Step 4: Dress Warm

Picture of Dress Warm
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Since I posted this guide, there has been a lot of back-and-forth in the comments section about whether or not this is actually a good idea.
However, I must maintain my position, due in no small part to the excellent links provided by the thermally impressive gmoon, particularly this one.
I recommend a synthetic fleece vest or wool sweater and a knit cap.
The vest is light, dries quickly and is quite warm.
The sweater is even warmer and in my experience slightly more compact than fleece for the same amount of warming.
Both remain fairly insulative even when damp, unlike cotton sweatshirts which are literally worse than nothing in wet situations. Though I prefer the wool sweater overall, synthetic fleece is nice in that it absorbs almost no moisture, whereas wool takes on the approximate density of depleted uranium when it comes in contact with water and is very reluctant to dry. One other noted difference between the two is that wool is all but fireproof, whereas any synthetic cloth is prone to burn quite easily and melts while burning as well, adhering to skin like overpriced napalm. While this is usually a minimal hazard, small sparks from a campfire are notorious for burning little holes in synthetic clothing.
The hat is amazingly warm, and while I usually use wool knit, synthetic is also excellent.

I should also add that the inestimable zwild1 reminded me of the importance of the bag liner. This is a cloth (I use synthetic fleece) liner which goes inside your sleeping bag. It can improve the rating significantly. Good suggestion!

I am a fan of layers however usually when it gets cold I get into my RV and strip down rather than doing it in a sleeping bag.

I must put my peice of experience to this topic, i'm a Boy Scout out of Kentucky and before my Scoutmaster taught me better i would go to bed looking like i would dress for the weather and i would freeze beyond anything i have ever felt before, but stripping down to ur boxers and sleeping with a warm bag and a bag liner, you will always wake up toasty and in Kentucky the Weather goes from 100's in summer to 30's nad below in Winter, and you must always be prepared, the idea of a cap is very smart, but i use a hybrid mummy sleeping bag with a removable hood and it has the same consept, but everyone has there opinions and Kentucky isn't everywhere, so i'm not all knowing. just my bit of experience.
Gelfling63 years ago
Mutiple layers are good, but I actually found simple makes better too.. I learned this many times camping out at Renaissance faires, in a simple tent, a close-fit sleeping bag (mummy style) is best for keeping out the elements, even in a tent. (cursing the mutiple times a tent seam decided to leak during a rainstorm!). On the cheap, You can go with flipping your shirt & T-Shirt inside out, but keeping it over, and around the back of the head, and just above the bridge of the nose, so that your nose & mouth are the only things exposed. , and curling up into a fetal (legs/knees bent, and close to the chest.) inside a fairly thick sleeping bag, works. Also did this as semi-survival during recent power outage caused by storm Alfred. Idea, is to keep in a close formation, and keeping the top of your head covered, while still allowing breathing. You'll notice if you stretch out full length (legs straight out) you'll tend to get cold again.
xFyrios3 years ago
Layer's layer's layer's! When dressing warm it's always important to where layer's! If something gets wet, just take it off, if you get too warm hiking, take something off and prevent your inner clothes from getting wet. When out in the outback layey's are always a good idea! :)

It's much more efficient than wearing something big and bulky and warm.
SIRJAMES094 years ago
I love that fur hat!!! is that fake or real fur??
Mother Natures Son (author)  SIRJAMES094 years ago
It's real. I'm not a proponent of fur farming or wearing that sort of thing for fashion, but I found this at a yard sale and thought it was pretty amazing. I don't think buying it second-hand creates the same moral issues as giving the trappers or fur farmers custom.
see my thoughts are a wee bit different....

I think that fur coats & hats are ok to a point....but the industry in this country has gotten out of hand. they process way too many animals, for things that most people would never buy in the first place, and the ones that would(most of them) are not there to begin with....they have more $$$$$ than common sense.

I do hunt, and I do make things out of the skins...but everything I kill, goes into my freezer for food at a later point in time. I try not to waste ANYTHING. not the fur, bones, feathers, NOTHING. the stuff I make from what is left of the animals & birds I kill, I sell.
kscott4 years ago
Love silk thermals - light weight & pack easy. Oddly enough the local JC Penny outlet usually has them for ~$3 each just before Christmas... Awesome.
sockless5 years ago
I personally prefer to wear almost no clothes, but I throw my clothes in my bag with me. The sleeping bag should warm up with your body heat, so you shouldn't need warm clothes.
Mother Natures Son (author)  sockless5 years ago
That works fine--if you've got a sleeping bag sufficient for the conditions. If you don't, then you need extra insulation. If it's the middle of the summer and you've got a 15° bag, you won't need clothes. If it's going to be zero (or, realistically, 15°) then you will.
wobbler6 years ago
Thanks for your Instructable. I'm not sure which is best- clothed or not. The only disadvantage I've found with clothed is I sometimes wake up half way through the night too warm and end up having to throw off clothing, which just wakes me up more. I now tend to just take a better bag and sleep almost unclothed in just a light thermal top and underwear. You mention a synthetic sleep liner to keep warm. They are good but bulky and heavy. I use a silk one which is ultra-light. and the size of your fist. I use this one (this isn't an advert!! - http://www.decathlon.co.uk/EN/square-silk-liner-3253137/) It's supposed to give up to 5 degs C. I am also now a real convert to sleeping duvets when I'm tenting, having simply bought some sleaping bags and opened them out and restitched them so that they are open after the bottom foot. I then use these only on top over a thermal base. It's so brilliant just to be able to get up and back in without any messing about and I've not noticed them being any less warm than enclosed bags although I usually also wear a very loose fleece balaclava on my head which in a mummy I wouldn't. I still use a full bag when bivvying though as its not so warm if there is a wind, but in a tent I would never go back to enclosed sleeping bags. There used to be plenty of designs around on the web,.
MattandJora6 years ago
my hat usually ends up coming off and when i wake up my ears are really cold. do you have any advise to help keep a hat on?
Get a fleece balaclava. Roll it down at night to cover your face, ears, neck etc. Only your eyes and lips will show. When you get up in the morning, roll it up and use it for a normal head cover while hiking (if needed).
flk4236 years ago
you comment on moisture in your clothes .. on of the things we learned growing up camping, was to change your underwear and socks when you went too bed .. those two articles of clothing hold a lot of sweat, felt or not! As for the person that wanted to know how to keep a hat on at night .. i carry one of those really cheap blankets they give you on the airplane .. they're small, really thin, and work amazingly well .. throw it in your sleeping bag .. your head gets cold during the night, pull it out and cover your whole head up. Its thin enough that you can still breath easily and not feel smothered, but it works to at least keep a thin barrier between exposed skin and the cold.
haeckse6 years ago
Again, a no-brainer, but it's depressing how many people think that stripping down to their boxers and undershirt, like they would at home, is a good idea.

Actually it is. At least when you're in your sleeping bag (and it's a decent on).
It'll be much warmer than with all your clothes on. :)
Mother Natures Son (author)  haeckse6 years ago
I've not found that to be the case; In the first picture, the one of me sleeping in the snow, I did so two seperate nights. The first (pictured) I was wearing longjohns and a soccer jersey. The second I was wearing a vest and knit cap. I was actually comfortably warm the second night, whereas the first night I was extremely cold. Now I know that this isn't exactly a difinitive, multiple-trials experiment, but since then I've always worn a vest, hat, and warm socks to bed (except a few times when I had to take them off because I was too warm) and have never found myself cold.