A good nights's sleep is very important, and one of the few luxuries when you're on the road or busy making a base camp. Just because you're living out of a backpack, your car, or you've just arrived at your destination does not mean you have to sacrifice having a good night's rest.
Your sleep system should include a sleeping bag (or sleeping bag system of an inner and outer bag) that will keep you warm to -40 degrees F/C, a fleece sleeping bag, silk or other synthetic liner and a pad of some sort. Fleece sleeping bags can be used on their own during warmer temperatures or used inside your sleeping bag for an increase of 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 11 degrees C). Silk or synthetic liners are to aid in keeping your sleeping bag clean, it is much easier to wash a silk/synthetic or fleece liner bag than it is to wash a full size sleeping bag. The sleeping pad serves two purposes, one to provide insulation from the cold ground and heat loss, and two to provide padding for a better night's rest. A small packable pillow is nice to have as well.
A "sportsmans space blanket" is very similar to the thin emergency/space blankets that sell for under $5 with one big exception - they are much more durable. They can be used as a ground sheet, as blanket on top of your sleeping bag to hekp keep heat in, and several other uses.
The last item on the list is a cot. A cot is great if you have the room in your vehicle and for once you reach your destination, or any base camp along the way. Although you wouldn't want to carry a cot if you were traveling on foot it is one of the luxuries you may want to consider if you have the room and the budget.
As you can see we concentrated on mobile/camping gear. Regular household sleeping sets should also be packed. In a wosrt case scenario you may not have much time to pack your vehicle or may be forced to travel on foot only taking what you can carry. The main items below can be carried in a back pack. You can never have too much in the way of sheets, blankets and comforters, so bring as many as you have or can fit in your vehicle.
Below you will find recommendations for sleeping gear that will keep you warm in temperatures down to -40 degrees F/C.
The Cabela's Alaskan Guide model pictured below comes in mummy and rectangular designs, each with a hood. With various temperature ratings from 0F/-17C down to a single bag at -40 degrees F/C. The most expensive model is $270.00, a far cry from the $600-$700 for name brand sleeping bags with a -40 degree F/C rating.
The Wiggy's two bag system below is good to -40 degrees F/C when the inner and outer bag are combined and is constructed of a proprietary laminate. These sleeping bags are used by the US Navy SEALs. The total cost for these is over $450.00. Wiggy's also makes a sleeping bag that is good to -60F/-51C available in single and two bag systems with a price range of $350.00 to $595.00. They will also compression pack your sleeping bag for an additional $175.00 to the size of a cushion. For more information on the -60 sleeping bag see Wiggy's.
Fleece sleeping bags can be used in warmer weather or as a liner in another sleeping bag to increase the temperature rating. They will also help to keep your sleeping bag clean. There are several manufactures of sleeping bags and several retailers so shop around, make sure the fleece bag you buyis of good quality and the right size to fit your sleeping bag - many of the cheaper fleece bags are somewhat small.
A sleeping pad can be anything from a $5 blue closed cell foam pad to a $200 deluxe, self-inflating pad with some foam. There are three options pictured below in varying price ranges of the latter type. The self-inflating pad with some foam provides insulation and a somewhat customizable padding level to aid in comfort. A pad of some type is nighly recommended if just for the insulation value.
Sportsmans Space/Thermal Blanket
These range in price from $10 to $13 depending on the store you buy them at. These are lighweight and have many uses. They are well worth the price and weight. As mentioned earlier, they can be used as a ground sheet to reflect heat back up and prevent loss of heat to the ground or as a blanket on top of your sleeping bag, or both. Some of the other uses include as insulation inside your tent, or with a hole cut in them as a poncho liner - in which case they can greatly increase the warmth of a poncho and poncho liner.
Cots and accessories
A cot is great to have if you are at a base camp, but too heavy to pack on your back when traveling on foot. With accessories including pads and other items they can make any base camp a lot more comfortable. Cots are one of those luxury items that come into play when you have the room to pack them in your vehicle and the money to spend on them. Below is one of the better ones available from Cabela's.
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