Tent heating ideas for winter camping?

CampStewart

Observer
Do you know what your CO exposure level was?

Do you know what the max allowable CO exposure time is?
There have been multiple tests where people run buddy heaters in enclosed spaces with CO meters, to my knowledge none of them have died during testing or use of Buddy heaters and in every writeup and vid I have seen there was virtually no buildup of CO. Now it you have other information please post it up
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
There have been multiple tests where people run buddy heaters in enclosed spaces with CO meters, to my knowledge none of them have died during testing or use of Buddy heaters and in every writeup and vid I have seen there was virtually no buildup of CO. Now it you have other information please post it up
I always ran a CO detector in my tent with the Buddy going. Since the windows were open, it never once beeped.

However, at 9500 feet on a cold night in NM, we nearly suffocated in our teardrop without any combustion going on. It's just so well sealed that me/she/doggy sucked up all the O2 during the night. We were lucky to wake up ---- always sleep with the vent and windows cracked now no matter the temps outside.
 

Alloy

Well-known member
There have been multiple tests where people run buddy heaters in enclosed spaces with CO meters, to my knowledge none of them have died during testing or use of Buddy heaters and in every writeup and vid I have seen there was virtually no buildup of CO. Now it you have other information please post it up
I don't know why people think CO doen't have an affect because they haven't died. People should think of CO like it is VOCs, cigarette smoke or asbestos.

As these types of heaters get dirty with age the CO increases.

At the bottom is a comment that was made on this video.



Homebuiltcamper Dave 8 months ago
Bad news for you. There is a reason most of the time it reads 0. That’s a homeowner co detector. The lowest reading you’ll get is 30. I spent many years as a fire fighter. Those detectors are not sensitive enough to detect under 30ppm. 30ppm is considered the safe level of exposure for up to 8 hours, as in working on a car repair shop. Problem is co builds up in your blood over time. And when you move to fresh air your system will never give up all the co. This is why firefighters have so much trouble later in life with high co levels in the systems. I bought the buddy heater and tested with one of the 4 gas meters from our fire trucks in my 8X12 camper with window open 3 inches as directions state. The co level quickly rose to 10 and drifted from between 10 and 20 ppm while in operation. Well under the 8 hour limit. But well over what would be considered safe for long term exposure. So I returned the buddy heater and just use an electric heater that runs off my small generator outside. I’m not saying don’t use it. But be careful. It does make low level co that will be in your blood. Blood is 9 times more likely to absorb co over o2. So it will be in your system and will build up over time. All I have to rely on is 20 years in the fire service. I’m not a scientist or doctor. But I would never use one inside a camper.
 
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eatSleepWoof

Explorer
So I've bought & received the TETON Fahrenheit Mammoth double sleeping bag, along with their liner. Rated to -18C (on the "extreme" side of the rating spectrum). Very big, bulky bag that should provide decent warmth.

Also bought a 5KW Chinese diesel heater (clone of Planar) off eBay. Should have that in a few weeks - will see how well it works. The heater and the sleeping bag together will likely be huge overkill, but if the heater fails for any reason, the bag will not.
 

Winterpeg

Member
I tested my buddy heater in my enclosed vehicle.

I put a battery operated CO detector in it and closed up the windows and doors and watched it from inside the house.

It eventually shut off on it's own due to low levels of O2.

The CO detector didn't activate during this time.

I agree with the above statements to buy an appropriate sleeping bag.

I've used a buddy heater in a tent as well with a vent open with no issues... that was only once though.

My buddy heater is typically used while I'm awake.
 

