Camping and Staying Warm
Camping is one of those pleasures that isn’t for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, few things are as exhilarating as a night spent amid nature in all its glory. Of course, there are plenty of situations where camping may be needed for reasons other than just wanting to get out into the wilderness and forget about your hectic everyday life.
Whether you’re camping because you there’s nothing you’d rather be doing, or you’re reluctantly camping when you’d rather be home in your warm bed, or anything in between, we can all agree that being cold is a miserable experience.
This is particularly true when you wake up in the middle of the night, wrapped in your sleeping bag with plenty of clothes on, and still can’t get warm. Anyone who has experienced this will be able to tell you sleep is not easy in such situations, and the little sleep you might manage is not good sleep.
Many people prefer things to be on the colder side when they camp, as it is often easier to get warm than it is to cool down, especially in a camping situation, where air conditioning is not exactly practical.
But this premise rests on your ability to get warm when the temperatures drop a little too low. If you are already wrapped up as snuggly as you can get, and you are still cold, it is a deeply unpleasant experience.
With that in mind, you should always plan ahead to make sure you have the means of keeping yourself adequately warm when you go camping, but there is more to staying warm than packing extra clothes and putting them all on at the same time!
We’re going to take you through some of the things you can do that will make the most difference in terms of you keeping warm on that next camping trip.
What is a Roof Top Tent?
So, the name makes it fairly obvious what a rooftop tent is, but if you’re not familiar with them, you might be asking yourself what roof these tents sit on top of. Designed to mate up with the most common roof rack designs, rooftop tents mound to the top of your vehicle. Naturally, the bigger your tent, the more substantial a vehicle you will need to have to put it on top of.
Rooftop tents can be deceptively large thanks to their ability to fold out, sometimes doubling the floor space inside the tent by overhanging the sides or back of the vehicle.
The advantages of roof tents are mostly obvious ones. It will get you up and off of the floor, away from the heat-sucking ground and out of reach of any smaller wildlife that might come sniffing. It also gives you a solid base for your sleeping gear to rest on. You can still be uncomfortable on a hard, flat surface, but at least you won’t have uneven terrain digging into your back throughout the night.
Rooftop tents are usually accessed via a ladder, protecting the vehicle itself from damage as a result of people standing on parts of it to get up into the tent. It is even possible to get accessories that increase the usable space of your tent, such as tent annexes that go underneath the rooftop tent’s overhang, providing a sheltered area at ground level.
What is a Heat Pack for a Roof Top Tent?
Heat packs have a wide variety of uses, from keeping you warm on those cold nights in a tent to relieving muscle pain. Essentially, heat packs are relatively small pads that generate heat through chemical processes, rather than electricity or gas.
The heat generated from these packs isn’t substantial—you’re not going to get much benefit by activating a few of them and huddling around them like a campfire—but they are very effective in close quarters, such as pressed against your skin under your clothes, or in your sleeping bag.
Sleeping bags are designed to keep heat in, so having a heat source in there—even a small one—can make an awful lot of difference. Still, you need a good sleeping bag for this to be truly effective, but fear not, we’ve got our top five picks for warmest sleeping bags down below.
What are the 5 Best Tent Heaters?
The idea of a heater in a tent may seem counterintuitive—even dangerous—at first, but there are plenty of heaters designed specifically for safe use indoors. To that end, we’ve put together a little list of what we feel are the best options for tent heaters.
Be aware that most of these heaters use AC power, so you will need an inverter on your vehicle to power them. Also, be sure to keep a close eye on your power usage if you are running your tent heater from your car’s electricity. Camping trips are not the best place to find yourself in need of a tow truck.
A brief note on electric halogen tent heaters. We have not included any here since they are usually hanging or standing heaters, and rooftop tents do not typically have a lot of vertical room, meaning a standing one would be a fire hazard to the tent, and a hanging one would be a fire hazard to you! Similarly, we’re not including wood stoves. As great as they can be for heating the right kind of tent, they are not suitable for rooftop tents.
VIVREAL Mini Portable Space Heater
This heater boasts several useful features for tent heating, such as automatic shut off when things get a little too hot or the heater tips over. It also has a cool mode to give you a little relief if the climate where you are camping decides to turn up the heat. On the front, you will find a large, clear control knob for adjusting the heat output between the 750W and 1500W options.
Broan 6201 Big Heat Heater
One of the heavier duty-looking heaters in our list, the Broan 6201 Big Heat Heater is a 1500W electric heater with auto shut off for any unfortunate tipping incidents, several settings, and a built-in thermostat. It may say “big” in the name, but the 6201 is actually a very compact heater, making it an excellent option for camping trips.
De’Longhi TRNS0505M Oil Filled Radiator
If your heating requirements are a little more modest, you might want to go for the TRNS0505M radiator. Granted, it will take this kind of heater longer to heat up than an electric fan heater like the two previous suggestions. However, oil-filled radiators are more efficient in terms of electricity usage, which makes them an attractive option for camping.
Stanley ST-SSSA-120 Heavy-Duty Electric Heater
Moving back to ceramic electric heaters, the ST-SSSA-120 has a thermostat, two settings, and is very compact. It comes in the distinctive Stanley black and yellow color scheme and has a large, clear control knobs on top.
Hot Water Bottles!
Okay, a hot water bottle isn’t a heater as such, but if you have a camping stove with you, you can always fill one or two hot water bottles up with piping hot water and slide them into your sleeping bag. They’re perfectly safe, extremely effective, and don’t take up much space when they are empty.
What are the Top 5 Warmest Sleeping Bags?
We promised you our top picks for warmest sleeping bags, but before we give you the goods, let’s briefly touch on sleeping bag ratings. Sleeping bags are typically rated by seasons. A one-season sleeping bag is not suitable for any kind of cold weather, and should not be used outside of summer nights—and warm summer nights at that.
Season two sleeping bags should be good down to around 32ºF, but not suited for winter camping. Season three will get you through a cold night, but if you’re expecting frost, you might want something warmer.
Season four will be built to get you through a mild winter’s night; if you are expecting temperatures lower than 14ºF, you’ll need more protection. Finally, we have season 5 sleeping bags, which should be overkill for a typical camping trip.
These bags are usually good for as low as -40ºF. If you are expecting those kinds of temperatures, you’re looking at a lot of expensive and very professional gear. Needless to say, our list for warmest sleeping bags for a rooftop tent camping trip does not include any season 5 sleeping bags.
- Kelty Cosmic 0 Degree Sleeping Bag
- Big Agness Boot Jack 25
- Rab Ascent 900
- Mountain Hardwear Phantom
- Nemo Sonic
When you buy a sleeping bag, pay close attention to the temperature ratings. You should find two temperatures; a rated temperature and a comfortable temperature. The comfort temperature is the important one for a typical fun camping trip since that is the temperature in which your sleeping bag should be able to keep you comfortably warm.
The rated temperature is the temperature that your sleeping bag should be able to keep you alive in. In other words, if you end up in temperatures lower than your bag’s comfort rating, you’re in for an uncomfortable night.
But if you end up in temperatures lower than your bag’s rated temperature, you’re in serious trouble. Always do your research regarding the climate you are going camping in.