This is Part V, the final part in a series of getting comfortable with camping. For Part IV, see Comfortable Camping: A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Best Campsite.
We all could use a few tricks to add to our repertoire no matter what the activity. But when it comes to camping, most of use could use a whole bag. Lucky for you, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite techniques for staying warm and dry while sleeping in the outdoors. Get ready to have the best sleep of your life — yup; in the outdoors.
Little Tips with Big Effects
- Remove extra space: Some dead air space is good. Too much, though, and your body’s ability to generate heat won’t be used as efficiently. Tighten up some of that space by stuffing the next days’ clothes at the foot of your bag. Perfect for having warm clothes to slip into the next day!
- Hot water bottle: Another way to help your body stay warm in your bag is to boil water and pour into a Nalgene or similar-type water bottle (metal containers could burn you and thin plastic will melt!) and cap tightly. Stick it in the bottom of your bag to help keep your feet warm and your bag toasty.
- Bedtime Snack: Right before you drift off, grab a high protein snack. This keeps your systems burning longer than a sugary snack and helps keep your core temperature warm.
- Use Coal: Charcoal, that is. The air-activated heat packs that one often finds in ski shops work great year round — whenever you happen to feel a chill. The best place to set these packs are near pulse points so they can warm the blood as it flows near to the surface of your skin.
- Buddy up: The tried and true favorite is to snuggle up with a loved one or best friend (A suggestion for married folks, not Scouts—remember Youth Protection begins with YOU). Zipping two sleeping bags together will allow body heat to be shared. And even though you are essentially doubling the size of the sleeping area, it still works its magic in keeping occupants warmer than sleeping alone.
- Drink up: Roughly an hour before you plan to go to bed, sip some water. Then, right before bedtime, use the restroom. The trick here is in the hydrating effects: water increases blood circulation but the trip to the bathroom right before bed keeps you from losing any heat gain by avoiding a midnight (read: cold) bathroom run.
- Jumping jacks: Doing a few reps of a light exercise will get your blood circulating and raise your internal body temperature slightly. Immediately after a few rounds of a simple exercise (don’t get sweaty!), jump into your bag to trap all that extra heat you just generated.
- Stay dry: The biggest reason why people get cold at night (or anytime in the outdoors, really) is because they have moisture trapped next to their skin. Before going to bed, make sure your skin (especially those feet!) and hair are absolutely dry. Use a camp towel to soak up as much moisture as possible. Dusting cornstarch on your feet or other moisture-prone areas can help get rid of any excess dampness — just make sure to avoid scented baby powder when in bear country.