Who says tent camping can’t be comfortable? While I love backpacking, mountaineering, and ultralight climbing trips into the mountains, some of my favorite camping trips have been glamping adventures at frontcountry campgrounds. Being able to enjoy the outdoors during the day and relax in style at night while in camp is a fantastic way to spend time in nature.
Turning your tent into a full-on glamping getaway doesn’t have to be difficult, though. With the right gear and know-how, anyone can turn their camping set up into a luxurious abode in the outdoors. Here’s several top camping hacks to make your tent the coziest place on earth during your next trip.
21 ways to make your camping tent more comfortable:
1. Take Your Lighting To The Next Level
When you’re glamping, there’s no need to fuss around with headlamps. Sure, you should probably still pack one (especially for the nighttime walk from your tent to the toilet), but in your tent, you can take your lighting to a whole new level.
My personal favorite camping lighting option? String lights.
String lights, fairy lights, or Christmas lights, whatever you call them, they’re all excellent choices for illuminating your tent at night. Not only are most string light sets bright enough for you to curl up with a good book before bed, but they add a whole lot of wonderful ambiance to help you turn your tent into a cozy outdoor getaway.
2. Bring A Real Pillow… Or Two
Why skimp on comfort with a tiny camping pillow when you can take your pillow camping?
If you’re glamping, there’s really no reason not to take your actual pillow into the outdoors with you. Before you head out onto your next trip, toss all of your pillows into the back of the car and experience the wonder of using a real pillow while camping. It’ll probably be one of the best nights of outdoor snoozin’ you’ve ever had.
3. Add Cozy Flooring
Traditional tent floors are made from ripstop nylon or polyester which in no way screams “cozy” when you walk around your shelter at night.
Instead, bring a soft rug to line the floor of your tent for added comfort at night. Depending on the size of your tent, you may need multiple rugs to cover the whole floor. Alternatively, you could opt for a few of those super plush bath mats for around your mattress if you’re not interested in packing an entire rug.
4. Get A Proper Air Mattress
If you’re serious about luxury while camping, it’s time to upgrade to a proper air mattress. Foam sleeping pads are not going to cut it in your glamping life, so a quality mattress is key.
A thick inflatable backpacking sleeping pad is a good step up, but if you want to take comfort to a whole new level, it’s time to start thinking about queen-sized air mattresses (or whatever size will fit in your tent). If you want to be comfortable at night, a spacious mattress is key.
5. Opt For a Duvet/Comforter
Leave the sleeping bag behind on your next glamping trip and bring your duvet or comforter instead. In fact, bring your bed sheets with you, too.
While a sleeping bag is great for saving weight and staying warm, all at the same time, it’s hard to argue that even the plushest of down sleeping bags can compete with the cozy comfort of a duvet.
So, bring your finest sheets (okay, maybe not your absolute finest), your fleecy blanket, and your comforter for a truly enjoyable outdoor sleeping experience on your next camping trip.
6. Get Creative With Gear Storage
Tents can get cluttered pretty quickly while you’re camping, so it’s essential that you get creative with your gear storage options. One great way to de-clutter the floor of your tent is to use a hanging shoe organizer that you’d normally use in a closet for suspended storage in the tent.
Pack one of those small shoe organizers and clip it to a loop on the roof of your tent. Then, you can use it to store your spare gear or even to create a mini closet inside your tent.
7. Pack Side Tables
For added convenience in your tent at night, consider packing a set of folding side tables. These little tables can be great substitutes for nightstands next to your bed.
They take up minimal space in storage and can raise your comfort levels substantially while camping.
8. Invest In A Solar Generator
Unless you’re truly looking to unplug, a solar generator is a great way to ensure that you can charge your devices while glamping. Coupled with some burly solar panels – a portable power generator like the Jackery Explorer 1000 is a solid option for illuminating your world and staying connected from inside your tent on a camping trip.
9. Create Calming Aromas With A Diffuser
While we can’t necessarily recommend using scented candles in a tent because they’re a fire hazard, a battery-powered essential oil diffuser is a similarly great way to disperse calming aromas inside your outdoor abode while camping.
Choose a compact model with batteries that you can recharge via your solar generator (hint, hint, see tip #8 above!) and add your favorite oils. It’s amazing how much a tent can change and become a calming outdoor retreat when you start up an oil diffuser at the end of a long day of hiking.
