Top 4 things I do to make sure I have a good night's sleep while camping

I’ve heard all the excuses for people not wanting to go camping. I can sympathize because when I was starting out I had many of the same complaints! I’ve seen those lists that float around Facebook from time to time that are titled 70 Ingenious Camping Hacks! They are fun, but sometimes they seem more like things that I’d be more likely to do during a backyard BBQ than a camping trip. So to combat the excuses and to give a few tips of my own, here is the first instalment of Practical Camping Tips!


Excuse #1: I need a good night’s sleep

Solution #1
In my opinion, one of the most important pieces of gear that I bring camping with me is my Thermarest mattress. When I started out, I tried everything from the inflatable queen size mattress from Canadian Tire, to those $10 blue foam mattresses. I was unwilling to spend $70+ on one of those “fancy” self inflating mattresses. What I learned was that in most situations, those blue mattresses are fairly uncomfortable, and the inflatable mattresses provide zero insulation from the ground, and in some cases accelerate heat loss during the night. On top of that they take quite a while to inflate even with a pump, and they are prone to punctures.

The choice to shell out to get a self inflating mattress with insulation opened my eyes to how comfortable I could be whilst camping. Gone are the days of waking up with a sore back! It sufficiently insulates you from the ground, and packs down to a manageable size. The blue mattress does not compress at all, and the queen size mattress is huge and heavy. Pair that with a pump, and it pretty much becomes impossible to go backpacking with. The self inflating option is surprisingly soft and comfortable, and it only takes a minute to inflate! Do yourself a favour and buy one. Better yet, if you’re just starting out, head to MEC and try a few out! If you’ve never spent any time one one, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised.

Solution #2
I am not an early riser. I’m happy to snooze until 10am sometimes. However one thing for sure is that the sun will rise regardless of how much beer I’ve had the night before. Luckily it always rises more or less in the east, so setting up your shelter with some tress or bushes to the east will keep you cool in the early morning thus preventing you from waking up in a sweaty mess.

Solution #3
I’ll admit that unless I’m completely exhausted, I need to the biggest pillow possible. If you’re car camping, you can simply bring a pillow from home. If you are hiking in, pack space is going to be at a premium. Compressible pillows are not bad, however I’ve never really found one that remains fluffy the whole night, meaning I wake up in the morning with a sore neck on a flattened pillow. The best set up I’ve found so far is to put my pack behind my mattress. The pack acts like a headboard and prevents the pillow from drifting throughout the night. After that I put some clothing into a pile and then put my pillow on top of that. If you’re really ambitious you could bring an empty pillowcase and fill it with clothes.

Solution #4

Nothing wrecks a good night sleep like a bug flying around in your tent. During bug season, I am militant about keeping the door closed at all times. If the bugs in the area are really bad, walk straight to your tent and get in. Don’t hang out in front of your tent allowing bugs to swarm around you and land before you enter. Make sure you get in and out your tent as quickly as possible so that you have a safe haven if need be. Another simple solution is to have the door of your tent facing the wind. It won’t work 100% of the time, but it will make it harder for bugs to meet you at the door.

Bonus!
Once you find a good spot to sleep, lay down and get a feel for the ground. Too many times I've set up my tent only to find that the ground tilts just enough that I have to move the tent. Or maybe the ground is a little lumpy, and moving 8 inches to the left would make it perfect. Save yourself some time, and lay on the ground before setting up your shelter.

I could have easily added tips for tents and sleeping bags, but I think I’ll save that for another day. Stay safe, and have fun out there geardos!

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