How to get through the night while camping. It will also be colder than you expect.
Wear long-legged and long-armed thermals under your jeans and jumper for sitting out in the evening, and under your pyjamas when you go to bed.
Bed and bedding
The minimum is a decent sleeping bag and self-inflating mattress per person. You can use a thick jumper as a pillow. For family campers, the only chance you have of a decent nights’ sleep is if the kids are warm and comfortable, so an extra blanket and a snuggly toy are essential for them. Augment the powers of an ordinary sleeping bag with a silk liner. When packed, a silk lining takes up about the same amount of space as a pack of cards and the warmth they retain is really worth it. Also if gets really cold you can pull the silk lining over your face and breathe through it. Silk liners are easier to wash, too, as the insulating properties of a sleeping bag are diminished by each pass through the washing machine.
If we camp out of season, in early March or October, then I pack the various sheepskin rugs around the house and put them on top of the mattresses to provide an extra level of insulation. Inflating an air mattress is a tedious job, and I think children can make do with thin self-inflating mattress or a bed roll. Out of season, a big air bed fills up with cold air that leaches heat out of your body, and I am on the verge of abandoning it altogether and returning to the thin, self-inflating Thermarest.
A torch is necessary for adults, but a torch for each of the kids adds to the sense of night time adventure. We used to keep a small lantern on at night but it quickly burnt through batteries. Instead, pack a handful of fluorescent snappy lights to allay any night-time fears, and a small cheap battery-powered lantern. Math has a hefty Maglite torch, a hangover from his days as a security guard on Liverpool docks, and I have a pencil-thin one that fits in my purse. Avoid the large lanterns, some of which burn so brightly as to extinguish all atmosphere. Candles in fireproof paper lanterns, weighed down with pebbles, make a pleasant alternative when you sit outside chatting of an evening. Naked flames and tents do not mix. The one time I saw a tent engulfed by flame, the whole structure went up in a single ‘poof’.
Cath’s camping gear checklist:
Camping Gear – Tent and the basics