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    Administrator attroll's Avatar
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    Default The Art of Sleeping Warm at Night

    Found this nice article about keeping warm at night by Section Hiker.
    This article was taken from the web site "Section Hiker". You can view the entire article here http://sectionhiker.com/the-art-of-s...warm-at-night/.

    Have you even spent a cold night in your sleeping bag because the temperature dropped lower than you expected? Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to increase your comfort level on those cold nights without buying any additional backpacking gear.

    • Cover your collar bones with an insulated jacket or fleece sweater to prevent hot air from escaping from your sleeping bag when you move around at night. This is often the ONLY thing I need to do to sleep warmer at night.
    • If you sleep on an inflatable sleeping pad like a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Sleeping pad, lie flat on your back, not on your side. Your back will heat up the sleeping pad and keep it warm better than your side because more surface area is in contact with the pad.
    • Wear a buff over your neck. This will keep you warmer at night and on cool days because it will insulate your neck and the veins that flow close to the surface of your skin.
    • Wear a fleece hat, even if your sleeping bag has a mummy hood. Your head radiates a lot of body heat because so much blood flows to your brain.
    • Wear your clothes inside your sleeping bag or under your quilt. I always bring long underwear top of bottom on trips for this purpose, and it keeps the inside of your bag cleaner on multi-day trips.
    • Shield your sleeping bag from the wind if you’re camping under a tarp and the walls don’t reach all the way to the ground.
    • Boil some water and pour it into a Nalgene bottle or water reservoir. Place the bottle or reservoir between your legs over your femoral arteries where they flow close to your skin. This will heat up your blood and make you warmer.
    • Stuff all of your speare clothing into your sleeping bag with you. By filling up the space, your body has less work to do to heat up the insulation.
    • Eat some fatty food like a candy bar before you go to bed. Your digestion will generate heat to make your warm.
    • Stay hydrated. You digestion will work better if it has enough water to digest your food.

    What other tricks do you have for staying warm on cold nights?
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    Vapor barrier. Using plastic bags for your pack liner? Got a spare too? Cut a head and arm holes into one bag and put it on against your skin, and then put your upper body clothing back on over it. This will help a lot, and possibly more so during the course of the night if there's moisture to drive out of the bag, but if it's still really cold you can use the second bag over your legs. Rain gear can work too.

    Sleeping curled up on your side is warmer. That's the sleeping position used for the extreme rating of sleeping bags as defined by EN13537.

    Some gear can be placed under your pad. Under the pad because it may be sweaty. A foam sit pad would be ideal. A backpack is nearly as good since most have a foam back pad and large surface area. Flip flops and insoles too.

    Thick socks can sometimes cause cold feet when they're tight enough to constrict blood flow, so try taking them off or using fewer layers if your feet seem inexplicably cold.

    If you're not sleeping in a shelter, the usual campsite selection guidelines apply. Stay out of saddles and low areas, the first can become a wind tunnel, the latter will be a sink for cold air and humidity. Keep in mind that cold air will rush down a mountain much like water would, so stay out of those paths. Sleep under the edge of a tree, but not on grass, with a thick layer of duff. The tree and closeby low brush will help block the wind and insulate the campsite.

    If you know a cold night is coming, don't stand around camp for no reason because it'll make you cold, and takes a long time to warm back up.

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    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    I go to great lengths to keep my sleep system dry. That includes not exhaling inside my bag. Even if my head is covered I find a way to breath outside my bag.

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    I find that I have to go to bed warm (not hot). A sleeping bag doesn't generate heat it only reduces body heat from being los tot the surroundings. I find that A short walk or even some light exercise just before I get in the bag, keeps me warmer. Many cold weather camping guides recommend the same.

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    Default The Art of Sleeping Warm at Night

    While in a shelter I used my tent as a blanket on top of my bag and that helped a lot. If the sky is clear pitch the tent under tree cover not open to the sky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post
    ...Sleeping curled up on your side is warmer. That's the sleeping position used for the extreme rating of sleeping bags as defined by EN13537.
    I was going to correct this important point in the OP. More contact with cold ground means more heat conduction from your body.

