Tips & Tricks
Camping in nature is wonderful, and here’s a few tricks and tips to make it all the more comfortable.
Tips from Stef Roberts
Tips from Esther Brokke
It took a while before I enjoyed camping. I've always had a preference for comfort and that wasn't there when I thought about camping.
But one day I was persuaded to make a long trek through the wilderness of Sweden by Selfa (the founder of Campfire Stories) I can be short. In terms of comfort, it was a hell of a journey!
My shoes were too tight and my toes protested at every step. My muscles were overloaded by 18 kilos of backpack and the big boulders on the paths. As a result of these physical tests, I had convulsions in my muscles all night. My body needed all the rest to it could get but in the night there was a wet cold that enclosed everything. I felt freezing cold! And when I finally fell asleep I woke up too early from the light, just above the polar circle. It didn’t get better…
Why does a person do this to himself? I can also be brief about this: It was one of the best experiences of my life! The beautiful untouched mountains that we travelled through. The crazy skies with the play of clouds and sun rays. The surprises that the valleys had in store for us. The polar marmots and moose who came curiously to check who entered their territory. The soothing warmth of the wood-fired sauna huts and the ice-cold river water that we jumped into. The company of fellow hikers. It was a huge adventure. And all nighttime inconveniences were found to resolve during later expeditions.
These days I prefer to sleep in my little tent on my airbed rather than a hotel bed. (I have now even started sleeping in my hammock after Stef Robert’s talk (2018), but that’s a whole other story. The fresh air. The rustling of the wind through the branches and when it rains, the drops tick nicely on the tent cloth. Happiness comes to me spontaneously safely between my clean crispy sheets.
Here I want to share a few tips that help me get through the night comfortably, warmly and dry:
1. Get yourself a good quality airmatress
Trust me it is worth the money! I use the XL Exped matress, which I love! To keep the cold air from the ground out, put a thin mat underneath your matress or use a sheep skin, sheet, blanket or some clothes. Every extra layer helps! But there is more you can do.
Sometimes when I am cold I roll up clothes and put them underneath the edges of the matress, this prevents you from rolling of your mat and it takes the mat of the cold ground. Even a pair of rolled up socks can do the trick!
Another important note, don’t inflate your matress too hard. Your bum and hips should be just of the ground.
2. Wear a hat
You can loose up to 30% of your body heat through your head. This is why I always wear a hat trhoughout the night when the temperatures drop below 15 degrees. I also use it to cover my eyes from the light.A light scarf is a great alternative for a hat as well.
3. Bring a good sleeping bag
You don’t want to be too cold and if it is warm you can always open it up, so when you buy a new sleeping bag make sure you get a winter sleeping bag. Don’t trust the temperature on the bag, add an extra 5 degrees to the minimum noted on the package.
4. Warm up before you go into your tent
Make sure you always go into your tent warm, run a few rounds around the field, do push ups or whatever you like, but make sure your muscles are warm so your body will generate more heat once in the sleeping bag. I know this might sound extreme but when I was on a 3-day snowshoe hike in Sweden I would wash myself at night with some snow, the little walk to some fresh snow and back to the tent always made my body feel warm and ready for bed.
5. Always go for a pee!
If you wake up in the night, you feel cold and u need to pee, GO! No matter how hard it might seem to get out of your sleeping bag, trust me you will feel warmer afterwards. Your body can’t focus on to many things and so going for a pee will relive your body and afterwards it can fully focus on keeping you warm.
6. Don’t wear too many layers inside your sleeping bag
Why? Your bodyheat will warm the air within your sleeping bag. So first of all, always close your sleeping bag as good as possible when camping in the cold. this way the warm air cannot escape. I would advice you to only wear 1 layer of clothes, preferably wool. Wool is wonderful because it is able to react to fluctations in your body temperature due to tiny pockets of air within the fibres that circulate heat. This means that wool will keep you warm when your body is cold an cool when it’s hot. When it is cold I wear woolen tights, a longsleeve shirt and woolen socks,it is great!
7. Fill up your water bottle with hot water before you go to bed
Leave it at your foot end in your sleeping bag when you are getting ready for bed and you get into a comfy warm sleeping bag. When you are going to sleep move it up to your belly and groin this is where most of your bloodstreams come together so this will warm your whole body fastest, yes, even your feet ;-)
8. When the weather is moist and wet don’t leave your sleeping gear widespread on your mat
Roll it up to a bundle and cover it with a towel or something else until you go to bed. When the weather is warm and sunny you can offcourse leave it spread out so it can air out.
9. Do not use ground sheets
I don't like those puddles of water that stay on the groundsheet when it rains. Use two layers of carrot cloth instead. That is also light in weight. The water does not stop and you can clean the place if you want.
To make sure you are comfortable throughout the day as well, wear layers! If it is cold a minumum of 3 layers. No cotton as it absorbs your sweet and dries slowly, this will cool you down quickly. Again wool is a great first layer, it also prevents smell of sweat ;-) Your 2nd layer can be a vest, preferably with a zipper so you can open and close it depending on how warm you feel. As a top layer you can wear something warm like down, and/or something water and wind proof. I always finish of with my anorak that can stand the fire sparks, a bit of rain and just feels super comfortable.
I admit I love gadgets and outdoorgear, but still I use all of the stuff I have and my friends love to borrow some of my gear. Invest in durable and good quality gear or buy it second hand and enjoy the great outdoors!
If you have anymore questions or would like me to check out your set up, come talk to me at Campfire Stories, see you around the campfire!