TimB

New member
CO is one thing, but the moisture released by any propane based heating system, in combination with the up to 1 quart of moisture per person released by breatining overnight is just as hazardous. Twenty five or more years ago four novice campers were discovered frozen in the Marvine Valley of Colorado, having created a shell of rime ice in their dome tent sufficient to cut off all oxygen from entering even though their Buddy propane heater was on low. This was in mid November above 9000 feet and 20 below overnight. Having camped for months in the winter IMHO the only solution is to have gear rated for the expected temps and a canvas shelter rigged for a wood stove. Too heavy you say? We pull this rig on a purpose built sled on skis or snowshoes. Seems most of you are camping out of trucks anyway.
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
You said at the outset you would likely be camping in -25 C weather correct? It's only -13 F, its not like its -40 F. I think you identified your solution right in the first post- the pink foam with a megamat, a decent bag and a comforter. I honestly doubt you would need something more for additional heat at those temps.

Maybe try gluing together a couple of space blankets for a barrier between the sleeping bag and the megamat to reflect body heat back up. At their price it would be easy to try and if it doesnt work you havent spent a lot. I would try that before going to any of the more esoteric (and expensive) options referenced in this thread- not that their suggestions were bad, just that it's one thing to need a little heat when you wake up versus needing to heat something for the entire night.

If you want some comfort when you get up in the AM run a small butane or buddy heater for a few minutes when you first wake up to "take the chill off".

I have slept outside at 20 below many times with fairly primitive cobbled together sleeping arrangements- summer bag, a few blankets, etc. The key is some insulation against the ground so the cold ground (or in your case) the cold air under the RTT, doesnt suck the heat out of you from below. But you've described a pretty decent solution already in my mind. I know for me the mix you described would likely have me sweating like crazy. I would keep a window cracked to some degree to allow the moisture to escape.

I'm not sure where you live but I think testing it before you go on some long excursion makes sense. If it gets that cold where you live then you have everything you need to fine tune it. Try it and if its unbearable for you then bail out, go inside and try another solution next time until you get something you can live with.

Good luck, winter is such a great time to be outside and most people never go out unless it's to run to/from their car and house. There's something really magical about life when the temps get to -20 F or below. That squeak of the snow when you walk, the stillness, the snap of trees. It's awesome.
 
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Kerensky97

Xterra101
Homebuiltcamper Dave 8 months ago
...30ppm is considered the safe level of exposure for up to 8 hours, as in working on a car repair shop. Problem is co builds up in your blood over time And when you move to fresh air your system will never give up all the co. This is why firefighters have so much trouble later in life with high co levels in the systems. ...
And this is exactly why you should not get your facts from youtube comment sections. If Carbon Monoxide never left your system we'd all be dead by now. Carbon Monoxide does work by taking up the place on your hemoglobin meant for oxygen, but it leaves just like oxygen does too. If you were exposed to 5PPM of CO at night, it will flush out of your system during the day. Combustion heaters aren't going to kill you as long as you have air flow.

Carbon monoxide gas leaves the body the same way it got in, through the lungs. In fresh air, it takes four to six hours for a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning to exhale about half of the inhaled carbon monoxide in their blood. This "clearing" time can be reduced if the person is given 100% oxygen or is placed in a hyperbaric oxygen (high-pressure oxygen) chamber, which creates a higher oxygen pressure than the normal outside pressure.

Personally I only use heaters while awake then shut them off and bundle up warm at night.
So far I don't think I've seen anybody on the thread mention that you can also get sleeping bag inserts to boost their cold weather performance. "Dressing in Layers" doesn't just keep you warm when wearing hiking clothes, it's works while you sleep too; it can't turn a crap sleeping bag into a winter sleeping bag, but it can make a good all season sleeping bag comfortable for a few winter trips:
Wear socks and your thermals to bed, a simple sleeping cap helps a ton too.
I didn't splurge on the $50 sleeping insert for my bag, I got a couple $4 POLARVIDE Ikea blankets that I use as a sleeping bag liner.
And I have a few spare down a throw blankets I can put on top of me if needed.
Worst case emergency, if that isn't enough put on your DRY cold weather jacket and pants on and get back in bed with everything else.
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Old timers tossed rocks in the fire pit. Wrapped them in newspaper at bed time and put them in the bottom of their sleeping bags. Worked till 3am then you woke up freezing lol
Not sure if mentioned but don't use rocks from stream beds or water, they will explode once water in them starts to boil.
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Before getting my rig with furnace I used to use this for cold to ulltracold camping, expensive but you really get what you pay for.

