How to keep warm in a sleeping bag

Ever spent a night sleepless and shivering in a tent? It’s not something you’ll ever want to do again. Here’s how to keep warm in a sleeping bag.

The first and most obvious step is to get the correct bag for the conditions that you are going to experience. Another simple way to add warmth is to use a thermal sleeping bag liner. And, if you bear the following factors in mind, you can further enhance the ability of your sleeping bag to keep you warm.

What are you wearing?

Less is more. If it is really cold, thermals will work well, but don‘t wear too many layers. You will still be cold, as there will now be no space to trap air to keep you warm.

How clean is your sleeping bag?

A dirty sleeping bag does not perform as well as a clean one. Accumulated dirt affects moisture-wicking, vapour permeability and heat retention. Using a sleeping bag liner not only adds warmth, but also keeps your bag cleaner.

Have you been active before bed?

You can heat your body up with a little light exercise before getting into the bag. This will increase the body‘s metabolism and help keep you warm.

What did you eat for supper?

Is it food that will give you energy? The colder it is, the higher the energy content of the food needs to be.

Is your bladder full?

It takes a lot of energy to keep that liquid warm, and this could better be used to keep your body warm. Take a trip to the ablution block just before bed.

What are you sleeping on top of?

Even a sleeping bag with a –15 degree celsius rating will be cold if you don’t use a camping mattress. Remember that your body weight will flatten the bag’s filling underneath you, making it unable to trap air, which is required to keep you warm.

Are your head, hands and feet warm?

If your sleeping bag doesn’t have a cowl, wear a beanie. If your extremities (hands and toes) are cold, your body will try to warm them up and this will lower your temperature so, if necessary, wear socks and gloves too. 

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