/ Keeping warm camping

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Len - on 31 Aug 2012
I am planning a climbing trip to Dartmoor in October and will be camping. Even in May/June I struggled with being cold in my tent. I have limited funds available but think I really need to look at better equipment. Currently I use an blow up mattress, a cheap sleeping bag plus my duvet and then sleep in tracksuit bottoms, plus t shirt and woolly hat , ohh and socks. I am wondering which would be the most cost effective to buy, a new 3 seasons sleeping bag ( but as cheap as I can get), a sleeping bag liner, good thermals to sleep in or something like a Therma Rest.
Kirill - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Sleep in ALL your clothes, not just tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt.
Nordie_matt - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Liner, and merino wool thermal set, good socks and a hat should make a big increase in overall heat retained. Also make sure to loft up the sleeping bag
ceri - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Get a good sleeping bag. If you were cold in that lot in May/june your system isn't working. I have a lightweight Rab sleeping bag (comfort ~0C), which i have found much warmer than my old synthetic bag that was supposed to be good to -15! The old one was just too big.
davidbeynon - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

fleecy liners are cheap, and a small amount of clothing can make a big difference. Wear socks. Down/synthetic booties are awesome too, but not so cheap.
AndrewHuddart - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Sleeping mag and mat are maybe the most significant kit issues
The blow-up mattress will be comfy but won't insulate much. A foam roll mat will be less comfy but warmer and not bank breaking. For a little more, the cheaper Alpkit mats are great value.

Sleeping bags - best you can afford.

Other stuff - have a good feed that'll keep you fueled all night before you turn in and immediately before you get into your sleeping bag, go do starjumps or run around your tent to get the blood pumping so that you're putting warmth into your sleeping bag.

Rob Exile Ward on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Replace the blow up mattress with a Karrimat for starters.
Neil Williams - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

I would save up for a good 4-5 season down bag. Having spent years using an old 3 season one, it was a revelation.

Not cheap, but *definitely* worth it. Try Alpkit for the cheaper (but still good!) end of these.

If you're really limited on price, using two or three sleeping bags inside one another may help.

Neil
lithos on 31 Aug 2012
on limited finds assuming not carrying

* put a cheap karrimat/foam type mat on top of your blow up matress
* make sure you have eaten something
* go to bed warm (sit ups help)
* add a fleece jumper
* take a hotw*ter bottle (your sigg) to bed
* put 2 people in the tent
* you can get some really cheap sleeping bags for under 20 quid, bulky but will do on a budget check all retailers as well as specialists (eg supermarkets/argos/blacks/etc)
eg http://outlet.snowandrock.com/vango-nightstar-250/sleeping-bags/ski-snowboard-outdoor-sports/fcp-pro... and http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/9276213/c_1/1%7Ccategory_root%7CHome+and+furniture%...

It maybe as well thinking about a quality s-bag that will last you - all depends on funds and usage - alpkit do good vlaue bags (and sales are often on all over )
mkean - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:
Buy a cheap roll mat and put it on top of your mattress, air beds are very poor insulators!
EeeByGum - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Len) Replace the blow up mattress with a Karrimat for starters.

Or put the mattress on a karrimat. I can't believe I used to sleep on a karrimat. How on earth did my back survive?
Calder - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Yep- agree with the blow up mattress bit. I once camped with a guy who had one, think it was about april and in the Mamores. I had a 3mm karrimat - and it was warm to the touch on top. His was some cheap lilo-esque thing - and it was freezing cold to the touch. Quite shocking! A foam mat is dirt cheap, the inflatable Thermarest mats are an amazing step up again, but more expensive.

Also, I'd say don't sleep in your clothes - counter intuitive, but I don't and I'm always cosy. Do, however, get a sleeping bag liner - another dirt cheap and very effective thing - stops you getting any damp condensation on you from your sleeping bag (or sweat in summer), and being dry means being warm.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Blow up mattress.....some mates of mine when they were much younger (18) went camping in the outback. Basically a ute, a case of beer, a tent and some food. As soon as they got there they hit the beers and got drunk. Come bed time they realised they had to blow up the mattress. Being Australian and drunk they did the most logical thing and connected air bed to exhaust and fired up the ute. Once nice a plump, they turned off the engine and settled down to a very near wake up dead sleep.

