Tent heating ideas for winter camping?

eatSleepWoof

Explorer
Looking for sources/ideas for various portable heaters (for winter camping). Temperatures down to as low as -25C.

I'm aware of Planar diesel heaters, as well as the endless Chinese clones. Also aware of Propex kits from Adventure Trailers in the US. I'm not looking to spend what these options are asking for.

Specifically interested in dry-air heat (ie. no Propane Buddy heaters), or other methods of keeping comfortably warm.

Are there other ready-to-go options that I'm missing which would be suitable for a tailer-mounted RTT? Tent is a FreeSpirit Recreation M60 Adventure Series. I'm aware of FSR's insulated Tri-Layer fabric option, but it's fairly expensive and tough to justify for two-three winter camping trips per year.

Current plan is to install some of the pink home insulation panels on both the interior of the RTT (I figure I get away with 1/2"-1" of insulation there) and on the bottom (1" will be an easy fit). This should give me around R7-R9 of insulation, depending on the products used. I'll also remove the current tent mattress, and replace it with the (slightly smaller) Exped Megamat Duo LW (which I already have); that's another R9 worth of insulation. Then I'll get sleeping bags rated to -30C, and leave the current 100%-down comforter on top. That should provide & retain plenty of warmth in the sleeping bags, but it would be great to have some warm air around the bags, too.

Any cost-effective ideas?
 

AbleGuy

[Back] Roads Scholar
Wow, you certainly are planning on some cold weather camping!

Are you mostly looking to heat up the RTT? That seems like pretty tight confines for finding the safe extra room to add any more heating gear up there. And anything that requires combustion probably is going to create a bit of a net gain computation, due to CO venting needs. This is going to be an interesting challenge.

If you want to consider a cheap, effective old school way of adding some extra warmth on those coldest nights when you’re in the bags (yeah, I know you did refer to “having some warm air around the bags”), you also might consider the use of hot water bottles. They’re surprisingly effective, but of course in those temperatures you’d have to keep the water for them from freezing during the daytime.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
more flames is more heat ouput, dunno bout those candle lanterns.. would be worth a shot for sure since you got it tho.
I had like 4 unscented emergency candles that burn for days, bunched together to feed off eachother.. other than dealing w/open flame it was rather good and cheap, pot was to catch the wax and tossed some rocks in it to give it a nice low CG that wouldent flip over if kicked.. used it before I had kids/dogs, but not much since due to the risk.. now I prefer the furnace for the winter.
 

eatSleepWoof

Explorer
Dug out the candle, complete with the semi-custom heat-shield/deflector, and hung it up above my work desk in the office. Testing... for science! Bought this thing years ago but never used it.



Maybe a small IR heater running off generator/battery?
No batteries in the tent just yet. From a quick looksie, it seems IR heaters draw a fair bit of current, so even if I did have batteries, they wouldn't last long with that kind of use.

Wow, you certainly are planning on some cold weather camping!

Are you mostly looking to heat up the RTT? That seems like pretty tight confines for finding the safe extra room to add any more heating gear up there. And anything that requires combustion probably is going to create a bit of a net gain computation, due to CO venting needs. This is going to be an interesting challenge.

If you want to consider a cheap, effective old school way of adding some extra warmth on those coldest nights when you’re in the bags (yeah, I know you did refer to “having some warm air around the bags”), you also might consider the use of hot water bottles. They’re surprisingly effective, but of course in those temperatures you’d have to keep the water for them from freezing during the daytime.
Done it before (same temps) in a hardshell RTT with no heating, and that was... an interesting experience. This time around I definitely want to be better prepared.

I figure I can hang the above-mentioned candle off the tent's roof hooks. It does seem that candles give off some CO, but it's a very small amount, and likely to not be a problem. I did order a battery-powered CO2 detector just in case. Finding a balance between venting CO and keeping heat in will be a challenge, yeah.

Hot water bottles in the sleeping bags is a tried & tested method that we do use. At this point I'm trying to see if it's possible to heat the air around/outside the sleeping bags.
 
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AbleGuy

[Back] Roads Scholar
Dug out the candle, complete with the semi-custom heat-shield/deflector, and hung it up above my work desk in the office. Testing... for science! Bought this thing years ago but never used it.





No batteries in the tent just yet. From a quick looksie, it seems IR heaters draw a fair bit of current, so even if I did have batteries, they wouldn't last long with that kind of use.



Done it before (same temps) in a hardshell RTT with no heating, and that was... an interesting experience. This time around I definitely want to be better prepared.

I figure I can hang the above-mentioned candle off the tent's roof hooks. It does seem that candles give off some CO2, but it's a very small amount, and likely to not be a problem. I did order a battery-powered CO2 detector just in case. Finding a balance between venting CO2 and keeping heat in will be a challenge, yeah.

Hot water bottles in the sleeping bags is a tried & tested method that we do use. At this point I'm trying to see if it's possible to heat the air around/outside the sleeping bags.
Sounds like you’ve had some great adventures. I admire anyone who continues to camp in the cold days of winter, and welcome shared tips on dealing with extreme temperatures.

Just FWIW, I once had a single candle lantern like the one in your photo, and the darn thing dripped wax down on me much worse than I’d expected. I suppose you’ve test driven yours tho.

