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Frozen side sleeper needs help

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Yes, it was barely getting down to 40 degrees, damp, and bit breezy this weeekend, and I nearly froze to death at night. Luckily, my daughter curled up on me, and I was able to get warm.


I feel like I've tried all manner of bags of varying weight, contruction, and pads plus different sleeping clothes, socks on/off, hats, etc. Ever since I gave up the 20 lb Coleman canvas and flannel camp bags, I've been cold on every non-summer camping trip. I know sleeping on my side is problematic, and I can't sleep in a mummy bag due to not liking the constricted feeling.


Any advice?

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I have the same issue, I don't do mummy bags. I am normally a warm weather camper, but end up camping late Octobers for some Scout-O (orienteering) events we enjoy, and sometimes my IOLS/OWLS trainings run during cold weather.


I normally am the one who is always cold even when others in the house are warm.


I have taken to bringing a wool blanket with me.. On the coldest of cold nights I put it in my sleeping bag, if just slightly chilly I put it outside the bag.. This does the trick.

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I also sleep on my side - and don't use a mummy bag. I've mentioned before that I don't even sleep IN the sleeping bag - rather, I use it as a blanket.


First - get yourself a good pad. I use a Thermarest "self-inflating" Camper XL Deluxe. This one has two distinct sides - one is fleecelike, one is not. The fleecelike side goes up. (Don't get hung up on brand names - there are some similar pads to Thermarest - just find the best one for you).


Don't use a regular old air mattress - air conducts cold very well. I'm not a fan of the ensolite type closed cell pads - especially for adults. I don't care how new they are, closed cell pads tend to compress as you lay on them. Compress a closed cell pad and you start to lose insulating ability. The only time I would use a closed cell pad is a part of a system that includes a Thermarest-style self-inflating open cell pad. Then it would go on the bottom as an extra bit of insulation from the ground. BTW - while the pad is insulating you from the ground, it is also insulating the ground from you. Not only are you trying to prevent the cold in the ground from seeping its way up to you (and at this time of year, chances are that although the ground looks fine, dig down 10 inches, and you'll find a layer of frost), you're trying to keep yourself from warming up the ground. Yep - it's a two way street - lay on the ground and you can transfer warmth in to the ground as much as the ground can transfer cold into you. Wilderness survival tip #101 - if you do have to sleep on the ground in a survival situation, build up a layer of pine boughs/leaves to sleep on first.


Next - I recommend a fleece blanket - one of the cheap ones you can buy for 5 bucks at the corner Walmart/CVS/Rite-Aid. Use this as a sheet on top of the pad - you'll lay on it. Just another level of insulation - and if it's wide enough, you can fold it in half. I usually wrap my pad in it - let the fleece insulate me from the pad and the pad from the tent floor/ground.


A wool blanket can work wonders - and if you're car camping, it's a great option - but they can be thick and bulky and if you have a warm enough sleeping bag, you might get too warm. I suggest another cheap fleece blanket - use as a top sheet. Then use the sleeping bag. When I do use a wool blanket, I usually skip using the sleeping bag altogether. Pendleton makes a great roll-up wool blanket with a synthetic backing - I've found that the synthetic backing can help keep cold from penetrating through wool and help the blanket hold more of my body heat. However, it's not cheap, so it may not be doable for all - in which case an Army Surplus wool blanket is the way to go.


Clothing: I do wear a hat - but I'm follically challenged and need the hat to conserve heat. Some claim that 80% of your heat is lost through your head at night - how true that is, I won't attest to - however, the head is likely to be the most uncovered part of your body at night and you're going to lose more body heat through uncovered parts of the body than covered parts. If I had a full head of hair, I probably wouldn't bother with a hat - hair is an excellent insulator and a hat would just smoosh it down.


