Is It Dangerous to Sleep in a Tent? (We’ve Got the Answer)

camping in wilderness

If you have ever been invited to go on a rugged camping trip, meaning without campers or the comfort of a home, you have likely wondered about the safety of the venture. It is natural to question the safety of sleeping in the wilderness on the ground with a thin nylon barrier between you and the great outdoors.  While it may be a bit disconcerting at first, you will likely have a very enjoyable time.

Sleeping in a tent outdoors is not without danger, but it is something that can and is done safely all around the world. When sleeping in a tent outdoors, you need to make sure you are properly prepared for the elements you are sleeping in. It would be best if you were also aware of the environmental factors that could impact your camping.

In this article, you will learn the best way to sleep in a tent safely, as well as the necessary preparation and precautions that need to be taken.


Sleeping in a Tent

For some, the thought of sleeping in a tent is enough to send them running away, while others find great joy and pleasure in sleeping outside. No matter which school of thought you are a part of, you need to do a few things to ensure sleeping in a tent does not become dangerous.

You can sleep in a tent almost anywhere, from your backyard to a campground, or even the remote wilderness. Each of these situations is different and requires distinct preparation before you can safely sleep in your tent.


Know Your Setting

You must know the area you are planning to sleep in. This is important because you will need to prepare your gear to match the terrain and climate. If you are in your backyard, it is quite easy to plan because, in the worst-case scenario, you can head into your house if needed. However, sleeping in a tent in the wilderness is much more challenging.

In the wilderness, you need to pay attention to many things around you before setting up your tent. Taking the time to survey the area will help ensure your safety. Here are some things you should keep in mind as you prepare your tent.

  • Weather

    You need to check the weather for the location you are setting a tent up in because the area could be susceptible to flash flooding, making it an extremely dangerous place to set up a tent. Knowing the land and weather will also help determine if you need a special rain cover for your tent.

    Not only is precipitation challenging, but you also need to be aware of the wind speed in the area. As you know, tents are not particularly durable, especially when there are strong wind gusts. While they may be okay for a short time, several minutes or hours of continuous gusts could damage your tent and put you in danger.

  • The land

    Get a good look at the area you are planning to camp during daylight hours. Make sure it is stable and not near any ledges or cliffs. It may seem intriguing to camp at the edge of a precipice, but it is very dangerous to set a tent up in a location that is not stable. Because of erosion, many cliffs or ledges are not secure. The act of pounding tent stakes into the ground could cause a collapse.

    It is important to know some state parks offer the experience of ledge or cliff camping, but these locations have been tested for stability and are constantly monitored to ensure they are safe for a tent to be set up. Do not try to test a cliff or ledge on your own as it could be dangerous.

  • Cover

    If you have found a suitable ground location for your tent, check what is above. Putting a tent under a beautiful canopy of trees can seem tranquil, but some dangers can come with such a location.

    It would be best to look at the trees above your tent to make sure the branches and trees are alive. A dead tree in a wind storm could be extremely dangerous if you are on the ground. If you notice dead branches or trees, you should find a better space for your tent. When doing so, you need to make sure you are outside the tree or branch’s fall radius.


Layout Your Camping Area

Once you have secured the location where you plan to use your tent and have taken all the necessary precautions, you need to prepare your layout. Remember, a tent is typically made of nylon, so you need to keep it safely away from sparks and flames.


When sleeping in a tent, one of the most common things to enjoy is a campfire. Although it is comforting and useful, it is also a danger. If a tent is too close to a fire, it can easily catch on fire and cause a dangerous situation. As you are setting up your tent, keep these things in mind:

  • Keep ground cover away from the perimeter of the tent.
  • Keep the tent upwind from the fire.
  • Make sure the fire is contained in a ring, either with rocks or metal (if available).
  • Put the fire out before turning in for the night.

Although most tents are made with fire-resistant material, they can still catch on fire if a spark, ash, or flame were to touch the tent.

Setting Up the Tent

You must set up your tent far enough away from the campfire, but you also need to make sure you aren’t near your food storage or garbage. The direction of your tent is also important when putting it up.

  • Food and garbage

    You mustn’t try to store extra food or garbage anywhere near your sleeping area. It is wise to keep all of your food sources downwind from your tent or in a secure area, like a cooler locked in your car. Another option is to hang the food up in a tree. Proper food storage will help deter animals from invading your sleeping space.

  • Tent position

    Another important thing to remember when you are setting up your tent is where your head is when sleeping. If possible, you should have your head in an uphill position. Keeping it elevated helps ensure that your blood continues to flow properly and doesn’t go to your head. While this may not be a problem for a short time, it could be dangerous to stay in that position all night.

  • Ground cover

    You must put a ground cover down before you set your tent up. Some tents come with one attached, but some do not. A ground cover will help prevent moisture from coming into the tent. You can achieve this with a tarp or large piece of plastic.


Other Considerations

When sleeping in a tent, it is not only important that you know your location for physical barriers and set the tent properly, but you also need to have a safety plan in place. Again, if you are in your backyard, you will likely not need a safety plan because your house is close by. But in the wilderness, you need to be completely prepared.

  • Ranger access

    If you are sleeping in a tent in the wilderness, it would be good to find out how close the nearest ranger station or ranger patrol is. When sleeping in a tent in a remote area, you want to make sure rangers know where you are in case of an emergency.

  • Phone access

    Sleeping in a tent may lead you to give up all worldly connections for a brief time, including cell phones. While it is great to unplug and be one with nature, you must have an access line for help if you need it. Although you don’t need to have your cell phone on, it would be wise to make sure you have reception, should you need it.


Is Camping Safe from Animals?

One thing that you need to consider is safety from animals when camping. You will be interested to know that you are most likely very safe inside a tent if you follow some simple guidelines. Remember, a tent is not as secure as a cabin or camper, but it doesn’t have to be dangerous.

To lessen your risk of animal attacks when you are sleeping in a tent, you need to be thoughtful and cautious, although there is likely no reason to be terrified of the possibility.

Time of Year

While it is uncommon for animals to attack people sleeping in a tent, there may be times of the year when animals are more apt to attack. For instance, in the fall, when deer are mating, they may be more prone to attack, but only if provoked and not likely while you are sleeping.

You can also see more animal activity in the spring and summer when babies are being born. Because many animals are on high alert during this time to protect their offspring, it may cause more attacks to occur. But rest assured, an animal is not likely to randomly come to your tent in the middle of the night to attack you; they typically need to be provoked.


One of the animals people most commonly fear is the bear. Unless you are camping in an area heavily populated by bears, you don’t likely need to worry. However, it is always wise to prepare as if you were in such an area. To do so:

  • Hang your food or put it in airtight containers.
  • Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked in.
  • Don’t cook or keep food in your tent.
  • Invest in bear spray.
  • Don’t leave sugary foods out.

As you can see, there are several things you can do to prevent and protect yourself from bears entering your tent. Note that some species, such as grizzly bears, may behave more aggressively than black or brown bears. If you are in an area populated by grizzly bears, it would be wise to seek the guidance of a ranger to ensure you are properly protected in your tent.


Raccoons are natural scavengers, so they may take a keen interest in your tent and camping area. To ensure they don’t overrun your tent and campsite, you should prepare like you would for a bear. They will be attracted to the scent and availability of food, so you want to keep it away from them.

Small Animals

It is very unlikely that small animals, like squirrels and chipmunks, come bother your tent, so you should be safe from them. However, you want to be on the lookout for snakes. If it is a particularly dry season, you may notice more snakes on the move, trying to find water sources. Overnight moisture can develop around your tent and under the edges, making it a welcome sight for a thirsty snake.

While you are likely unable to ensure there is no snake near your tent, there are some things you can do to help lessen the risks of attracting snakes:

  • Don’t put your tent near rocky areas or locations where trees have fallen.
  • Please, don’t rely on snake repellents; most are not as effective as they claim to be.
  • Check around and in your tent before getting in.
  • Keep sleeping bags rolled up until you are ready to use them.
  • Keep food stored safely.

You can take several preventative measures to help keep your tent snake-free, but it is important to know nothing is 100% effective. It can help to keep your ears and eyes open to protect yourself as well.

For additional protection from the elements and peace of mind as well, consider investing in a good quality tent. We have curated a list of the best camping tents in the market. We included the things that we liked about the tents as well as the stuff that we did not like to help you decide which tent is the best for you.


Final Thoughts

The idea of sleeping in a tent may be a bit unsettling, but rest assured that it is completely safe to do so. Thousands, even millions of people do it all over the world and camping is still increasing in popularity. People are not afraid to sleep outdoors with only a nylon sheet in between them and the wilderness because there are a lot of things that you can do to ensure your safety while sleeping in a tent. 

You need to be aware of your surroundings before and during tent sleeping, but by taking proper precautions, you will likely be safe sleeping in a tent. If you are not completely certain about your camping location or have questions about your safety procedures, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert for guidance. Sleeping in a tent is great fun if you are safe and prepared.

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