Padding and Warmth while Camping
Whether living in a tent or long term camping, sleeping on the ground or on a cot, sleeping bags and blankets are a must. Even camping in the summer involved colder nights and storms. Having both blankets and sleeping bags provided the most versatile mix to optimize temperature and comfort.
Sleeping bags come in a wide mix of styles, sizes and temperature ratings. Even so, you want to know a little bit about your sleeping habits and personal preferences.
If you want to be the warmest you can possibly be, and like being wrapped tight, go for mummy bags. A generic example is:
Mummy bags are very warm, and easier to pack and carry.
If you’re like me and have learned that your hips hurt if you can’t move them, a standard sleeping bag might be more your style. They’re a little bigger to haul, and weigh more overall, but provide more room and often can come with the built-in pillow.
You can also get either style in extra-long or extra-wide. I am not tall, but I still prefer the extra wide, so I can move my hips as needed and still bury myself in the bag with a book and flashlight. A cozy little cave where the light doesn’t escape to wake any neighbors. Also, I recommend getting bags with two-way zippers, for ventilation and temperature control.
In terms of the temperature ratings on the bag when you buy it, this is another area where your mileage may vary. If you run hot and aren’t winter camping, get a 20-50 degree bag. If you spend most of your time freezing like I do, get a 0-or-negative degree bag. My personal sleeping bag is actually rated at -30, but I have experienced nights even in the fall where I’ve had to zip it entirely up and drag in my extra blankets; bad circulation does not always work well with camping, but tenting is still absolutely worth it (for me at least).
You may be asking yourself: well, Mar, why do I need blankets if I’ve already got my awesome bag?
Well, it’s quite simple: for versatility, adaptability, and extra warmth.
Having wool and heavy fleece blankets provide great padding, for the ground and for cots, and can be folded and maneuvered in any way you wish. Camping pads can be great, but if they get wet they take extra time to dry, and you can’t fold them multiple times or wrap yourself in them in a cold snap.
You’re going to laugh, but really, buy a Snuggie – seriously. Chortle if you want, but it is a perfect first/closest layer for any blanket mixer, and I even use it inside my sleeping bag. If you are living in a tent, or even just long term camping, please consider getting one. The foot-pocket is like wearing 3 pairs of socks.
For other layers, both under and on top of you: wool and fleece. Wool is great if you’re not allergic to it. Alpaca wool can be worn by most sensitive-skin, but it’s more expensive and a lot harder to get when buying secondhand. Fleece is fantastic. Easy to clean, less likely to cause allergies, lighter to pack, and it dries faster. Go with what you like, what you can afford, and nab several layers of whatever mix you choose. [This is not to say that other materials don’t work, I’ve just found these two far superior to everything else I’ve tried.]
If you are not using cots while camping, whether or not you use a floor tarp, spread blankets out underneath your sleeping bags. They will help keep the heat from leeching into the ground, and provide a barrier to soak any wetness from the bottom of your tent before it reaches your bag. It’s much easier to heft and lay out several wet blankets to dry than a heavy wet sleeping bag.
Extra blankets can be piled on you or the kids at night, can be used to cushion any bumps in the ground you missed before set-up, and help keep the bottom of the tent from being punctured by any belongings or activities you or your family enjoy. If you are living in your tent, it provides an easy way to adjust slowly to the changing temperatures without breaking out the heavy-duty supplies before the cold truly hits.
If you are keeping a cooler in the tent with you (medicine, food, drink, etc), lay down a folded-over blanket under a towel, then set your cooler on top. If the condensation from the cooler gets through the towel it will take longer to reach the tent. If the cooler will be there for more than a week, you definitely don’t want the condensation to begin to rot or weaken the floor of the tent.
I know this is a shorter post than my last few, but if any of you have any extra tips or ideas, or just want to let me know how you’re doing, leave a comment below!!
Do you have a favorite sleeping bag?
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