How to Heat a Tent Without Electricity (Best Methods)


If there’s one place you don’t want to be caught unprepared, it’s in a freezing-cold tent in the middle of nowhere.

In this article, we’ll explain to all budding campers exactly how to heat a tent without electricity – and what the best methods are.

We’ve gone ahead and answered some of the most commonly asked questions about heating tents so that you can learn the Do’s and Don’ts of camping before you’re out there in the wilderness.

Keep reading below to learn the safest ways to heat a tent, without electricity.

how to heat a tent without electricity

How to Heat a Tent Without Electricity

There are several methods you can use to heat up a tent naturally. 

In this section, we’ll explore a couple of the most popular and explain why they’re safe- or not!

Hot Water Bottles

If your campfire is roaring and you’re close to a water source (as you should be, for safety reasons), why not get some water boiling and fill up your hot water bottles? 

Stocking your tent with these is a safe and non-flammable way of providing you and your tent-mates with enough heat to stay warm throughout the night.

A quick tip: The bigger your hot water bottle, the more heat it can exude. 

This is due to the larger volume of boiling water carried within it, compared to containers of a smaller size.

Insulate Your Tent

A tent by itself is just a thin piece of fabric. There’s nothing besides that measly layer separating you from the cold night air. 

This is why insulating your tent is another vital way of heating up your tent, safely.

Try padding the floor with thick blankets or duvets. Additionally, to make sure you stay warm, insulate yourself as well. Make sure to wear weather-appropriate gear at all times.

Wearing a few layers will help protect you from the cold, ensuring you’re able to get to sleep at night.

Finally, if you’re sharing a tent with somebody else, the body heat generated by close proximity to each other can save lives in emergency situations. 

So, if you’re seriously struggling with the cold – stay close. The tent should warm up in due course.

man camping in the snow next to trees

Tips for Insulating Your Tent

  • Purchase the appropriate sized tent for the number of people sleeping in it
  • Create a windbreak
  • Carefully select where to pitch your tent. Open areas will be subject to cold, fast winds
  • Use a rainfly to help protect your tent from the outside elements such as wind, rain, and snow
  • Use a tent footprint before erecting your tent to help insulate the bottom
  • Opt for a 4-season tent – these tend to be stronger, warmer and more durable, designed for more extreme weather conditions

Use a Winter-Rated Sleeping Bag

Skimping out on proper camping equipment doesn’t do anyone any favors. While out in the wild, having the correct equipment can be the difference between a comfortable night and a miserable night.

Not all sleeping bags are the same, and if you plan to camp in cold temperatures, it’s definitely a good idea to buy a winter-rated sleeping bag to help you get through those long bitter nights.

Many sleeping bags (not all) come with a temperature rating. Keep an eye out for “ISO” or “EN” temperature ratings. EN is the old standard, while ISO is the new standard.

This industry standard of temperature ratings will help you compare the difference between two different brands at a glance – in the case of warmth.

Remember, a temperature rating is not a guarantee of warmth for any sleeping bag. It should only be used as a guide. 

Is There A Safe Way To Heat A Tent?

Insulating a tent without electrical means – in combination with everyone wearing weather-appropriate camping gear – is by far the safest way to heat a tent. 

Rather than focusing on making the tent warm, make yourself warm inside the tent. 

However, if you have the money, it’s entirely possible to buy a tent with built-in insulation. 

This is the quickest way to ensure that your tent stays warm – by buying one that never gets cold to begin with.

Of course, there’s a financial barrier to this method as these types of tents are far more expensive than their standard uninsulated counterparts. 

It goes without saying that those who go camping and expect the conditions to be the same as inside a warm home are in for quite the surprise. 

Therefore, before you head out, it’s important to adjust your expectations (and prepare accordingly)

While every effort should be made to ensure that you’re well-equipped to handle the elements, the great outdoors is simply rougher than the indoors. As such, you may not be as comfortable as you’re accustomed to.

When heating a tent, safety always trumps comfort. 

This is why it’s far better to wear warm clothes, fill up hot water bottles, and pad your tent with insulation rather than rely on heat sources such as electric heaters or blankets.

You should also always stay away from any kind of open flame- as we’re about to explore below.

camping at night in the winter

Can I Burn Candles In A Tent?

Absolutely not! 

Burning candles in a tent for heat, light, or any other purpose is extremely unsafe

Here are some of the reasons as to why candles should never be lit inside a tent:

Tents are not Fireproof

A tent is a simple sheet of polyester that protects you and your camping supplies from the elements.

It’s not made out of high-tech, fire-retardant material; rather, they are most commonly composed of canvas, nylon, polyester, and other similar materials. 

Though some tents are treated with a fire retardant at the manufacturing stage, this only slightly lowers the overall risk of combustion. 

If a tent makes contact with an open flame, it is going to burn! 

Therefore, for this reason alone, you should never burn candles in a tent.

Tents are not Well-Ventilated

Carbon Monoxide is a byproduct of combustion, and it’s very harmful to humans. Indeed, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause suffocation – and eventual death.

This is why burning candles in a tent is one of the foolish, fatal mistakes that rookie campers tend to make.

Be safe, be smart, and don’t burn candles (or anything else!) inside a tent.

Open flames are unsafe and hard to control

With a campfire burning, there really is no reason to require further light inside your tent!

However, if you find that you absolutely need light, a torch and plenty of batteries are a much better option. This source of light is much safer than an open flame and is foolproof to control. 

If you light a candle inside your tent and the material catches alight, it will be very difficult to put out.

Not only that, but you may also place the woods and everyone around you at severe risk of burning up in a wildfire.

Simply using a torch instead removes all of the risks, and therefore should be used instead of candlelight in any and all camping situations.

In Summary

There are so many ways in which you can heat up a tent.

Some ways are practical and efficient. This includes methods such as heating up hot water bottles, using padding and insulation, and wearing warm clothing.  

Combining the above methods helps to insulate both the tent and yourself against the loss of precious warmth. 

However, unsafe methods such as using candles create a huge amount of risk. 

At the end of the day, it’s totally up to you to decide how you want to stay warm in your tent. 

Keep this article in mind the next time you plan a camping trip, and both you and your tent will be prepared to safely withstand the elements while being as warm and comfortable as possible.

Mitch Taylor
With over 20 years experience with camping and hiking, I've taken it upon myself to share my insights. From common camping and hiking questions to gear recommendations, your adventure starts here.

1 thought on “How to Heat a Tent Without Electricity (Best Methods)”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: