Rather odd question but after reading the help centre I think it still fits here.

I need to sleep some nights of the week in my garage, but over a period of months; potentially over multiple different seasons. Garage is not connected to the house and is without heat, electricity or windows. It is big, can be secured throughout the day, is dry and mostly wind proof. Floor is concrete. Central Europe.

I want to make the experience as pleasant as possible with winter approaching.

So far I am imaging a 'single room' large pop-up tent (no ground to peg ropes). This should reduce wind chill a little and keep bugs out.

Then a cheap thick mattress inside, with a winter duvet and multiple additional cheap blankets. I have a backup -15°C winter sleeping bag I would keep inside, along with LED torch etc.

Does this sound reasonable for a number of months? Would something additional under the mattress help reduce heat loss (multiple sleeping mats)? Would mould be a factor from breathing condensation? Cotton bedding an issue?

  • 22
    How cold are your winters where you are? That will be critical. Also, you mention sleeping there; do you also need it to be comfortable outside of sleeping (like sitting around reading and such), or are you not going to spend much time there other than overnight? Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 7:19
  • 4
    This is pretty similar to a mountain hut or bothy setup, so decent winter backpacking gear would also do - but temperatures would be a big help as @fyrepenguin says. Also what are your plans for cooking (considering fumes, moisture etc.)
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 11:10
  • 5
    Aside - this location might not legally class as a "bedroom" depending on local ordenances and rules. Locally, a bedroom MUST have a window and ventillation from the window or from piped air. The rules in your area might prevent you from doing this, so perhaps consider that and make your own decision on whether you should/can.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 22:36
  • 3
    @Criggie do you have more information about this? I'm interested to know more about it. To me it seems very weird that rules or laws can determine where you sleep on your own property. I guess it might be an American thing? It's also one thing that rules determine if you call it a bedroom or not, but do rules actually say that longterm sleeping must be performed in a bedroom? I guess Harry Potter sleeping under the stairs would be illegal in some places then huh?
    – Ivo
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 8:03
  • 9
    You said sleeping in a garage. One thing to consider is what else is being stored in the garage as well. Cleaning agents, motor oil, gasoline, car, etc. Fumes from a lot of harmful products can be heavier than air and can settle around floor level. Depending on the ventilation situation you could be putting yourself right in this zone while you sleep which is probably not good for you health. Its another reason why there are by-laws for what is required in a sleeping area and other rooms types.
    – Forward Ed
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 22:28

4 Answers 4


The biggest heat loss will be to the concrete floor and there too will be the greatest condensation from body moisture, with potential for mould growth and rotting.

I would provide insulation and a vapour barrier, which needs to be on the warm side of the insulation.

So for a long-ish term solution I would have

  • a sheet of 25 or 50mm expanded polystyrene on the floor
  • a board of 6 or 10mm plywood to protect that from crushing
  • place the tent on top, which has a vapour proof floor

Using a tent in a large space will allow your body heat to be trapped locally, and keep you warmer. I knew someone who lived in a very large empty room in a tent, although it was a timber upper floor so insulation wasn't an issue.

  • 6
    "body moisture, with potential for mould growth and rotting.". Yes. Even if it's really cold outside, even if there no heating device, this garage would need to be properly ventilated at least twice a day. Otherwise, humidity and CO2 will rise too much and OP will have more problems than simply being cold at night. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 10:05
  • I think the pallets(from j4nd3r53n 's answer), then polystyrene, then plywood, then tent. However, with a pallet, not sure the polystyrene will be required. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 1:17
  • Insulation EPS sheets are quite sturdy, so might not need the plywood. It will get a few dents over time, but will not crumple into pieces.
    – jpa
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 8:12

Moisture is absolutely the biggest problem here. It will build up under you, so you have to get yourself and your sleeping bag off the concrete.

A bare minimum would be a ground sheet and a foam topper-pad, and you need to lift them off the floor in the daytime to dry along with your sleeping bag. An air mattress might seem appealing, but they're awkward and squeaky and not particularly supportive.

A better solution would be a camp stretcher that raises your body about 30cm/12inches off the ground. Sometimes referred to as a cot, can be stowed into a bag in a couple of minutes. You can add a foam mattress on top too.

enter image description here

If space is not an issue, you might choose to set up a full sized bed and simply leave it there while away. Linens need washing and changing periodically, because they absorb moisture overnight. You'll want to air the mattress more often too, and I'd suggest a vapour barrier on the floor, like a groundsheet with perhaps a rug on top for comfort.

Personally, I prefer sleeping in cold air with plenty of warm blankets, so this sounds kinda awesome. Good luck with your plan!

  • 12
    There aren't many good uses for those camp beds, but this is one of them.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 7:46
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    @ChrisH yeah, this is what I thought. They are too big/bulky for 99% of uses but here they are worth the 30-50 bucks that you can get a decent used one for. Especially for months time. And since the concrete will be cold af anyway, the air below you is probably even warmer than the alternative. If OP wants they can still put a mattress on top of it
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 8:26
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    @Hobbamok or another quilt, or a foam mattress topper for domestic mattresses
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 9:06

As the others point out, you need to get off the ground a bit; my suggestion is to get hold of a couple of wooden pallets - where I live (UK), I can find them for free wherever there is building work going on. put them on the concrete floor, then something reasonably flat on top and finally the tent. This will allow air to circulate under the whole thing and keep you dry.

Other than that, you just need a sensible mattress and warm covers, like blankets, duvets, sleeping bags, ...

  • 3
    Top answer, I'd even put Pallets and a proper mattress (or not even a proper matress) over @Criggie's army bed answer, simply because those things are always creaky af and slightly too slim for comfort
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 8:27

There is also the possibility of a hammock. There are some which include a waterproof top and have an insulated bottom part. But in a garage which I assume is protected from strong winds and precipitation, I would just use a regular hammock with a heavy duty sleeping bag.

I recommend this style of hammock (and a diagonal position within), having slept in a hammock like this for hundreds of nights: Hammock picture

Advantages of hammock:

  • Simple to set up (if you can tie it to something or put some sturdy screws into suitable places)
  • Will keep you warm at night, away from the cold floor and close to the ceiling where warm air will go
  • No moisture issues, you should be able to open it up while not using it and hang your sleeping bag across it to dry
  • Much more comfy than any regular bed (if you ask me)
  • 1
    You may want to buy an South American one rather than the kind popular in North America and Europe.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:19
  • @Willeke I'm not sure which you mean exactly, this type: startpage.com/av/… is popular in my european country but I think is originally a south american style. That's what I had in mind, no spreader bars, cotton or synthetic fabric, densely woven. Something from hennessyhammock.com would probably also be a good (but expensive) choice.
    – Nobody
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:49
  • Nobody, your link did not work for me but I indeed meant the kind without spreaders. No need to go as expensive as those Hennessy ones, I bought one in a local 'exotic' store and it would do well enough.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 17:00
  • @Willeke I added a picture to my answer of the type I have in mind. I think it strongly depends on the budget, I think a double layered one which can be stuffed with insulation and possibly even closed at the top would be more comfortable than a thick sleeping bag. But in temperatures above 5C or on a limited budget just a cheap hammock and sleeping bag are probably fine.
    – Nobody
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 18:45
  • You can add a blanket on the outside of your hammock, I am told, to insulate it, if you do not have the expensive ones.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 20:09

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