How To Insulate Your Tent To Stay Warm Plus Winter Camping Tips

Even spending a cool spring night in your tent can get chilly, so learning how to insulate your tent is an important aspect of winter camping. 

As autumn gets colder and colder in Australia, I’ve been brushing up on all the ways I can insulate my tent effectively and stay warm through the nights. There’s a lot to go through, so I’ve saved you the trouble and compiled all the info in one place. 


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10 Camping Essentials – Camping Gear & Accessories

Camping essentials so you have fun camping so you go camping more!

  1. Matches, lighter or flint to get your campfire started so you are always prepared.
  2. Reusable water jerry can with tap. I love that this one is foldable yet still super strong. 
  3. Comfortable camping chair. This one has a cooler bag and cup holder to ensure you have a cool drink within arms reach so you can sit back and relax.
  4. Portable gas camp stove to cook or reheat your favorite camping meals and stay nourished.
  5.  Axe or tomahawk to cut wood for your camp fire. 
  6. Jaffle iron to make delicious pie’s, panini’s, toasted cheese sandwiches and more around your campfire
  7. Heavy-duty gloves for handling items on your BBQ, grill or firepit safely.
  8. A long-handled shovel has so many uses from digging your car out of it gets bogged to moving coals around in your camp fire.
  9. Waterproof, quick-pitch tent with plenty of space for your gear and to protect you from the rain.
  10. Dirty gear bag that fits over your spare wheel so you can take all your rubbish with you.

Why It’s Important To Insulate Your Tent In Winter

Many first-time campers focus more on wearing the right clothing rather than learning other ways to stay warm. While learning how to build a campfire is an essential survival skill, insulating your tent is equally important. Here are a few reasons why insulation is necessary:

  • Without insulating your tent, you run the risk of developing hypothermia.
  • You will be able to sleep better if your tent is relatively warm so you can wear more comfortable clothing at night.
  • Insulation helps cut down on your energy costs to stay warm in your tent during winter.

While it’s great to have an insulated tent that keeps the summer heat at bay, insulation is much more important for winter camping. 

How To Insulate Your Tent In Winter

It’s pretty easy to insulate your tent. You could buy tents with insulation, but it may not always be enough. In some climates, additional measures are necessary during the winter months. 

Think of insulating your tent as a joint effort between preventing heat loss into the ground and out of the tent walls. All while preventing wind and other extreme weather changes from affecting the temperature in your tent. You should also consider the type of tent you’re using, and where you decide to set up camp. 

I will get into the details of each method below.

4 Ways To Insulate The Ground

Heat escapes from your tent in many different ways. I believe it’s important to consider heat seeping out of your tent and into the cool ground. Luckily, it’s an easy problem to fix. 

Below are 5 easy ways you can add insulation between the ground and your tent:

1. Use A Tarp

Before setting up your tent, consider laying a heavy tarp underneath. The thick material of the tarp will act as a barrier between the cold, damp ground and the bedding in your tent. This is especially effective if you’re using a lightweight tent such as one that is suitable for backpacking.

Make sure the tarp is waterproof so that moisture from the ground doesn’t cool down your tent as well. It’s best to use a tarp that’s slightly smaller than your tent, or the same size at most. This is to prevent water from pooling between the tent floor and the tarp.

2. Use A Rug Or Sections Of Carpet

While a tarp is great at keeping moisture at bay, you may need a thicker material to insulate the ground. A rug or small carpet sections create a sturdier barrier against the cold, preventing heat loss from your tent. The thicker your carpet is, the more insulation it will provide.

3. Use Foam Padding

Want to add a layer of comfort and insulate your tent at the same time? Try using foam padding between the tarp on the ground and the tent. Foam padding is very soft, making it easier to sleep on. All the small air pockets in the foam create a strong insulating layer that will help warm up your tent. 

4. Use Ground Insulation

If you don’t have access to any of the insulating materials I’ve mentioned above, you can make your ground insulation from natural materials. Before setting up your tent, lay down a layer of ground insulation such as:

  • Grass
  • Dry leaves
  • Pine needles
  • Straw (if you can find it)

While this is a great trick when you’re in a pinch, I must warn you that sleeping on a layer of dry leaves may not be the most comfortable experience.

Block The Wind

Ambient temperature is not the only factor that causes you to feel cold during the winter. Wind chill contributes greatly to perceived temperature, whereby you can feel colder when there is more wind. This is because the wind causes heat loss from your skin. Similarly, the wind will cause significant heat loss from your tent, rendering any heating methods less effective.

Below are two methods you can use to block the wind from cooling your tent:

Using Snow

For centuries, the Inuit have used blocks made of snow to build Igloos and block the wind. Drawing from the same principles, you can use snow to create a windbreak. The easiest method is to find a spot with loosely packed (soft) snow, such as the lee side of a hill.

Pack the soft snow into blocks and build a wall on the wind side of your tent. Make sure to build the wall around a metre in length, to ensure you have enough protection without the risk of the wall falling over. 