    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post
    ...Some gear can be placed under your pad. Under the pad because it may be sweaty. A foam sit pad would be ideal. A backpack is nearly as good since most have a foam back pad and large surface area. Flip flops and insoles too.

    Thick socks can sometimes cause cold feet when they're tight enough to constrict blood flow, so try taking them off or using fewer layers if your feet seem inexplicably cold.
    I find I sleep warmer without extra clothing on my body (YMMV) or in the bag, and moisture control is critical in the long run, so most of my clothing goes under the pad for extra insulation. If you do it right, your body heat may even dry out the clothing under the pad and that's a real bonus in the morning.

    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post
    ...If you know a cold night is coming, don't stand around camp for no reason because it'll make you cold, and takes a long time to warm back up.
    Most excellent point. The best way to stay warm is to never get cold.

    Quote Originally Posted by moytoy View Post
    I go to great lengths to keep my sleep system dry. That includes not exhaling inside my bag. Even if my head is covered I find a way to breath outside my bag.
    Restating an important point. Your shelter should protect you from the wind, but must not hold moisture in your insulation. I also try to find a few minutes of sun and wind the next day to dry things out, even if they're not obviously wet.

    I pay attention to arranging the down in my bag. My bag is unbaffled, which means I can shift the down in the tubes from bottom to top depending on temp. On the coldest nights, I get most of the down on top.

    The bottle of hot water is perhaps the best idea. Having that water to sip on during the night is very nice. I take a safety step and store the bottle in a gallon ziplock, after I heard of one mountaineer who had ice crystals form on the lid and it leaked in his bag.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    If you wake up shivering at night and feel the need to pee, get up and do it. Is counter-intuitive, but getting out of your bag, braving the cold, and peeing, will warm you up, and allow you to fall back asleep. Bring a pee bottle or pee container as part of your gear.
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

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    I have a fleece sleeping bag so moisture isn't as big a deal for me (it breathes, so to speak). If it's colder than I expected I pull the bag over my head to trap my warm exhaled air. I do leave a crack open for air exchange or I have a harder time falling asleep. I do the same with my climashield quilt. I go from uncomfortable to toasty in no time.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

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    Registered User Sara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I find that A short walk or even some light exercise just before I get in the bag, keeps me warmer.
    A couple sit-ups help to warm me up.
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    First, get beyond the idea that your warmth is simply maintained and preserved by your quilt/sleeping bag. Think sleep system.

    First thing when I unload my pack for the night is unbag my quilt/sleeping bag from it's stiff sack, air it out, and fluff it up by massaging it and moving around the down as I think necessary(if able to do this). To some extent this helps with synthetic sleep system insulation too especially if in a stuff sack.. Air can be a great insulator or robber of heat. Then I eat IF I'm eating near where I'm sleeping.

    These are excellent ideas that can sometimes make all the difference in sleeping cold or comfortably warm. They take into consideration convective heat loss. "If the sky is clear pitch the tent under tree cover not open to the sky" and "If you're not sleeping in a shelter, the usual campsite selection guidelines apply. Stay out of saddles and low areas, the first can become a wind tunnel, the latter will be a sink for cold air and humidity. Keep in mind that cold air will rush down a mountain much like water would, so stay out of those paths. Sleep under the edge of a tree, but not on grass, with a thick layer of duff. The tree and closeby low brush will help block the wind and insulate the campsite." Consider campsite or sleep site selection carefully. Think about radiating heat to you/back to you via large stones, things that are heat sinks, outcroppings, sleeping under thick low overhead branches like evergreens, next to downed trees, branches, lighting a fire and sleeping near the embers, placing warmed(not overly hot though) relatively clean stones around where you're sleeping/inside your sleeping bag, under a ledge, behind boulders, in a cave, in a grove of dense trees, etc This is all that much more important when tarping, bivying , cowboying and going SUL/minmalist.

    If using a quilt(almost all have no hood) be mindful of what you're going to do to prevent unnecessary heat loss through your head, particularly if it's COLD. It's why I'm a fan of sleep systems that have hoods in the COLD(at around 35-40*). Be mindful of preventing heat robbing drafts. IMO, using a quilt effectively needs to take into greater considerations.

