Last Updated on 27/08/2023
Everything You Need to Know About Insulated Tents
Imagine having a tent that was insulated, just like a sleeping bag, to stay warm in winter. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about Insulated tents and thermal camping, as well as find out if they actually work.
Staying warm while camping just got even easier with the new insulated tents hitting the market. These Insulated tents for winter camping add a layer of warmth that is unrivaled by traditional tents.
You might wonder why this has never been done before and why you have probably never even heard of them before. Well, up until recently, we hadn’t either, which is why we first wanted to know the answer to the question, “do they make insulated tents?”.
Crua Outdoors is the company responsible for the warm tent revolution, and they have only been around since 2016, with sales only taking off in the last 4 years. They now have over 12 insulated tents for camping, as well as plenty of other products, including insulated hammocks. A company to watch in the future for sure.
4 Best Insulated Tent for Camping
You will notice that all our warm tents for camping recommendations below are for the same brand. This is not because we have any kind of affiliation with Crua but because they are the only company making warm tents with insulation. There is something for everyone, with capacities ranging from 1-person to a 6-person family insulated tent.
Crua Culla Insulated Cocoon and Maxx Inner Tent Insulation
- CAPACITY: 2 person / 3 person
- WEIGHT: 6.8 kg / 7.5 kg
The Crua Culla Insulated Cocoon is available in two sizes for 2 or 3 people and is designed to work in unison with the Crua Duo tents. The insulated dome tent design is perfect for couples and friends to enjoy the thrills of camping in winter without the coldness. Both sizes will work inside any tent that is large enough, which means you can finally create the insulated canopy tent you always wanted.
The smaller cocoon has an airframe design which means you simply inflate the support poles, and the tent is pitched in seconds. The larger Cocoon Maxx does not have an airframe and instead uses a metal frame. This does mean that the Maxx is slightly heavier, but it is perhaps more durable if using a tarp over the top instead of a tent shell.
This insulated sleeping pod is not waterproof in itself, which is why you must combine it with a waterproof shell. The Duo tent is ideal, and you can buy them both together as a combo package for an all-in-one 4 season tent.
Crua Combo and Maxx 2 Person Insulated Tent
- CAPACITY: 2 person / 3 person
- WEIGHT: 2.2 kg + 6.8 kg / 2.5 kg + 7.5 kg (tent/cocoon)
The Crua Combo and Crua Combo Maxx Insulated Tents combine the Crua Culla Insulated Cocoon with the Crua Duo Tent to provide the all-in-one sleeping system for year-round camping. Together you have yourself one of the warmest tents for camping with a 5000 HH rated shell to keep you dry.
The Duo tent is actually really good as a stand-alone tent without the insulation cocoon, which is perfect for more lightweight camping trips in summer. For the colder months, though, you simply add the insulation layer to your pack, and you have a very warm winter tent. Of all the thermal camping tents available today, this is the most compact and easy to transport in a backpack.
If you want a tent that will work all year round, whether insulated or not, the Crua Combo and Combo Maxx are the perfect options for 2 – 3 people. Set up time is 5 – 10 minutes, and once inside, it is just like a regular tent but noticeably darker and warmer.
Crua Tri 3 Person Insulated Tent
- CAPACITY: 3 person
- WEIGHT: 22 kg
The Crua Tri 3 Person Insulated Tent is very different from the dome structure on the Duo Combo and has an incredibly spacious porch to store gear and relax under. Designed for camping holidays and weekends outdoors, the Crua Tri Tent is excellent for fishing, hunting, and as a hiking base camp.
Having been tested in all conditions, including snow, 60 mph winds, and desert heat – the Crua Tri Tent will not fail you when you need it most. When the wind is howling outside, and the rain is coming down hard, you will be very grateful for the warmth and protection this tent provides.
Arguably this is the best tent to keep warm in winter if you have a car to transport it, but otherwise, the 22 kg total weight is a bit much to carry on your back along with your other camping equipment. Given a choice, we would use this on any cold-weather camping trip and wouldn’t hesitate to use it in winter if only it weren’t so heavy.
Crua Cottage 6 Person Insulated Tent
- CAPACITY: 6 person
- WEIGHT: 78 kg
The Crua Cottage is the largest thermal tent for winter available today and is the only one you can stand up dully inside. It will sleep up to 6 people split between two bedrooms with their own insulative pod, and it also features a large communal porch between the two bedrooms. This allows you to sit and talk to your tentmates from the comfort and warmth of your insulated tent.
This tent’s weight and pack size cannot be ignored because it is one of the heaviest and bulkiest tents to carry. This makes it almost impossible to take camping into the wilderness on your back, but if you are traveling by car to a campsite or favorite location, then why not?
This tent is unbelievably comfortable and warm no matter how cold it is outside, and if that is a priority for you and your family, then you should certainly check this one out.
What is an Insulated Tent?
Unlike a traditional tent, an insulated tent has a thin but lofty layer of thermal insulation around the entire inner of the shell. This extra layer is what helps to trap your body heat inside the tent and keep you 13 times warmer than a standard tent in winter.
