I’m Sleeping! Yes, Sleeping!
Everyone, big news. At least, it’s exciting to me.
After not sleeping while camping for over 1/2 of my life, I think I’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. While I’m fairly certain I will never sleep as well in the backcountry as I do at home, because well, I have a mattress and a memory foam topper at home, I’m definitely seeing some improvement. Let’s have a quick run-down of what some of my findings are, and how this blabbing might help YOU sleep better in the backcountry.
–My overall backpacking philosophy has shifted a bit, a topic I intend to more fully explore in an upcoming post. The short version: As a backpacker, you need to carefully examine your own needs and goals, and shape your gear list and trip planning around that. What do YOU want out of your trip? Do you want a more comfortable evening camp experience, or are you happy with a more bare bones approach? For me, I find that I fall somewhere in between. I don’t need a lot of extra luxuries in the evening, but I also have certain comfort requirements that need to be met for me to get a good night sleep. AND, that involves maybe compromising on my base weight and carrying some extra ounces. But you know what? That’s totally okay, because I’m more rested and I have a better trip anyways.
-I’ve touched on a few of these topics in one of my previous posts (a few months ago, eek!), but with all of this in mind, where are some of my findings:
1. A pillow is a must. For years I did the whole “just put some clothes in a stuff sack, and then suck it up and make it work” thing. But, you know what? I just can’t. So, I tried a few pillows, and I’ve finally found my perfect one. It doesn’t stick to my face, make lots of crinkly sounds, and actually feels kind of cushy.
2. Find a pad that doesn’t make you feel like crap. Sure, I could carry a lighter/thinner pad, but what’s the point if you’re going to feel horrible the next day. At that point, the ounces you saved aren’t really that important if you’re not enjoying yourself. So, my suggestion: Try a lot of pads. I’m not saying you need to carry a 4 lb air mattress, but if you find something that totally works for you, and you can compromise on some weight, it’s probably worth it.
3. Have a bedtime routine. Just because you’re in the backcountry doesn’t mean you have to throw your bedtime routine out the window. Like tea before bed? A good book? You can make that work in the backcountry too.
4. Years ago, I read an article in backpacking magazine that suggested keeping a similar bedtime compared to the one you have at home. I sort of agree with this, to a certain extent. It feels weird to me to go to bed at 8pm, even after a long day of hiking. So, even if I get in my bag early, I’ll generally read for awhile, until I fall asleep at somewhere around my normal time.
5. Again, I say this often on this blog, but you need to TROUBLE shoot. What is keeping you up? Make notes, and the systematically figure out if you can solve those problems. I’ve found that wearing ear plugs has really helped me, since I’ve always been ultra sensitive to night-time noises (I’m definitely one of those “everything is walking around my tent” people).
Perhaps some of that will help you find a better nights sleep in the backcountry. I’ve found that with more sleep, I’m a much happier camper (literally), and that is a wonderful thing.