    I'm also into the habit of extending my quilt/sleeping bag 10-15 degrees lower than their lowest rating so I have to do all I can when the temps are COLD I'm a hiker as they say not a camper so I hike right up until I camp. Within 15-20 mins of stopping hiking I'm in my bag, sometimes sooner. Even if it's been raining I first dry off and then get in my bag. This helps from getting chilled when I stop. Consider this too in your own hiking. Don't hang around at camp doing much unnecessary wandering around. This also means having less need for warmer wandering around camp insulating clothing. For in camp, my sleep system is my main insulation for staying warm.

    I very rarely have all this unused extra clothing insulation that so many allude to but if I do it goes over me(after fully lofting that too) typically if it's down(preserve the loft) or over my quilt/bag or is worn. If I'm carrying a rain jacket I typically sleep in it. It's kinda like a VB shirt. BTW, in COLD temps when I'm sleeping I'll be wearing a merino beanie, rain jacket with the hood up, and in my sleeping bag with the hood up. If for some reason I have a bandanna or extra socks with also a beanie the bandanna or socks get wrapped around my ears over the beanie with all the hoods up and cinched. This is especially good if you are quilting in COLD temps under a tarp or cowboying. Also if I'm cowboying and I'm not using my tarp as shelter I'll use it for additional warmth by laying it over me or wrapping myself up in it burrito style(Don't breathe into it) or use it as additional insulation under me. You got to use everything available to stay warm when it's COLD. When NEEDING to stay warm it's about gear/apparel/kit integration. I also like carrying stretch UL nylon running gloves. I wear them to sleep too. All these things used cummulatiively is how I regularly extend the lower temp rating of my sleep system.

    Get rid of the pee(outside of your body) when in your sleep system. It takes body heat to keep that liquid warm. If I have a pee bottle(sometimes it's my water bottle!) I carefully urinate into it(keep it clean, good luck women), tightly seal it, and use it in your sleeping bag as a heat source. Saves cooking fuel in heating up separate water for this purpose.

    Carefully consider getting a less loose fitting bag/quilt or a stretch bag like Mont Bell makes. Get the correct length bag/quilt too. Be careful here though that you don't get something too tight either. Again, in my use there's more to consider when you start playing with quilt sleeping systems in COLD temps(below 30-35*).

    Sleep with your empty pack under your feet or with you in your empty pack cinched up to you knees.

    Use whatever you have to insulate from the ground. I usually use my WR/WP maps under me and/or dry leaves,/leaves, softish evergreen boughs, pine straw, lots of flat rocks to make a bed(return rocks when done), cardboard(if in town stealthing in the COLD), etc can help.

    Get warm/warmer by exercising before getting into sleep system.

    Eat before sleeping.

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    His first point is dead on. My WM Megalite doesn't have a collar-thingy. Simply putting extra clothing up around my neck and shoulders is all it takes to keep me warm if I start to get chilled.

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    One important thing I learned is to underdressing when first going to bed. If you completely layer up for the expected low temperature then you are likely to sweat, causing you to get colder later. If you get cold add a layer later in the night.

    second, I have become a huge believer in VBL. I use my rain suit over my thin base layer with the insulating layer on the outside. I also made up VBL socks as well and these are likely the best ounce or two of winter weight that I carry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daddytwosticks View Post
    His first point is dead on. My WM Megalite doesn't have a collar-thingy. Simply putting extra clothing up around my neck and shoulders is all it takes to keep me warm if I start to get chilled.
    The WM Megalite is considered by most a warm season sleepping bag as such the designers saw little/no need for a draft collar. It's also designed for those that want more room. A 64" shoulder girth is quite large. You wanted a larger/more roomier bag you got it with the Megalite. One of the trade offs is that extra space needs to be warmed up and kept warm and the seal around the shoulders needs to be taken in context with your shoulder width. I get your pt though about sealing drafts around the neck/shoulders.

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    Sleep on as much gear as possible. If I'm pushing the ratings of things, I have any unworn clothing, my empty pack, and possibly my rain suit under my sleeping pad. If anything has got wet, it goes under the pad too. Everything I wear has at least some insulating quality even when wet, and the body heat that comes through the pad will help dry it some.

