How to heat your tent this winter

My favorite time of year for camping is definitely the fall. It’s the prettiest, because the leaves are changing but you also get the nice warm days and the cool nights. Spring is great too, and summer is doable as long as you can get out of the hot and humid southeast. But for a lot of people, winter is that time of year where the don’t really go camping a whole lot and I’m hoping by watching this video you can open a whole new season of camping.

Around me I have got several heating options and while these are great options before you get any of this stuff you definitely have to have a good sleeping bag. A heater could run out of fuel, a battery could die, it could go bad. That doesn’t happen with a sleeping bag. When you buy a winter sleeping bag there are often two numbers you need to pay attention to.

One of them is the survival rating and one of them is the comfort rating. With the survival rating, if it is that temperature, you will survive the night but you will not be comfortable, and you will not get a lot of sleep. So look at the comfort rating, and you want to get one that’s going to be a few degrees below the temperature that you expect so that you will be comfortable and keep in mind that everyone sleeps at a different temperature as well.

It’s worth adding that if you see a sleeping bag that only has one number, that one number is the survival rating. The best sleeping bags are going to be the mummy sleeping bags. Those are the ones that are kind of form fitting and you want one that has a hood that comes up over because as soon as you cover your head you’re saving a whole lot of body temperature.

You also want to look out for cinches so that you can tighten it up so you can have just your little face poking out. You obviously don’t want your face inside the sleeping bag because you’re introducing moisture in there ones that can cinch up around here are pretty nice, and you also want to look for draft blockers which is a little flap that goes down the side of the zipper.

It covers the zipper so you’re not losing a lot of heat through there. It’s also worth picking up a nice sleeping bag liner. That’s like another little bag that goes inside the sleeping bag. There are a number of advantages to that. The first one is that it’s going to raise the temperature of the sleeping bag and that’s going to make it even warmer and even more comfortable.

It’s also going to stop you from sweating into your sleeping bag if you do end up getting too hot. And of course it does make the sleeping bag easier to adjust because you can unzip the side of the sleeping bag and you will still stay relatively warm inside the sleeping bag liner. By the way, as I go through all of this stuff, I’m going to put links to everything I have and everything I use.

The sleeping bag that I personally have is not amazing, like it’s not going to be a sub zero sleeping bag. It’s best for a little below freezing, and then obviously when you add the sleeping bag liner it drops it a little more. If you’re in a ground tent you’re also going to want something to sleep on, something that’s insulated.

If you don’t, you’re going to lose a ton of heat to the ground and you’re going to get condensation problems. I personally use this monster. This is a self-inflating mattress. You just unscrew the valves at each end and then pop off the bungee here and it unrolls and inflates itself, and then when you want to put it up again the next day you make sure these are undone and you just roll it up and squeeze all of the air out This is fantastic.

I’ve use this a bunch. I’ve used this… I’ve slept in my awning room a few times so I used this when I’m doing that, and also I’ve slept in the back of the 4Runner and you don’t need any insulation underneath you for sleeping in the back of a 4Runner but it’s just really really comfortable and fits perfectly.

This is actually the most comfortable camping mattress that I have ever slept on – this is more comfortable than the mattress that’s in my roof top tent. So I really recommend this. Anyway, I’m going to put this away and let’s look at some of our heating options. This is the most compact heating option that I have, and this is the only one that you can leave inside a roof top tent.

It is a 12 volt heated blanket. Plugs into a little cigarette lighter and actually, this one’s not mine. I stole it from a friend who uses it every time they go out camping. For around 30 to 50 dollars this is not only the simplest option, it’s also the cheapest option. However, it is something you do not want to run on your starter battery – this thing is a power hog.

In fact, and time you’re using electrical heat it uses a ton of electricity. So you will unfortunately need some form of power; a second battery, or one of the battery packs that you can buy from Jackery or Goal Zero. When it’s running, this pulls about 50 Watts at 12 volts, so you’re going to need a battery that has a fairly significant capacity – probably around 30 amp hours.

Another thing to remember is that when it’s cold out, battery capacity or battery life goes down. Especially if you’ve got something lithium ion or something like my Jackery that I have here This has more than 30 amp hours but if it gets really really cold it’s not going to be… It’s not going to last nearly as long, and it’s also not good to run lithium batteries at really low temperatures.