The matress had a small leak and they woke up in the morning with the sweet jeezus holy mother of all things fckt hangover that lasted for about 3 days. They all agreed that morning that they wished they had put a bit more in so they had died rather than woken up to the pain of severe alchohol and carbon monoxide poisening.

things you do when young and drunk...
alooker - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Check out alpkit, loads of good no frills stuff there for decent prices
Kevin Woods - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Game of Conkers: LOL. Great story. Glad they didn't die, that CM is nasty stuff.
Blue Straggler - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Get a thin foam camping mat and ditch the blow up mattress. Ditch the duvet. Get a Vango Nitestar 250 sleeping bag (£25-35 depending where you get it). Sleep in that, inside your cheap one (i.e. your cheap one is used as an additional "shell". Ditch the tracksuit bottoms. Keep socks and hat and T-shirt on.
SFM - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

I'm a cold sleeper so know what it's like.
Of what's been said already I'd say the 3 most important are:

karrimat on top of blow up mattress
eat something meaty and/or fatty before bed.
go to bed warm(press ups/sit ups)

Spend your money on the best sleeping bag you can get. Can double up your sleeping bags then if you're still cold.

Even with a thermarest I'll often still use a karrimat to insulate me from the ground.
a lakeland climber on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Cheapest option => do exercise before going to bed that way you are warm when you get in to your sleeping bag rather than cold.

Next cheapest option => get a silk sleeping bag liner.

I'd make sure that your sleeping bag fits, it's no good having a reasonable bag only for you to push the warm air out every time you turn in your sleep. One of the warmest bags I ever had was very snug and pretty warm and even though it was only a 2 season synthetic it was good enough for big alpine routes while wearing just thin thermals, the only problem being the bulk (the bag, not me). However putting too many clothes on so that you are squeezing things in to the bag is also a bad idea as you end up compressing everything thus reducing its insulation properties. You need to strike a balance.

ALC
Neil Williams - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

When I went camping as a kid I never had any kind of mattress...

Not much different to now, really. For some reason I always end up slipping off them, especially Thermarests.

Neil
Bulls Crack - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Len) Replace the blow up mattress with a Karrimat for starters.

Why will that help?
NorthernGrit - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

While no doubt all of the above advice is valid, a good point (which I think I read on here) is: No matter how good it is you warm the bag, the bag does not warm you.

In other words if you're cold when you get in you've got your work cut out getting warm. Set yourself up with a stove or premade hot drinks which you can have once you're inside your bag.
Bulls Crack - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to NorthernGrit:
> (In reply to Len)
>
> While no doubt all of the above advice is valid, a good point (which I think I read on here) is: No matter how good it is you warm the bag, the bag does not warm you.
>
But you'll stop losing heat and warm-up

NorthernGrit - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:

I think that's fairly obvious.

The point being getting warm is more difficult than staying warm
James Oswald - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

There's an interested article on Andy Kirkpatrick's website on staying warm, after a quick skim I can't find it but it's there somewhere. I remember it being useful.

James
GrahamD - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Probably best investment is a sleeping bag that closes round the head and neck. Keep all your clothes on.
climbingpixie - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

I'd second the recommendation of a silk liner. My sleeping bag is a bit rubbish but with the liner I'm usually fairly toasty. Making sure your sleeping bag is the right size for oyu is good advice - the main reason mine is so cold is because it seems to be designed for a big fat man so I lose a lot of heat.