I don't wear socks to bed. Most people who sleep in their socks wear the same socks they've worn all day. They may feel dry, but they're still likely to be damp from the days activity. What I will do is put a pair of wool socks under the blankets with me. If I wake up in the middle of the night with cold feet, I'll put the socks on - but I wait until cold feet wake me up. Most of the time, I can go all night without putting on socks.


A lot of people wear sweatshirts and sweatpants when they first go to bed at night - it's an understandable reaction - if we're warm, we want to stay warm - so go to bed warm. Better off going to bed warm without heavy clothes on (PJs or skivvies is all that's needed), and slightly cool off while letting your body heat help warm up your blankets/sleeping bag. The blankets and sleeping bags will trap that warmth, you'll rewarm up soon enough, and the trapped warmth will then keep you warmer for a longer period of time. You may "freeze" for the first ten minutes or so, but all that means is you are warming up your sleeping bag/blanket. If you go to bed fully clothed, your body won't generate any extra heat to warm up your bag/blanket and eventually you'll wake up cold with no real way of warming back up (other than the shivering you're likely to do) and you'll never generate enough heat to warm both you and your bed up which means you'll be miserable for the rest of the night. That being said, I usually have a fleece sweatshirt and sweatpants with me, often under the blankets (if I haven't kicked them out). If I wake up cold, I can put them on. Then my problem is usually I don't want to crawl out of the warmth of my bed in the morning (if I wake up cold, it's usually about 3 in the AM or so). Don't underestimate the psychological effect of putting on wool socks and fleece clothing in the middle of the night - just doing so will make most people think they're already getting warmer.


Those are my suggestions for what they're worth.

Your old Coleman sleeping bags worked so well because of the flannel lining. Know what the difference is between Flannel and Fleece? Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. There is no real difference between them. I would have said flannel is natural, fleece is synthetic, except there is now some flannel cloth being made from synthetic materials.

(This message has been edited by calicopenn)

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You might try a tall mummy bag even if you are not all that tall. They generally offer a couple extra inches of girth as well. That measurement is used included in the specs. with decent quality bags, and it does vary. I'm 6'0" and 225, so I feel constricted in smaller mummy bags also. If you don't need the extra space at the foot end, put your clothes for the next day there and they will be warm in the morning.


Another idea might be a Big Agnes bag where the pad is integrated into the bag. They offer quite a few options for shapes & sizes as well.



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Many good suggestions. My three:

1- Put your head throught the neck of a wool sweater or fleece top. Don't put your arms in. The loose material around your neck works as an air baffle against the sides of your sleeping bag to keep the cold air outside from drafting down inside your bag.

2- Don't wear anything thick or tight inside your bag. Sweats, etc, will bunch up inside your joints when you turn at night. The tight fabric restricts your circulation to your feet and arms, making them cold.

3- A big blanket, flanel sheet, or poncho liner draped over the top outside your bag will give you and extra 5 to 10 degrees. Think of it as a small tent inside your tent.

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Calico said it all. I will ad some personal observations.

1) A wool (NOT synthetic) watch cap. It should fit snug, but not tight. Hair is good insulationNOT! It ain't fur, which is hollow and fits together differently. A thick heado'hair is not warm of and by itself. Cover it with a wool cap. Uncovered Heads do lose much heat.

2) new, dry wool socks. Again, NOT synthetic or cotton. The new syn blends may be worthy for hiking, but wool is still the best overall. Hang the previous days socks out to dry, change into them in the morning, use the dry sleep socks for that purpose.

3) I also sleep on the side, and find I often need to hollow out some shoulder and hip hollows in the ground to spread out the bumps. Look for those sticks and rocks when setting up the tent. One of the first things I remind the nascent Scout when they set up their tents. Worth the effort. Or, try laying towels or other clothing to give you a contoured bed space. The one or two spots where your hips and shoulders hit the surface may be your problem.

4) Never liked the mummy bag. I am 6'2", and have to have a 78" rectangular bag to be comfortably snugged down. Wiggle room.

