How to keep warm in a tent


Whatever conditions you're planning on camping in, being able to keep warm in your tent is a key concern for most of us. Whether off on a backpacking trip in the mountains during warmer summer months, or out in more extreme conditions where you need a sturdy mountaineering tent to help protect you from wind and snow, advice on how to keep warm when camping can help you get a more comfortable night's sleep, and in harsher conditions, it could even save your life.

In this article we take a look at some of the top advice in the industry on how to keep warm in a tent, looking at the type and style of tent, your sleeping equipment such as your sleeping bag, and other general tips for keeping warm and dry in your tent. 

Staying warm in a tent

Staying warm in a tent during cold weather does not have to be a daunting experience. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can make sure that you stay comfortable no matter what the temperature is outside. Think through the following factors:

  • Tent selection - A good quality, four-season tent will provide the best insulation against the cold. 

  • Pitch - Make sure your tent is set up properly. Pitch on level ground in a sheltered area

  • Sleeping bag - You’ll be spending the coldest part of the night in your sleeping bag so a high quality level of insulation is essential

  • Clothing - In colder temperatures, thermal base layers can help you stay warm. Lightweight, breathable fabrics will wick sweat away from your skin during the night.

  • Food and drink - Stay hydrated and eat a balanced meal before you go to bed. When you are hydrated, your body can better regulate its temperature, and a balanced meal will give you energy to stay warm.

  • Additional heat sources - Heat packs or a hot water can be very effective when you are camping in cold weather.

Choosing a Tent

It probably won’t come as a surprise that the tent selection process is perhaps the most crucial when it comes to finding the best equipment to help keep you safe from the elements. If camping in winter, at high altitudes or in other extreme conditions where you will likely face snow storms or strong winds, finding a tent that will protect you and withstand these conditions is crucial. 

When choosing a tent, there are several key factors to consider:

  • Size - determine how many people can comfortably fit inside. 

  • Climate - in cold weather, choose a tent that is specifically described as 4-season

  • Material - look for durable, waterproof and wind-resistant fabrics. 

For a detailed breakdown of how to choose a tent, check out The North Face guide.

At The North Face, we are passionate about equipping adventurers all year round and our range of tents has something for every trip. For the most extreme protection, our Summit Series range of tents and clothing has been developed with elite athletes to handle anything the elements can throw at you.

Tent Placement

When choosing somewhere to pitch your tent during winter months, it's not only important to find somewhere near any amenities you might need, but you also need to consider the impacts the weather could have on your tent.

In areas with lots of rain or snow, it's important to look for higher ground. Avoiding ditches, dips or valleys where water might gather will help you avoid waking up to a flooded tent. Ideally, you'll want to set up camp on relatively flat ground as this is more comfortable to sleep on. Remove any lumpy, hard or sharp objects from the area first, namely large rocks or stones, before placing your groundsheet.

In cold high winds, check which way the wind is blowing before you decide which direction to pitch your tent. Beware of snow drifts in colder climates by pitching the back of your tent towards the wind; this way if snow does drift against your tent you will be able to get out via the door on the other side. 

In sub-zero temperatures, pitching your tent's main door away from the direction of any wind will also help minimise the chance of getting any draughts through your tent and therefore help keep your warmer.

In between tents, cleaning and maintaining your tent will ensure consistent performance over time.

Keeping Your Feet Warm and Dry

As you'll likely want to leave your walking boots in your tent's vestibule area, and may need to take your socks off if they're wet, you'll need something to help keep your feet warm while in your tent. The North Face Mules are excellent for this task. Available in a range of different colours, Tent Winter Mules are ideal for maintaining warmth even in the coldest temperatures. They're also made from recycled materials, helping to reduce your carbon footprint whilst offering shock-absorbing comfort for every step you take. Pair with a spare pair of hiking socks for ultimate warmth and comfort.

Now that you've learned some tips on how to stay warm in a tent, you might also be interested in learning how to choose a backpacking tent. However, if you're not heading out in extreme conditions, you may be interested in a basic camping tent instead. Whatever you need, The North Face can get you ready for your next adventure.