Alternatively, if you're camping from the car just chuck in a spare duvet!
Kevster - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:

Smaller tent, more people.

girlymonkey - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:
> (In reply to Len)
>
the main reason mine is so cold is because it seems to be designed for a big fat man so I lose a lot of heat.
>

I always have the issue too of sleeping bags being too big, even the short length ones are HUGE for me. I have found that stuffing all the extra at the end into the stuff sack, and my feet in along with it (assuming it's not a tiny stuff sack), keeps me toasty. Adding a bivi bag to the mix could help too, I find it works better than a liner (assuming weight is no issue, which I am guessing it's not if you are carrying an airbed!)
marsbar - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: A karrimat of some sort will make a big difference insulating you from the ground. A better sleeping bag would be next on my list, but there is no point in squishing it with a duvet, it needs space to loft to trap air. If you are on a budget then get a fleece blanket from dunelm or Tesco or somewhere for a couple of quid, wrap yourself in it inside the sleeping bag, or sew it into a liner if you are feeling crafty. If you want thermals cheap ones will be fine to sleep in. Wearing dry thick socks might help a lot as well.
a lakeland climber on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to girlymonkey:
> I always have the issue too of sleeping bags being too big, even the short length ones are HUGE for me.

A tip for this is to take a belt and cinch it round the bag at an appropriate distance from the foot of the bag.

ALC
ads.ukclimbing.com
climbingpixie - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to girlymonkey:

Mine is too big length wise (which is fine, you can fold the bottom over to shorten it) but the main problem is it's way too big width wise, which is rather more problematic to fix. I'm planning on replacing it with one of the Mountain Hardware Women's Lamina 20 bags as I've tried my partner's and it's a lot warmer than my ginormous Snugpak Softie.
strudles - on 31 Aug 2012
I managed to get a rab ascent 500 for £125 back in April, so there's some deals out there on good bags.. oh and it's amazing I'm always warm in it, tested down to -5 ish
Woubits on 31 Aug 2012 - cpc9-brad20-2-0-cust10.barn.cable.virginmedia.com

A good down sleeping bag can easily have a useful life of 30 years or more. It's a long term, but very worthwhile, investment.

When you're curled up shivering at 3.00am in a tent four hours walk from the nearest road, the fact that you saved twenty quid (or 50 quid, or 120 quid) on your sleeping bag a couple of years previously somehow seems a bit trivial ...
LastBoyScout on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Sounds like you need to spend money on the things you lie on, not the things you lie in or under.

Ditch the blow-up mattress and get a proper camping mat and/or a proper self-inflating mattress.
jonnie3430 - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Woubits:
>
> A good down sleeping bag can easily have a useful life of 30 years or more. It's a long term, but very worthwhile, investment.
>
Especially if you get it second hand from someone that thought they wanted a warm bag and ended up using it unzipped all the time (common mistake.) Advertise on here for a second hand 4 season down bag and check ebay for the same and you'll get one for under £50.



SCC - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Having used an airbed in cold weather I'd go along with what many have said - get a foam sleeping mat and stick it on top. Airbeds are crap insulators but *are* comfy. Foam mat insulates, airbed cushions.

If your sleeping bag isn't a mummy shaped one that you can cinch up around your kneck/face then you'll be losing a lot of heat there. So if you can afford a mummy shape bag then go with that.

Going to bed warm is another top tip, but using something as a hot water bottle to warm the bag and leave you warm before you drop off to sleep.

Good luck!

Si
MaranaF - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Kevster: There's your answer!
On a serious note. My husband and me camp a lot. When I'm alone I freeze, when he's all cuddled up to me I'm so hot I have to have the tent flap open! but if you don't have the option of more people in your tent, get yourself a thermal mat and take a hot water bottle with a furry cover!
dwb - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to jonnie3430:
In my experience you can buy the best available down sleeping bag and still be cold if you don't have good insulation under you. Conversely a crap sleeping bag can be perfectly adequate if insulation under you is good such as a Karrimat or better thick foam pads.
Blue Straggler - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:
If there is a Wilko near you, take a look in. My local branch has 75% off all camping and camping-related gear, and they have some "Thermarest" style mats and sleeping bags and so on, which might not set the world alight but will work out VERY cheaply and see you reet for a while.
I just bought a 3-man tent, a barbecue, a cook set, a steel mug and a mosquito net for my head. £18 the lot!
jjclarke70 - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Copied this from an article in an outdoor mag a few years ago:

A sleeping bag should be used as part of a system which includes clothing,
shelter, food, drink and sleeping mat

Clothing
• Always change clothes at the end of the day’s activities even if you don’t feel damp / sweaty – get dry and warm!

