Hot tent camping for winter camping - What is it forHow warm is a hot tent

Camping isn't just for hot summer days filled with sweat and insects! You may camp during winter, but it might make you shiver. All the more, camping in subfreezing conditions is often reserved for mountaineers and residents of northern countries like Canada, Alaska, and Norway. 

Nowadays, more people explore the wild during the off-season to avoid the crowds. But it's still bitterly chilly. As a result, some people become much more resourceful and use hot tents!

What is a hot tent?

A hot tent is an alternative to using gas or electricity to heat a tent during the winter. Instead, you take advantage of a stove's natural fire. The stove acts as a little kitchen where you may prepare food and heat water for coffee, tea, and chocolate while keeping you warm.

Hot tent camping requires the use of a fire-resistant tent. Due to its resistance to melting, treated canvas is the most popular material. However, specific artificial hot tents can sustain high temperatures. The fabric of a standard tent might need to be more vital to withstand the heat, so converting one is risky.

Hot tent camping for winter camping - What is it forHow warm is a hot tent

A full roof, chimney, stove jack, or ventilation pipe are required for proper hot tents. A retractable floor would be ideal so you can use it in the warmer months. (You take out the floor in the winter to prevent it from freezing to the ground.)

Usually, hot tents are large. A large amount must separate the stove and the tent's walls. Additionally, there has to be a space between the individuals, their equipment, and the wall behind the stove. As a result, the tent's large form occasionally demands a two-person minimum setup.

Finally, be cautious of condensation. With some lightweight synthetic designs, the challenge can be tricky. However, those with condensation problems frequently do better when it rains. Because they are frequently used in snowy climates, heated tents' waterproofing could be better.

How warm is a hot tent?

Hot tent camping for winter camping - What is it forHow warm is a hot tent

When describing this type of camping, the word "hot" is not an exaggeration.

The type of stove, the tent, and the weather affect how hot it gets inside a tent. Even in freezing weather, a hot tent can become very warm.  

Many reach an average inside temperature of 60–70 degrees in below-freezing conditions. Hot tents, however, can get heated, exceeding 80 degrees above freezing. Many people consequently end up dozing on top of their sleeping bags.

Standing up makes you feel the hottest in a tent because heat rises. You can manage the temperature inside the tent by learning how to use the damper and draft control. To move the warm air around the tent, you can also use Mr. Heater's hunting buddy heater, which is a portable propane heater.

The kind of wood you burn is another factor that will aid with temperature control. Compared to softwoods like pine, hardwoods like oak and maple often emit greater heat. They'll burn much longer, as well. Additionally, wood burns hotter on average, the drier it is.

Sleeping in a Hot Tent

Just because your tent has a heater doesn't imply you can stay warm by sleeping in summer or three-season clothing. 

You can sleep in a hot tent if the stove fire is out. 

Your gear and sleeping setups should be chosen following the weather and temperature forecast during your journey.

Hot tent camping for winter camping - What is it forHow warm is a hot tent

Here is the least that you'll need:

a sleeping bag for the winter 

Have sleeping bags at -30°C (-22°F) for hot tent camping excursions. Before you decide to purchase a sleeping bag for yourself, make sure to check some guidelines on rating sleeping bag temperatures.

Insulated air mattress

For camping or hiking in cold weather, you should ideally have an air mattress with an R-value of at least 4.5 or higher. You can place a reflective sleeping pad on them, making them warmer and a much better choice than putting them underneath the air beds.

Something for a groundsheet

You can use a standard tarp as a groundsheet to make shelter in place underneath your air mattresses. Any more barriers you can construct between yourself and the ground will make a significant difference because it is cold.

Wear warm clothes to sleep

You must dress for bed in base layers, a wool sweater, and wool socks. It's also advisable to wear a hat and a scarf or buff in case the tent suddenly becomes chilly and your uncovered face becomes chilly. 

Wood for the following day 

When you wake up, you'll want to start that fire as soon as possible, and you won't want to leave the tent to gather or prepare any wood.


That decision to leave the stove on all night is yours. It's a choice, but someone must get up roughly every two hours through the night to tend to the various firewood again.

The alternative is to heat it shortly before bed, dress warmly, and then leave it to cool down overnight. 

Although hot tents include a chimney or stove jack and are fire-resistant, there is still a chance of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Although they are uncommon, hot tent accidents do happen.

Staying Safe While Hot Tenting

Even though hot tent camping is enjoyable, you must take safety precautions. Here are some pointers for safely hot tenting:

Avoid Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Poisoning

To avoid carbon monoxide and smoke inhalation, practicing fire safety when hot tenting is essential.
The best action is to take the essential precautions to keep safe because smoke and carbon monoxide can be sneaky and lethal. Some signs include drowsiness, slurred speech, and a swollen face.
In a hot tent, you should always use carbon monoxide and oxygen depletion monitors. You should make your monitors suitable for camping. Look for versions that can be adjusted to less than 70ppm, ideally 50ppm, in waterproof devices. Your standard house design is inappropriate for a little tent.
It is also advisable to use a temperature gauge because some hot tents with stove top tend to overheat. To prevent a headache from dehydration, you should likely drink more water.

