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fgoodwin

Heating Your Tent

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Heating Your Tent

 

http://www.outdoorplaces.com/gear/equipment/heat/index.html

 

As the temperature continues to drop and winter creeps closer the urge to go camping starts to wane with the thoughts of twenty-degree mornings. Your down or Polargard mummy bag will keep you toasty warm, but you're going to have to get out of that bag and get dressed sooner or later, and having to get dressed when you can see your breath is not exactly the best experience camping has to offer.

 

Of course a roaring fire and a good sleeping bag aren't the only ways to stay warm. If you are sleeping in a tent it is important to have a barrier between you and the ground. Although air mattresses and inflatable sleeping pads are convenient, they aren't going to insulate you well if the temperature drops below 40 degrees. As a matter of fact, they can start sucking the heat away from you. A foam sleeping pad will provide the best insulation, and when combined with an air mattress the most comfort. Wearing socks and a hat will also help keep you warm while you are in your tent.

 

Until recently your choices for having a heater in your tent were pretty limited. Even putting a candle in a jar with holes punched in the lid is outright dangerous. If you were lucky enough to have electricity at your campsite, a rare find at public campgrounds, you could use a small electric space heater. That came with a number of potential complications including the risk of burning your tent down, or nasty electrical shocks. The best way to get warm really came down to how quickly you could get a fire started when you woke up in the morning. Recent advances in technology have changed this.

 

Gas catalytic heaters have been around for a long time and have been used by shipping companies, cargo ships and the military to keep men and material warm. Size restrictions, technology barriers and weight have kept this technology out of civilian hands, but not anymore. Coleman now offers a line of catalytic heaters that are safe to use in an enclosed area, and are made specifically for car camping when things get cold.

 

Removing the 3.75 pound unit from the box, it doesn't look like it could heat much, but good things can come in small, inexpensive packages. When connected to a standard propane cylinder (those green canisters you can find just about anywhere) all you need to do is push a button. Suddenly 3,000 BTU's of radiant heat flow from the Coleman BlackCat. It really is amazing how quickly the BlackCat can warm up a six to ten man tent.

 

Of course in our proud litigious society the product doesn't come without a long list of disclaimers. After reading the instructions and all of the ominous warnings you may be scared to use the BlackCat at all. It comes down to following two golden rules, keep everything at least two feet away, and provide at least six square inches of ventilation.

 

Because the BlackCat doesn't have an open flame, it has a very limited ability to set things spontaneously on fire. That doesn't mean that you can't get into trouble. Anything that gets to close for to long can melt and items that are readily flammable can be ignited. We recommend placing it on top of a cooler so it is safely off of the floor of your tent. If you're going to use a catalytic heater while you're sleeping (this is NOT recommended), make sure when you roll around that your bag or you skin won't come in contact with the heating element. You're better off using the heater to warm things up before going to bed and warming things up when you wake up in the morning.

 

One of the biggest limitations to having any heater in a tent is the issue of having to keep a safe perimeter around it, and the BlackCat won't work well in the cramped conditions of a two-man tent. We don't think many backpackers would use the BlackCat anyway. Although it is very light for the amount of heat it produces, we don't recommend throwing a catalytic heater into your backpack.

 

Because the BlackCat is flameless, it doesn't produce huge amounts of Carbon Monoxide, a silent and deadly killer. That doesn't mean you don't have to have any ventilation for your tent. When you are camping you should always leave a vent or window open to allow moisture and stale air to flow out. In the end things will be warmer by removing some of the natural dampness that builds up through the night. If you seal off your tent completely, you can run a risk of exposing yourself to dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide. What makes Carbon Monoxide so dangerous is the first symptom is losing your ability to reason, and things quickly go downhill from there.

 

Recently Coleman has added a new heater to the lineup, the self-contained PowerCat. Using the same catalytic technology as the BlackCat, the PowerCat produces the same 3,000 BTU's of warmth, but it offers other improvements. A fan can be run to help circulate the warmed air, powered by two D cell batteries. The portable unit uses an eight-ounce fuel cell instead of the standard issue green propane canisters, although more convenient to carry, they can be more problematic to find.

 

The bottom line is if you are going to use a heater in your tent you should be extremely careful. Powerful heaters made by Century and others aren't designed for the enclosed space of a tent, electric heaters can also be dangerous, assuming you can even find a place to plug it in. If you do want to explore heating your tent you should take a long look at the newest line of catalytic heaters. Efficient and safe, when used properly they can take the chill out of the air, and make getting out of the sleeping bag just a little bit easier. The other benefit is they can help you squeeze a few more weeks of camping out of the season, before the snow starts to fly.

