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How to Sleep Outdoors: The Best Gear for a Good Night’s Sleep

A good night's sleep will determine whether you create memories you'll treasure for the rest of your life or whether your company deals with the consequences of a sleep-deprived Sasquatch (you). As no one wants to meet a Sasquatch, especially when they're tired, we'll look at the best strategies for sleeping like a baby when you're in the backcountry.

There is no "best" backcountry sleeping system due to the diverse types of bodies and body types, weather conditions, and trail conditions. The best solution is the one that works for you. Many people camp alone in warm, bug-free conditions, while others struggle with freezing rain and pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes that could take the dogs with them. Some campers prefer to rock to sleep in hammocks between trees like a baby. While others need to be tucked into a warm mummy bag atop a 3-inch air mattress, resting their heads on a microfiber camp pillow. There are generally three parts to a camp sleeping system:

Shelter: Keeps you out of the elements and away from bitey, crawly creatures.

Warmth is essential for a good night's sleep and ultimately, for survival.

Comfort keeps you off the hard ground and provides additional insulation - both of which help to keep you warm.

If you're still curious about sleeping in the backcountry, it's best if you scrounge, borrow, or steal (OK, maybe not steal) a variety of camping gear and try it out near your home or at an area camping ground. Camping and hiking equipment can also be rented. You don't want to be tearing the tags off your brand new sleep gear for the first time when you're 10 miles from the trailhead with no REI insight. Before ever setting foot in the backcountry, you should know what works.

Note: In case you are one of those outdoorsy types who dread the thought of losing a shower in the great outdoors, then check out the list of Best Solar Shower Bag for Camping 2021. This list of solar shower bags can help you find the perfect one for your needs.

Shelter

Your backcountry shelter keeps you safe from the elements and away from critters, just like your house or apartment. It will be heavier if you bring more shelter. Tents, tarps, bivy bags, our hammocks are typical camping equipment on the trail. It's good to have a shelter with you, even if you will only use it in an emergency.

Tents

At their most basic, tents consist of a mesh body that is attached to poles; a waterproof fly may be included for wet camping. A tent that provides adequate protection from the elements keeps bugs out, and is staked to the ground can be considered the best. Some of them can also stand freely on gravel or tent platforms, which is ideal for camping in national parks.

Tarps

Tarps for backpacking aren't your typical car camping tarps from Home Depot. Six- or eight-foot square nylon tarps pack down smaller than a water bottle and are extremely light. Trees, trekking poles, and well-tuned guy lines can be used to set up sturdy and effective shelters with tarps. Tarps, however, won't block the weather like a tent would. No bug netting means tarps won't keep critters out, either. There are, however, a couple of separate net options you can hang under the tarp. Tarp tents are a variation on backpacking tarps - a unique, lightweight tarp shaped like a rainfly that is easier to set up than a traditional tent.

Bivy Sacks

A bivy sack (short for bivouac) is a narrow, waterproof shell designed to go around a sleeping bag. Since they are small and packable, many hikers call them "bear burritos." With a tarp or bedsheet (tarp) and a sleeping pad, a bivy sack is the simplest form of protection for a night outside. The only problem is that they aren't that comfortable in bad weather. There are also limited spaces for moving, and it can be difficult to get in while it rains. For a relatively lightweight and flexible sleep system, many people put a tarp over their bivy. Their streamlined size and simplicity make them ideal for mountaineers and ultralight hikers.

Hammocks

The popularity of hammock camping has returned. A bug net and small tarp provide a lightweight sleep solution that can be hung almost anywhere. They may come with under quilts that hang underneath to prevent Cold Butt Syndrome (this is a real thing - we found it on WebMD) as well as bug nets to keep insects away. Then you can turn 10-15 degrees and lay flatter so you can get a good night's sleep on the trail.

Warmth

A sleeping bag or camp quilt will take up more space than just about anything else in your backpack, along with a tent. While it's important to stay warm at night, make sure your sleeping bag is appropriately rated for the weather you'll encounter. Sleeping in a smaller, lighter sleeping bag or quilt can relieve your back and legs.

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags have three main characteristics: warmth, weight/packability, and affordability. Most of the time, you must choose which two are most important to you. Most of the warmest, most affordable bags are heavier; cheap, lightweight bags are generally not very warm; and so on. The majority of campers will be fine with an all-purpose bag in the 30- to 40-degree Fahrenheit range as long as they don't plan hardcore alpine expeditions.

Camp Quilts

It is important to minimize weight and ounces wherever possible for minimalist hikers. Camp quilts are a great way to save space and weight. In this design, the underside is eliminated, but the functionality of the sleeping bag is still the same. Besides being more versatile, the open design also provides more comfort to side sleepers and anyone who feels confined in a mummy bag.

Comfort

The need for shelter and warmth is vital for survival. Camping is a wonderful adventure, but you must also be comfortable to truly enjoy it. That's when a nice, soft sleeping pad comes in handy. They elevate you off the ground and provide insulation at the same time.

Inflatable Sleeping Pads

The air mattress and sleeping pad you may have grown up with are far different from the 10-pound Coleman with the electric pump. They are small, light, and packable while still keeping you 3 to 4 inches off the ground for a great night's sleep. You can pump up air-filled pads or use your breath to inflate them. Some inflatables have two parts that can be inflated separately for added comfort and versatility. With insulation, the R-value is higher and you will stay warmer. Stay away from fabric that is crunchy and might make noise when you move at night. Don't forget to bring the patch kit to fix any holes caused by sharp rocks or sticks.

Foam Sleeping Pads

If you want to avoid patch kits and inflating altogether, opt for a closed-cell foam sleeping pad. Their air-filled counterparts are much more comfortable, but they are constructed of a thin, dense foam that is nearly indestructible. They're lightweight, last forever, and can even serve as a camp chair in an emergency.

Conclusion

These are the Ultimate Tips for Keeping Warm While Sleeping Outdoors. Several of these tips have been helpful for me and my trekkers. I hope they are very useful to you as well. Please feel free to post any helpful tips you have in the comments section below if they could benefit other trekkers.

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