There is nothing better than falling asleep under the stars, marvelling at the milkyway and listening to the chorus of bush animals who come to life at night. But there is nothing worse than putting in a massive day on the trail to spend the night tossing and turning because of the cold.
To help you get a good night’s rest we’ve put together a few handy tips on keeping warm at night when out in the wilds.
Start warm – stay warm:
Get warm before you get into your sleeping bag. If a camp fire isn’t an option, make sure you dress warm as soon as the sun goes down and if all else fails a quick run around the campsite should warm you up. I have been told a shot of whiskey might help too….
Loft enhancer – loft your bag
Make it a priority when you arrive at camp to put your sleeping bag out and give it a good shake. This will give it maximum time to loft and create air space to warm up and keep you warm.
Line up: sleeping bag liner:
A sleeping bag liner will not only add an extra layer of warmth at night it will also help keep your sleeping bag cleaner. Washing and drying a liner is a lot quicker than cleaning a sleeping bag and they pack down super small and can add a great deal of warmth to your nightime. They can also help reduce the “rustling” noise everytime you turn over in the night.
Elevate – get a good mat
The ground is cold and will take away your warmth so make sure you have a good insulated sleeping mat that will not transfer your body heat away from you. Studies by smart people have proven that women sleep colder than men and different parts of the body transfer heat in women versus men. We feel the cold in our extremities like hands and feet, on the plus side we are generally have a smaller frame (about 5’5) which means our mats can be smaller and lighter. Leading outdoor brands are now making women’s specific mats that accommodate all of these differences even adding extra insulation in the areas where we feel the cold the most.
In Hot water:
Just because you are roughing it doesn’t mean you have to do it rough. Heat up some water 10 minutes before bed, wrap it in a spare item of clothing and then pop it in your sleeping bag (remember to seal the lid tightly). The bonus of this is you always have a drink handy in the middle of the night in case you took our whiskey advice too much to heart.
Extreme sleeping – cover those extremities
There is some super impressive stat that prove we lose most of our heat from our hands, feet and head so cover them up to help stay warm at night. If you didn’t pack gloves a spare pair of socks will do the trick, if you don’t have a beanie draw in the hood of your sleeping bag nice and tight.
One last pitstop:
Empting your bladder just before you go to bed has a two fold positive effect. You won’t need to get up in the middle of the night and pee (and in the process loose a lot of body warmth) and your body won’t be wasting precious energy heating up the liquid in your full bladder.
Consuming a slow burning snack just before bed will mean your body will be burning those extra calories overnight helping to keep you warm from the inside. Best s’mores excuse ever! We hear it works with other slow burning snacks as well….
oh and you can check out Sea to Summit’s offering of women’s specific sleeping bags at: http://seatosummit.com/?s=womens
We received so many great tips from in response to this post we had to add them for other ladies to benefit from too.
From Stephanie Brosnan: Sleepbags rely on your body to heat it. Therefore if there is empty space your body doesn’t fill, that air will become cold. Then you will become cold. Then you won’t heat the remaining part of the bag properly. Then you’ll get colder. Misery ensues… So, the lessons:
1. Bag no bigger than it needs to be. If you’re a short a&$e, fold the extra foot space underneath you.
2. Wear thin PJ’s to keep you warm, but also allow your body heat to fill the bag efficiently.
3. (My best work…) fill the remaining space with stuff. And by stuff I mean your next days clothes. Warm nights sleep + warm clothes in the morning = winning!
Oh, and close the top of your bag (you worked hard for that heat!) and wear a beanie to bed.
From Lauren Jones (aka 1/3 of The Jonseys): Being cold was a big issue for me when we headed Outback. When we started the nights were below zero. I went for a The North Face – Australia & New Zealand Green Kazoo sleeping bad (super warm) with a Sea To Summit Reactor Plus insert. Loved the extra warmth and ease of cleaning of the insert and when the nights got warmer, I only used the insert. We then slept on double layer – Thermarest Ridgerest and a Thermarest ProLite Plus. The double system was great to stay off cold and rocky (gibber plains!) ground as well as added a bit of lightweight comfort. Slept like a baby for 102 days in the Outback.
From Terra Roam: When I walked across the Nullarbor it was -5 at night. I used a Mont Brindabella sleeping bag and pacific outdoors short mat. If i’m using my Goshawk hammock in less than 10C i use a $2 spongy silver car windscreen shade for insulation. It is soft, flexible, light and doesn’t make noise when i move. In the past walking and snowshoeing the alps i had to send bags back for extra fill around hips, back and thighs. I have started carrying a SOL bivvy bag in the mountains, super toasty if all else fails and great for tarp camping.
From Claire Charpentier: For me the key is to try as much as possible to warm up the air around my body !!! So the less clothes in the sleeping bag to let my skin warms up the fabric. I also sleep with my head INSIDE the sleeping bag to avoid heat loses and the breathing adds extra heat 😊
If the ground is really cold it may be better to put your extra blanket under your body rather than on top !!!!
But the best option when temperatures are close to 0 at night in the Outback is to share a sleeping bag with a mate or love one