Living in a Wall Tent in Winter (How to Do It Without Freezing!)

family enjoying camping outside wall tent

Tents are often viewed as temporary shelters, accommodations we use when getting out camping for a weekend, setting off on a week-long hunting excursion or setting up for a couple of days of fun activities in the backyard. 

There is a segment of us, though, that enjoy using tents as semi-permanent homes, whether in the summer or colder months. 

Living in a canvas wall tent through the winter season presents some extra hurdles and requires a bit more planning than summer camping. From making sure that your space will be warm enough to keep your possessions dry and packing the necessary gear, there are some important preparations that go into comfortably and safely living outside in the winter in a tent.

When deciding on living outside for the duration of winter in a tent, it’s essential that you:

Choose the Right Tent

Not all tents are made to endure winter conditions, especially if you’re planning on doing it long-term. A tent that can survive the winter must be durable and insulating as well as water repellent to keep out moisture and condensation. 

Winter camping also requires more gear than you’d generally need in the warmer months, so a tent large enough to accommodate you and your gear comfortably is crucial. It’s much harder to dry clothing and towels in the winter, so it’s preferable to have enough space to keep everything that should stay dry inside the tent. 

An excellent option to cover all of these needs is a wall tent, like the ones we make at White Duck Outdoors. Wall tents are four-season tents because of how well they stand up to all kinds of weather conditions. 

They’re made from a durable, yet breathable 100% cotton canvas that serves as an excellent insulator, can be treated to be water repellent, fire retardant, and mold and mildew resistant. They have a built-in stove jack, which makes installing a stove that much easier, and are available in six sizes no matter how much gear you have or the size of your group, you’ll find a tent that’s right for you. 

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Pack the appropriate gear for winter living

Winter camping requires making sure you have some essential items to keep you not only comfortable but safe as well. 

  • A wood-burning tent stove is one of the most essential items needed to comfortably live in a wall tent in the winter. Not only does it provide you with heat, but it also allows your clothing, sleeping bag, and shoes to dry out daily while also providing you with a cooking surface. Tent stoves reduce or even eliminate most of the extra things that need to be taken while winter camping, including different methods for staying warm and dry as well as cooking and boiling water.
  • You won’t want to spend the winter in a tent without a sleeping mat. The mat will separate your sleeping bag from the floor, keeping you warmer while also keeping your sleeping bag dryer. Sleeping mats are also great to sit or stand on while hanging out inside your tent for an extra layer of separation from the cold ground. 
  • Cotton sleeping bags are a terrific way to sleep warmly at night, and they also feel a little more like home than synthetic sleeping bags! Cotton sleeping bags can have temperature ratings for however cold it gets where you live and often, you can connect more than one together to create larger sleeping space with a loved one or kids.

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Prepare the food you’ll need

The food you choose to have while living in a tent in winter should be based on convenience and efficiency. Consider the amenities you will have, the likely weather conditions, and the distance you need to carry everything. 

Canned foods are great if you’re able to drive close to your campsite. They are bulky and heavy, but will not spoil and are easy to heat on fire. Frozen meals as well as produce and meats that can be frozen are also great if you plan to camp in a snowy area as you can store them in the snow outside of your tent until you are ready. 

Try to make sure that everything is sealed properly so as to not attract any unwanted wild animals to your camp. Dehydrated foods are also a great option, especially if you plan to pack light. They will not spoil and they can provide all of your essential nutrients without all of the weight of regular food. 

No matter which route you go, remember that a sufficient caloric intake is essential in keeping you warm. The more your body needs to work to keep you warm, the more you’ll need to eat to help sustain that effort! 

people cooking while glamping

Take care of your tent in the winter

Taking care of your wall tent requires a few precautionary steps, particularly while camping in the wintertime. 

  • Brush fallen snow off your tent regularly. The snow that is left sitting on a tent can accumulate and become heavy, risking the chance of bending your frame or collapsing the tent. It can also soak through the fabric, causing your possessions to get wet and trigger the build-up of mold or mildew. Snow load management on your wall tent can be one of the most important ways of properly caring for it.
  • Use a fly sheet over the top of your tent to protect the fabric not only from heavy snowfall but also from harsh sunlight during the daytime in winter. A fly sheet can prevent snow from accumulating on the roof of your tent, which can help maintain the integrity of your canvas fabric, as well as the frame supporting it. 
  • Look out for any sharp corners or hot surfaces that may come in contact with your tent so as not to puncture, cut, or burn any holes into the fabric. It’s always smart to have a repair kit on you as well in case of accidents. 
  • Always dry your tent out completely before storage to prevent the growth of mold and mildew while it’s packed away. If you don’t have time to dry it before getting home, make sure to lay it out completely when you do get back so the fabric has a chance to dry.