Once your wall is built, you can add a layer of snow for more insulation.

igloo. Use snow to build a snowbreak to insulate tent

Using Windbreakers

Camping can be exhausting, especially for a beginner. Consider buying a windbreaker instead of building one out of snow. You can find windbreakers in most camping stores. They are typically made of sturdy material and come with poles to support the windbreakers properly. 

Note that this option is slightly more costly because you will have to invest in purchasing a windbreaker instead of depending on what mother nature gives you for free. 

Choose The Right Tent

One thing you will learn once you go camping a few times is to always be prepared.

Choosing a better tent for yourself before you go out winter camping can make a huge difference in your experience. 

To choose the right tent for winter camping, consider the following two factors:


Generally speaking, a smaller tent will keep you warmer compared to a larger tent because big tents provide more space for air to circulate. The air also loses heat more easily.

Remember that heat loss will cause the temperature to drop in your tent, so choose a small tent to prevent heat loss.


As I’ve mentioned earlier, you can buy tents that are specifically made for winter camping. This type of tent will typically have a layer of thermal insulation. Some tents are advertised as 4-season tents, so they can handle extreme weather–hot or cold. 

However, you should know that 4-season tents are the perfect solution for all climates. In extreme cold, you may need added measures to stay warm. 

choose a small tent to stay warm

Set Up Camp In The Right Spot

Even more important than insulating your tent, you should learn to set up your tent in the right spot. Here are a few tips that will help you find the right spot for winter camping:

  • Pick places with a natural windbreak.
  • Do not camp in low areas such as a valley floor to avoid cold air flowing towards your campsite.
  • Try to find a spot that would get more sunlight during the earlier hours of the morning. 

Covering The Tent

You can also cover your tent to instantly add a layer of insulation. However, keep in mind that you still need some ventilation inside the tent to avoid moisture accumulation and to allow you to breathe more easily. So, make sure to leave any air vents uncovered.

Use a Space Blanket

Also known as a thermal blanket, a space blanket is made of thin, low-weight, reflective material that is designed to prevent heat loss. You can cover your tent in the winter to help insulate the walls by effectively preventing heat loss. 

Other Winter Camping Tips

Even after you’ve successfully insulted your tent, it may not be quite enough for some climates. To have the most comfortable camping experience, here are a few more tips you might consider:

Use A Winter Sleeping Bag

The light sleeping bag you’ve been using during the summer won’t provide enough warmth for winter camping. I highly recommend that you purchase a winter sleeping bag for the colder months. It would typically be bulkier, and it is designed to keep you warm in sub-zero temperatures. 

Use A Hot Water Bottle

You’ll be surprised at how much warmth a simple hot water bottle will bring to your tent. Keep it under your blankets, or even stick it in your sleeping bag. If your tent is properly insulated, that added warmth will go a long way. 

hot water bottle to heat a tent

Warm Yourself With Heat Packs

You can use heat packs to keep your body warm, even if you don’t have access to fuel to boil water for hot water bottles. Try getting reusable heat packs if you can, as they are more environmentally friendly.

Wear Thermals

Even if you’re more comfortable wearing lighter pajamas to bed, consider wearing thermal clothing to help lock in the heat. Thermals are typically worn underneath your pajamas or other clothing to prevent heat loss from your body and allow you to feel warmer. 

Wear Something On Your Head

You’ve probably heard your mother tell you dozens of times to put on a hat before you walk out the door during the winter. Well, to stay warm while winter camping, you should wear a beanie even when you sleep.

Use A Safe Tent Heater

A tent heater is a necessary investment if you plan on going winter camping in regions with extremely cold weather. Even if your tent isn’t perfectly insulated, a tent heater will provide enough heat to compensate for any heat loss. 

How To Insulate Your Tent FAQs

What Is The Best Material To Insulate A Tent?

Reflective materials such as space blankets or reflective foam are the best materials to insulate a tent.

How Do You Insulate A Tent Floor For Winter?

Use a tarp, foam padding, or even natural materials such as pine needles and straw to insulate a tent floor for winter. 

Do Tents Protect From Cold?

Only winter tents and 4-season tents will provide some protection against the cold, but no tent will be warm enough alone. 

Are Insulated Tents Worth It?

Yes, insulated tents are worth the investment if you intend to go winter camping often. 

Can You Survive Winter In A Tent?

Using the correct winter camping tricks, you can survive winter in a tent. You can make it if you build a campfire, insulate your tent, and stay away from avalanches or wind. 

Final Thoughts On How To Insulate Your Tent

Hopefully, you no longer need to wonder how to insulate your tent. Insulation is a crucial part of winter camping to help keep you comfortable. Once you’ve mastered this skill, you can enjoy the outdoors even in the coldest climates.

For more camping articles check out this page.

2 thoughts on “How To Insulate Your Tent To Stay Warm Plus Winter Camping Tips”

  1. Pingback: Best 4 Person Tents Australia (Most Spacious & Lightweight) - Five Star Campers

  2. Pingback: Do I Need A Tarp Under My Tent? Pros, Cons And Alternatives - Five Star Campers

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