Sleeping in a tent can be an uncomfortable experience if you are unprepared or don’t buy the right gear. When you’re used to the comfort of your bed, how do you sleep on the ground? The answer is that with some the proper gear and preparation, it’s actually a wonderful way to spend the night in the wilderness! In this blog post, we will discuss the most comfortable way to sleep in a tent from sleeping pads to pillows- all of which are necessary for a good night’s rest.
Find the Perfect Spot for Your Tent
A good night’s rest starts with a good campsite. The best campsite is one that’s flat, or at least as flat as possible. You don’t want to feel like you’re slowing rolling downhill in the middle of the night. If you do have a slight incline, try to place your tent so that your feet are downhill, which is more comfortable than your head or your side facing the decline. Make sure the site is free of sticks, rocks, and pebbles, and that you aren’t setting up camp on top of or underneath a creature’s home.
You’ll also want to consider the location of your campsite in regards to the campground amenities and other campers. We like choosing sites that are set away from other campers, and as close to water as possible. The sound of running water helps drown out any noise from other campers or little critters that make their way through your site at night. You also want to be close enough to a restroom that it’s not a huge inconvenience to get to, but far enough away that you won’t smell the toilets. If you have no choice but to be near the restroom, consider the wind direction and try to get a site upwind.
Choose the Proper Tent
Having the proper tent is more based on what you need and the temperature for your camping experience than anything else. Most tents are weather-proof, but if you know you will be camping in wet, windy, or any type of extreme condition, make sure your tent is well suited for that. We choose our tent based on the mesh, so we were able to sleep under the stars on warmer nights. But if you’re camping in cold weather, you may consider something more insulated.
You should get a tent that is at least one person more than the amount of people you intend to camp with. For example, if two people are camping, get at least a three person tent. We love our 4 person Slumberjack.
Finding your Sleep System
Your sleep system, as it’s called in the camping world, is comprised of a few different things, and every part of your sleep system has its purpose and benefit. Without one part of a good sleep system, your precious night’s sleep will fall apart and end up with you laying in a tent awake.
Starting with your sleeping pad. The purpose of your sleeping pad is two-fold. A good sleeping pad will not only provide comfort and padding but will also provide insulation from the cold ground. Foam pads are the most affordable and lightweight option, but they take up more space than air pads and aren’t as comfortable. If you’re looking for something that is both comfortable and insulating, then an insulated air pad would be your best bet.
You could also spend a bit more money and purchase a Hest Sleep System, which is Ashley’s preferred choice for sleeping in a tent. Some people may recommend an air mattress, which is something we’ve tried multiple times. Every single attempt, the mattress ended up deflating in the middle of the night, which made for a not fun time at 2am. This is why we don’t recommend air mattresses.
The next part of the sleep system is your sleeping bag. Your sleeping bag should be rated for how cold it will get at night, and how warm you need to stay while in the tent. Just keep in mind that the rating advertised is a temperature that it will keep you alive in, not comfortable. For instance, if it will get into the 50’s at night, get a bag rated for 30’s.
Another piece of gear that makes a big difference in being comfortable sleeping in a tent is one of the smallest. A sleeping bag liner serves a couple of purposes as well. Some sleeping bag liners are insulated and add even more warmth to your sleep system. As an added benefit, a liner also keeps your dirty body off your sleeping bag, prolonging the life of your sleeping bag.
Now finally, how comfortable you sleep while in your tent is greatly determined by how well you can lay down. And how do we achieve that? By using a pillow! This tiny little piece of gear makes all the difference between laying on the ground and getting restful sleep or staying awake for hours trying to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. We like camping specific pillows, but when we are car camping we just bring our pillows from home. The choice is up to you and is based on where you are camping.
Warm Yourself Up
Depending on where you’re camping, one of the biggest concerns is staying warm at night. We know this is one of the biggest parts of camping in the Colorado mountains. As the temperatures drop at night, you don’t want to end up too cold and miserable in your sleeping bag. There are several steps you can take before getting into your tent at night, as well as while you’re in bed to help make those chilly nights more enjoyable. Read more here on how to stay warm in a tent without electricity.
Sleeping in a tent can definitely be uncomfortable, but taking the proper steps and bringing the right gear can turn a sleepless night into a beautiful evening under the stars. For more tips on camping, including information on cooking at camp and more, read this post on camping for beginners.
About the Author
My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.