extreme cold

Extreme Cold When Camping – Tips For Surviving Cold Nights

In this article, I would like to show you how you can sleep in a tent or rooftop tent even in extreme temperatures. Nothing is worse than freezing at night and then not being able to sleep.

There are a few important tips and tricks that you should definitely keep in mind if you want to camp in colder temperatures. But even in spring or autumn, it can get very cold at night, so it is important that you prepare yourself for possibly very cold nights.

The most important thing is that you have a good sleeping bag and a good sleeping pad with you to use in case of a very cold night.

“Anyone who freezes in their sleeping bag has done something wrong”

“The most important thing is a warm sleeping pad and warm sleeping bag”

Ideal is sleeping pads with at least 1.2 inches thick solid foam! It doesn’t matter whether you sleep in the ground tent or in the rooftop tent. The cold usually comes from below. You should therefore insulate the floor against the cold as much as possible.


But if you only have a thin sleeping pad, you should put clothes and empty pack sacks underneath to insulate the floor.

You should also not put things that are sensitive to moisture, such as a camera bag, provisions bag, or even an empty rucksack, at the head and foot end: so that the sleeping bag does not hit the tent walls and get wet. A lot of condensation forms on the inside of the tent, especially on cold nights.

Warning: Never use a gas heater or open flame in the ground tent or rooftop tent. The resulting carbon monoxide is very toxic. Combustion also removes the oxygen from the tent.

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If you want to position a heater in the tent, you should only use an electric heater in the tent. But you should also be very careful with electric heaters, as a heater can always cause a fire hazard.

The most important tips for camping in cold weather

There is a lot you can do to not freeze in the tent or rooftop tent even in cold weather. Here I would like to show you the best tips to be able to sleep comfortably even at low temperatures.

Even if it is relatively warm outside during the day, the nights can get very cold, especially in spring or autumn. Therefore, you should always prepare for an eventual cold night.

Especially when you are traveling with the rooftop tent, you can store certain things in the vehicle that will help you to survive cold nights.

Create a warm-lying surface

Air mattresses reach their limits in frost, whereas sleeping pads made of solid foam (>1.2 inches) or with down filling keep you warm even when the temperature is well below zero.

So you should take a good and sufficiently thick sleeping pad with you. These insulating sleeping pads are slightly more expensive and heavier than air mattresses, but they keep you warm when it’s cold.

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Shake up the sleeping bag

Spread out your sleeping bag long before bedtime. To allow the filling to unfold – which is particularly important with down models – shake the sleeping bag up and place it where there is plenty of space.

You will also find many sleeping bags that are particularly well-insulated and are also especially suitable for colder temperatures. Of course, these sleeping bags are a bit more expensive than normal sleeping bags, but they are worth it on cold nights in the tent!

Prepare a hot water bottle

A hot water bottle works wonders in the cold. In the evening, fill a hot water bottle or thermos flask with boiling water. You can make the hot water on the campfire, for example, or with a small electric kettle.


If you get cold at night, you can simply take the hot-water bottle or thermos flask with you in your sleeping bag.

Put on pajamas

Socks, long underwear, and thin gloves increase the warmth of your sleeping bag and protect it from skin oils. In the various online shops, you can also buy special outdoor pajamas that insulate you even better against the cold.

Use ticking

A silk ticking weighs approximately 100 grams and increases warmth by 41°F (5°C). A »Vapor Barrier Liner« brings even more. The airtight liner protects the sleeping bag from perspiration and loss of insulation.

Close the sleeping bag up to the top

So that the air that has been laboriously warmed up by the body does not escape with every movement, you should close the thermal collar of the sleeping bag (if available) and pull the hood as far as possible.

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The floor insulation

Whether bivouac in the open air or in a tent: if you set up your camp on moss, leaves, or a meadow, you will lie softer and benefit from the low heat dissipation there: the ground contributes to insulation. Unlike snow and rock

Wind and trees

Set up your tent in a wind-protected place – and if there is no threat of storm, snow, or rain, under trees. But watch out for snowfall!

Likewise, if you are traveling with a rooftop tent, you should park your vehicle as sheltered from the wind as possible.

Eat and drink

If you stop drinking an hour before you go to bed, you increase the chance of not having to go out at night. And if you put a muesli bar in your sleeping den, you’ll have something to bite into when you’re hungry from the cold: fuel for the body’s own heating system.


It is also very helpful if you eat a lot, so your body has a lot of energy that it can use at night and thus generate heat from the inside.

Shoes in the tent, clothes in the bag

Stow moisture-sensitive clothing in waterproof bags and put them in the inner tent or even in the sleeping bag – if there is space for it. If the shoes are in the inner tent, no snow can blow in.

If you follow all of these tips, you shouldn’t freeze in the tent even on cold nights. The most important thing is that you prepare well and take the right equipment with you. Even if it is relatively warm during the day, it can get very cold at night!