Camping: Making Your Bed and Sleeping Warm

Our weather at camping events this past year was a challenge; anywhere between 30 and 75 degrees at night. One of the events that I did, by myself, was extremely cold and windy every single night. Camping in a medieval canvas pavilion, with no one else to help provide body heat, can make staying comfortable at night something of a challenge. I had checked the weather forecast before I went, and I knew that the temperature was going to be a concern. My solution? Something that I call the camping burrito.

When you are sleeping on a cot you lose heat in all directions, up and down and sideways. I use a futon mat on my cot, which makes it considerably more comfortable (I have a bad back), and provides some insulation from the cold under the cot. When I know that it is going to be cold I start by placing my cot as far away from the canvas wall as I can. Then, on top of the futon I start layering the sleeping bags, quilts, blankets and sheets that I plan to use. I actually place the sheet on the TOP of the pile, because I am going to fold the entire mass of bedding over the top, like a giant burrito.

Burito BedThis diagram shows exactly what I am talking about. All of my quilts, blankets and sheets are queen sized. The closed side of the covers is towards the canvas wall. This dramatically reduces the amount of air infiltration – no drafts. The fact that the covers are all queen sized means that there is plenty of extra covers on the open sides of the bed – again, no drafts. You can always pull the covers up over your head to complete the “package”.

And what should the camper be wearing? Well my favorite “extreme cold” outfit is wool socks, long johns with heavy flannel PJs over the top, a stocking cap, and a hooded sweatshirt. Everything about this “fashionable” outfit has a purpose. Warm, dry feet are a must – hence the socks. The layers on the body are pretty obvious, dry warmth. The hat helps to cut heat loss from the head and the hooded sweatshirt provides more warmth to the torso, covers the head with an additional layer and eliminates any drafts around the back of the neck (particularly important for those who do not like to sleep with their heads under the covers). In addition, we have discovered that many cell phones do not do well in cold weather – the cold literally kills their batteries, so in seriously chilly weather I put my cell phone in my sweat shirt pocket to keep the battery from going dead. I’m, not going to win a beauty contest, but I am going to get a good night’s sleep.

One of the things that I really like about this “burrito system” is that if the weather warms up you can easily pull back the top layer(s) or open up the side of the burrito for ventilation.

I hope that this “burrito system” will make your camping experience much more comfortable. I know that it has done a great job for me.