Just because you want to spend some quality time enjoying the outdoors doesn't mean you should sacrifice a good night's sleep too. Sleep and rest are important every day, especially if you're backpacking and camping. With the proper gear and preparation, you can have a sound sleep while sleeping under the stars, no problem! Here's everything you need to sleep comfortably in the outdoors.
What You’ll Need
First, you'll want to make sure you have a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent suitable for your needs. In fact, sleeping bags and sleeping pads should be the first things to consider for your trip, as they will make you the most comfortable.
Sleeping bags come in regular and long lengths, and in two basic shapes: mummy and rectangular (and various hybrids). There are two basic types of insulation that are commonly used for sleeping bags: down (usually water-resistant) and synthetic. Down is lightweight, easy to compress, and excels in cold, dry conditions, while synthetic is quick-drying, non-allergenic, and insulates when wet.
Sleeping pads or air mattresses are the most common sleep platforms for camping and typically range anywhere from one inch to several inches in thickness. Sleeping pads will give you the extra cushion you need for a great sleep.
Whether you bring a pillow from home or pack a small foam or inflatable camp pillow, this will help keep you comfortable. Even if you simply just fold up your down jacket or a sweatshirt you can sleep more comfortably. Needless to say, pillows are a must, makeshift or not.
Eye masks and earplugs are also nice to have in the outdoors to block out unwanted light and noises that would otherwise keep you up.
Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
- Choosing the right campsite can make or break your trip (and sleep). Pitch your tent in an area that looks like it's already been used or camped on (the goal of being in the outdoors and the underlying rules are, in fact, to leave no trace). The ground should be flat, durable, and cleared of sticks, rocks, and pinecones.
- Keep your light sources around in case you need them. It might be a good idea to either wear your headlamp or put it somewhere that's easily accessible. Keep a lantern or flashlight nearby, too. You don't want to wake up in the middle of the night and not know where your light sources are.
- Critter proofing your campsite is an absolute MUST. You don't need any visitors waking you up at night looking for food.
- Change out of dirty sweaty clothes from the day and into something dry to keep you comfortable and cozy throughout the night.
- Avoid overdressing! Even if you're cold, a number of layers you may be wearing can actually reduce your sleeping bags ability to efficiently trap body heat and keep you warm. Instead, wear a hat, long underwear, and some clean, dry socks.
- Take care of your bathroom business about 20 min before hitting the sack to avoid waking up in the middle of the night.
- If all else fails, find yourself a nice resort or lodge to stay at :)
Pro Tip: Try to keep up with your normal at home bedtime routine. Routines trigger feelings of normalcy and might help you fall asleep quicker.
Sleep tight, adventurers!