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  1. #1
    the commutor / tourer mcavana's Avatar
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    how to be comfortable in the tent....

    Ok, me being the geek that I am, I slept in my tent in the back yard again getting ready for my trip in 2 weeks. It is a 2 person tent, and I am using a mummy shaped self inflating pad, and a mummy shaped 40 degree sleeping pad (very light and soft, but pretty thin too)

    The first night was not cofortable at all. it went down to about 41 degrees, and i was pretty dam cold. all i had on was a tshirt and shorts. I had my noral bed pillow that was not comfortable, and obviously it was not something that would be taken on a trip.

    The second night I was pretty warm and cozy because I wore a sweatshirt and long johns. (huge improvement! ) I also purchased a tiny camping pillow that rolls up very small and has its own stuff sack. It was also a big improvement on my comfort... but had to be folded in half to make it thick enough for me. It was cool but i woke up a couple times during the night because it had come unfolded... not sure what the solution to this is, perhaps buy a second camping pillow (it really takes up just a tiny bit of room and weighs next to nothing)

    I think tonight I will try it again. I believe the pad may be over inflating itself... it was pretty hard this morning when i was laying on it. I will lay on it tonight and force some air out of it to soften things up a bit.

    My theory on the sleeping bag is that it will just take time for me to get used to. it is mummy style, and I am a pretty big guy so there is not a whole lot of extra room. this makes it difficult to turn around. I think I just have to get used to that one.

    The point of this thread is for you camping pros to share some tips that you have learned over time with a camping new bee!!!! What are some things I can do to increase my comfort in the tent? What is the solution to my pillow situation? (I know i can use clothes, but that does not sound very appealing once they are dirty and stinky!) What do you think about my theory on the sleeping bag?


    Any help would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!!)
    "Ready to retire, just can't afford it yet!"

  2. #2
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    Get fleece bottoms and tops at any outdoor store

    VERY lite weight compared to to sweat shirts AND they will be warmer

  3. #3
    Senior Member bikebuddha's Avatar
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    Trust me you'll find it a lot easier to sleep after biking all day.
    The few, the proud, the likely insane, Metro-Atlanta bicycle commuters.

  4. #4
    the commutor / tourer mcavana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikebuddha
    Trust me you'll find it a lot easier to sleep after biking all day.
    this is true
    "Ready to retire, just can't afford it yet!"

  5. #5
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    Don't wear cotton! Cotton kills by keeping you wet and stealing your body heat! Poly- pro is your best bet.
    If you are getting really cold at night and you need some heat try using an emergency blanket or bag (you can get them almost anywhere in a camping section). The crinckly sound can be a bit loud and feels a bit strange inside the bag but you'll be toasty warm in almost no time at all. It's also handy if you don't have alot of extra space in a sleeping bag for extra layers of clothes.
    Another thing you can try is wearing a hat to bed. You lose an amazing amount of heat through the head.
    If I go to bed cold I make an extra effort not to ignore it. If I don't stay warm I wake up tired because my body hasn't really rested. It's spent the whole night trying to keep me warm.

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    Holiday inn

  7. #7
    There are no short cuts
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    As far as your sleeping bag is concerned - don't roll over in the bag roll the hole bag. Mummy bags were not designed to roll over inside of but turn the hole bag.

    As far as the sleeping pad is concerned, I find if I sit on the pad my bu** should just touch the ground, then when you lay down it will be just right.

  8. #8
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I use a hammock so nights are always comfortable, no matter what the ground conditions. BUT, hammocks are cooler, so heat loss issues are even more important.

    I wear fleece top and bottom and no cotton as previously stated. I sleep on a mat with a reflective material on both sides. It is actually one of those windscreen covers people use to block the sun in parked cars. That reflects body warmth back to you. The fleece helps retain it as does a really good down sleeping bag.

    Sweet dreams!

  9. #9
    the commutor / tourer mcavana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rguysailing
    As far as your sleeping bag is concerned - don't roll over in the bag roll the hole bag. Mummy bags were not designed to roll over inside of but turn the hole bag. .

    this is why i asked these quesitons... this is such a simple solution, and i would have never thought of it!!!!!
    "Ready to retire, just can't afford it yet!"

  10. #10
    Hooked on Touring
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    Warmth -
    A fleece earband and smartwool socks make a huge difference.
    Pillow -
    Clothes in the sleeping bag stuff sack do fine for me - plus I have my jacket all warmed up for the morning.
    Bag -
    I'm not a mummy person, myself. And I've ridden up to the NWT, Yukon and Alaska. I just like the roominess of a square bag.
    Pad -
    You have to find the right balance of inflation - overinflation makes you feel like you are at a pool party.
    Tent -
    You are pretty tall. If your tent is rectangular, sleep diagonally.

