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6 steps to staying warm in your sleeping bag

July 19, 2019

Josh staying warm in a snowcave in the Australia Snowys

Staying warm and comfortable in a sleeping bag isn't easy for everyone, even if the sleeping bag is rated appropriately for the conditions. Here are a few steps to help you get the most warmth out of your bag and a better night’s sleep. Listen up cold sleepers!

Prepare your sleeping bag

Lay your sleeping bag out at least an hour before you go to bed. Give it a gentle shake from the top end to encourage air into the sleeping bag to assist the down to 'loft'. After 30 minutes or so check that the down is spread evenly throughout the sleeping bag. Down can sometimes clump during storage or compression creating cold spots.

Warm your sleeping bag

Most Mont sleeping bags are made with a Toaster Pocket in the foot section. The Toaster Pocket is designed for an air-activated heat pad that helps circulate warmth through the bag. Perfect an hour before getting into bed. Alternatively, put a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag. Ensure it is a reliable container as this method comes with obvious risk; a burst water bottle will soak your sleeping bag rendering it useless!

Camping on the Larapinta trail. By Ben Blanche

Eat a good dinner

Fuelling your body properly will not only help you enjoy your adventures, it will also help you stay warm overnight. A healthy mix of simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins gives your body short-term and long-term fuel to generate heat and help recover from the activities of the day. Your body uses more calories to stay warm in cold environments, so while two-minute noodles are a quick and easy option, you will burn through the limited amount of energy they provide very quickly and can wake feeling cold in the early hours of the morning. Opt for more complex carbohydrates like pasta and rice. If you must have two-minute noodles, make sure to compliment it with more filling ingredients like freeze-dried peas and corn, and tuna or salami. There are some great freeze-dried and dehydrated meals and ingredients on the market that make it quick and easy to cook a well-balanced meal in the backcountry.

Warm yourself

An important step to staying comfortable on very cold nights is to ensure you're warm before climbing into your sleeping bag. If you're sitting at the camp shivering and then climb directly into your sleeping bag, chances are that you will stay cold and uncomfortable for much longer. Down doesn’t generate its own heat, so you need to climb into your sleeping bag already warm so that the air in the bag heats more quickly. Do star jumps, jog on the spot, go for a run; raising your body temperature before going to bed will ensure greater warmth and comfort for the night.

What to wear

The most effective clothing to wear in a sleeping bag is an even layer of thermal clothing, socks and a beanie. This allows the heat generated by your body to permeate evenly through the sleeping bag and maintain the warmth of your entire body.

What not to wear

Wearing a large puffy down jacket inside your sleeping bag might sound like a good idea, but this will often be counter-productive. A majority of body heat is generated by your torso, the area of your body with the greatest mass. By wearing a down jacket, this heat will largely be trapped inside the jacket, rather than permeating throughout the sleeping bag. Your torso might be warm, but you may feel uncomfortable because your legs are cold!

When mountaineering and camping at high-altitude basecamps, wearing a down expedition suit and down booties inside your sleeping bag may be required. This creates an even layer of insulation over your entire body, maintaining even insulation inside your sleeping bag.

Other important points to staying warm

  • Use an appropriately insulated sleeping mat
  • Stay hydrated, dehydration can cause your core temperature to drop, sometimes drastically.
  • Use a sleeping bag inner sheet to minimise the amount of sweat and body oils that gets on your sleeping bag, overtime these will gather on down and reduce its ability to loft and trap warmth. It is far easier to clean an inner sheet than your entire sleeping bag.
  • Use a sleeping bag liner to, slightly, increase the warmth of your sleeping bag.

A note about sleeping bag liners. Some manufacturers make synthetic sleeping bag liners with claims of temperature improvements of up to 10ºC. These claims are misleading and dangerous. For example, a 300g fleece liner simply cannot make a 0ºC rated sleeping bag into a -10ºC rated sleeping bag. If you take a 0ºC sleeping bag and one of these fleece liners to -10ºC, you will almost certainly be very cold and possibly at risk of hypothermia.

If you have any questions about Mont sleeping bags or need help selecting the right sleeping bag please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Mont Customer Service Team.


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