17 Tips to Spend A Warm Night in Your Sleeping Bag

After a good day of hiking and get in your sleeping bag, we dream of only one thing: a good night restorative warm. But it does not always happen like that! Who has not already had an unpleasant feeling of cold that prevents him from falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night?

Without heat in the vicinity, it is complicated to warm up once one is cold and a whole night shivering at the bottom of his sleeping bag is not the most relaxing night.

This problem is common and is partly due to the fact that in hiking one must generally wear his sleeping bag and that one seeks to optimize his weight – one can not take the cozy duvet that one usually uses at home.?

However, this is not the only cause, there are good practices to optimize the feeling of warm once in his sleeping bag and some practices that are better avoided at the risk of staying overnight to be cold even with a “hot” sleeping bag. How to keep warm in a lightweight warm weather sleeping bag and how does a sleeping bag keep you warm. Let’s begin!

I gathered all this in 17 tips and tricks that I invite you to read if you want to spend a good night in camping, in camping or if you ever have a heating failure in your home one day.?


1 – Have a suitable sleeping bag

You will say to me: “Francois, seriously, thank you for the advice, I would never have guessed! ” ?That said, it is not enough to choose the temperature indicated by the manufacturer to spend a warm night …

The insulation of your sleeping bag must be adapted to climatic conditions, so this is the first thing to consider. Without a minimum of isolation, the following advice does not allow for “miracles”. However, as we shall see, the sleeping bag is not the only way to isolate oneself from the cold.

The size of the sleeping bag is also important, too small a sleeping bag will be compressed and will not insulate well while a sleeping bag too large will have cold spots.


2 – Unfold your sleeping bag as soon as possible

In order to reduce their overall size once they are stored in the backpack, the sleeping bags are generally compressed. This is why, when preparing your “bed”, try to unfold your sleeping bag as soon as possible to give him time to recover from his emotions and to re-inflate. Keep in mind that it is the air trapped in the lining (down or synthetic fibers) that insulates the cold.


3 – Isolating from the cold of the ground

It is almost indispensable for not being cold unless the soil is warm enough – which is quite rare. It should be known that under the weight of your body, the sleeping bag is crushed, imprisoned only a little air and therefore can not isolate very much from the cold of the ground.

The most classic way to do this is by using a mattress, but it can also be done using natural means in addition, such as putting twigs or ferns under it shelter or choosing to plant his tent on thick, dry grass rather than mineral soil.


4 – Dress properly-what to wear in a sleeping bag to stay warm?

Dressing properly does not mean stacking all the clothes you have on hand. Dry, breathable clothing should be preferred and the first 2 layers of the 3-layer system should be respected. This often results in long synthetic undergarments or merino wool on the skin and possibly a fleece or equivalent over it if not enough (top and/or bottom). Be careful not to get too dressed at the risk of sweating in your clothes and get cold afterward.

I also advise you to put the clothes that you risk using in the night directly in your sleeping bag. They will be all warm when you put them on and you can put them inside the bag – just a few contortions.?

Note: Do not hesitate to cover your extremities with bonnet, socks, gloves … if the conditions require it.


5 – Use a bag sheet

As long as we speak of insulation, know that it is possible to use a cloth of bag inside his sleeping bag, preferably in silk and not in cotton to gain a few degrees if necessary. This also makes it possible not to overly dirty its sleeping bag and preserve its performance.

There are also thermal bag sheets that save more than a few degrees and allow for more versatility.


6 – Cover your head

You know that a lot of the body heat is drained off by the head. If you are cold, try to cover your head with a hat, the hood of your sleeping bag or even a turban made with a garment – the “heat gain” is always surprising.


7 – Warming up your feet

Some people have difficulty sleeping with cold feet. If you are in this case, you probably know it. In this case, do not hesitate to sleep with “warm” socks and rub your feet to warm them (between them, on your calves or with your hands for example).  How to keep warm in a lightweight warm weather sleeping bag.


8 – Fighting against moisture

This damned moisture, again and again! This should be avoided at all costs, keeping your belongings dry during the day – including clothing and sleeping bag.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the humidity of the ground by choosing its location well (for a night of bivouac) and having a barrier really impermeable. In addition to this, you should also pay attention to the condensation that is common in shelters/tents and does not hesitate to wipe it overnight if necessary.

As I mentioned above, it is important to adjust your body temperature (by adding or not clothes and by opening or not the sleeping bag) and not to be too hot at the risk of perspiring then of being cold, the height … Also, avoid burying your head in your sleeping bag (I know it’s tempting) because your breathing will add moisture inside.

I also advise you to make a habit of drying or ventilating your sleeping bag when the conditions allow it, it will avoid that too much moisture accumulates in from one day to the other and does not diminish its performance. This is all the more important for down sleeping bags that are more sensitive to moisture.


9 – Pay attention to perspiration

This is the little glamorous trick. ?When you have sweated, lay on your skin and your clothes salts. These are also the white traces that you can sometimes observe on t-shirts. The problem is that these salts tend to absorb moisture and that even well-equipped and well-clad, you might be cold.

