Some people go backpacking for the adventure, some live to climb new mountains and some just like the simplicity and solitude. I like all of those things, but my favorite part of backpacking is sleeping. During the week, I get about 6-7 hours of sleep a night. But on the trail, I sleep between 9-11 hours. That’s a huge difference and something I look forward too.
It helps that I’m usually drop-dead exhausted after a day of backpacking. Since I tend to camp wherever I want, stealth style (but still in accordance with local regulations), I’m not constrained by stopping at shelters or campsites. My main constraint is daylight, and while it helps if water is close by, I don’t let that limit my choice of a campsite. If I know I’m going to do a dry camp, I’ll fill my backup platypus and carry a little extra water (see dry camping) to get through dinner and breakfast. An additional 2 liters is usually enough.
I’ve also stopped drinking coffee and alcohol on the trail, which can interfere with your sleep cycle. I used to bring that stuff along, but I’ve since decided that I don’t want anything to alter my experience of the outdoors.
I also have some rituals that I observe before I go to sleep that help ease the anxiety of sleeping in an unfamiliar place. First, I change long underwear (top and bottom) before getting into my sleeping bag. I do this to keep my bag clean, but putting on this layer helps triggers the pajama memory from my childhood.
Next, I make sure all of my gear is organized in the same way every night so that I can find things if I wake up without getting disoriented. My glasses go into shoes near my head, along with an led light. All of my other loose gear is stuffed into my pack and placed alongside my hips. And of course, my bear bag is hung with all of my nibbles safely tucked away in it. I have a slightly different ritual when I’m camping in a hammock, but it’s also a well-defined system.
I almost always wear a polypro hat or balaclava to sleep except on hot summer nights.This is something I do a home too, since we’re misers with the heat. Finally, I bring earplugs with me to block out all of the nighttime woods noises that would otherwise freak me out. I decided a few years ago that I’d rather not know about the huge critter stalking through my camp at night or worry about stormy weather.
Most Popular Searches
- sleeping outdoors
- how to get used to sleeping outside