Just because you’re roughing it in the great outdoors, doesn’t mean that you can’t be comfortable right? For many campers, the luxuries of an expensive RV or travel trailer are the stuff that dreams are made of. For others, tent camping is not a matter of limited funds, but a way of life. Whatever your situation, we’ve compiled a few tips through the years that might just make your camping tent a little more comfortable the next time you’re in the woods.
First and foremost, the number one mistake that I see newbies make is in choosing where they pitch their tent. I don’t care how comfortable of a sleeping pad you have, if you place your tent on rocky, uneven ground, chances are you’re not gonna get a very good night sleep.
If you think there’s more to making your tent feel more like home, then you would be right. Keep reading to find out everything that we’ve learned that will help make your tents as comfortable as can be.
1. Choose a Good Place to Pitch Your Tent
As I mentioned before, the most important thing to remember when tent camping is to choose a good place to pitch your tent!
The location needs to be flat and free from debris, such as small sticks, rocks, stumps, and depressions in the ground.
You also want to try and choose a spot that sits higher than the surrounding area. This is vital if you think that you could be getting some rain. If your tent is in a low-lying area and it rains, you could be in for a wet ride,as all the water will accumulate in the lowest lying area, which just happens to be where you decided to pitch your tent.
Another thing to consider is shade! If you’re camping in the summer months, it’s a good idea to find an area with lots of shade. I’m not saying that you should pitch your tent deep in the surrounding woods, as this could invite mosquitoes and other bugs to feast on you. I am saying to look for a tree that can provide adequate shade for you and your tent.
A good way to get some extra shade is to get a tarp that’s big enough to cover the tent you are using and tie it off to some trees just above your tent. The image above illustrates how this is done.
Also, never pitch your tent close to a river, lake, or other body of water, especially in the south as alligators like to do their hunting at night. Water also attracts mosquitoes and other animals looking for a cool drink.
2. Invest in The Right Size Tent
Another tip that can make for an uncomfortable tent camping experience is the size of your tent. Although your tent may be rated to sleep 4, that doesn’t mean that you should try and fit four adults in it for the night. I wouldn’t even attempt to try and sleep two adults and two kids in it.
You’re just not going to be very comfortable cramped up for the night!
I feel that a good rule-of-thumb is to always go up in size by two from the number of people that will actually be sleeping in the tent. So if you have four people using the same tent, then I recommend opting for a tent that is rated to sleep at least six adults.
If you can afford it and have a little extra room to spare, I would even go a size bigger. Most of today’s tents are pretty easy to set up, regardless of how big they are, so the ease of setting up and taking down your tent shouldn’t be too much of a deal breaker if you do want to go bigger.
Going up in size will ensure that everyone has plenty of room and hopefully gets a good night’s sleep.
3. Buy a Good Quality Sleeping Pad
I don’t like air mattresses! I never have and I never will. I know thy’re expensive as all get out, but if you can spring it, I highly recommend that you go with a memory foam sleeping pad rather than your traditional air mattress.
I would honestly rather sleep in my sleeping bag directly on the ground before I use an air mattress, but that’s just me.
You can expect to pay more for a good quality foam sleeping pad, but hey…you really can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep. There’s nothing worse than waking up away from home with a crick in your back because the air mattress went a little flat sometime in the middle of the night. Take it from me, a sore neck or back can really put a damper on all the fun you had planned for the day.
The sleeping pad that we like is the Teton Sports Universal Camping Pad. It’s lightweight and pretty affordable compared to some of the other foam sleeping pads on the market. It’s lightweight, weighing in at only 6 lbs. It also comes in three sizes and rolls up to save space.
4. Reduce The Sights and Sounds When Sleeping
Awe, the relaxing sounds of nature…not! That is, not while you’re trying to get some sleep. Have you ever heard the sounds of raccoons nearby, or the screeches of a hoot owl hunting for its next victim? Or worse, the sounds that you have no idea what they are.
While it can be important hear what’s going on around you, especially if you’re camping deep in bear country, being able to shut out the sights and sounds of nature is a must if you expect to get any sleep.
It’s a good idea to bring ear plugs and a sleeping mask. You may even want to bring a battery powered radio. This can drown out the noises, while at the same time, allowing you to hear what’s going on outside your tent.
5. Keep The Outside, Outside
There is nothing worse than getting ready to climb in the bed for the night when you realize there’s a mountain of sand on your expensive foam memory pad.
My wife and I have a rule when we go tent camping with the kids and that is that all dirtiness stays outside until clean and that includes shoes, clothes, toys, and yes even kids.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of sand and other stuff that somehow finds its way into your tent if you’re not careful.
Something that we use at the beach and just started using it on our camping trips is a sandfree mat. While not perfect, it does help reduce the amount of sand that comes into the tent. We’ve found that the CGear Sand-Free MultiMat does a pretty good job at keeping the sand out of our tents.
Another thing that you may want to do is close your tent when no one’s in it. This has never happened to me, but I’ve heard stories about campers who leave their tents open, only to come back to a raccoon rummaging through their stuff, or worse, a snake making itself at home under your covers.
6. Bring Your Pillows From Home
When you go on a normal vacation, do you bring your own pillows? I know my family and I do. There’s just something about laying your head down on your own pillow. I don’t know why, but I’d much rather sleep on my flat, worn out pillow than a hotels brand new plush Serta pillow.
Camping is no exception! Anytime we go camping, whether it be for a few days or a whole week, we always bring our own pillows.
7. Plan for The Weather
Nothing can ruin a camping trip worse than the weather! Anytime you’re thinking of spending time outdoors, checking the weather should be a top priority, especially when tent camping.
If it looks like there’s a good chance that it could rain, it might be best to plan for another time. Wetness can make life miserable in a tent.
If you see that the temperatures are going to be on the chilly side, especially at night, plan on bringing extra blankets, or even a heavy duty sleeping bag specifically made for cold weather camping.
They also make small heaters just for tents! The Mr. Heater is a small compact portable propane heater that is approved for tent camping. It’s small, lightweight, and can heat an area of 250 sq ft with no problem. It even has a safety feature that will automatically turn the heater off if it tips over.
On the flip side, if you see you’re in for a scorcher, it might be a good idea to invest in a small battery operated fan. If you happen to be camping next to a power source, you could also opt for a small portable ac unit.
For for the most part, a fan works just fine for us, as we live in Florida and only go camping in the winter months.
Making the most of your time in the woods is important, especially if it’s family bonding time with the wife and kids. Learning how to make your camping tent more comfortable can really ensure a great camping experience.
While these tips will not guarantee a great camping trip, they can help ensure that your time spent in your tent will be just a little more comfy.