So I advise you to use clothes in which you have not perspired to sleep. I usually keep a dry outfit for evening and night. And, if you have the courage and the possibility, I advise you to wash or rinse, it will make a big difference.


10 – Go to urinate if necessary

We remain in glamor, but it is for a good cause: to spend a good night warm. ?When one is in his sleeping bag and wants to urinate, the first reflex is to say “it will wait” because one thinks of the course of the combatant by which one will have to pass.

Still, the body spends a lot of energy to keep the urine warm so that it could spend that energy to warm other parts of your body. That’s why I advise you to find the courage to extirpate you from your sleeping bag and carry out your mission.

For men, there is an alternative that needs to be negotiated with your teammate if you have one: use a container to avoid going outside if you sleep in a tent. Be careful not to spill anything, we saw that the humidity is not welcome.?


11 – Protecting yourself from the wind

The wind factor is something not to be neglected at night. Try to protect yourself from the wind and avoid drafts – which “push” the warmed air away from you. During a bivouac, strategically choose your location according to the wind and shelters/windbreaks available (low walls, hedges, slopes, etc.).

If you sleep under a double-roof tent, you should also carefully tighten the outer canvas to leave an insulating air gap between the inner canvas and the double roof.

Do not forget to close the tent either, it’s messy to spend a cold night to realize in the morning that the entrance has remained open – something already experienced. ?

On the other hand, be careful not to cloit you completely (in a tent for example) by preventing all the exchanges of air, because the humidity rate risks to increase strongly. This is the reason why some homes have CMV.


12 – Optimize the correct position in the sleeping bag

There, you attack a point that may seem ridiculous, but all those who have spent very cold nights will understand exactly what I mean – because the difference between a good night and a bad night sometimes does not play much under these conditions.

Most hiking sleeping bags are narrow and adjusted to avoid cold spots. They are also made to rotate with the sleeping bag and not in the sleeping bag. In the same way, if you sleep grouped (very likely if it’s cold), do not regroup in the sleeping bag, but group the sleeping bag with you.

The aim is to avoid compressing the sleeping bag at certain places where the cold may penetrate.

For example, when I sleep together, I often have the coldest of knees and buttocks, as I tend to crush the sleeping bag – which does not isolate as well – in these places.


13 – Limit air exchange between inside and outside

Limit air exchange between inside and outside - sleeping bagIf too much air circulates between the outside and the inside of the sleeping bag, the energy spent on heating the air inside the sleeping bag is not very useful. It’s like when a person comes in beside you in a bed and lifts the quilt a little loud.?

To minimize air exchange, it is best to use the collar and / or hood available in some sleeping bags and adjust them using the drawstrings. If you do not have a collar, you can try to make a “cork” by wearing a garment in a sling. The ideal is to have only the nose and mouth outside the sleeping bag.


14 – Increase body temperature before bedtime

If you ever have a little cold before you go to bed or plan a cool night, I recommend you try to raise your body temperature (without sweating) before going to bed – the idea being not to lose it between hiking and bedtime. This will allow you to fall asleep faster and it is usually easier to do so before you get into your sleeping bag. All means are good, you can run on the spot, jump, dance, gesticulate, etc.

Once in your sleeping bag, or if you wake up in the middle of the night and want to warm up, try to contract all the muscles in your body (or a maximum) for a few seconds then relax and then contract. This will produce some energy that will warm you up.

Note: the longer you lie down after your day’s effort, the less you will benefit from the “overheating” effect of the effort.


15 – Using a Bouillotte

To warm up your sleeping bag before you slip it, you can create a boil by putting hot water in a gourd or a bottle and slipping it into your sleeping bag a few tens of minutes before bed.

Be sure to be sure that your artisanal bouillotte will not run away – otherwise, a nightmarish night awaits you.


16 – Feeding and Hydrating Properly

Digestion involves a lot of energy, so it is better to avoid eating too much before going to bed. However, you must also eat enough to recover and be able to leave the next day. It is necessary to find a good compromise, either by eating more during the day or by eating long enough before going to bed.

hot drink such as a soup or herbal tea before going to bed makes it possible to warm up a little and re-hydrate – important thing because dehydration promotes the feeling of cold.


17 – Sleeping on his teammate

If after all these tricks you are always cold, you just have to stick to your teammate (if you have one) – something you may have already done based on your degree of self- privacy. ?

Some false good ideas

There are a few tricks that come to mind when you’re cold, but that are false good ideas. The list is non-exhaustive, creativity being limitless.?

  • Lighting your stove inside the tent is very dangerous because many tents are extremely flammable and can be fatal due to the accumulation of carbon monoxide.
  • Heat his sleeping bag with his stove: this is the best way to stop having a sleeping bag at all! They are generally made from highly flammable materials.
  • Drinking alcohol to warm up: alcohol tends to dehydrate and “moves” the internal body heat to the outside. The initial heat sensation is quickly replaced by a more intense cold sensation.
  • Bivouac


I hope that these tips and tricks will allow you to spend warm nights in your sleeping bag to get off on a good foot the next day. Do not hesitate to share these tips with your teammates on social networks, you would not want them to be in a bad mood because of a bad night.?

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