So You Brought the Wrong Sleeping Bag, huh Dummy?

How to make your sleeping bag warmer in cold weather

Here’s How You Make Your Sleeping Bag Warmer

There are few things more miserable than lying awake in the freezing wilderness all night because your sleeping bag isn’t warm enough. Between wishing for the sun to rise or the hypothermia to just set in and kill you already, your mind might drift to the day you held the bag up for your friend and asked if it would be enough, and he waved it down saying “you’ll be fine, sissy.” Now you aren’t friends anymore.

But you don’t necessarily have to suffer just because you didn’t do the proper research beforehand. There are a few things you can do to make your sleeping bag a little more cold-weather friendly.

Use a Sleeping Pad

You’d be surprised how much cold gets into your bag through naked ground or canvas. Another layer between your bag and the dirt or tent goes a long way toward staving off the cold. Almost any kind of sleeping pad will make a difference, but in general the thicker it is the warmer you’ll be. While a sleeping pad is the ideal solution, you can also roll a tarp around yourself and the sleeping bag or fold it beneath you. It won’t do a lot, but it will at least be another layer of padding and insulation.

Fill the Bag

The key here is to keep in as much of your body heat as possible, and if your sleeping bag isn’t doing that enough on its own, it’s because there isn’t enough insulation in it, so you need to add your own. Extra clothes lined along the bag and bunched near the top opening will work, or most anything you have that isn’t metal or food. Just don’t fill it too full or else you’ll squeeze your bag’s insulation too tight, and it will stop providing whatever precious warmth it was giving you.

Close the Opening

Cold Weather Sleeping Bag

You’ll notice that almost all low temperature sleeping bags have a hood and drawstring around the shoulders. That’s probably not a mystery: obviously the less open air you’re exposed to, the warmer you’ll be. If you have one of these, odds are you won’t have much trouble staying warm, but if you have a flat bag you can actually emulate hooded bags by pulling your bag around your head and clasping the loose part of the bag’s lip either by twisting around to the back of your head or by bringing your pack next to you and stuffing the loose part of the opening under it. You’ll look silly, but at least your head will be warm.

Put a Dry Sock On It

Listen to your mother and put on clean socks. In fact, make sure all the clothes you sleep in are fresh, because the sweat that your clothes accumulated during the day will continue to do what sweat does: Cool you off. So switch out your clothes, or at least try to dry what you’re wearing by the fire before you crawl into bed.

But Since You’re Not Stuck in the Wilderness…

You’re reading a blog right now, so you probably aren’t out in the frosty wilderness just yet and there’s still time to find the right sleeping bag for your trip. There is no shortage of sleeping bag temperature guides on the internet, but unless you’re camping in the snow, most sleeping bags with around a plus 20 degree comfort level or under should be plenty to keep you warm during most trips.