Stay awake while the wood stoves are burning

Defeat the impulse to leave your stove on while you sleep.
There shouldn't be any debris in the pipe that could accidentally obstruct it and result in a harmful gas buildup.

Make Sure Your Hot Tents Are Ventilated

To begin with, check that your hot tent has adequate ventilation. Choose a location for your hot tent that is well-ventilated with sufficient airflow to ensure the highest level of safety.

Don't Put A Ground Sheet Under The Stove

Ensure the ground sheet you use to support your stove is a certified fire mat. Failure to do so may result in a melted floor or a fire.
If necessary, have a water-based fire extinguisher on hand.

Keep an eye on the stove at all times

A fire must always be dealt with. Many people have reported abandoning their hot tents only to return to find them destroyed.
Remember that a fire COULD start if you burn wood inside your rain fly when hot tent camping.

Check the hot tent's pipe seals

Frequent installation is one of the factors contributing to stoves' slightly lower reliability in hot tents than in a home. A fireplace is put once in a home, examined by an expert, and left alone unless it needs to be repaired or replaced.
The likelihood of connections not adequately sealed increases in a hot tent where the same stove pipe is attached and disconnected each time a new camp is set up. For two reasons, the seal might not be tightly sealed:
  • It wasn't correctly attached.
  • The connection got damaged during setup, takedown, or transit.

Never burn coal inside of a hot tent

Wood is the fuel source for the stove in hot tents. You and any other occupants are at an increased risk of suffocation if you use coal or charcoal since they contain distinct compounds. Stick to a wood burning stove and follow the instructions on the stove.

Never camp in a hot tent before a First Burn

The first burn of a hot tent stove should be done with the door wide open and no one inside the tent. The first fire of a new stove burns out any chemical residues left behind from the manufacturing process. These chemicals are released into the back tent wall and the chimney because they are all over the stove.
Use the stove in a secure location outside without the tent. This will guarantee that none of those harmful substances stay in your tent. You don't want the substance getting into your lungs at all.

Avoid setting up a hot tent near awake bears

If there's a chance that any of those bears are still awake, don't try to hot camp there. Additionally, think twice about hot camping in the bear area. Bears enjoy eating. It smells like food when it's hot camping. It doesn't make sense together. 
Bears don't necessarily hibernate; keep that in mind. Some don't even hibernate at all, and others can wake up. So, when you set up, especially if ice fishing or hunting are involved, be familiar with the region.

Are there any drawbacks?

The weight, price, and setup time of a hot tent are its drawbacks. If you want to take your setup far, you'll need a sled or snowmobile because a regular canvas tent weighs 15 to 20 pounds and packs down to approximately 20" x 24" x 10," while a medium-sized wood stove is about 19" x 12" x 12" and weighs just over 20 lbs unless you want to make two trips.

Since canvas tents, and stoves are sold separately, you can select the best set-up. If properly maintained, a basic 8' by 10' canvas tent with a wood fire will cost you around $1,100 and provide years, if not a lifetime, of luxury camping.

Oh, and make sure to confirm the location's fire restrictions.

Hot Tent Packing List

You're already familiar with the pop-up tent, poles, basic tool set, pots, pans, and other camping equipment that travel with you on your summer excursions, but for your winter getaway, you'll need more simply because staying warm will call for it. 

Furthermore, wearing summer clothing, which is only suitable for more agreeable weather, is prohibited. Start by gathering the following essentials before adding your comforts of home:

  • Tent with fireproofing agents

  • Portable box stove

  • Venting mechanism

  • At least 100 feet of rope

  • Cooking gear (cast iron is the best) and utensils

  • Essential tools like saws and axes

  • Fire-starting materials

  • First aid kit

  • LED lamps

  • Fold-down sleeping cots

  • Winter-grade sleeping bags

  • Ground pads if you don't bring cots

  • Ingredients to make meals over your fire

  • A proper wardrobe with multiple changes per camper in case garments get wet.

Final Thoughts

Hot tent camping for winter camping - What is it forHow warm is a hot tent

Although it might be more complex and enjoyable than summer camping, hot tent camping is still worth considering. What could be nicer than a warm night of snowfalls and the sound of stones and wood rubbing together?

No matter how chilly it is outside, your tent needs to be at a comfortable temperature. Therefore, while planning a camping vacation in an area with low temperatures, heating your tent should be one of your top objectives.

All you have to do is choose a solution that enables you to appreciate the wonder of snowy winter nights while remaining cozy and comfortable at home. Whichever way, camping is fun!

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