Recently, I had the idea of going winter camping in Vermont and was wondering what equipment I should use to keep warm and maybe warm up some food. I have a few questions.
1. Is there a heater/stove that can be used inside of a tent with low carbon monoxide risk.
2. Does anyone have experience or knowledge of camping in cold weather? Is there even a need to use heating equipment inside tents?
3. Last, is there something else I should be more concerned about?
Thanks for your advice in advance!
In my experience, heaters inside tents don't work well. Back in the day, I would bring in a big flat rock, make a "bowl" out of aluminum foil, and fill it with coals from the fire. It helped if you were right on top of it, but tent walls don't keep the cold out. I would concentrate on my clothing layers, and sleeping insulation.
There is a thing call hot tenting where people set up stoves with tents but it require specialized equipment. I have no experience with it but you can find information and vendors on line.
Otherwise, generally for winter camping you need a 4 season tent, an appropriately rated sleeping bag 0 degrees or better...a good insulating pad R5 or better and appropriate clothing...layered and insulating.
You can amend this with hot water bottles or similar to jump start the warmth in your sleeping bag but it is very dangerous to run any kind of heater/stove that burns fuel inside a regular type of tent. Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning can result.
4 season tents are often really one season tents...only really appropriate for winter/snow and are often single walled with limited ventilation. They are designed to support a snow load and exclude drafts. In mild conditions you can get away with some 3 season tents... generally ones where the fly comes down to the ground and the inner mesh starts higher on the inner walls.
Any stove used for cooking in a tent should be well ventilated in order to avoid trouble with carbon monoxide.
As others have said, trying to heat even a four season tent is rather futile- absolutely no insulation. It is more important to pay close attention to tent placement, staying out of cold air drainages, ideally choosing a spot that will get early morning sunlight.
Dress warmly in appropriate layers......
Let me join the chorus in suggesting that tents and heaters do not go together. True, there are winter tents that can accommodate a stove (see Youtube for videos by the dozen), but these tents and stoves are really nothing that you would backpack into an area - Think very heavy and unwieldy. Additionally, you should be VERY careful when using a stove in a tent because Carbon-monoxide (CO) is a killer. I lost a Middle School friend and his father in a camping/CO accident.
I love winter backpacking, especially in my area (Ozarks/Ouachita/Smokey Mountains) because the views are better, the ticks are gone, and the trails are all but empty. Watch this REI video on winter camping for a general overview, and then come on back with any specific Q's and we (your caring backpacking community!) will get you all set-up. https://youtu.be/ReanLLCCKIc
> 3. Last, is there something else I should be more concerned about?
That means layering your clothes and adding/removing layers as temperatures and activities vary.
It also means keeping clothes and sleeping bags dry. You can change wet/damp clothes. But you only have one sleeping bag. If it gets wet it will lose a substantial amount of its effectiveness until you can get it dry.
Hi @Tas - Thanks so much for reaching out. I am in Vermont as well and recently went camping near Stowe, so definitely understand the importance of a warm set up!
For heating up food, there are some great options out there.
We do not recommend using a stove in your tent, as they are not created for this purpose and pose serious health risks. For heaters, @acheela is right in noting that the thin insulation of your tent walls will really diminish how effective they are.
At night, one thing I always do to conserve heat is open the tent door as few times as possible. Remembering to bring all of my necessary gear in, filling my water bottle, and going to the bathroom before I settle in saves me from losing precious heat out of an open door.
We agree with the advice from so many here that your sleeping and clothing gear will have a huge impact on your warmth in a tent. Do you have a sleeping bag and sleeping pad already? If you are looking for recommendations for those or any other specific gear, we’d be happy to answer your questions.
Keep us updated on where you end up camping this winter. Stay warm and enjoy!
I will echo others in saying that stoves and tents do not mix. However, I have used a small candle lantern for light in my tent because it gets dark so early in the winter, and I have allowed the candle to burn all night. It seems to raise the temperature in the tent a degree or two, or maybe the light from the candle lantern just makes me think it is warmer in the tent.
I also swear by the hot water in the liter Nalgene trick. It helps warm up my bag before I crawl in, but it won't last all night long. Wear clean, dry socks in your bag and a hat on your head for extra warmth. Eat some food to fuel your body through the night. I go with a down bag in the winter and a full length sleeping pad. Supplement your bag by using a liner inside and/or breathable shell outside.
Winter camping is awesome! Very few others out there, lots of solitude. I’m assuming you’re going by car and not back packing in, in which case you’ve got lots of options. I’ve only backpacked in, so was limited by what I took.
Anyway, take layers, dry socks (I’ve put on two layers), and two layers of sleeping pads. I’ve done it with a three season tent but the air will come in. Try to find a place with more wind cover so you’re not exposed. Recently got biodegradable sleeping bag warmers and am testing them out before using. If I were car camping I’d take a hot water bottle to put boiling water in and stick in sleeping bag!
No stove in tent ... you may get shrink wrapped if it catches fire!
Have a great time, and experiment!
@Tas here are some tips I've been collecting..enjoy! I mean, stay warm! (the struggle is real!! lol)
Here is a list of random winter backpacking tips. Thanks to everyone from Obsessive Compulsive Backpackers (Meetup) for contributing!
Winter backpacking ideas
1. Bring those little glove/hand warmers and toss the down into your sleeping bag.
2. Don’t wear too many socks. It will actually cut off circulation and cause your feet to be colder.
3. Bring more clothes than you think you’ll need. They really aren’t that heavy and you’ll wish you had them!
4. Being in the cold burns calories.. eat snacks more often and stay hydrated.
5. Be extremely careful crossing snow bridges over streams... it could be your last!!! :0
6. Warm/hot water in a water bottle down in your sleeping bag makes for some toasty toes!
7. Don’t be too embarrassed to tell someone you are cold.. they may have some extra gear!
About #1, The good old fashion campfire is pretty much a thing of the past for many good reasons. But if you do have one, grab a half loaf of bread sized rock from the fire that is slightly too hot to touch and wrap it in clothing or whatever. Bring it in the bag with you. Most people like their feet on it. Depending on the type of stone and the time in the fire, it may provide warmth throughout most of the night.
Hot hands, which I rarely use for my hands! Throw one in the bottom of your bag when you set up, if it's really cold throw one in each boot when you go to bed. And in the morning I like to put one in each back pocket to keep my butt warm.
Another tip which I learned from Shaun G is to turn your puffy into a foot warmer by zipping it up and turning it inside out. Put your feet into it in the bottom of your bag. Toasty!