Snow has piled up outside, threatening to keep us from venturing outdoors. Now spring is tentatively peaking its head out, like a timid deer. Most of our winter activities are still in full swing, but my mind is wandering to warmer temperatures.
This poses the question to me, as it does every turn of the season; How do I stay warm in my sleeping bag?
There are many things we can do to aid our warmth and make our night times more comfortable. Keep in mind that there is no substitute for a quality sleeping bag. Evaluate your personal needs and when/where you’ll be sharing Mother Nature. Sleep rejuvenates us for the next day, the next hike and grand adventure. Without a good night’s sleep the next day won’t be as wonderful as it could be.
- Before heading to bed, get your circulation flowing a bit. Do some calming yoga or march in place. This will raise your body temperature, and your sleeping bag will trap this heat.
- Fluff your bag before climbing in, which allows for the insulation to be more evenly distributed, and it’s fun. Down bags definitely require this as the loft can get scrunched in the stuff sack.
- Change your socks. Clean socks are more conducive to warmth and don’t stink it up. I have a pair of wool socks that are designated specifically for sleeping.
- If you’re especially cold wear a pair of glove liners or a knit hat. I’ve been known to wear my knittie on many trips. Summers in the North West can have cold wet nights that seep into your bones.
- Insulation beneath you is immensely important. The ground is cold and seems to radiate its iciness. A tarp under your tent and a sleeping pad will make a huge difference.
- Other things to keep in mind: don’t go to bed on an empty stomach. A warm belly equals a warm body. The extra fuel will help maintain body temp, as will staying hydrated.
- Use the bathroom before bed. It takes a lot of energy to keep urine warm that could be used to keep you warm. Having to crawl out of your sleeping bag and tent to stumble around in the dark is not a fun part of camping, plus you lose all that hard earned heat.
- Stuff a jacket/sweater or extra clothes into the bottom of your bag if there’s room. The less space there is to heat, the warmer you’ll stay. I’ve discovered when doing this I put my feet on top of the extra clothes and my toes feel much cozier.
We are all built differently. Typically women are colder than men. I am a very cold sleeper, so I use all of these tactics. You may only need some or none of them.
As you climb into your sleeping bag after an evening of star gazing and campfire conversation, know your dreams will be sweeter.
See you on the trail!