Hiking Tip: How to always sleep dry

Camping and sleeping dry

Thru-hiking and sleeping dry

Hiking in the rain happens all the time. You get used to it. Getting wet is one thing; sleeping in dampness is another. Anyone who’s slept in a damp sleeping bag will tell you of their misery on a cold night. 

You may know of hikers who quit their thru-hike because they got tired of dealing with rain. I saw it happen during the usual rainy spring on the A.T. and on the Long Trail during a weeks-long stretch of downpours. Hikers complained of damp sleeping bags and wet clothes that couldn’t dry. These hikers didn’t sleep comfortably.

HIKING TIP: Wrap your sleeping bag; keep a separate set of underwear only for sleeping.

A simple, fool-proof way to seal a sleeping bag from rain and dampness, is to wrap it in the ubiquitous green trash bag before putting it in your backpack. This, more than anything, keeps my bag dry. Always.  I also store “for sleeping only” a dry t-shirt and underpants in the sleeping bag.

When I wake in the morning, I remove this underwear and place it in a plastic baggie, which I then put back in my sleeping bag. I can handle hiking in wet clothes because I will become warm with movement and after food. But I never sleep wet or damp. In the picture with the unrolled bag, I’ve placed the trash bag on the left and my sleep underwear on the bottom of the bag. The other picture shows everything rolled up in the trash bag except for the original sleeping bag sack, which stays home.

Give yourself a well-deserved night’s sleep after hiking all day in rain. Keep your bag protected; sleep in dry underwear.

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