10. Choose A Tent With A Screen Porch
There are quite literally hundreds of different tents to choose from for a glamping trip, but if you really want to take your set-up to the next level, a screen porch is a must-have.
Not only is a screen porch an excellent space to store gear that you don’t want to keep inside the tent itself, but it’s a great place to kick back and relax without exposing yourself to the bugs. If a screen porch doesn’t seem like it will work for your needs, consider a tent with a vestibule that you can convert into an awning for a bit of extra protection from the sun and the rain.
11. Pack Comfy Camp Chairs
Camp chairs are essential if you want to up your camping comfort. For inside your tent, consider packing a lightweight camping chair as an extra seating area for indoor relaxation. In your campsite, it’s also worth bringing a set of comfy seats (perhaps even models that recline!) so you can kick back and relax around the fire at night.
12. Consider A Tent Heater For Cold Nights
No one likes to be too cold while sleeping, so a portable heater can make a big difference in your comfort levels on chilly nights. There are plenty of compact options to choose from while car camping, including electric and gas models. If you opt for a gas model, just be sure that you’re extra careful with where you position the heater so you don’t accidentally knock it over at night.
13. Pack Lots Of Throw Pillows And Fleece Blankets
We’ve already discussed packing a comforter and your bed sheets on your next camping trip, but don’t forget to bring your throw pillows and fleece blankets, too! These extra touches don’t take up too much space in your car but they can make your bed that much more cozy at night.
14. Make Real Coffee In The Morning
If you’re not a coffee fiend like some of us here on the Trail and Summit team, then feel free to skip ahead. But, if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that a quality cup o’ Joe in the morning can turn a camping trip into a glamping adventure.
Instead of packing a whole slew of instant coffee sachets, do yourself a favor and bring a quality roast with you outside. A pour-over set or even a French press can turn you into a backcountry barista in no time. You can even consider a hand-powered coffee grinder for a fresh-ground brew in the morning, too. (Related: What is the best way to make coffee while camping? )
15. Pitch a Tarp Over Your Tent Entrance
Nothing puts a damper on a glamping trip more than a heavy rainstorm. To ensure that you can still stay comfortable in your tent and enjoy a bit of fresh air during your trip, consider pitching a tarp over the entrance to your tent.
Doing so can help double your living space and provide you with a sheltered area to hang out, even in the rain. Plus, it offers extra shade on sunny days and can help keep your tent cool on hot summer camping trips.
16. Bring A Speaker
If you enjoy listening to music, packing a portable speaker can help you create a relaxing atmosphere inside your tent. Small, waterproof models that connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth, like the JBL Charge 3 are easy enough to pack, yet they can completely change the vibe of your tent in the evening.
17. Spruce Things Up With Flowers
You might be outdoors while camping, but it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from sprucing up the interior of your tent with a bit of greenery. Pack a vase and some flowers from home (please don’t pick the wildflowers at your campsite – see LNT Principle #4) and place them around your tent for some tasteful, low-cost decor.
18. Use A Cot
People often don’t realize how much more comfortable a cot can be than a sleeping pad, especially if you layer an inflatable sleeping pad on top of your cot!
Doing so can not only provide you with a more comfortable sleeping area, but it can also make it easier for you to enter and exit your bed at night. While this is particularly helpful for campers with limited mobility, many people do find that sleeping on a raised platform is much more convenient than sleeping on the floor.
19. Bring Board Games
For extra entertainment options in your camp at night, consider packing some fun board games on your next trip. Even if you’re not too big into board games at home, they’re a fun and simple way to enjoy quality time with others on your trip, especially if it’s a bit rainy outside your tent. Also read: Camping Games: 21 Ways To Stay Entertained In The Wild
20. Create An Outdoor Living Room
Set up an outdoor space that you can enjoy when not in your tent to double the size of your living area. A handful of comfy camp chairs, a large folding camp table, and a set of lanterns can turn your campsite into a relaxing outdoor living room.
While this may not technically be a way to make your tent any cozier, giving yourself multiple ways to enjoy your campsite outside of your tent will make curling up in your bed at night that much more satisfying.
21. Sleep Without The Rainfly
Finally, on those clear, calm nights, remember to remove the rainfly to your tent. Doing so will give you a fantastic view of the stars that you can enjoy right from the comfort of your bed. What could be better?
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.