There is no quicker way to ruin a camping trip than being cold, but with a bit of preparation, it needn't ever be a problem. There is a huge amount you can do to keep warm while camping, some of it obvious and some of it not so obvious.
Here's how you can stay warm and cosy when camping in a tent even on chilly nights.
Don't get cold and don't get wet
The best way to keep warm is to not get cold. Sounds pretty obvious! But once you have allowed yourself to get cold, it can be very difficult to warm up again. It is especially important to not let yourself get cold before going to bed.
The second thing to remember is to stay dry. Nothing cools you down faster than being wet, which is why sweating is so efficient at lowering our body temperatures. Always have a dry change of clothes available, change out of wet clothes immediately and wear moisture-wicking fabrics next to your skin.One of the most important things to remember is to provide good insulation between you and the ground, both when sitting outside or sleeping in your tent. Apart from in winter, the ground will normally be colder than the air and will drain heat from you. The key to insulation is layers - the more layers the better. Air mattresses, self-inflating mats, thick foam camping mats, rugs and heavy blankets all make good bases for your bed.
The best way to keep warm at night is to have your bed raised up off the floor, for instance by using a camp bed.
Then you can put extra blankets or a duvet on top of your sleeping bag if needs be.
It may sound counter-intuative, but it's also important to make sure that there is adequate ventilation in your tent. Your body heat and breath will cause condensation in a tent and water droplets will make you colder. Having a well-ventilated tent will help to prevent condensation, so keep those vents open.
How to keep warm in a sleeping bag
There are different kinds of sleeping bags available to suit different seasons and temperatures so make sure the one you have is good quality and suitable for the temperatures you'll be camping in. You can also get sleeping bag liners that provide extra warmth. These are a great idea, they are easy to wash and can also be used alone if it gets hot when camping in the summer.
Fluff up your sleeping bag before going to bed so the fibres in the material aren't flat: the air between the fibres is what holds the heat.
When your sleeping bag is not in use, it's a good idea to air it in order to get rid of any moisture that may have collected inside it overnight.
It may be tempting to breathe into the sleeping bag to warm it up and to keep your head inside the sleeping bag, but you should try to keep your nose and mouth outside - breathing moisture into the bag will cool you down. If you need to keep your head and face warm, wear a balaclava, a hat or a hoodie with the hood up.
Wear suitable clothing
You should always pack to cover the worst weather expected. You will never be sorry for bringing an extra pair of socks or a warm fleece or jumper and you'll be grateful for having a spare dry change of clothes if you get wet.
In order to stay warm and dry at night, you need to consider your clothing as well as your sleeping setup. You'll need warm clothes but having several thin layers of clothing will keep you warmer than wearing something such as a fleece over pyjamas - and it will also stop you overheating too.
Ensure the base layers wick moisture away, you do not want fabric to hold moisture next to your skin which will make you cold. Moisture-wicking fabric includes wool, silk and synthetic materials but not cotton (try to avoid cotton sleepwear as it absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry).
You also don't want clothes to be too tight as this will reduce the insulation they provide. Thermal underwear can work well, and wearing extra socks will help significantly too.
Make sure all your clothing is completely dry before putting it on. It is a good idea to have clothing that you only use for sleeping. Even if the clothing that you wore during the day feels dry, it will still have some perspiration in it which will make it harder to stay warm.Keeping warm with an electric heater
If you are camping during the colder months or just really feel the cold, if your pitch has an electric hook-up (EHU), you might want to try an electric camping heater.
Never attempt to heat a tent using a fuel burning heater, BBQ, camping stove or fuel burning appliance of any kind (gas, oil, wood, charcoal, petrol etc.) - the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning are very serious. A tent is a poorly ventilated enclosed space and any fossil fuel burning appliance emits carbon monoxide.
Electric heaters are cheap and there are a couple of sorts to choose from, such as fan heaters and convector heaters. or oil- filled radiators.