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9 Tips for Staying Warm in Your Sleeping Bag

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It might not feel like spring is only a few weeks away, but believe it or not, warmer weather is right around the corner. While we couldn’t be more excited about the return of higher temperatures, we’re not much looking forward to those lingering frosty nights. Since several state park campgrounds re-open in the spring, we thought you could use some tips for staying warm in your sleeping bag. If you can’t wait to head back to your favorite campsite but are worried about staying warm when those nighttime temperatures drop, stop fretting! This handy guide ought to hold you over until summer.

1. Never go to bed cold

If you’re cold when you get into your sleeping bag, chances are high that you’ll remain cold. Before you settle in to snooze, warm yourself up by doing a few exercises to generate heat. Do some push ups or a few jumping jacks. Just make sure to stop before you begin to sweat!

sleeping bag for camping
Never go to bed cold

2. Enjoy some midnight munching

Your body generates heat as it digests food, so indulge in a late night snack to keep your internal furnace burning all night long. Looking for some food-spiration? Here are some easy recipes you can make right at your campsite.

3. Change your clothes

Hopefully you remembered to pack a change of clothing, since you’ll need to change up your outfit before hitting the sack. The clothes you’ve worn all day will likely be slightly damp, which makes you feel colder.

4. Wear a hat

Think a “nightcap” only refers to a pre-bed boozer? Guess again. Nightcap garments were common in Northern Europe in the days before central heating. We lose heat quickly from our heads, so channel your inner Dickens character and cover your noggin before heading to bed.

a dog wears a hat
This dog sort of has the right idea.

 

5. Snuggle up with a hot water bottle

This is an old but effective trick. Fill a water bottle (or two or three or four) with hot water, wrap it in spare clothing, and place your crafty, handmade, personal space heater right into your sleeping bag with you.

6. Don’t zip up your face

While it may be tempting to dive into your sleeping bag and zip yourself fully inside, don’t keep your mouth and nose in the bag. Your breathing creates moisture that will dampen your clothes and sleeping bag and make you feel colder. Even a high-quality mummy style bag will still allow you to keep your nose and mouth exposed.

Don’t zip up your face
It’s hard to tell, but hopefully their faces are exposed!

7. Get high up off the ground

It’s hard to stay warm if you’re sleeping on the cold ground. Invest in a good insulating pad and put some distance between your sleeping bag and the chilly earth.

8. Designate a special pair of sleeping bag socks

Warm feet are essential to feeling warm all over. You might already know that choosing the proper sock is essential for keeping your feet warm when you’re exercising outdoors, and the same applies to sleeping outdoors.

Choose an extra cozy pair of thick wool or loose fleece socks to wear only in the sleeping bag.

9. Fluff your sleeping bag

sleeping bag at camp
Image: REI

Even your sleeping bag could use the occasional primping. Sleeping bag insulation can get compressed from packing, which makes it less effective. Give the bag a good shake to redistribute the insulation before you jump in. Perhaps you can even turn your Sleeping Bag Shake into a pre-bedtime aerobic activity and cover tip #1 at the same time.

Do you know any tips we missed for staying warm in your sleeping bag? Share them below!

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