Camping is a unique activity that gives you the ability to get away from the stress and restraints of your regular life and spend some time with nature. It is actually a whole new and different experience from being at the comfort of your home. By choosing to go camping, alone or with a group, you choose to spend a few days without all your usual comforts, from TV to Wi-Fi to even a well-stocked fridge. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should also give up having a comfortable night’s sleep just because you are in the wild.
Yes, there is no doubt that getting a good night’s sleep can be a real challenge while camping. You are likely to spend most of your night tossing and turning inside your tent or on an uncomfortable hammock, trying hard to doze off. And you would still end up puffy eyed and completely tired.
Fortunately, sleeping comfortably while camping doesn’t have to be a challenge. With proper preparation, the right gear or an upgrade to your existing gear, you will be able to enjoy sound sleep tuning out the sounds of nature. Just think about how much better you can engage in outdoor activities the next day once you’ve had a solid night’s sleep. You will be totally rejuvenated and ready to have the best camping trip, carrying out all the tasks you’ve planned for the great outdoors.
But, when it comes to choosing the gear to sleep comfortably while camping, the availability of numerous options can be overwhelming. So, here are some of the most important sleeping gear you should look at before your next camping adventure.
To get that much needed zzzzs’s, what you would need is a good sleep system. In general, a sleep system comprises of a sleeping platform and a sleeping bag. The sleeping platform, basically, acts like a mattress that can be used outdoors and should be placed between the ground and your sleeping bag. This will not only provide insulation for your body during cold nights, but also acts as great cushioning, protecting you from the hard surface of the ground.
When it comes to choosing a sleeping platform, you have a variety of models to consider. You can either choose the more traditional sleeping pads or go for options like hammocks, cots, or air mattresses.
Sleeping pads are the basic and most common sleeping platform available. They come in three different types: closed-cell foam, air, and self-inflating pads, of which closed-cell foam pads happen to be the simplest model.
Closed-cell foam sleeping pads are widely preferred by backpackers because of their portability and lightweight. Despite being just under a pound in weight, these sleeping pads are usually very durable and do not need to be inflated as well.
If you are after something that’s highly compact, air mattresses could be the right choice for you. As these mattresses are inflatable, storing and carrying them is extremely easy. Also, you can easily inflate them with a pump or even by mouth. However, some of you may find the inflating part unnecessary as there are self-inflating sleeping pads.
Self-inflating sleeping pads, on the other hand, are one of the most comfortable models you can get for camping. These are basically just foam pads that expand when unrolled, and you can once again roll them back, which squeezes out the air inside, thus compressing the foam pad to make it compact. An additional benefit of these pads is that you can also make them firmer by pumping in some air. However, self-inflating pads happen to be the bulkiest of all, which is why they would work well for car camping rather than backpacking.
One feature that many campers love about cots is their height, which allows them to get on and off easily. They are widely recommended for summer camping as they don’t provide insulation for your body like a sleeping pad does. However, you can choose to use a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag to prevent this issue. Due to the mere size of cots, you need to make sure that you have a tent that’s big enough to accommodate it in addition to all your other gear. And for the same reason, cots can be difficult to pack and store, and therefore are best suited for car camping.
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Hammocks are a great alternative to sleeping on the ground while camping. As a matter of fact, the popularity of hammocks among campers has grown significantly in recent years. If what comes to your mind when you hear the word hammocks is the large rope hammocks that you probably have in your backyard for lounging, know that what you will need for camping is totally different. Camping hammocks are designed with high strength materials and are capable of holding your weight above the ground throughout the night, while also being light in weight and easily packable. You can also use your hammock as a place to sit during the day.
However, one downfall of hammocks is that they may not be suitable for all weather conditions. For instance, while you may choose a hammock for its gentle and soothing swaying, the same quality of it can end up being troublesome during high winds. Therefore, hammocks are best suited for summer months, especially during the warmest of nights, so you don’t have to depend on your blanket or sleeping bag for warmth.
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Many campers tend to have one sleeping bag, or maybe two, that they use for all their camping trips, regardless of the season. If you are one such camper, it is time that you invested in a solid sleeping bag that is designed specifically for the season when you choose to go camping. Here is a brief overview on how you can choose the right sleeping bag for your camping conditions:
- Three-season sleeping bags: These sleeping bags are designed to withstand temperatures of around 20 degrees and are perfect not just for fall and spring, but also for summer camping in locations where there can be a significant drop in temperature at night.
- Summer sleeping bags: These are bags that are best suited for temperatures 30 degrees and more.
- Winter sleeping bags: As the name suggests, these bags are perfect for winter season when the temperature drops below 20 degrees.
In addition, sleeping bags are also categorized in terms of their shape:
- Mummy sleeping bags: Sleeping bags of this shape are highly portable and smaller as well, which is why they are widely preferred by backpackers. Mummy sleeping bags are ideal for cold weather camping, even in high altitudes. But due to their shape, some may find these bags too constricting.
- Rectangular sleeping bags: Rectangular bags, on the other hand, are heavier and bulkier, and are suitable for camping in moderate weather. One advantage of rectangular sleeping bags over mummy bags is the fact that these offer more room to move or roll around during the night.
In addition to these basic shapes, you will also be able to find semi-rectangular models, which are designed to provide the functionalities of both mummy and rectangular bags; these bags provide more warmth than rectangular models and more room than mummy sleeping bags.
When choosing a sleeping bag, also look for features like a hood, a wind- and water-resistant shell for extra warmth (depending on the weather conditions), insulated tubes, and also a liner to make sure that the bag remains clean at all times (liners can be bought separately).
No matter what you choose to buy, a sleeping bag, hammock, or any other sleep system, don’t forget to find a comfortable pillow to enjoy that much deserved rest better. You would be surprised to experience a considerable increase in the level of comfort you enjoy from using a pillow. Choose from a wide variety of self-inflating camping pillows or go for a simple yet comfortable neck pillow; ultimately, it is your comfort that matters.
Ear plugs are important for those of you who cannot handle noises of the outdoors at night. A pair of good quality ear plugs will help lessen, if not block out, noises around you, not just that of the surrounding nature, but also the loud snoring of your tent mate.
Eye masks can be a great addition to your sleeping gear, especially during summer camping or when your campground has ambient lights.
While these sleeping gears can be of great help to you in getting a comfortable night’s sleeping while camping, you should also remember to follow your regular nighttime routines to make yourself comfortable to your new surroundings. For instance, if you have the habit of drinking tea just before going to bed, do the same while camping as well.
No more sleepless camping nights!