How to Create the Best Sleeping Environment While Camping
The most expensive and highest-quality sleeping bags or mats won't do much to help you have a comfortable sleep if your site is not properly set up. There are a few things that you can do to avoid making some common mistakes that cause people to toss and turn all night long. Here are a couple of tips to help you choose the right site in order to get the best rest possible in the backcountry.
The first thing to consider is that you want to sleep on flat terrain. Stay away from slopes or ground that has depressions where you will be laying down. If you are forced to sleep on a slope, make sure that you position yourself parallel with it so that your body is not angled vertically. If you need to sleep over ground that has some holes, consider filling them in order to make the terrain as even as possible.
Another thing to look for are rocks, humps or stubs of branches that are sticking up from the ground that can poke and prod you all night long. While a good sleeping bag and pad will provide cushioning, you'll be much better off on ground that is as smooth as possible.
Test your site before you decide to sleep on it. Get out your pad and sleeping bag, place it on the ground and lay down for a minute or two. If it doesn't feel right, try re-positioning it or choosing a different spot. Spending a little bit of time beforehand to find the best spot will make all of the difference in the world when it comes to making your sleep as comfortable as possible.
One way to eliminate the problem of terrain and choosing the right site altogether is to sleep in a camping hammock. As long as you have two sturdy trees that can support the hammock and your weight, you can rock yourself to sleep instead of tossing and turning. While hammocks are not for everyone, and they are not the best choice in some situations, they provide you with options that you simply can't get from tent camping.
The best rule of thumb to follow is to allow yourself some time to pick a good spot to sleep, and make the choice before setting up camp. A lot of people set up camp first and then choose their sleeping area last. Unfortunately, they often get stuck with limited options, and this can lead to poor sleep quality and fatigue during the day. Chances are that your sleep will be more restful and satisfying if your build your site around where you want to sleep instead.
A lot of this will be pretty intuitive once you get out in the field. Keeping these things in mind while scouting sites can go a long way to ensuring that you enjoy your nights under the stars.