Mcaldwell

(How) do you sleep in the backcountry?

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Mcaldwell

It seems (from my experience and many I have talked to) that everything about your next backpacking trip seems glamorous and wonderful, except for bedtime. It seems that no matter the gear or preparation, getting a good nights sleep in the back country is always out of reach. I tend to do the "rotisserie chicken" where I sleep an hour, roll, sleep an hour, roll, etc. 

So how do you all combat this? Do you invest more in your sleeping system, do you spend the week prior to the trip sleeping on your backpacking system, do you take sleep aids, what are the challenges/tricks that others have? I look forward to hearing! 

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lonerock

A good nights sleep is really important on a backpack trip,especially a long one. The first night is usually the roughest for me but after that it gets better. For me a good sleep depends on several things. First I need a comfy sleeping bag. I tend to turn a lot when I sleep and it's difficult in a mummy bag so I  went to a Big Agnes semi rectangular and that helps. Make sure you have one that meets your temperature needs since it's hard to sleep good if you're too cold. Sometimes a bag liner helps. A good pad is very important. I  use a Big Agnes insulated inflatble pad that fits into a slot in my bag and thus prevents it from moving around plus provides more cushion than some others. Sometimes I 'll take an Advil PM the first night if necessary. Everyone is different when it comes to sleep so it's a lot of trial and error to get the right combinations . I've heard of people using ear plugs, masks and all sorts of devices and sleep aids  to help them sleep.

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balzaccom

A good pad, a good bag, and a nice hard hike usually lets me sleep pretty well.

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HikerBox

I roll around my side and back a lot and actually find a thick foam pad on a nice soft campsite is the best.  If there aren't any soft duff covered spots it can help to scoop out a shallow butt-trench.  I also use an inflatable pillow which makes a big difference over clothes in a stuff sack.  

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HappyHour

+1 on what HikerBox said about a butt-trench and a good pillow.  I find they make a big difference.  If you are a side-sleeper, check out the Montbell Super Stretch bags sewn with elastic stitching - when you roll, the bag rolls with you, which I find a lot more comfortable.   

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Aaron

After a lot of refinement I've gotten to the point where I usually sleep pretty well and am quite comfortable. For me are a nice inflatable pad really helps - wide version if the trip allows weight wise...but this has made a big enough difference that I haven't reached for my standard 20" pad in a while...eiher way I go with the Exped SynMat UL 7 as I personally find the vertical baffle arrangement keeps me more centered (and comfortable) on the pad:

 https://www.rei.com/product/811907/exped-synmat-ul-7-air-pad

Additionally, the right pillow, a hoodless sleeping bag with a separate hood, and all that combined with the right clothing to match the temps so that I'm not cold at all and all in an enclosed shelter does the trick for me. I tried the contoured trench idea once in sand which was indeed comfortable...but I was cowboy camping on that occasion and between the ants and mosquitoes, no sleep was to be had that night!

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ppine

I learned from the horse packers a long time ago that people can put up with a lot if they get fed well and get a good nights sleep. Many people are used to cushy sleeping arrangements.  Some of the new inflatable pads are very comfortable and provide great insulation.  It is easy to overinflate them. For newbies, they might seem kind of hard. Sleep in the backyard a few times to get used to them. Pillows seem to be a problem for some.  Stuff a cover for a sleeping bag with some clothing.  Lots of physical exercise is the best tonic for sleep.

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HikerJen

I tend to get cold easily, so I need to be warm enough to sleep well.  I have a 15 degree bag that I use with a liner, a Q-Core pad which has enough cushion and insulating value, and my newest addition - a Sea to Summit inflatable pillow.  The pillow really works for me - much better that a stuff sack filled with lumpy clothes, and it weighs next to nothing.  Additionally, I use earplugs which help block out the night-time noises.

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ppine

Ear plugs are dangerous in the backcountry. You want to be able to hear what is out there. Situational awareness is important.

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HikerJen
52 minutes ago, ppine said:

Ear plugs are dangerous in the backcountry. You want to be able to hear what is out there. Situational awareness is important.

I agree, so let me expand on my earlier comment.  I go backpacking with Scouts, and generally the group runs from 12-24 people. In Scouts, we always tent with a buddy.  My tent buddy doesn't use ear plugs and will alert me if there are any problems. We take a lot of precautions to ensure that our sleeping area is safe - bear bags or vaults are stored far away from our camp; we cook and clean a good distance from our tents; even water bottles and bladders are stored away from tents because people use lip balm that transfers to those plastics (we follow the Bear-muda Triangle procedure).  So in my situation, I feel that ear plugs are okay, for me.  I wouldn't recommend them for the solo hiker.

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