Sleeping Bag
• Make sure it has a hood with a draw cord
• Consider a Liner

Sleeping Mat
• Very important to insulate between you and the ground!
• Closed cell is best on frozen ground, inflatable for comfort (or both!)
• Spread spare clothing on top of mat if necessary

Shelter
• Don’t pitch in hollows or valley floors – cold air sinks
• Make sure your tent is adequately ventilated to prevent condensation

Food and Drink
• Hot substantial meal and hot drink

Other
• It is easier to stay warm than get warm – get in sleeping bag early
• Get into sleeping bag with clothes on – then remove as you get warm
• Wear warm hat, gloves and socks
• Lay jacket on top of sleeping bag
• Make a hot water bottle
• If you wake in the night and are cold do something to about it – put on clothes, exercise, food etc.
• Consider a pee bottle?
obi-wan nick b - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to SCC:
> (In reply to Len)
>
> Having used an airbed in cold weather I'd go along with what many have said - get a foam sleeping mat and stick it on top. Airbeds are crap insulators but *are* comfy. Foam mat insulates, airbed cushions.

That rather depends on the airbed. If you get an Exped (sooo comfy) then the down ones have about 4 x the insulation of a karimat though they're quite bulky and heavy but even the ultralight range has about the same insulation as a karimat with the advantage of packing smaller and being lighter.

stonemaster - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Hot water bottle with and all your clothes on and a beanie. Good luck.
Bobling - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len:

Better insulation first up. I love my silk inner too, it is amazing how warm this is, don't bother with a fabric inner if you are going to get one just go straight for silk.
Rob Exile Ward on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: Not wishing to be a pr*t, I would also have to add to my advice, that being concerned about keeping warm in Dartmoor in October really isn't a big deal.

* Well pitched tent, i.e. sharp end (if it has one) pointing to the wind
* Karrimat (closed cell foam is much better insulation than an airbed, and if you're camping on grass or snow you certainly don't need more for comfort)
* Half decent sleeping bag/sleeping bag liner, but October in Dartmoor is barely 2 season - call it 3 to be on the safe side
* Set of thermals to sleep in

Calibrate in the light of your own experience - you're not going to die of hypothermia.
Mark Morris - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: My biggest improvement in camping warmth and comfort is the sleeping mat. Whilst Thermorest might be expensive, I've found cheaper, heavier, bigger ones from Aldi, etc. are fantastic if you aren't carrying them.

I think a self inflating foam type mat will change your life.
Matt Schwarz on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Mark Morris: loads of alpkit mats on sale here: http://www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?target=category&category_id=282
cheap and cheerful, good customer serivce and 95% as good as a thermarest!
sargy - on 31 Aug 2012
I agree with upgrading your sleeping mat. I once bought a nice shiny Rab 300, and couldn't sleep the first night in quite mild weather because I was too cold. I only had a blow-up mattress, and could feel the cold mattress beneath me. With a thermarest ridgerest I've survived nights of down to -18c in a bag rated to 0c by following the advice above. You can have the world's thickest down bag but the bit between you and the mattress will be flattened and have not much insulating effect.

Someone else mentioned sleeping bags don't warm you up- this is so true- you need to warm yourself up before you go to sleep. Some others swear by sleeping with no clothes on, as wearing extra stops the bag from warming up.

Anyway- saw this and thought of you...

http://www.livefortheoutdoors.com/Community-Landing/Forum-Landing/Forum-Categories/Topic/?&topic...
Kelcat - on 31 Aug 2012
In reply to Len: I'm in the fortunate position of having some really good kit, but still my two best tips are my cheapest;
As already said - a hot water bottle - ffs NOT your sigg, but any plastic one - it will usually last through a night, but it certainly keeps you warm & gets you off to sleep.
I also couldn't believe the warmth improvement from sleeping in a one man tent compared to my big 'comfortable' 2/3 man.
Tricky Dicky - on 03 Sep 2012
In reply to stonemaster:
> (In reply to Len) Hot water bottle ....... and a beanie.

