The Bedroll

Quebec City, Quebec

Everyone has a choice of using sleeping bags or blankets - it is all a matter of personal taste and insulation. The thicker the insulation, the warmer you will be. Loosely woven materials can provide air pockets that keep you very warm, indeed. Whether you use a sleeping bag or blankets, they should be aired out in the morning, since your body gives out a great deal of moisture which is absorbed by your bedding. This will aid in keeping you warm and dry each night. I have noticed the trend nowadays is to use sleeping bags with a nylon shell and top it with a nice wool blanket - ever notice how the wool blanket slips and slides and falls away? Maybe a safety pin or two will help.....another tip if you are pinning, is to use diaper pins - they have a protective cap that prevents girls from accidently sticking themselves. You can also use blankets, in lieu of a sleeping bag. You can make a warm bed of blankets by folding them so there are no side and bottom openings - kind of a cocoon. Make sure they are pinned so they don't open up at night.

It is true that when a person suffers heat loss, 75% of it is downward and only 25% is through the top of the bedroll. Therefore, you will need three layers UNDER you for every layer you have on top. To accomplish this, use either newspaper or extra blankets between your sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Sleeping pads provide insulation from the cold ground as well as providing some comfort. You can choose between 4 different types of pads, depending on the type of camp you are doing, or comfort level. An air mattress is extremely comfortable and it shouldn't be blown up too hard. A good rule of thumb is to sit on it, and your bottom should just touch the ground. Air mattresses are heavy to transport and do not provide good insulation. The heat from your body and the cold from the ground cause air currents inside the mattress that are constantly taking your heat away and replacing with cold. The foam pad (open cell) is similar to a sponge. Very comfortable, doesn't need inflating, but it has a habit of soaking up a lot of moisture. Make sure it is waterproofed so you stay dry. It can be difficult to roll up with your sleeping bag and can be quite bulky. The closed cell foam pads are much thinner, and provide excellent insulation, but not as comfortable. If they get wet, they dry quickly - virtually waterproof. The best of all four is the self-inflating mattress. It is an air mattress filled with open cell foam. The combination allows the mattress to be thin and the foam prevents air currents.

Now that you have your gear together, everything needs to be waterproofed. Begin by laying down a groundsheet - this can be rubber or heavy plastic (tarp/tarpaulin) . Lay your gear flat on top and begin rolling from the bottom to the head. This way, you can unroll your gear and you are ready to jump in. It is advisable not to set up your bed before actually getting ready to enter it. This way, you keep the cold air and moisture at bay, and in the morning after airing, roll up your gear again to prevent the same. By putting clean and dry clothes on at night, you will be warmer and more comfortable. Unless you perspire during the night, you can dress over it and wear it all day. Make sure you include clean underwear, socks and night clothes inside (warm from home!). Make sure you tuck the sides in as you go. Help may be required - don't be afraid to ask! Tie everything up to secure with cord (re-use) or use nylon straps that self-tighten. Make sure everything is clearly marked with your name, and away you go! Remember, you are required to carry your own baggage, so make sure you practice before the camp to make sure you can lift it!

One way to tell if the mattress is truly waterproof is to take it into the shower with you. Unroll it and check!

My personal sleeping gear contains these layers: rubber groundsheet, sleeping pad, three wool blankets, comforter, flannel sheet, afhgan, flannel blanket, another afhgan, three more wool blankets, pillow w/pillow case, campfire blanket gaily decorated with patches and crests. Laugh, but I am quite warm and I can always say I take extra blankets for the girls who are cold at night......downside is that once I am "installed" inside my cocoon - I can't move!!

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