Adventure doesn’t stop when the temps drop and the snow starts to fly. As a matter of fact, you have to be a lot more adventurous to take on those conditions. But with the change in environment, comes adaptability. So we ask, “What do you do to stay warm when Mother Nature is trying to turn you into a popsicle?”
Our method starts as any other. Layers! Layers of clothing and layers of insulation in your sleeping setup. We all know how to layer our clothing, so we’re not going to get into that right now. But staying warm while sleeping is where a lot of people have issues. So where to start? Well, a sleeping bag rated for the temps you’ll be in is a good place. However, that shouldn’t be your only line of defense. Our setup typically starts with a cheap Walmart quilt placed over the mattress in our RTT. This helps keep the cold air from the floor from permeating upward and keeps the heat you’ve generated laying on top of it from escaping through the floor. Then we have our sleeping bags. We just bought a pair of Kelty 15* for this season. But truth be told, last year we only had a pair of Ozark 30* bags. So how do you make your bag handle colder temps? Well you can spend the money and buy a liner, or you can do what we did and toss another cheap Walmart quilt on top of your bags. Now that you’re insulated in your bag, what about the air temp in the tent? It still gets plenty cold in there. Normally you’d just throw on a beanie and burry your head as far down into the opening of your bag as you can, right? But when camping with children, they don’t exactly sleep still. Matter of fact, if you’ve shared a tent with a few of them, then you’ve most likely experienced being hit and kicked throughout the night as you’ve tried to wrestle them back into their sleeping bags to keep them warm. So what’s the solution? Well, we’ve found 2 good ways to take care of this problem. The first is simple. Place an emergency blanket between the internal frame of the RTT and the ceiling fabric. This will create a radiant barrier that will aid in containing the heat in the tent and reflect it back downward. The second option, and actually works best when used along with the first option, is to use a Mr. Heater propane heater. But before we go further, this needs to be said.....
Caution: Using a propane burning heater should never be taken lightly. It should never be used anywhere near the Tent material or your sleeping bags! Always make sure to have adequate ventilation!
Now that we have that out of the way, we can continue. We have found the best solution for us is to install our RTT annex and place the Mr. Heater on a Ridgid case in the center of the floor of the annex. We run a propane hose from the heater out the door and to a propane tank. You can use either a 5lbs or 20lbs propane tank. The 1lbs propane tanks that are meant to be used with the heater do work, but you’ll most likely find the heater will run out of fuel in the middle of the night. With the heater running, the heat will rise up into the tent and keep you toasty warm. It’s besr to leave a window cracked open for ventilation and to help control condensation in the tent. One other thing we highly recommend is a good battery operated carbon monoxide detector. The Mr. Heater does have an auto shut down feature if the falls over or the oxygen levels get to low. But relying on that would be unwise as you will be above the heater and the levels may not be the same as down below where the heater is at. We usually place the detector by our pillows for the best monitoring.
That’s just a quick run through of our typical winter sleeping setup. Are these the best options for everyone? Well, that’s for you to decide. Hopefully you can take something away from these tips and it can help turn that frigid Forrest into a winter wonderland!