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  1. #1
    dejoha's Avatar
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    General tips to stay warm?

    I just returned from an overnight backpacking trip near the rim of sycamore canyon in Arizona. The overnight low was 28*F. I was with a group and we stayed up late and I was nodding off and trying to keep myself awake. Eventually I staggered over to my hammock to sleep. I brought along three underquilts, mostly for demo purposes, and to test the lower limits of these quilts. I had my full-length IX underquilt, a DIY PLUQ, and my new crowsnest from stormcrow. I started with the IX, which lasted about 10 minutes. It was down in the low 30s at that point. I decided to jump right to the crowsnest as I've spent cold nights in a hammock before and I didn't want to mess with it out in the field. I was surprised at how cold I was so I pulled all three UQ and an insert to my burrow top quilt and I slowly started heating up.

    This is odd for me because I've taken just the burrow and crowsnest down to 15*F before. It got me thinking about other tips on staying warm. I think what happened in my case was that my body was slowing down for the night and not producing as much heat. I wondered if I had gone to bed when I was more active I would have been okay.

    I know exercising a little before getting into bed has been suggested, along with eating something so your body has something to burn. I don't think 28*F is all that cold for the gear I brought--I don't fault them. I'm more curious about the situation I put myself in if that contributed to the chill.

    What other tips are out there to get your body prepped for cold weather sleeping? I'm not talking about additions like hot water bottles; but rather how to best prep your body before hitting the sack. I think I wore my body down that night, which led to a difficult night.

  2. #2
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    I suppose we could start the "sleep naked" controversy up again. I know it tends to work for me but I also know that not everybody agrees.

    There's a thread on using a hot water bottle for general warmth.

    An overcover is nice to have and lower the tarp to a steeper and closer pitch.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

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  3. #3

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    Eating peanut butter before bed always worked for me. A high calorie/fat snack keeps your digestion going to keep you warm.

  4. #4
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    Had you been drinking? If so that will lead to significantly colder sleeping, despite the fact that the alcohol will fool you into thinking you're warm initially.

    I'm a really cold sleeper, but I've been down to -2F in my clark, that was with an unzipped (apart from the foot box bit) north face blue kazoo sleeping bag as top quilt, the standard clark insulation (z-liner) on the bottom, woolpower thermals on top and bottom and a merino hat. Was warm all night.

    Make sure you are warm before you get into the hammock too. If you're sitting around camp and feel cold, its going to be difficult to get warm once you get in

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nojack's Avatar
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    I find that I have warmer nights camping when I have had some kind of warm beverage within 15 minutes of retiring. Although many people dislike waking up in the middle of the night for their "call of duty", the warmth inside makes for easy nesting. Keep in mind... this scenario works well when getting to bed after the temps have dropped. If you were to retire earlier in the evening, closer to the time you ate dinner or a snack, you would probably only wake to the 4 or 5 am cold lows.

    Anyone for Hot Chocolate?

  6. #6
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    If I get the least bit sweaty I'm done for. Frequently the only way I can warm up is to take off my socks. Exercise does not work for me. Wind protection and dry clothes/no clothes are my best lines of defense. Plus an empty bladder. (another lively discussion in the past.)
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  7. #7
    Whoooo Buddy)))) Shug's Avatar
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    For me .... a covered neck, head and wrists works wonders.
    some nights though your just colder ..... just the body I reckon. Being tired, run down, hungry, dehydrated. I took cold medicine once before hammock time and was cold.
    Shug
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  8. #8
    canoebie's Avatar
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    I think the number one way to thwart cold is to be properly hydrated. If fully hydrated, your body is producing and retaining the maximum of amount of blood. If dehydrated, less blood means inadequate circulation, constricted vessels, etc.

    The one and only time I became seriously hypothermic, I stopped paddling, in a blizzard, 40 mph winds, 18 degrees and blinding snow to "warm up". I could not remember how to tie a knot, and most important, I didn't care. I was disoriented and seriously cold.

    I was with a friend, we each drank a quart plus of water, ate gingersnap cookies and were able to paddle another 4 hours and had a wonderful trip. I did a lot of research on hypothermia since and hydration seems to be a really critical issue.

    Even on a warm day, if there is a rain shower, and not properly hydrated, one can get seriously cold. Signs of hypothermia include disorientation, inability to get warm, shivering, blue lips, etc. The initial phases can be very subtle.

    So, if there was one thing I would suggest, it would be to be sure to drink water a couple of hours before going to bed. I even keep a water bottle close by and when I get up to pee, I drink a couple of swallows of water.
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  9. #9
    dejoha's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips! No, I hadn't been imbibing but I was dehydrated. The next day I battled a headache. I think I was in some early stages if hypothermia. Interesting! I like the peanut butter idea.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Raul Perez's Avatar
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    I agree with others... stay hydrated, eat A LOT before you hit the sack and try to relieve yourself before you hit the hammock.

    Of course that does pose another problem... if you are well hydrated you will have to leave the hammock in the middle of the night. Kinda like that double edge sword.

    The times I was cold were the times I went to bed barely satisfied with food or water. When I was well fed I was cozy in cold temps. The main reason I went to decrease my overall base weight was to carry more food for better sleeping.

    This year I'm also going to try the hot bottle trick and going to try to sleep in my base layers instead of all bundled up in my clothing.
    "If you give a monkey a gun and he shoots someone, you dont blame the monkey"

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