The D.A.M. (down air mattress) is INSANLY comfortable and warm on COLDEST nights. You can buy DAM only I believe for super comrtable nights rest.
 

Alloy

Well-known member
And this is exactly why you should not get your facts from youtube comment sections. If Carbon Monoxide never left your system we'd all be dead by now. Carbon Monoxide does work by taking up the place on your hemoglobin meant for oxygen, but it leaves just like oxygen does too. If you were exposed to 5PPM of CO at night, it will flush out of your system during the day. Combustion heaters aren't going to kill you as long as you have air flow.
I agree 5ppm isn't dangerous but the comment is about higher levels than that.

It take the lungs a few second to absorb O2 and another minute for O2 to reach the brain but O2 doesn't leave the blood CO2 does.

The max safe allowable CO for a healthy person is 30ppm an unhealthy person it is 9ppm. Why is this?

If people are camping why should they pay attention to the CO?
 

Kerensky97

Xterra101
I agree 5ppm isn't dangerous but the comment is about higher levels than that.
My point is that even as you breathe in CO, you also breathe out CO. We're not talking about mercury build up in fish here. As long as you're constantly bringing in fresh air to displace the CO you breathe you'll be ok. People in structure fires that get CO poisoning and need pure oxygen are getting all CO and no Oxygen so it does build up. That's a far cry from being near a properly vented heater.

I'm not sure where the breaking point is (I'm guessing 30PPM since that's what they rate things at for safety) but even if you're constantly breathing in that 30PPM of CO, as long as you also get fresh air to displace it you're going to break even and be fine.
 

shade

Well-known member
My point is that even as you breathe in CO, you also breathe out CO. We're not talking about mercury build up in fish here. As long as you're constantly bringing in fresh air to displace the CO you breathe you'll be ok. People in structure fires that get CO poisoning and need pure oxygen are getting all CO and no Oxygen so it does build up. That's a far cry from being near a properly vented heater.

I'm not sure where the breaking point is (I'm guessing 30PPM since that's what they rate things at for safety) but even if you're constantly breathing in that 30PPM of CO, as long as you also get fresh air to displace it you're going to break even and be fine.
An overdose by down is less likely. It's still a possibility, though.

 

Alloy

Well-known member
My point is that even as you breathe in CO, you also breathe out CO. We're not talking about mercury build up in fish here. As long as you're constantly bringing in fresh air to displace the CO you breathe you'll be ok. People in structure fires that get CO poisoning and need pure oxygen are getting all CO and no Oxygen so it does build up. That's a far cry from being near a properly vented heater.

I'm not sure where the breaking point is (I'm guessing 30PPM since that's what they rate things at for safety) but even if you're constantly breathing in that 30PPM of CO, as long as you also get fresh air to displace it you're going to break even and be fine.
30ppm in a healthy person because CO has a half life 4 hours.
....30ppm after 4hrs is 15ppm.......8hrs, 7ppm

BUT!!! CO does not becomes 7ppm in a person later in life (fire fighter as per the YouTube comment) or the person continues to be exposed to CO.


These are some number from the CO meter I use.

- A generator 5' away from the back of the trailer with the exhaust facing away and a window open on that side - up to 10 ppm depending on wind direction

- The propane HW tank is below a window. If the window is open and the HW tank is firing - up to 20ppm.

- Our camp chef is 6' away from the door. With the awning out and door open 1 burner = 5ppm 2-3 burners = 15ppm

- A campfire 30' away with the awning out and the door open - up to 20ppm depending on wind direction.

On a trip 2 weeks ago for 2 days we had tarps set up around the campfire that were 6' off the ground. The fire wood was a wet pine beetle tree so there more smoke than usual. The CO meter alarmed at 10ppm inside so I brought it out. At 6" below the tarps in the smoke blown from the camp fire it was reading 30ppm.
 
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