What you’ll find here –  A guide on how to sleep well while camping. With the right preparation and gear, you can get a good nights sleep. The key is to have the right routine, padding and warmth.

The Right Gear for Sleeping While Camping

Having a comfortable sleeping pad and a sleeping bag that keeps you warm is a great place to start when wanting to sleep well while camping. Consider the following gear:

  • Sleeping bag: Pick a bag that will keep you warm in what you expect the coldest camping conditions that you will encounter will be. This means you will need to pay attention to the temperature rating of a sleeping bag. As long as we are not snow camping, we like to camp with bags that have temperature ratings at or below freezing. You can always take layers off or unzip the bag if you get too hot but it’s hot. Mummy sleeping bags tent to be a bit warmer.
  • Sleeping pad: Sleeping while camping can be challenging. Don’t skimp on a sleeping pad. There will be stones, sticks and uneven ground that you’ll be camping on so a good sleeping pad is what you’ll want for a comfortable nights sleep. Pay attention the the thickness of the pad and the R-Value. Thickness helps prevent you from feeling the ground and the R-Value is warm rating. The higher the R-Value the higher the insulation value which mean the warmer you will be. An R-Value of 4+ is usually good for colder temperatures. Most sleeping pads have sets of air chambers, on some of the budget bags you’ll see larger gaps between the air chambers, the gaps have decreased padding and if you are a side sleeper you may feel the ground at the gap spots.
  • Headlamp: Most campsites don’t have built-in lighting, this means that when it gets dark you’ll want to have your own light source. A headlamp is a great source of light while camping because it allows your hands to be free. Need to go find the marshmallows for s’mores or go to the restroom in the night? A headlamp is the tool you want.
  • Pillow – either bring your favorite pillow from home or grab a lightweight camping specific pillow. If you forget your pillow you can user your clothes or other soft items.
  • Earplugs and eye mask – some people like to stay up very late and watch the campfire while others like to be in bed by 10pm. It’s best to bring some earplugs and and eye mask to help you sleep if things are still noisy outside of your tent. Ear plugs will also help if the wind starts to pickup.

Preparing to Sleep

Many times you’ll get to your camp spot in the afternoon. Don’t wait until it gets dark to setup your camping area. Set up your tent and inflate your sleeping pad before it gets dark. Having everything ready and waiting can be a great way to start the process of getting a good nights sleep.

  • Make sure you place your tent in a good location. Avoid placing your tent on a slope or on rocks and sticks.
  • Keep food and other scented items away from your tent when in a bear country.
  • Change into your sleeping clothes if you brought them. If your clothes you’re currently wear are wet or damp be sure to change into dry clothes.
  • It’s hard to sleep if you get cold. You can always take layers off and unzip your sleeping bag. We like to start our night with wearing warm clothes.
  • Use the restroom before getting in your sleeping bag. If you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night be sure to have your headlamp nearby.
  • Bring a water bottle with you into your tent. You may get thirst during the night. Just make sure it does not leak.

Activities you should consider before bed

  • Eat a snack so you don’t wake up hungry. Food also helps warm you while you digest it.
  • Drink a warm or calming beverage.
  • Wear a beanie. Sleeping bags usually don’t cover your entire head and that is where you can lose a lot of heat.
  • Warm up a steel water bottle near the fire and use it as a heat rock
How-to: Sleep Well While Camping Overall rating: ★★★★★ 4.6 based on 3 reviews.
5 1
Who we are
smart camping ideas

We're a group of experts and outdoor enthusiasts that test and review camping gear.

  • Our recommendations are completely independent and based on personal experience and/or input from industry experts.
  • We also weigh in thousands of community reviews from REI and Amazon to bring you the best of the best.
Trees planted

As a thank you for using our site we plant trees. Learn more about us, our mission, and what .eco is.

Find this page helpful? Help others by rating it. Our goal is to provide good information so you that can go enjoy the outdoors.


Page last updated: November, 2021

Top gear picks by category

best camping gear guide
Have a question? Ask our online community and get answers fast
Go to camping group

Living in the Northeast, rain happens… but now I have the knowledge and gear to go rain or shine. Glad I found this site! Thanks.

I had a few more questions about one of the tents I was interested in. After posting on the group page I got some great input. My tent is perfect for the camping I like do to.

I get cold quickly. After learning about sleeping bags here I was able to find one that keeps me warm and isn’t to heavy to carry. Thanks for sharing your expertise guys and gals.

Gear Sale Alert

We send you an email when there is a major sale going on (e.g. REI Garage sale).

    Camping Resources
    How-to Guides
    The Best Gear

    Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, this adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we provide honest and unbiased reviews with the goal to help you enjoy the outdoors. – Cheers, the smartcamper team.