Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sleeping In The Woods: What Works For Me (Ground Based)

So Amazon is running a big sale on outdoor gear, particularly MSR, Therm-A-Rest, Platypus, Sealine, and Packtowl so I thought I would share a few things that work for me (obviously I love my Therm-A-Rest as its always with me) but there are a variety of debris based shelters I have tried over the last year and thought I would compare and contrast those with my Therm-A-Rest experience.

Grass Debris Bed:
This past weekend I found a large amount of standing dead grass (well it would almost have been hay based on its height) in a power line right-of-way while walking between streams and looking for an overnight camp..... So.... I thought well that looks like a nice bedding material and I know that will make a heck of a fire so out comes the trash bag and in goes the bedding/fire material.
This material way very easy to collect (only five minutes for a compacted contractor bag full of material) and was easy to separate from sticks and other material laying on top of it (critical if you are not keeping the material in the bag or using something as a buffer between the material and your back- a stick in the back really impedes sleep). 
I used two logs to keep the material in place and provide an area in which the material can compress and will provide a bit of a wind break as well.
I threw the two blankets from my Indy Hammered Knife Works Bed Roll/Harness on top of the material to act as additional padding and if needed can flip the bottom blanket up over the other wool blanket for additional warmth. This really made for an extremely warm bed. I let the fire go out a few hours in as I was burning up in this setup (weather went up to 40 degrees overnight).

Evergreen Debris Bed/Shelter:
This debris bed was toasty and as an added bonus it smells like a random pine air freshener.

With pine bedding in a debris I always try to nearly fill the shelter with pine as 1) the more compressed material the more comfortable and 2) the less air space the warmer the shelter will be making it perfect for a fire-less camp.

Sleeping Pad Options ON-SALE Through This Weekend!

My Therm-A-Rest essentially is my main sleeping pad in the woods, while I do have a much larger/thicker knockoff version, this pad is much more comfortable and also packs down to be able to fit into the pathfinder bush pot if I wanted. No matter if its a fishing trip in Canada, Hunting on Alaska or just messing around in the woods of WV this sleeping pad will provide you with a comfortable nights sleep regardless of what natural materials you may have to work with.

The pad is large enough to just throw down on the ground without the tarp as used above even with a 6'1" 300lbs frame.
As you can see this setup is what I consistently use regardless of the environment. It works particularly well for what I do as I often get into the woods well after dark and have to setup my camp quickly and with only a headlamp to provide.

Garbage Bags Filled With Debris:
Contractor garbage bags are the accidental overnight trip's sleep system (for me at least). As you can see on the right hand side of the picture under the blue tarp I have two contractor bags full of leaves, twigs and whatever I could scoop in there in a hurry. I then covered those two bags with a yoga mat to keep from getting stuck in the bag with a twig. This sleep system is honestly extremely comfortable and reminds me of the old school bean bag chairs as far as comfort goes.... and lets be honest... who doesn't just want to jump on a pile of leaves and take a nap in the fall. I would speak to just the yoga mat alone but honestly it just isn't comfortable enough for me to even mention.

Given the options in this article I would always take my Therm-A-Rest as it allows me to dedicate less time to searching for bedding material especially in the middle of the night. Having that compact sleeping pad is like an insurance policy for a good nights sleep as I know regardless of the environment sleep will always be taken care of. While I recommend everyone tries to spend a few nights in natural shelters I wouldn't put all of your cards on finding bedding materials as that can make for a long night if you are headed into an environment you are not extremely familiar with the resources it offers. For a day trip in the fall a space blanket, small tarp and a couple trash bags will make a great shelter and sleeping platform in just a few minutes if you are in a hardwood forest and the leaves have already fallen. In a Boreal Forest (or anywhere with a ton of evergreens) you can probably get by with a lot less resources for shelter and bedding as opposed to a hardwood forest as you can easily throw together a pine bed and utilize the pine for a shelter as well.

Have something outdoor/bushcraft/trapping/preparedness/hiking/camping/fishing/hunting related you want me to make a post about? Leave me a comment and I will see what I can do! As always feel free to leave your questions and comment below! Also if you enjoy the blog please vote for us on the following websites to help us reach a wider audience:
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