One more thing...with the battery powered CO detector....you might know to be careful in spraying any aerosols near it (deodorant, bug spray, fart deodorizers, perfume, etc.) as that can make them malfunction and unreliable. High humidity in a confined space can also make the CO alarms malfunction.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
CO2, Carbon Dioxide is not CO, Carbon Monoxide.. yes, everything that consumes oxygen produces CO2, mostly you and your lungs.. its not a worry in a tent of burning up all the oxygen, not unless you put a giant plastic bag over it.. you watch Apollo 13? That CO2 scrubber they made was because they were in a sealed box consuming compressed oxygen.. your insulation would have to be pretty badass to be anywhere near spacecraft airtight.

A candle not burning well would create some CO, but none of that would ever reach dangerous concentrations in anything but a small airtight vessel.
 
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eatSleepWoof

Explorer
Thinking all this over, I may actually give the small buddy heater a shot. Should be able to secure it in the tent, and inside some kind of metal container. Will leave a few windows open for ventilation, and that just may be the simple/cheap solution.

Sounds like you’ve had some great adventures. I admire anyone who continues to camp in the cold days of winter, and welcome shared tips on dealing with extreme temperatures.

Just FWIW, I once had a single candle lantern like the one in your photo, and the darn thing dripped wax down on me much worse than I’d expected. I suppose you’ve test driven yours tho.

One more thing...with the battery powered CO detector....you might know to be careful in spraying any aerosols near it (deodorant, bug spray, fart deodorizers, perfume, etc.) as that can make them malfunction and unreliable. High humidity in a confined space can also make the CO alarms malfunction.
The potential for wax drip is one of the reasons I'm testing the candle right now. If I need to enclose the candle in something that would catch wax, I want to find that out right now :).

I'm in a roughly 100sq/ft room with 9ft ceilings, and I think I feel some warmth from the candle. A ~35 sq/ft RTT w/ 4ft ceilings should be even better. Maybe I'll try it in a small bathroom next time.

Did not know about the aerosols factor. Will keep that in mind, thank you!

CO2, Carbon Dioxide is not CO, Carbon Monoxide.. yes, everything that consumes oxygen produces CO2, mostly you and your lungs.. its not a worry in a tent of burning up all the oxygen, not unless you put a giant plastic bag over it.. you watch Apollo 13? That CO2 scrubber they made was because they were in a sealed box consuming compressed oxygen.. your insulation would have to be pretty badass to be anywhere near spacecraft airtight.

A candle not burning well would create some CO, but none of that would ever reach dangerous concentrations in anything but a small airtight vessel.
My mistake. Meant to write CO, but finger muscle memory took over. Corrected my last post.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
The Buddy will get the air toasty fast when needed.

Don't use overnight though.

For that step up to the Chinese Planar clones, become an expert on parts & service got a new sideline hustle :cool:
 

chet6.7

Explorer
I tried a UCO single candle lantern,it didn't do much,added 3 more candles in cat food tins.I don't remember the results,around six degrees over a few hours as I think I may remember it. :confused:
I was using UCO beeswax candles,I had to relight them several times.
Amazon sells out of the big UCO before the holidays,so keep that in mind if you want one.
This guy did a couple if mods and recorded his results.
 

Grassland

Active member
Right on another person speaking metric
-25c is about is cold as we will camp in field made shelters. Bags and ground mat are important, and we use facemasks to keep noses warm. I sleep poorly, as my nose hairs still frost up and tickle my brain.

We have graduated to a surveyor tent and wood stove to compensate, but can't snowshoe with all that stuff.

CO alarm is wise for any fuel burning in a confined space, so good work getting one of those ordered. Id personally try the 3 candle burner if you can suspend it safely out of the way. Your space is small.
Condensation is also likely to be a problem with the set up you are describing. Not sure how to deal with that.
 

TantoTrailers

Active member
My buddy made himself a stove tent and I just tough it out in the rustic trailer. Have to run my exhaust fan with a window cracked to not have the entire inside soaked with condensation anytime after it drops to below 50 outside. The pic is before I had my awning and it dumped a good amount on us overnight, my buddy slept in shorts on his cot, my trailer was 34* at face level. I will be testing a rocket stove idea on the outside of my trailer this winter. Snow camping is a blast, wear snowboard boots and bring fun tools.

B05BE424-18E3-4A3C-B6AE-5ADB809F27A9.jpeg

9CEE7300-824B-4A0C-822B-ECDEB198339C.jpeg

This is what I’m thinking for the rocket stove:
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Wow, you certainly are planning on some cold weather camping!

Are you mostly looking to heat up the RTT? That seems like pretty tight confines for finding the safe extra room to add any more heating gear up there. And anything that requires combustion probably is going to create a bit of a net gain computation, due to CO venting needs. This is going to be an interesting challenge.

If you want to consider a cheap, effective old school way of adding some extra warmth on those coldest nights when you’re in the bags (yeah, I know you did refer to “having some warm air around the bags”), you also might consider the use of hot water bottles. They’re surprisingly effective, but of course in those temperatures you’d have to keep the water for them from freezing during the daytime.
Old timers tossed rocks in the fire pit. Wrapped them in newspaper at bed time and put them in the bottom of their sleeping bags. Worked till 3am then you woke up freezing lol
 
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