Camping is one of the most rewarding, adventurous, and all-out fun experiences you can have. But to properly enjoy your camping experience, you’ll need to manage your expectations. Many aspects of camping won’t be all that enjoyable. For many people, sleeping in a tent is one of those things.
In this article, we’re giving you our top tips & tricks to make this potentially difficult endeavor much more enjoyable. Follow these simple tricks, and you’ll be grabbing a good night’s sleep when tent camping in no time.
Most Comfortable Ways to Sleep in a Tent – Our Top Tips
Tent camping s certainly not about glamour and comfort, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do everything within your power to make it as comfortable as possible. There are so many small (and big) changes you can make to your sleeping routine, which will turn camping from a chore into borderline luxury. Okay, maybe not luxury, but pretty nice!
1. Get the Proper Tent
Our first tip is perhaps our most obvious, but it makes such a huge difference that it needs to be mentioned. If you want to get a good sleep on your backpacking or camping trip, you need to be sure you have a high quality tent! You’d be surprised how many campers don’t know how to look for a proper tent.
Perhaps the most important consideration is that you get a tent that is big enough. Make sure there is enough room on the tent floor for you and whoever you’re sharing the tent with to sleep comfortably. Obviously, you need a bigger tent for family camping than you do for a backpacking trip with your partner. Don’t forget, you also need space to store your belongings. Of course, you’ll also want to balance this size against portability, especially if you are trying to pack lighter.
2. Get the Proper Gear
Aside from the tent itself, you also want the proper gear to sleeping soundly inside the tent. The most important gear is a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and pillows/sheets.
A sleeping bag is a very important consideration, especially for winter camping. You can get sleeping bags with all sorts of insulation levels, depending on the temperature you are camping in. Higher quality sleeping bags will grip your body more tightly and also extend around your head. The key is that you get the proper sleeping bag for your conditions. In the summer months, you may require a lighter material to get a good night’s sleep.
Higher quality bags also compress more easily for added portability, which is a separate but equally important consideration.
A sleeping pad is almost as important as a sleeping bag and is often overlooked by novice campers. A sleeping pad is a foam pad that acts as a soft barrier between you and the hard, uneven ground. It provides a soft layer for you to sleep comfortably. A sleeping pad also acts as an extra layer of insulation between you and the ground, preventing heat loss from your body and insulating you to protect against the cold ground beneath the tent. Alternatively, you may also use a camping mattress, air mattress, or air bed.
And finally, don’t forget anything else you need for a proper night’s sleep! Depending on the amount of room you can spare, you can pack pillows and sheets, but it’s understandable if space is at a premium. Many campers also pack eye masks and earplugs.
3. Choose a Proper Site
Choosing a proper campsite makes all the difference in having a comfortable sleep. Look for one that is as flat as possible and completely clear the ground of debris before pitching your tent. Toss aside any rocks, twigs, roots, or anything else that might result in a bumpy sleep.
Also, try to choose a firm patch of land, which will provide you the needed support to sleep through the night. You might be tempted to pitch your tent on softer soil, but doing so can lead to an uneven and uncomfortable place to lay your head. Pick firm soil and let your sleeping pad provide the softness.
4. Change into Dry Clothes Right Before Bed
Lakes, ponds, rivers, and puddles – there’s always ample opportunity to get wet while camping. A lot of the time you might not even realize how wet you have gotten. Moisture often forms a damp layer covering your clothes. For this reason, it’s good practice to change into dry clothes before you sleep.
Sometimes, when you think you are cold, it’s because you are wet. We recommend you dry yourself off with a towel or a dry shirt before changing into your nighttime attire. Putting on a dry layer will allow your body to start getting properly insulated.
5. Don’t Over-Bundle
Of course, your nighttime attire will depend on the temperature, but we recommend that you don’t over-bundle. Try to wear long, insulated layers rather than bulky layers, such as a jacket. These bulky layers make it very difficult to sleep, and you may become too hot during the night, which can wake you up.
If you require more nighttime insulation, we recommend adding layers on top of your sleeping bag. For example, lay your jacket across the top of your sleeping bag to give you an extra layer of insulation that you can easily remove if you become too hot.
6. A Warm Water Bottle for Extra Heat
Here’s a neat trick for staying warm in a cold tent – keep a hot water bottle nearby! For this trick, you need to make sure that you have a water bottle capable of holding near-boiling water.
Boil some water before bed, and put it in your bottle. Take it into your tent with you, and you have a mini heat source that will help heat the tent from within. Some even put the water bottle right inside their sleeping bag, just be sure it’s not too hot!. The most effective placement is right near your core, which will allow your body to heal itself most efficiently.
If you have trouble sleeping in a cold tent, this can be one of the top tips for staying warm and grabbing a proper night’s sleep.
7. Be Active During the Day
Depending on the type of camping you are doing, it can be easy to spend entire days lounging and not doing much of anything. Needless to say, the less activity you undergo, the less tired you will get. Therefore, for our next trip, we recommend you tire yourself out during the day!
If you get plenty of exercise throughout the day, then you’ll find yourself good and spent when the day comes to an end, which will likely be no problem if you’re doing hard-core camping or portaging. But if you’re on a more relaxed trip, make sure to be active as well. Go for a hike, a swim, or even a jog! Sleeping in a tent is hard enough, and you shouldn’t have to do so if you aren’t even tired!
Many campers also find it helpful to be active right before bed. By doing a quick burst of exercise before bed, you’ll get your blood flowing, which will help warm your body before you get to sleep. This advice is more useful if you are camping in colder conditions.
8. Store Food Properly
Our next tip isn’t as much about sleeping properly, but sleeping safely (and it might also give you the peace of mind needed to sleep). If you’re camping in an area where predators might be an issue, then you need to ensure that you store your food out of reach. This will change depending on your location, but it often involves packing your food into sealed containers (to prevent odors) and even stringing it up out of reach. Don’t leave food out while you sleep!
9. Keep Water and Flash Light Next to Sleeping Bag
Our next tip is about ensuring that you never have to fumble around needlessly during the night. If you wake up in the night to have a drink, or if you need to go to the bathroom, then you don’t want to be searching around to find your things. Keep a flashlight and water bottle within arm’s reach, and these nighttime excursions will become nothing more than minor inconveniences.
Nothing wakes us up more than the frustration of having to stumble around in the darkness, and we imagine you’ll be the same way. You should also know where your bathroom is, so you don’t have any extra decision-making steps during the night.
As with every other step on this list, it’s all about making things quick and easy!
10. Pack Well
You might have picked up on a running theme throughout many of the points on our list. This theme is that sleeping in a tent is not just about crawling into your sleeping bag and shutting your eyes. Properly sleeping in a tent is all about adequate preparation.
Having a good night’s sleep is all about packing properly and ensuring you have what you need to sleep comfortably during your trip. You may have to adjust your needs to the conditions you will be facing. If you’re camping in colder conditions, pack insulated clothing and gear, and pay special attention to our cold-weather tips. You should always check the extended forecast before you go, and you should familiarize yourself with the average climate conditions in the area you are camping.