For the minimal effort these are two great improvements
James Oswald - on 03 Sep 2012
In reply to Len:

Eat way more before you go to bed.
kirsten on 03 Sep 2012
In reply to James Oswald: Alpkit sale, mat first, then bag.
almost sane - on 03 Sep 2012
In reply to Len:

Another vote for going to bed warm. Eat a warming meal before bed. If you are cold when you get into bed, do situps in your sleeping bag until you are toasty.

Another vote for a hot water bottle. If you are not carrying it, I would get a real hot water bottle. If you decide to use a drinks bottle, be careful. A metal bottle can become very hot to the touch - burn risk - so make sure it is well wrapped up.

I find that wearing more clothes in bed keeps me warmer. This idea of being warmer when you wear less has never worked for me.

I have also used an extra cheap sleeping bag. You can get them for under a tenner. Put one under you and one over you like a quilt - makes a big difference to your warmth.

If you decide to spend more money, the biggest improvement will come from buying good insulation to lie on. A good mat makes a big difference to warmth. As has been said, a cheap answer is a closed cell foam mat to go over your blow up mattress.
xplorer on 03 Sep 2012
In reply to Len:

Eat plenty of food, your body needs food to convert it to heat.

Don't drink any alcohol

Drink plenty of water

Buy a decent sleeping bag

Use both closed cell and inflatable together with the closed cell underneith. Stops on inflatable frombeing punctured and lieing on top of the inflatable is more comfy than the other way round.
tallsteve - on 03 Sep 2012
In reply to Len:
There's no such thing as cheap kit. Cheap kit has a short life, and you need to buy it again soon.

My down bag is 20 years old (Rab) and good for most seasons - though I wouldn't do a full winter night out in it anymore. When I bought it I winced, but look back and laugh. Well worth the money.

Good kit discounted in the spring sales though ... now that's another matter.

If you add the cost of kit to the overall holiday costs its nothing. I spent a few days sweating over the £150 I needed to spend on some new climbing kit, then realised the holiday I was going to use it for was costing just over £1200 (for the whole family). I bought the kit. It was a low cost holiday essential - a bit like the cost of a guide book and map.

How much did you spend in petrol getting to the mountains?

Steve
Dandelion - on 03 Sep 2012
Possibly somebody could lend you some of this. Also make sure you pitch your tend with the wind to the tail - obviously better for the tent but less cold too, and pile up your gear on the windward side of you if you can. Try to keep warm when you arrive - not getting frozen when you're tired and hassled will mean you aren't trying to play thermal catch-up. Maybe also take an MP3 - if you're frozen when in bed then at least it might take your mind off it a bit.
Dandelion - on 03 Sep 2012
As for a good bag lasting 20 years, I guess it depends what sort of use it gets, by I use my father's down bag from 50 years ago. It cost a lot when it was new and no doubt they're better now, but it's still very, very warm. (he told me recently he used 2 of them for the coldest outings) - its only snag is weight.
bouldery bits - on 03 Sep 2012
In reply to Len:

I would think about this problem systemically. Currently cheap sleeping bag and low ground insulation are making you chilly. As others have pointed out, you warm up the bag, not the other way round! So make sure you're not cold already by the time you're going to bed, if you are it's star jumps time!

My ither advice is to think about which components are contributing the most to your heat loss. My guess would be the air mattress is your weakest point. The earth is trying to make you the same temperature that it is and you're a lot smaller so you're only going to lose! Best off improving your insulation there.

Finally, if you have cold extremities then warm up the core to provide the rest of you with warm blood to heat it all back up. So if you do suddenly feel flush then it might make sense to get yourself a decent base layer to wick away moisture and keep your torso lovely and warm.

Oli
veryhappybunny - on 04 Sep 2012
In reply to Len:
I agree with the advice - filling a sigh with boiling water and putting it in some clothes helps.

Snuggling up to another warm body (human or dog) can also help as long as they don't squirm or create drafts....

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