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Since I have aged a little, I use a cot. I place an old blanket on the cot then a space blanket then my bag. The old blanket provides a little cushion & the space blanket reflects my body heat back to me. In the winter, I always wear a tossle cap to bed & the last thing off my body before I zip us my bag is my socks. Toasty!

 

I don't like heaters in tents, either.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Thumbs down from me too. Risky and unnecessary. The best way to achieve that level of comfort is to get a room or stay home. Don't plan on camping with this unit.

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I read somewhere about bringing an empty coffee can on campouts and putting a couple of rocks the size of a fist that have been heated in a campfire in the can as a safe way to heat a tent.

 

Does anyone have any experience with this? Safe or not safe? Effective or ineffective?

 

 

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You don't heat tents. Flame and tents don't go together. Hot rocks don't hold that much heat and can risk melting nylon and polyester. Also, just about any additional heat will only encourage condensation on the tent walls which is not a good thing and can literally soak your gear as the sun warms up the tent during the day. You may even be better off opening up the tent's windows at night to allow plenty of ventilation.

 

You need to have a good sleeping bag, a hat, and very dry jammies. There will be a bit of coldness when first sliding into the sleeping bag, but soon enough you'll be plenty warm.

 

I've seen some debate as to whether you should have a snack before bedtime to keep the metabolism running. I tend to think this is more a matter of personal preference. I tend to try not to drink too much just before going to bed in order to avoid a cold trip to the latrine in the middle of the night since I have yet to feel comfortable using a pee-bottle at night.

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So far my 2 inch thick Thermarest has done well down to 20 deg, would put a closed cell foam mat underneath it for colder weather.

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They don't have open flames, the heat sourse is contained inside the container, it doeasn't openly burn to the naked eye, but in the total dark they glow red and will burn you if you touch it.

 

You don't need heat to sleep anyway, We have camped in our Eureka tents down to -35 degrees. Its not the sleeping, its that emergency call of nature at 2am thats a killer or when you have to get. For that I have used a propane lantern to break the chill then turned it off before moving about.

 

Ya just have to be TOUGH!!

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nldscout - Eureka tents down to -35????? You must mean centigrade. I have trouble if the temp gets below 20F. Not keeping myself warm mind you, but my tent poles crack and split (are not pliable) if the temp gets much below 15F - 20F. Wrong tent?

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Acco,

-35 F not Centigrade. Once you got ibn the Bag it was fine, it was at 5 am when I had to answer nature that it was tough.

 

yes, even though manufacturers say fiberglass poles are good in cold, they aren't. Fortunatly Eureka's have aluminum poles.

 

The second night was in Igloo's which was much better.

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fgoodwin,

C'mon, heating a tent?

Electric space heaters? Are you for real?

 

Evmori has a great suggestion with the foam pad and a space blanket.

 

I recommend sleeping in as few clothes as possible because of the perspiration and condensation which make you colder if you sleep in clothes.

 

You might also try having your rain poncho handy on cold nights. If you really feel cold, drape your poncho over your sleeping bag, it will help contain some of your body heat and also keep you warm.

 

You said: The bottom line is if you are going to use a heater in your tent you should be extremely careful.

The bottom line really is no heaters or flames in tents. Here's a suggestion to get warm and stay warm in cold weather camping: Wear a coat once you're outside.

 

nldscout, (and the rest of you) you should know better than to use a lantern in a tent. You wouldn't let a scout light a lantern in a tent, would you?

 

(This message has been edited by Gonzo1)

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Goretex outerwear? For sissies

Thermarest pads? Wimps

Under Armor? For weaklings!

Internal frame packs? Wusses

GPS? Fuggedaboudit

 

How in the world did we ever get away from sleeping on the ground in a floorless pup-tent?

 

Its been all downhill ever since . . .

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fgoodwin,

Goretex outerwear? For sissies

No, Goretex is great to stop the wind, but doesn't keep you warm, jacket liner will.

 

Thermarest pads? Wimps

I think you'll be warmer on the ground because the air gets colder than the ground

 

Under Armor? For weaklings!

I don't know, never tried it. Polypropylene garments are great, and warm

 

Internal frame packs? Wusses

I prefer external frame

 

GPS? Fuggedaboudit

I suppose that's "progress"

 

How in the world did we ever get away from sleeping on the ground in a floorless pup-tent?

All in the name of progress.

 

Its been all downhill ever since

I think more things are going down hill.

 

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