    Sleep in dry clothes. If something has gotten wet, put it back on in the morning so that your sleeping clothes are dry.

    If I'm carrying my Camelbak, and possibly might get freezing temperatures in the night, I wrap it in my rain jacket or rain pants and use it as a pillow. Since I'm a side sleeper, it's surprisingly comfortable - a little like a waterbed for the head.

    In windy conditions, your tent needs a windbreak. Pile brush or bank snow on the upwind side if necessary.

    In the eastern US in most seasons, sleep on the east side of hills, half way up. Ridges get windy and valleys get cold, and the prevailing wind comes out of the west in fair weather. If snow impends, set up on the south side of a hill instead. Snow first blows in out of the northeast. After a snowstorm, camp on the east side again. Snowstorms are frequently followed by northwest gales blowing the snow..
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I find that I have to go to bed warm (not hot). A sleeping bag doesn't generate heat it only reduces body heat from being los tot the surroundings. I find that A short walk or even some light exercise just before I get in the bag, keeps me warmer. Many cold weather camping guides recommend the same.
    I was taught the opposite. If my metabolism is ramped up and I crawl into my bag, I sweat and then I get cold. I was taught that when going to bed, lie on top of your bag and relax (lie very still). I'm surprised sometimes how long I can lie there without getting cold. I find this to be the most relaxing and favorite part of the day. Then as you starting to feel cold, crawl into the bag. Laying on top of the bag will have warmed it up, but all the moisture will have dissipated. Mostly it is just your skin that will have chilled. Your core temp will not be significantly affected. But the warmed bag against the chilled skin feels really warm and toasty. This may not be the best idea when it's really cold. I don't have a lot of winter experience. For for three season camping, it works for me.

  16. #16
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    I take two or three iron oxide hand warmers with me when backpacking. Just throw one or two in your bag when you go to sleep and your bag internal temperature will go up by 10 degrees. If it is a really cold night, throw another one or two in around two or three in the morning. Next morning, just tear open the small hand warmer bag, dump out the iron oxide (it will blend in with the dirt) and either pack out the bag or burn it.

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    "Everything I wear has at least some insulating quality even when wet, and the body heat that comes through the pad will help dry it some."

    I think this is true too even with drenched down sleeping bags. Recently, on the PT I hiked until 1 a.m. After a 35+ mile day I was spent. I was having a hard time finding a suitable place to camp even after intently looking for a decent site. I picked a poor spot on a slope. It rained heavily all night. I was under a tarp w/ good coverage but my down bag got drenched as the the slope I was on became a waterfall. I dried out the tarp the next day but the down sleeping bag would have taken a wk in the sun to dry out. I gently loosely placed it in my pack. The next night I wore my rain pants and rain jacket while wiggling into the wet down sleeping bag then wrapped myself up in the dry tarp around the sleeping bag. Slept comfortably burrito style.

    Those iron oxide hand, feet, body warmers are oxygen activated. Make sure the ones you buy or use are new and completely sealed in their original packaging or they may night work as well or even at all if the air has gotten to them. I store them in a sealed ziploc if bringing them along.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    While in a shelter I used my tent as a blanket on top of my bag and that helped a lot. If the sky is clear pitch the tent under tree cover not open to the sky.
    Be careful with this. Covering a sleeping bag with any vapor barrier (i.e. a tent, tarp, emergency blanket) will trap moisture from your body in the sleeping bag. This can be disastrous with down.
    Merry 2012 AT blog
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    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post

    Sleeping curled up on your side is warmer. That's the sleeping position used for the extreme rating of sleeping bags as defined by EN13537.

    Totally agree. When pushing a sleep system past its limits, Im warmer on my side than my back. When on my back, I can feel the heat escaping from my topside. Reducing the horizontal body surface area makes me feel noticeably warmer.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    I sleep in a tent, one of the things that has worked for both improved comfort and insulation is prepping my tent spot with a THICK pile of leaves, pine needles where & when available. Like 6" thick or more.

    And yes, in the morning I spread everything back out to make the area look as if nobody had been there.

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