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How To Stay Warm In A Sleeping Bag?

Jun. 14, 2022

Travel to the mountains in the summer, and almost anywhere in the fall or spring, and you can encounter night and morning temperatures anywhere from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to well below freezing. That's enough to create a real risk of hypothermia, or at least cause you or your backpacking or camping partner or kids to have a miserable night - and want more. The good news: the very simple tips outlined in this article can turn a potentially unpleasant night into a comfortable one.


No matter how easily you get cold when you sleep outdoors, whether you're in a remote area or camping in a campground, these 10 tips will keep you warm in your sleeping bag on cool and cold nights.


1. Clean up

At the end of each day's hike, wash your body of dirt and dry sweat; the latter can chill you like a heat conductor, and getting cleaner will only make you feel better. Swim in the lake, and wade into the creek.


2. Change into dry clothes

Wet clothes promote heat dissipation by conduction from the body. Change into dry clothes to sleep in instead of the clothes you sweat in while hiking.

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3. Dress appropriately

In your pack, wear a hat, socks, and extra clothes, but don't wear so much clothing that your core (your body's furnace) is isolated from your extremities, which are more likely to get cold. It's usually more effective to wear only one or two light to medium weight base layers - these are highly breathable, which allows your core heat to escape throughout your bag. If you need more warmth, place an insulating piece on your torso and hips inside the bag, essentially enhancing the bag's insulation, and tuck other additional clothing around you or at the feet of the bag to provide additional insulation for your entire body.


4. Use a hot water bottle

Insert a water bottle filled with hot water at the bottom of your military sleeping bag. If that's not enough, put a bottle filled with hot water in the middle of your bag. Make sure they are tightly sealed, and that you are using a sturdy plastic bottle that is designed to hold hot liquids, such as a Nalgene bottle; a cheap plastic bottle (such as an empty soda bottle) can crack, which is a potentially very dangerous situation. Insulated or vacuumed bottles do not release any heat, thus counteracting any benefit.

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5. Eat fat and sugar (interesting tip)

Eat a fatty snack before bed, such as a candy bar, and a cup of a hot drink with sugar, such as hot cocoa. Both will fuel your body's furnace during the night. 


6. Pile extra clothes under your feet

Your feet get colder more easily than other parts of your body because they are farthest from your heart and, in a sleeping bag, not close to your furnace: the core of your body. They get cold, too, because the ground under your sleeping pad is cold. Put a few extra pieces of clothing under your bag feet to give your feet more insulation on the cold ground.

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