  11. #11
    Senior Member 1fluffhead's Avatar
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    I am also a tall person and had issues with mummy bags because I had the regular sized one. It was the one I had when I was growing up and didn't really want to part with. When I got a new one, I got a long (one for tall people) and have not had a problem since. If you want to stay warm longer or even warm your bag up before getting in fill a Nalgene bottle with hot water and sleep with it or put it in your bag prior to getting in. Stuff extra clothes in your travel pillow, usually t-shirts work best if you need more loft in your pillow for your head. My bag actually has an area in the head region that allows for me to stuff clothes in it for a pillow. Alot of new bags also has this feature. BTW my bag is the "Cats Meow" from North Face which I got about 6 years ago.

  12. #12
    the commutor / tourer mcavana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani

    Clothes in the sleeping bag stuff sack do fine for me - plus I have my jacket all warmed up for the morning.

    Tent -
    You are pretty tall. If your tent is rectangular, sleep diagonally.
    genious... simply genious (or common sense for other people )
    "Ready to retire, just can't afford it yet!"

  13. #13
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcavana
    Ok, me being the geek that I am, I slept in my tent in the back yard again getting ready for my trip in 2 weeks. It is a 2 person tent, and I am using a mummy shaped self inflating pad, and a mummy shaped 40 degree sleeping pad (very light and soft, but pretty thin too)

    The first night was not cofortable at all. it went down to about 41 degrees, and i was pretty dam cold. all i had on was a tshirt and shorts. I had my noral bed pillow that was not comfortable, and obviously it was not something that would be taken on a trip.

    The second night I was pretty warm and cozy because I wore a sweatshirt and long johns. (huge improvement! ) I also purchased a tiny camping pillow that rolls up very small and has its own stuff sack. It was also a big improvement on my comfort... but had to be folded in half to make it thick enough for me. It was cool but i woke up a couple times during the night because it had come unfolded... not sure what the solution to this is, perhaps buy a second camping pillow (it really takes up just a tiny bit of room and weighs next to nothing)

    I think tonight I will try it again. I believe the pad may be over inflating itself... it was pretty hard this morning when i was laying on it. I will lay on it tonight and force some air out of it to soften things up a bit.

    My theory on the sleeping bag is that it will just take time for me to get used to. it is mummy style, and I am a pretty big guy so there is not a whole lot of extra room. this makes it difficult to turn around. I think I just have to get used to that one.

    The point of this thread is for you camping pros to share some tips that you have learned over time with a camping new bee!!!! What are some things I can do to increase my comfort in the tent? What is the solution to my pillow situation? (I know i can use clothes, but that does not sound very appealing once they are dirty and stinky!) What do you think about my theory on the sleeping bag?


    Any help would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!!)
    I use a closed cell foam pad myself, and I never have problems sleeping! I use a mummy bag myself, which has a buily in compressible pillow. My bag is rated to -15 F and has warm weather vents, so it's a year 'round bag. If I need more support for the head and neck, I too use the stuff sack with some clothes stuffed in!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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    I think one of the best piece of gear you can get is a small winter hat (we call them tuque around here). You won't believe how such a little thing can make you ENTIRE body feel warmer.

    As for pillow, many people only bring a pillow case and fill it with clothes to make a pillow.

    If, like me, you sweat no matter what is the temperature, then avoid cotton. Use polypropylene instead. And do not put all of your clothes inside the tent as condensation could occur in the tent, especially on cold nights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rguysailing
    As far as your sleeping bag is concerned - don't roll over in the bag roll the hole bag. Mummy bags were not designed to roll over inside of but turn the hole bag.

    As far as the sleeping pad is concerned, I find if I sit on the pad my bu** should just touch the ground, then when you lay down it will be just right.
    Careful meow, this advice could be/is totally backwards depending on the bag.
    For MY bag (not for everyone's) MEC advises the user to roll inside the bag, as the heaviest padding is on the top, not the bottom.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've used the following ideas for increased warmth and comfort:

    -- emergency foil bivy (you can get them for about $20, I think, at MEC). I lay it flat on the bottom of the tent and place my mattress and sleeping bag on top of it. You could probably do the same thing with the space blanket.

    -- thermarest mattress. When I started touring, I toured with no mattress at all. Then I went to a thin foam mattress. Then I bought a thermarest ... and that is a purchase I don't regret at all!!

    -- double sleeping bags. I've got two, very thin, mummy-style sleeping bags which I use together, one inside the other. That works well for me because of the layering effect, and also I can use just one if it is warm.

    -- balaclava. I always bring my balaclava on tours (and most rides) with me, and if it is quite cold, I will wear it to bed, either as a full balaclava or as a toque.

    -- sarong. I've said it before ... the sarong is an extremely versatile and valuable piece of touring equipment. If it is cold, I use it as an extra blanket to wrap around my upper body, if it isn't too cold, I fold it up and lay it on top of my pillow to make my pillow more comfortable.

    -- wool socks. They are great for keeping my feet warm at night.

    -- vinyl poncho. I always carry one with me when I tour because they are extremely handy for rainy weather. But they can also come in handy as an extra "blanket" if the temperature at night gets really cold.

    -- pillow. I use an inflatable pillow which works quite well. It is a little bit low for my liking, but if I add the sarong on top (as mentioned above), or if I fold up some clothing underneath, it isn't too bad.



    And this doesn't apply for camping in the back yard, but it does apply when you are actually on tour ... when you roll into your campground late at night and you've only got enough energy to set up the tent and heat up a can of beans ...... change out of your cycling clothes!!! You'll be all sweaty from the ride, and if you stay in your cycling clothes, you will be COLD. (voice of experience here! )

  17. #17
    this bike is an aqueduct Matthew A Brown's Avatar
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    Given that yes, on any tour worth its salt you'll be out within minutes, I'd also recommend a little "knee-pillow" thing, and to sleep on your back. I never ended up this way in the morning, but it helped a lot for neck/knee stiffness.


    Packing random (clean!) clothes in the bag is a great idea.
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  18. #18
    Hidden playable character Bikemiker's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Magictofu]I think one of the best piece of gear you can get is a small winter hat (we call them tuque around here). You won't believe how such a little thing can make you ENTIRE body feel warmer.

    Agreed, I always bring my beanie (thats what we call them around here). Great as a hat (duh), or as a small bag, or, stuffed with other clothes, a pillow. If it's really cold when I go to bed, I pull the whole thing down over my face.
    I gotta Mike my bike.

  19. #19
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    First of all, as you discovered, a 40 deg bag doesn't necessarily mean that you will be comfortable at 40 deg. There is no real standard on bag temperature ratings, so the only way to be sure is to test it out, as you have done.

    Second, sleeping on a pad about 1 inch thick (inflated or closed cell) is not going to be as comfortable as sleeping in your bed. That's just one of the costs of the hobby. You will adapt over time though. It may take a few days, or a few weeks, but after a while you'll not have any trouble sleeping.

    Third, you can stuff extra clothes into a stuff sack or roll up a fleece jacket to make a pillow. Or, if you use a CamelBak, inflate the bladder and lock the valve to make a pillow.

    I'll echo the comments about cotton. Though it's unlikely that wearing cotton clothes in a sleeping bag in moderate temps will result in hypothermia, cotton loses almost all it's insulating properties when wet, holds a large amount of water, and dries very slowly. Given that there are plenty of synthetic garments (or wool!) available, many that have a cotton-like feel to them, there is no reason to use cotton in outdoor applications.

  20. #20
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    I'm 46, and finding it harder and harder to get comfortable in bed, I wake up with pinched nerves occasionally...

    So while I normally camp fine, I wondered whether I would wake up feeling bad while camping at this stage in my life. With enough exercise to limber the muscles up, and being naturally tired, I slept great.

    For lightweight sleeping bags I don't buy mummies. I buy the semi mummy that has less contouring through the knees, and a hood. For a 40 degree bag, they are light enough I don't need some style designed for climbing mount everest. I don't mind Mummies, but they are one size fits all width wise, where me normally have a dozen sizes.

    For warm weather I open it up like a blanket, and place it over the top of me leaving my feet in the pocket so I stay warm. When it is cold, I zip up and can even be wearing some clothes (another reason not to get one that is too tight). I wear a pile jacket if it is really clold, an while it is a little bulky for packing it serves as a good pillow when not otherwise in use.

    When you have the hood done up tightly it puckers the bag and a lot of air can get in at the chin, which is the reason for the Marmot muff, a pillow built into the sack across the chest. you can use some of your clothes for the same purpose.

  21. #21
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    If your folding your camp pillow and it keeps coming unfolded, why not attach 2 safety pins to pin the ends together? Just a thought.

  22. #22
    Back after a long absence joelpalmer's Avatar
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    Another (and fairly cheap) way to get more heat out of a sleeping bag (which is not a problem for me, I snow camp in a bag rated to 40F) is to get a vopr barrier that works with the bag. Most of them go over the outside and are used to keep the moisture and heat from your body from leaching out of the bag through the material during the night. They also work great if you get caught in a sudden wet situation, because they keep all liquid out of your bag.
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  23. #23
    1 trick pony dogpound's Avatar
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    I agree on so many points.
    I found wearing extra clothes into my bag then taking them off in the bag as I got warmer. And going to bed with a hat.
    I would usually be so warm, I'd end up naked except for my hat.

  24. #24
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew A Brown
    Given that yes, on any tour worth its salt you'll be out within minutes, I'd also recommend a little "knee-pillow" thing, and to sleep on your back. I never ended up this way in the morning, but it helped a lot for neck/knee stiffness.


    Packing random (clean!) clothes in the bag is a great idea.

    I have to do this on my next tour! I've got the warmth thing figured out, and I'm reasonably comfortable on the mattress now, but I always wake up with lower back pain.

  25. #25
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    There are three issues will essentially increase your comfort

    - good riding during a day
    - glass of wine at the end of the day
    - and finally, do not sleep alone!

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