The plight of the sleepless camper is something we’ve all been privy to, at one time or another. So, if you’ve ever spent the whole night rolling around inside your tent or woken up shivering in a fog-laden swamp, this list is for you. Because whether you spend the next day hiking for miles or just marinating in the sunshine, everything’s a lot tougher when you’re already beat. Here are a few tips—from set-up to sundown—to get you a great night of sleep outdoors.
When you camp, you put a lot of trust into your equipment, and your comfort can depend on what you pack. Choosing the right tool for the job can make a huge difference in your camping experience. At the end of the day, your gear is your call! But doing a little research beforehand can’t hurt.
Monica Semergiu at Salmon Creek Ranch, CA
There are tons of different sleeping bags out there, and picking one out might feel intimidating. We’ve broken down the basics for you to get you started. Know that you may need to buy (or rent!) different camping gear for different seasons, elements and temperatures. Sleeping bags especially!
While the patch of grass under your tent might seem soft in the light of day, you might find yourself wanting an extra layer between you and the ground. Sleeping pads are a great option if you want some added comfort.
Whether you think of your tent as sanctuary or simple shelter, you can find one that fits your needs. From compact backpacker models to monumental family-sized ones, there are plenty to choose from. Your tent style will likely depend on the kind of camping you’re doing, where you’re headed, and who’s coming with you. And while most tents are waterproof on their own, anyone who’s forgotten their tarp on a wet night won’t make that mistake twice. For a fairly cheap addition to your camping gear repertoire, a waterproof tarp can add a layer of protection between you and any wet grass you might be sleeping on.
Even when you sleep indoors, waking up with a cramped neck is no fun. There are a few options for those of us who like a little support.
In the event that the owls above you decide to party all night, or the coyotes on the hill suddenly have a lot to say, bringing a pair of earplugs along isn’t a bad idea. Another easy addition to your gear bag is an eye mask, which is especially useful if you’re camping in Alaska, Iceland, or other areas where the nights aren’t always dark!
When you get to camp, it’s important to pick as flat a spot as possible. You don’t want to wake up with all your blankets, water bottles, and tent-mates tucked into one corner, and you probably could do without anything outside the tent rolling your way while you snooze.
Another thing to keep in mind while scouting for your space is how close you are to rushing water. For some, the subtle switch of a river or stream might soothe them to sleep; for others, it might be just enough white noise to keep them up all night. Regardless of what soundscape suits you, remember that things might seem a little louder when night falls. Make sure you place your stakes somewhere that gives you a head start to sweet dreams.
Once you’ve decided on your new digs, think about setting up your tent early. Even if you can pitch your tent with your eyes closed, it never hurts to have everything in order once you start yawning around the campfire. Plus, getting everyone’s tents up with plenty of daylight left gives you a chance to clock any possible obstacles–stakes, ropes, fire rings, coolers full of tomorrow’s breakfast–that you definitely don’t want to trip over.
When you’re ready to call it a night, these three tips will help you sleep a little sounder and safer.
There really is nothing like an early, coffee-filled morning after a good sleep outdoors. So goodnight, sleep tight, and wake up right!
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