A heated blanket also obviously only heats you, and that has a couple of disadvantages. First of all, if you’re with family or with pets then you need a heated blanket for each of them – although I guess a pet could just sleep on top of you. If you’ve got you and a partner then you need two heated blankets, and then you’re doubling the amount of battery you’re using and you’re going to end up with some significant battery draw.

Secondly, you’re not heating the tent itself, so you may still end up with some condensation issues, which are fairly common in the cold. If you’re in a ground tent that’s not a huge deal, but if you’re in a roof top tent that can be a problem because when you fold the tent up the next morning all of the wet interior of the tent is going to fold up onto your bedding which will make you even colder the next night.

I’ll put a link to this in the description but I’ll say that this one, along with most 12 volt heated blankets is not particularly large. It’s definitely not long enough to cover my entire body. I guess if you’re short it would do the job. Now you could get a 110 volt one that plugs into the wall and use an inverter with that.

They are… you can get them bigger so can cover your entire body or go completely underneath you. They also generally get a little bit hotter but they’re going to use a whole more more electricity because you’re going to have to run them off an inverter. So you’re losing a lot of efficiency there because you’ve got to run the inverter itself.

And of course it just uses more power because it’s bigger and hotter so you’re going to end up using at least around double what this would use. This is a Mr. Buddy heater, and while it’s a little more expensive than the heated blanket itself, because you don’t need a second battery to run it it is overall going to be the simplest and cheapest option, and is probably right now the most popular option with campers, however I think going forward that’s going to start to change.

These heaters cost around 80 dollars although when I bought mine it was a little bit less and when I looked on Amazon earlier it was a little bit more. And they run off propane, which is great because it gives you a lot of heat and it gives that heat instantly. You can run it off a couple of different bottle sizes normally you put the 1 pound bottles on here screw them in and run it of that you can buy an adapter for another 20 – 25 dollars that will allow you to run it off a 20 pound tank or a 5 pound tank.

One of those refillable ones. And it uses about half a pound to a third of a pound per hour. Which means if you’re using the 1 pound bottles you’re looking at about three or four of those per night depending on the setting that you put it on and, obviously, how long you’re sleeping. Even though these are probably the most popular source of heat, I am not a fan at all, and I will never use one of these in a tent again.

The first problem I have with this is that it’s mainly radiant heat Now that feels great if you’re sleeping right in front of it or if you’re stood right in front of it but it’s not particularly effective at heating the air itself. It will heat it some, but if you’re in a large area it’s not going to produce a lot of heat for that area.

Another issue I have with it is that it can actually make condensation worse in a tent. Burning propane releases water vapor and all of that is coming out inside your tent and it’s going to end up, if it’s cold enough, end up condensing inside your tent. I have used one of these before and it was about zero degrees and I ended up with sheets of ice down the inside of my tent.

The main reason I would never use one of these though is safety. There are multiple issues with using one of these inside a tent and for a community that’s so focused on safety in some aspects, it’s crazy how many people will use on of these inside a tent. First of all, it’s an open flame.

That you’ve got inside a tent with bedding around you. Now these do have a sensor in them so if they end up tipping over like this they do shut off but obviously it’s still hot on the front here. When I used this, and I did use this inside my tent for a while, when I used this inside my tent I always put it inside a metal baking tray so if I accidentally end up knocking it over it wouldn’t melt anything, wouldn’t set fire to anything it would be safe inside the tray But obviously you still have the risk of bedding touching it if you had kids or pets there’s no way I’d have one of these inside the tent with me.

The second safety issue I have is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning with this Normally when you burn this when you burn propane it produces carbon dioxide and water vapor but if there’s not enough oxygen in the air then it will start producing carbon monoxide instead, which will kill you in your sleep.

Now this does have a little sensor built in that will turn it off when there’s not enough oxygen in the air But I struggle to trust that especially when considering some of the other reliability issues I’ve seen with this heater. When I used this I had a little carbon monoxide tester, detector, alarm that I’d keep in the tent with me.

Finally, I have seen what happens when these things go wrong.

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