How To: Live in a Bell Tent Through the Winter

In light of the particularly frightful rainy, gale-force winter’s day we are having down here in Cornwall, we decided to do some research into the sorts of people who have chosen to brave the elements and spend the winter months living in a bell tent (or a tipi, yurt or any other tenty type of dwelling).

Landscape image of hills and river valley

Living in a bell tent over winter seems a very romantic idea; waking up in the morning to feed your woodburner, stepping out into the morning frost as you watch the sun rise and then cooking a hearty breakfast on your stove.

However, camping experience and a little bit of research indicates that preconceived ideas about camping more often than not turn out to be a little idealistic - the sort of truth often realised at 2 AM, when you’re outside the tent, cursing, trying to pin down your flapping tent because you decided to set up camp on an incredibly windy hillside for the view. Cheeringly however, most of the people here who have undertaken this incredible experience seem to agree that despite the hardship, the cold and the rain, living in a tent for a little while was (or is) one of the most rewarding things they’ve done, allowing them to take a little breather from busy lives, get closer to nature, and really observe the seasons and the world around them.

The wonderful A Wild Year family have spent a year living in a bell tent: mum, dad, and two young kids. Their blog is beautifully written and very honest about both the rewards and the challenges of living under canvas. Tales of waking early to a dewy meadow and brewing coffee while the birds sing will make you want to pack up your house and follow suit.

The blog Who Needs a House Anyway? is a great read and gives a lovely detailed account of what it’s really like to live in a bell tent for 10 months in Devon. The blogger and her husband gave up their jobs at a bank in order to focus on things they really wanted to do, and decided to live in a bell tent for a while as they saved up for a house.

Paul Kirtley’s bushcraft and survival blog has some great stories and tips on living in a tent in winter as well as other expert advice on living and exploring in the outdoors. His article ‘How to Live in a Heated Tent’ is a good guide for anyone doing some serious winter camping, especially in colder parts of the UK or the rest of the world.

He also talks a lot about using woodburning stoves in tents and has some good tips on doing so, as well as what kit you need, how to set up camp and how to store your equipment. The forums and also have some good discussions on living in a canvas tent for a year, including over winter.