Campers, whether beginners or seasoned vets, often spend so much time agonizing over the proper gear to help keep them alive on the trip that they overlook one important aspect: comfort! Just because your own in the woods doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a good night’s rest. Remember these tips and tricks before you set out on your next overnight adventure so you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the trails.
Buy the Right Tent
There are a lot of things that go into making a great tent, foremost among them being size. One thing most people don’t always take into account is many tents are curved, which can cut into the amount of room you have to spread your legs. When buying your next tent, make sure it’s big enough that you can lie comfortably and not feel squished. Don’t be afraid to measure your own height and seek out a tent that has plenty of space for you to rest completely stretched out to your max. A-frame tents are often excellent for this, even if you find your feet sticking out of the ends a bit. You can always invest in a family size tent to give yourself a little more room. Always err on the side of extra legroom, we say.
Or Go For the Hammock
Hammocking is taking hold in the camping community for one extremely important reason: they’re so darn comfortable. Research has shown that hammocks might actually be better for our backs than beds. You still need a tent for those nights of bad weather and enormous bug invasions, of course, but you should also have a hammock in your closet of gear for those clear night and days. Sleep at a 30-degree angle in one of these puppies, to keep it from folding over on you, and you might just find you had the best night of sleep in your life.
Add a Little Cushioning
Nobody should be sleeping on the cold, hard floor, so try investing in a little extra padding to give your body a break after a long day of trekking through the woods. A solid sleeping bag is a necessity, but feel free to spruce one up by adding a sleeping pad and portable pillow into the mix. Where you pitch your tent is also important, so look for a space without any rocks—maybe even set it up on top of a bundle of leaves to put a little extra space between you and the ground.
Some beginning campers make the mistake of stripping down to their skivvies once they’re ready to settle in the for night. That’s actually a great idea in the heat of the summer when temperatures stay in the 80s well into the night, but the rest of the year you’re going to want to bundle up. Don’t sleep in the same clothes you hiked to the campsite in but, rather, pack along some pajamas that’ll make you comfortable but also keep you warm, but not too warm. Never sleep in anything damp or wet.
Cover Your Eyes
The sounds of nature might be soothing enough to help you fall asleep, but the shadows not so much. Our eyes are some of the biggest obstacles when it comes to falling asleep and the shapes playing off the side of your tent in the moonlight can actually prevent your from slipping into a dream. Bring along a sleep mask to put over your eyes to help you drown out the light and you’ll find yourself slipping in REM sleep in a timely fashion.
Douse the Flames
We all know that you should never leave the campfire burning overnight for safety reasons, but did you also know that the light from it could be keeping you awake? Much like watching TV just before bed can keep us from drifting off at an appropriate time, so too can staring into a fire for hours on end. Try dousing your fire at least 30 minutes to an hour before you’re ready to head off to bed for the night. It’ll give your eyes time to rest and allow your body to produce the necessary melatonin for a good night’s rest. Sitting in the dark might seem a little creepy, but it actually be an incredibly relaxing experience. Just don’t trip over anything.