Being cold during the night is one of the ways you can turn a wonderful camping experience into a lousy one.
Simply buying a high temperature rated sleeping bag isn’t enough to keep you nice and warm and comfortable a lot of the time.
You need to understand how to use your bag, how to choose the right sleeping bag, and know a few of the tips and tricks I’ll be covering in this article to find that perfectly optimal level of warmth.
How Do Sleeping Bags Work?
It sounds like a silly question, but it’s not. Understanding how your sleeping bag works enables you to be more mindful of keeping warm when sleeping in it.
Sleeping bags are designed to keep warmth in, they relies on you to generate the heat. So thinking about you first, then the bag second is often where to start.
This is why it’s better to wear some thermals and generate more heat than buy a thicker, higher rated or higher GSM sleeping bag to combat the chills.
I covered some information on GSM ratings for sleeping bags here if you don’t know what this means.
To start with, here are some basic tips to be aware of to keep warmer on those cold nights:
How to Increase Sleeping Bag Warmth: Tips and Tricks
Shake Your Bag out Before Each Use
This actually makes a huge difference if your bag has a filling that moves around, especially after traveling with it tightly wrapped up.
Give it a good shake and make sure all the filling is evenly distributed. Check for clumps building up and give it a good fluffing.
Use a Hot Water Bottle
So many people forget about hot water bottles while camping. Maybe it’s the thought of the extra backpack luggage or having to warm some water at the end of the day, but it’s absolutely worth it.
It’ll stay warm for several hours in a well-insulated sleeping bag. Just remember to wrap it in a towel or something if it’s really hot at first.
Don’t Go to Sleep Needing a Pee
Did you know that when you need to pee your body uses energy keeping your pee warm? A bit gross, a bit weird, but it’s true, and makes a difference to your core temperature.
It sucks if it’s cold outside and you really don’t want to get up and go pee. But you’re going to sleep a lot better not needing to pee in the night, and your body will have more energy for generating heat.
Wear a Hat
Most of your body heat is lost through our head, and your head is probably sticking out the top of your bag too as the only part of your body exposed.
Wearing a hat makes a huge difference to your body temperature. Some sleeping bags come with hoods that are worth considering too.
Insulate Between Your Sleeping Bag and the Ground
Use a sleeping pad, double up on ground sheets, or put a towel or something similar underneath your sleeping bag.
On a cold night the closer you and your sleeping bag are to the ground the more of the cold you’re going to transfer to your outer layers.
How to Keep Feet Warm in a Sleeping Bag
Are your feet the only cold part of your body while sleeping in your bag?
You’re not alone. The way most sleeping bags are designed means that your feet are free to move around, which is great for comfort but not ideal at keeping them toasty warm.
Here are your best options:
- Wear warm socks.
- Wear loose-fitting slippers if socks aren’t comfortable.
- Use a hot water bottle.
Is It Warmer to Sleep with Clothes on or off in a Sleeping Bag?
This may sound like a question with an obvious answer – and it is. Yet, it’s still a question that comes up a lot.
I’m not sure which myths of old wives tales are out there, but sleeping with clothes on will increase the amount of insulation keeping the cold air off your skin so you’ll stay warmer.
There is a balance between being really warm, and too hot and sweaty or uncomfortable of course.
Usually, some long underwear will be just fine and comfortable. Or even something like a sleeping bag liner if you find wearing clothes uncomfortable.
In this post, I covered some basic tips and tricks on how to increase sleeping bag warmth from the inside out. There are no excuses now for shivering in your bag or moaning about the night’s being too cold and ruining your trip.
If you have any other tips or information that will help others please feel free to share them in the comments, much appreciated!