Winter Tent Camping: Top Items You Should Have

It seems like everyone shuts down the camping season once winter approaches, but why?  Sure it is cold, but nature is beautiful year-round! You should take advantage of every moment you get to see her…oh and not have to fight the crowds!

Essential Winter Tent Camping Gear

Since most people do not enjoy going out and camping in the cold, there should be some really good spots that will be available to the adventure who is willing to brave the elements. 

I need to mention that you should always put safety first, and assess the trip prior to departing in the event of heavy snow and ice…as well as the future forecast…you do not want to get stuck out somewhere and really put yourself or your family in a tough situation.

Camping in the winter is easily doable as long as you have the right gear.  Below are some great options to help get you started.    

Sleeping Bag For Winter Tent Camping

Sleeping bags were designed to help trap air and keep it from circulating.  The air then heats up from your body heat that is generated by its metabolism.

This small space warms up quicker and helps to retain the heat. There are so many different types of sleeping bags and the need for a lower temperature rating bag will be determined by your location.  One way I use to combat this, is I have gone with a 15 degree Fahrenheit rating as my all-purpose bag. 

More specifically, I have the Nemo Riff 15.  One main reason I chose this sleeping bag is that it is a spoon shape bag so it is less restrictive around the knee area which is important for me as I like to sleep on my side and stomach.

If it is too warm outside, then I simply open it all the way up and treat it like a normal blanket.  Or I will simply open it up, use it as a base and just use a sheet to cover up.  But we are not talking about warm weather here, so who cares. 

This bag has held up really well in 30-degree weather and I am sure I will get the chance now living in Colorado to test it out below that temp. For more information on extreme cold weather sleeping bags visit Mike’s recent article here.

Sleeping Bag Insert For Winter Tent Camping

Don’t want to spend more money to buy another sleeping bag to help handle those really cold days and nights. 

Do not worry, there are great sleeping bag inserts that can help with this.  Some of these inserts can help to provide up to 20 degrees of added warmth. That is a good deal, right! 

These liners also help to keep the inside of your sleeping bag clean and provide a nice soft microfiber feel (depending on which one you purchase). 

And while we are not talking about warmer temperatures, this can also serve a great bedding option in the spring and summer months.Sea to Summit has two great options; Thermolite Reactor Extreme Sleeping Bag Liner and the Themrolite Reactor Fleece Liner – Regular

Once again, it comes down to your personal preference on feel of the fabric…polyester versus fleece.  I personally opted for the fleeced.

R-Value Ratings and Your Sleeping Pad

Getting off the cold ground is important, only if you have a sleeping pad that has a decent R-value rating.  R-value is the measurement of how well it resists heat flow through it. 

The higher the R-value, yep you guessed it, the better the insulation you will receive from cold surfaces.

You want a sleeping pad that has an R-value greater or equal to 5.  This will ensure you have a good barrier between you and the cold floor. 

This is why I chose the Nemo Roamer Self Inflating Mattress…R-value of 6 and so comfortable to sleep on.  You can read more on the deep dive review I conducted about this amazing pad here.

When you have a good R-value pad, sleeping bag, a Mr. Heater, and some reflective insulation you have a strong recipe for enjoying your winter tent camping experience. 

Even if you took away the heater and insulation, you still have a good platform to help keep you warm through the night.

Phone Protection Winter Temperatures

I have to admit, that I would have never discovered this product if it were not for Off-Grid Essential Owner Mike receiving this product in the mail to test out, but the PHOOSY XP3 is a game-changer.  We recently went out on a camping trip near Woodland Park, Colorado. 

Since my family and I are awaiting our teardrop camper we pitched our tent.  We did not realize based off the forecast that the temperatures were going to drop so low, but boy did they. 

Mike and his family were good to go inside their camper with some heat.

As I woke up in the middle of the night and went to grab my phone to check the temperature outside it was pretty cold. 

So I hopped out of the tent, grabbed this product known as the PHOOSY, inserted my phone, and decided it was the perfect time to put it to the test.

Man, where has this product been my whole life.  When I woke up to get started on breakfast and coffee for the crew, low and behold my phone was perfect. 

The PHOOSY XP3 did exactly what it said it would.  And best of all, my phone battery did not diminish from being cold all night.

More to come on a full-scale review of this product at a later date, but yes the Phoosey Lineup of electronics protection is a game-changer…go get one!

Backpacking Stove

There are different types of these backpacking stoves, but I personally use MSRs Pocket Rocket Deluxe.  What I really like about the MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe is the self-igniting feature…no need for a lighter! 

Just simply have it attached to the propane tank, turn the dial to allow propane to come through, hit the ignite button and kazaam! You have fire! 

Most of us like that nice warm cup of coffee in the morning to get us started, and it is even more enjoyable when it is a little chilly outside…at least for me it is. 

Depending on your tent, you can have this bad boy brewing up some coffee right outside under the vestibule.  It is also a great way to get some breakfast going. 

Best of all, this setup takes up very little space.  For me, space is premium. 

And this is a great cooking source backup or bug-out bag item if you have begun or are about to begin getting some gear together for our uncertain times…if you haven’t already go read Mikes article on Civil Unrest.

Propane Heater When Winter Tent Camping

For some this may raise a few eyebrows, but do not be too quick to write this off.  Technology has come a long way, and sure back in the day these were not nearly as safe as they are now. 

So yes it is safe to use a newer propane heater in a tent.  Just be sure not to have anything that can melt too close to it. 

My go to for this application is Mr. Heater Portable Buddy (9,000 BTU).  In my experience, I feel like I see this heater everywhere…I do not think I have ever gone camping where I have not seen someone else carrying this heater…which should tell you something.

Now to maximize on heat retention, you will need some form of insulation or reflective barrier to help keep the warmth provided from escaping out through the roof…see Thermal Insulation. 

Unless you have a true four-season tent, then this application may not be necessary.

Thermal Insulation For Winter Tent Camping

A great product that can be used for many different applications whether that be for your house, vehicle, or yes…your tent! 

A good way to insulate your tent in the cold is to buy a roll of this reflective insulation, do some measuring, cut to the size you need for your application, attach inside your tent and your plan is solid.

There are many different philosophies and ways you can use this insulation inside your tent. 

You can affix to the inside roof which will in theory reflect the heat that rises to be pushed back down to you and your sleeping companions.

You can put on three sides of the tent to help reflect the heat from good ole Mr. Heater mentioned above. 

Or you can do all of that and the roof…it is up to you and how comfortable you feel using this product, buy it here.

Four Season Tent Winter Tent Camping

A bit on the pricey side, but if you are going to be spending a good portion of winter out camping, this might be a smart investment. 

These tents are designed to withstand the brutal winds, snow, snow buildup, and icy conditions that may present themselves.

You can easily make a three-season tent work, but if you are in areas where you will see some hefty conditions, then a four-season tent will give you the right shelter needed…your shelter is very important…after all, it is what is protecting you from the elements. 

And yes you can use a four-season tent in the summer, you will just need to regulate the interior temperature as these tents are designed to keep the chilling wind out.

REI has a budget-friendly tent in the Co-op Arete ASL 2.  If you need a little more room you can opt for Mountain Hardwear’s ACI 3 tent.

Conclusion on Winter Tent Camping

Of course, there are more ways to help prepare your experience for winter camping, but what I have provided is a strong start. 

Like I have always stated, everything I purchase must be dual purposed.  Our family has found the perfect balance between minimalism and comfort. 

We are not extreme minimalists, we just don’t need a bunch of stuff lying around our house. And while the dual purpose is the name of the game for us, it is also our way of being a little prepared for the unknowns facing. 

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