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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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    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.

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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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    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.
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    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.
    Yep, use the bag the way it was designed. It is amazing how much moisture accumulates in a bag from just your breathe.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    Yep, use the bag the way it was designed. It is amazing how much moisture accumulates in a bag from just your breathe.
    And it's also vital on a long uninterrupted drip (i.e. no town laundry mats) to make a morning habit of hanging out your bag for an hour as you cook breakfast and slowly pack your gear. String up a line if possible (or hang from a tree branch)---get into the habit of hauling out the bag and hanging it, as long as the weather cooperates. It can be cold and cloudy but still the sleeping bag with dry out or "sublimate" or whatever very well and keep the shell dry.


    Hang out the bag every morning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    And it's also vital on a long uninterrupted drip (i.e. no town laundry mats) to make a morning habit of hanging out your bag for an hour as you cook breakfast and slowly pack your gear. String up a line if possible (or hang from a tree branch)---get into the habit of hauling out the bag and hanging it, as long as the weather cooperates. It can be cold and cloudy but still the sleeping bag with dry out or "sublimate" or whatever very well and keep the shell dry.


    Hang out the bag every morning.

    I started doing this after reading this here before. I take down my bear bag and turn the line into a clothes line - bag, mat, night base layer, tent fly and footprint - it looks like wash day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZ View Post
    I started doing this after reading this here before. I take down my bear bag and turn the line into a clothes line - bag, mat, night base layer, tent fly and footprint - it looks like wash day.
    I equate to hanging out my down bag in the morning when it's 0F to the discipline needed to remove clothing as you hike to keep your layers from sweating out. It's just one more chore that needs to be done on winter trips longer than 2 or 3 days. A dry bag is a happy bag.


    Sometimes I use my bear line to hang out the bag, other times just a handy tree limb.



    This pic shows what -10F looks like atop a 5,000 foot North Carolina mountain in Jan. 2009. Hang your bags, boys. This time I'm using the bear line.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    Yep, use the bag the way it was designed. It is amazing how much moisture accumulates in a bag from just your breathe.
    Been some tmie since I read the article, but at least a pint of moisture per night sounds about right. I've had damp sleeping bag problems when I scoot down in the bag in my sleep because my knit cap came off.

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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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    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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    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.

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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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    I found out years ago if you put one sheet of newspaper, or use a newsprint advert you get in the mail, between myself and an air mattress or cot, it blocks surges of cold coming up from below. It works in air about 50F with a breeze. I haven't tried it in freezing weather.

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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 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.
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    I totally agree, Meriadoc. I pulled my tent fly over my down sleeping bag while sleeping in a shelter in a spring ice storm. When I awoke there was heavy condensation between the bag and my tent fly. Luckily the weather broke the next day, and I was able to air and dry my bag in the sun at the next shelter.

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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.
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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.
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