Think of an insulated tent as a warm fleece that you would wear under a waterproof shell jacket, but for your tent. It relies on the same poles and follows the same shape as any other tent but with the added bonus of keeping you warm.
4 Benefits of an Insulated Tent
There are lots of benefits to owning a warm camping tent and a few downsides, too, but if winter camping is on the agenda, then an insulated tent is a real advantage. Here are some of the main benefits of an insulated tent.
Tents That Keep You Warm
The most obvious benefit of insulated camping tents is that they keep you warm. Much warmer than a standard tent (13 times warmer). The insulation traps warm air generated by your body heat to bring the temperature inside the tent up to a more tolerant level.
Keeps You Cool
You might not believe that an insulated tent for camping can also keep you cool when it’s hot, but it can. The insulative layer slows the transfer of heat both from inside and from the sun’s rays. If you leave the inner door open for ventilation, it actually feels very cool inside on a hot day.
As well as trapping and blocking heat, the tent’s insulation will also dull sounds so that you get a better night’s sleep. If you are at a festival or campsite, this is a real bonus as there are always one or two noisy campers that stay up late drinking. You feel like you are inside a walled room more than a tent, and the sound doesn’t pass easily through the material.
On top of blocking harmful UV rays, the insulation will work like a blackout tent to block light and allow you to sleep in for longer in the morning. In some parts of the world where you can have up to 24 hours of daylight per day during some seasons, a dark tent that keeps you warm is crucial to a good night’s sleep.
Considerations When Buying an Insulated Tent
While it is easy to get blindsided by the benefits of having an insulated pop-up tent, there are some compromises that you have to make.
Single-skin tents and tents that are poorly made often suffer from condensation build-up on the inside walls. This is the result of your breath not having enough ventilation to escape, and so the water molecules simply settle on any exposed surfaces.
Insulated tents don’t suffer as much condensation as you might think. They will often have high and low vents as well as bug mesh panels so you can sleep with the door open. Also, the walls are designed to let moisture wick away from the inside of the tent to prevent your sleeping bag from getting moist.
Weight and Pack Size
There is no surprise to learn that an insulated tent will weigh around double that of a conventional tent and the pack size is larger. For these reasons, insulated tents are not the most lightweight or suitable for backpacking. They are, however, perfect for cold weather camping in winter and freezing conditions.
Yes, you have extra weight and bulk to carry, but an insulated tent is designed to keep you warmer than any other, which is the compromise you have to make. When fully packed, they are not too heavy and large to carry in a backpack, but it isn’t something you would take on a thru-hike.
Insulated tents are a relatively new concept and understandably costly to develop, so you can expect them to be more expensive than a standard tent. The prices aren’t extortionate and are actually fairly reasonable considering the exclusivity and rewards but they are mainly targeting dedicated winter campers looking for a warmer night’s sleep.
How do Insulated Tents Work?
Just like any thermal layering system, insulated tents work by trapping warm air between synthetic fibers to raise the temperature within the tent. Tent insulation slows heat transfer via conduction, convection, and radiation, which means that any warmth generated from inside the tent will stay there for longer.
One brand claims their insulated tents for cold weather have an R-Value of 9, are 13 times warmer than a conventional tent, and are twice as warm as a premium sleeping pad. This is warm enough to allow you to camp in up to minus 40-degree weather!
What are Insulated Tents Made From?
Crua Outdoors uses a patented insulation design that sandwiches a layer of hollow fiber insulation between two layers of polycotton. Over the top of that is a single layer of TPU laminated polycotton CruaBreathe™ fabric which prevents condensation from building up inside and prevents any water from getting through.
The amazingly lightweight insulated tent material CruaBreathe™ is resistant to cuts and tears, mildew resistant, UV protective, and is treated with a fire retardant. This ensures that your tent insulates for years to come and keeps you comfortable inside your warm tent.
How to Insulate a Tent and Make it Warmer
The best way to insulate a tent is from below, which is where you lose the most body heat. You can do this with camping pads, wool blankets, or even a sheepskin rug, giving you a softer mattress and a comfier sleeping position. You should avoid putting your sleeping pad inside your sleeping bag to maximize your sleeping bag’s warmth.
The other way to insulate your tent is to create your own tent jacket between the outer shell and inner tent pod. You could do this with an emergency foil blanket, a wool blanket, fleece throw, or any other large insulative fabric that will cover your tent.
A camping tarp over the top of your tent may also improve the temperature within by creating an extra layer to trap warm air under.
Can You Use an Insulated Tent for Summer?
We were shocked by how cool insulated winter tents will stay during the summer months. With the door open in full sun, it is actually cooler inside an insulated tent than it is in a 2-3 season tent, which can feel more like a greenhouse. We are not suggesting that it feels nice and cool inside but it works far better than you might imagine.
We hope you found this guide to insulated tents useful and we answered all your questions but feel free to leave a comment below if not.