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Is There Such Thing as a Tent Heater?

I am wondering how to keep warm in the tent at night. Is there a such thing as a tent heater?

Question:

I have been backpacking for a little over a year and would like to try some cold weather backpacking. I am wondering how to keep warm in the tent at night. Is there a such thing as a backpacker tent heater? Any suggestions are appreciated.

Submitted by - Pat, Brandywine, MD

Answer:

Dear Pat,
I’ve never come across any sort of tent heater that’s actually backpackable, but there are a ton of tricks you can use to stay warm when winter camping:

  1. Go to bed with a hot water bottle. This is my favorite trick and its never fails. Boil up some water, pour it into a leakproof bottle and snuggle up with it. Use two bottles for really cold nights. It’s a great way to jump start your own internal heating system; especially if you go to bed cold, it can take a while to warm up your bag.
  2. Bring some chemical heating packs. These work great for hands and feet. Slip them in your pockets for your hands, and layer them in between two pairs of socks to warm your toes (never put them next to your skin—you’ll sizzle!)
  3. Use a winter-ready tent. Your all-mesh tent that stays nice and breezy in the summer doesn’t cut it in the dead of winter. You want nylon tent walls with minimal mesh, closeable vents, and a full coverage fly. It’s amazing how much warmth a good winter tent can hold.
  4. Beef up your bag. If you don’t have a really warm winter bag, and don’t have the cash to invest in one (they can be upwards of $300, even $400), consider an insulated overbag that you can use with your three-season one to boost the temperature rating. (Kelty’s down Galactic 35, $150 or the synthetic Stellar 35, $75, are two good options).
  5. Dress right. It may go against your common sense, but if you wear too much to bed, there won’t be enough air space inside your bag and the insulation will get compressed, resulting in a colder night for you. Wear your long johns and maybe an additional light layer of fleece; if you start to feel contricted in your bag, you know you’ve got to much on.
  6. Eat right. Fuel your engine with lots of calories; burning them all night long will keep you warmer.

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