In preparing for our programs I always tell people to bring enough sleeping bag. If you know you can get 8 or ten hours of warm, comfortable sleep at night most situations are tolerable. My good friend and semester course alumnus, Sean Fagan, recently sent me a note about his experience with us in northern Maine and not having an adequate sleeping bag.
When I did the fall semester course of 2008 with Tim I made the cardinal mistake of bringing with me a sleeping bag of inferior quality. It was a crappy, old sleeping bag exclusively suitable for sleeping out in warm weather.
One night when the ambient temperature began to fall significantly below freezing I began to freeze also. I slept poorly and felt dog-rough the next day. It was then Tim taught me how to make a grass blanket. The first night I slept under a grass blanket I slept like a king – I was blissfully unaware of the cold.
Tim had mentioned to me that the sleeping bag is one of your most essential items to bring with you for living outdoors. He’s dead right, so take heed of my mistake and bring a sleeping bag that is more than adequate for very cold temperatures. With all the extra physical demands of outdoor living it is important to sleep and recover well. Sleeping well, especially over a long period of time, is a huge factor in your enjoyment of the outdoors – so don’t risk getting cold and miserable – get a high quality sleeping bag instead.
If you do bring a crappy sleeping bag then you better like making grass blankets! Believe me, grass blankets are great, but they are no fun to haul around for a road or canoe trip!
Good advice from a man who has logged a lot of hours in the bush. Enough sleeping bag can mean an expensive new bag or a combination of tired old sleeping bags and blankets. We’ve even had people incorporate cardboard boxes into the equation – necessity breeds invention. The principle is insulation between you and the cold.