Sleeping in the Great Outdoors

hammock campingSleeping outdoors in comfort is about both physical and psychological comfort.

For some, sleeping like a cowboy rolled up in a blanket or a bedroll under the stars is completely satisfying. Waking up kind of stiff from sleeping on the ground, with some rocks poking into your back is an important part of the total camping experience. They bed down near the campfire, fall asleep, and wake up with the dawn to make coffee before the sluggards in their tents even start to move.

Others have to have a tent in order not to spend the whole night worrying about being eaten by bears. They don’t want to deal with the night air, mosquitoes, or light before time to wake up.

This is part of the psychological comfort aspect. You have to have the degree of shelter that makes you comfortable. Your physical position is another part of the psychological comfort.

Hammock camping is becoming more popular among fresh air enthusiasts. At Uncle Sam’s, we sell an ultralight hammock for about $20 that packs up small in your backpack. Grand Trunk hammocks have parachute nylon and lots of accessories.

We also have ENO (Eagle’s Nest Outfitters) hammocks, another top quality brand that has so many choices you’re bound to find exactly what you need.

Prefer to stay on the ground? Consider Thermarest self-inflating sleep pads. There are simple, small pads that stuff down small for backpackers, or luxurious mattresses with aluminized coating to reflect body heat. We also carry children’s sizes, and versions specifically for women to meet their different needs for warmth — hey, these guys have done research!

Some people don’t like lying on the ground, even if it’s luxurious. They also don’t like hanging in the air. They want something like a bed. If you fall into this category, consider a cot.

A cot is a folding bed. You can top it with a sleeping bag or a Thermarest mattress and sheets and blankets. You can make it into a completely homelike experience if you’re car camping.

Physical comfort obviously is affected by your choice of the options listed. If you have to carry the gear, that’s another part of the physical comfort equation. Smaller and lighter equals greater comfort when you’re backpacking.

It’s a trade-off, though. You might be willing to carry a bit more — or cut back in another area — in order to have a good night’s sleep.

If you’re in Northwest Arkansas, come down to Uncle Sam’s so you can see your options and discuss them with our experienced staff. Sleeping well affects your mood and your energy level for the next day’s adventures, so it’s worth putting some time into exploring alternatives and choosing the best one for you.

3 Comments

  1. Gabriel says:

    The major differences bewteen a 3 season and a 4 season tent are that the winter rated tents are designed to be able to support or shed a heavy snow load without the frame breaking or the tent collapsing. They also tend to have the rainfly system designed to maintain a more reliable space bewteen the fly and inner tent wall to minimize condensation and having the fly press on the tent due to a build up of snow. Winter rated tents tend to have smaller window and ventilation areas and will more often have an exterior vestibule arrangement to block wind and to give you a place to leave snowy gear outside the sleeping area or to cook on the ground but out of the wind during storms.Unless you expect heavy snow loads or severe blizzards and extended bivouacs, a good quality (not discount store) 3 season tent can be perfectly adequate for winter camping. I have winter camped many times with 3 season tents, in fact, probably more often than with my 4-season ones (though I own several tents of each type). If your tent pitches tight so that the fly doesn’t blow around and snap in the wind and has strong poles and a vestibule or good fly overhang over the door, you will most likely be fine in it. For winter camping in snow I always carry a microfiber towel to wipe condensation off the inside of the tent walls at night and before I get out of my bag in the morning. Be certain you have stakes that will work in the ground conditions you will encounter. Fat plastic stakes will not work on frozen ground get the thin metal ones that twist in. If you will be camping in deep snowpack, you will want to be able to make dead man anchors by attaching the guy lines and corner staking tabs to buried stuff sacks that you fill with snow or rocks or tying your guy lines to buried branches. You will probably need to stake the tent more solidly than in warmer weather due to the higher potential for wind. Nothing is worse than watching your dome tent bounce down the mountain and out of sight over a cliff (hasn’t happened to me but I’ve seen it happen to others).

  2. John says:

    Great article. I would like to add that heavier people have issues with cots and beds. Putting judgment aside, if you are larger than average you can’t just go into a big box store and buy a cot. The average max capacity is 225 lbs. I have linked a reference site. A good cot is sooooo much easier to deal with than an air mattress that lays on the ground. Bad knees and back- ouch! Find heavy duty sleeping cots at http://heavydutycots.blogspot.com

  3. John says:

    Great article. I would like to add that heavier people have issues with cots and beds. Putting judgment aside, if you are larger than average you can’t just go into a big box store and buy a cot. The average max capacity is 225 lbs. I have linked a reference site. A good cot is sooooo much easier to deal with than an air mattress that lays on the ground. Bad knees and back- ouch! Find heavy duty sleeping cots at

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