Do you sleep well in your own bed at home? How about under the stars, listening to wolf howls and bears sniffing at your feet?

I’m a light sleeper, to put it…well, lightly. Whether I’m in my bed or, at first, in a tent, lean-to or hammock. However, my countless Autumn nights outdoors have done their job and my gear choices have made a significant impact as well.

Here are the most common issues I’ve personally faced when sleeping outdoors.

Noises

Even the smallest breeze sounds like animals preying on me. You know how many times I’ve been positive that there’s a mouse near my head, ready to bite me on the nose – when in reality it’s been the Velcro of my own sleeping bag?

Solution: ear plugs, audio books, getting used to the noises.

The best option is just to sleep outdoors more often. You gradually get used to the nocturnal noises. And let’s be honest, if a wolf were to attack me, it would take me by surprise instead of making its presence known beforehand.

The cold

I feel the widest part of me (aka, the butt) slowly freezing and I can’t wait for the sun to rise.

This was the case with me trying to cope with crappy gear.

The first sleeping bag was terrible and the second one was too big. The first one is now used by our dog and Heikki took the big one.

Solution: I obtained a good sleeping bag.

After this, the nights have been equally cold but so pleasant. On our first field trip it was nearly below zero. On the second one we spent the night in a group tent and didn’t need to maintain a fire and on our outing with Outdoor Siskot, the temperature was well below zero.

What I’ve noticed is that I’d need some sort of a drool shield. The warm air from my nose hits the sleeping bag and/or the tent wall and leaves a wet spot. I don’t know if I’m the only one struggling with this but I can’t breathe through my mouth all night. It’ll result in a sore throat, not to mention the ungodly snoring.

Discomfort

The surface you sleep on is usually always hard, whether it’s the ground or the floor of a lean-to. Your back aches, you can’t find a comfortable position, your arms go numb.

Solution: I highly recommend an air mattress or the double option: foam in the bottom, air mattress (either inflatable or self-inflating ones) on the top. Also, a pillow is a lifesaver!

Self-inflating ones tend to freeze up in the cold. I thought my own was broken when it wouldn’t fill up outdoors but had no issues inside our apartment.

I suggest using a separate pump to fill up the inflatable ones since the moisture in your breath might freeze inside the nozzle and ruin it. I have an Exped mattress and a bag to trap the air in which you can use to fill the mattress up. It sounds and looks insane but the bag also doubles as a pillow and/or waterproof container!

Darkness

Now that we’ve gotten over the scary noises, how about the impending darkness? Can you see those glowing eyes next to the fire?!

Solution: kill the lights.

Without a head lamp, lantern and/or campfire to distract your eyes, they will adapt to the dark fairly quickly. And if there’s snow, it won’t get that dark. During Summer you won’t even have to worry about it, since the sun won’t go down.

But it can be scary especially if you’re alone. But personally I’m slowly getting over my fear of the dark.

What’s stopping you from spending a night outdoors? Would you consider giving it a try?

//Anne

 

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