situation. 17 days winter camping in 2012, was my best teacher.

    Solhim Lohan - 06/01/2018

    Thank your opinion. Do you know mylar will never warm you up: it will only slow the heat loss and noisy. And you need note camping location, you should avoid setting up your tent where there is much exposure of cold like a hill or valleys. Places like under a robust tree where cold is shielded away a little are fine
    I have gone through 3 days of winter in New Zealand, Night temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius. With my share above has helped me have a good sleep. I have a sleeping bag, blanket, sleeping pad, hot water bottle…and meals that are high in calories.


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