5) Fluff the bag after you unroll/unstuff it. You will get more insulative quality if you help the bag regain its loft. Pull the fluff out from the bag and help it stand up.


Good Scouting and sleeping to you !

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Same here.


A few ideas:


Moisture control is a big one.


Make sure you're dry. I tell the boys to change all their clothes including underwear into the clean dry clothes they'll wear the next day. If you're sweaty when you get in the tent, take a minute to towel=off or lay there a minute to dry before putting on the clean clothes.


You know not to do stuff like pulling the bag up over your head and breathing into the bag, right? That dumps a ton of water into the bag and you'll be cold. No one likes sleeping on the wet spot. And leave the tent vents open part-way to let the moisture escape?


I'd be suspicious of putting a poncho over me, just from a moisture standpoint. Maybe something breathable.


I always wear socks. If my feet are cold, I'm miserable. And I usually sleep with a knit cap, too, although I often wake up and find it's fallen off. I've tried a balacava, but can't stand all that bulk around my throat. Ditto for the idea of sleeping with a sweater or sweat shirt around my neck. (Although I made that suggestion to one of the dads on last month's campout and he said it was the warmest he'd ever been camping.)


I've never heard Calico's info about wearing heavy clothes, although I've found I'm just as warm but overall more comfortable wearing thin poly longjohns than something like a sweat suit. I tend to roll from side to front to side during the night and hate it when a shirt gets all twisted up.


Like Calico, I use cheap, acrylic stadium blankets to layer up. It's really effective to wrap one arount my head and shoulders like a shawl. That plugs the top of non-mummy bags and help keep the warm in. If I have one extra blanket, it always goes under not over.


Have you tried a bag liner? I have an acrylic one that's really a little bulky for use inside the main bag, but it's sure warm. Last summer I discovered synthetic micro-fiber sheets for jamboree and summer camp. I want to try making a micro-fiber bag liner and seeing how it works inside a bag. They're $75 at REI, but you can buy an entire twin set at WalMart for $11 and sew it into your own bag liner.


Beyond that, extra-large handwarmers are great. I'll throw one down by my feet (did I mention I hate having cold feet?) and keep one in my hands and sort of snuggle up with it. Probably more psychological than anything.


And I think I figured out on my first campout as an 11 year old to keep tomrrow's clothes in the bottom of the bag and get dressed in the sleeping bag.


Have we discussed before why they make square Nalgene bottles?

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between the mummy & the rectangular is the semi-mummy; you might try that. For real cold weather I use two ground pads over a plastic ground cloth -- one is full length, the other hip length. If you don't have far to hike, you might try getting yourself up off the ground; there are some lt-weight cots with six inch legs (still need an insulating pad under you.

If you don't like a bag, you might try a quilt with a foot box over you.

I'm sure you already know not to wear clothes you've worn during the day to bed. Try a turtleneck shirt with a hoodie sweatshirt and a stocking/toboggan cap

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Put handwarmers (the ones that activate when you open them) in your pockets. There's a product called ThermaCare heating pads that are essentially the same thing as handwarmers but are much bigger. They generate a LOT of heat, and I gave one to each of our scouts (and used one myself) when we slept outside this winter for Polar Bear. I use them when deer hunting as well. The Thermacare's come in a red box and are located in the pharmacy department of Walmart, etc. They're basically a one-time use heating pad with an adhesive so they stick right to your body. Get one for back or for arm/neck. They can really help.

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Sorry, I like mummies and I can sleep anytime, anywhere. Bugs the heck out of my wife, I can even go to sleep in the middle of one of her tirades if I decide to (I mean it REALLY gets her goat when I do that, heh, heh!). So I can't relate. Sorry

My suggestion, if you only have one 'heater child', take some dogs along too.:)

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OK guys, this is going to sound kind of stupid, but it works. I have a military issue body bag. I get in my sleeping bag and zip up the body bag. Keeps me nice and toasty on those cold winter campouts. Plus, there are six convenient handles should I expire during the night.

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