100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 20 – Know How to Stay Warm in a Sleeping Bag

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71iys-1d5CL._SX480_I know what you’re going to say, “staying warm in a sleeping bag is easy, you get in, you zip it up, you get warm.” Not so. Not all sleeping bags are equal. Some are rated for very cold weather, many are not.

Even those that are rated for cold weather are often not as warm as they should be when you need them to be but there are hacks. I’ll share some of my favorites with you.

  • Sleep naked. You are probably confused why I would tell you to get naked when you are trying to get warm but trust me it works. If you just can’t do it, wear long underwear. The thermal weave traps heat and keeps you warm.
  • Keep a wool blanket with your gear. Throwing a wool blanket over your sleeping bag ads an extra level of insulation.
  • Use a reflective blanket underneath you. A reflective emergency blanket or poncho, even those reflective silver car window shades work for this. In fact, the window shades work better because they have a little insulation in them. They reflect your body heat back toward you.
  • Keep your socks on. Wait, didn’t I tell you to sleep naked. Yes, I did but keep the socks on, especially if they are made of wool. You did pack your wool socks, didn’t you?
  • While we’re talking about wool, where did you put your wool beanie? You should always wear a beanie to bed when it is cold and wool is the best.
  • Eat an energy bar before bed. The extra calories that your body will be processing will keep your body warm as you drift off to sleep.

Several of you are already groaning at the mention of wool. I know that a large percentage of the population is allergic to sheep’s wool. I’m sorry for those of you who are. Truly. Wool comes from a variety of animal fleeces, including rabbit, alpaca, and goat. Those who are allergic to sheep need not worry about it any longer. It is a bit more expensive but worth the investment as wool is very durable when treated right.

Wool not only sheds some water, unlike many other fabrics, but it also continues to keep you warm even if it is entirely soaked. It is also self-extinguishing, which is handy when you are spending a lot of time around a fire.

Get a few pairs of socks, a good wool felt hat, and a sturdy wool blanket. You won’t be sorry. I’ve used my old Army blanket to put out fires, to wrap up a chilled baby goat, to warm myself by the fire, to warm a child who was not well-prepared for camping in the Redwoods, to keep the rain off while cooking a meal over a campfire, and so much more.

What are your best tips for staying warm when camping?

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