Sleeping Comfortably, Keeping the Bag Clean

8:02 a.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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I am using a cotton/silk sleeping bag liner, which is great - it's less clammy than a pure silk one and better than synthetic, which I don't like next to skin.

But I am still getting sticky legs (I go commando in the summer), which is made worse by a sweaty day hiking. I am thinking that there might be a a solution in some kind of cotton or silky pyjamas, providing the weight wasn't too much.

But I don't know whether a baggy pair of PJs would be crazy in a mummy style down bag. Anyone else got any other ideas? I could try a very thin silk/synthetic baselayer, provided it wasn't warm at all (for the colder season, I just use merino top and bottoms) and didn't feel too 'plasticky'.

The other solution is to get another cotton/silk liner and have a onesie custom made to my specifications using the material. Picture that.

Thanks in advance.

9:55 a.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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I used very thin pure silk longies for this for years,mine are worn out now and I need to find more, but, they worked. I also found the sweaty legs issue very uncomfortable and a set of sleeping base layers is always a part of my gear.

1:56 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Ugh. Why oh why go to bed all sticky, sweaty and gross in the first place?

If you are sweating in your bag, open it up and ventilate a bit. If it’s sweat and grime from the days hike or cycle, clean it off first!

I always try to bathe before going to bed!

Naturally this can be a challenge under certain conditions, but going to bed clean, with at least the bulk of the sweat and grime removed by a towel bath, makes me sleep oh so much more comfortable.

I often look for a handy pond, river, creek or what-not to jump into towards the end of the day, strip down while I’m still hot from my excretions and take the plunge.    

Even in quite cold weather I enjoy the brief bath. Get dressed quickly and back on the trail for a bit to warm up, then camp.

Or, I’ll heat a pot of water in camp, strip down and bathe with a hand towel or bandana.

That’s one of the reasons why I like a two quart aluminum cooking pail, it’s a decent size to wash up in.

On a ten day cycle trip two years back the feller I was traveling with went seven days without bathing!

I can’t imagine how rank he and his sleeping bag were getting! Thankfully, we had our own tents.

On that trip one way or the other I managed to bathe every night except for two, and they were not in succession.   

But the guy I was with simply could not, or would not, clean himself off in anything other than a proper in-door shower.  

I often travel with my wife and she is even more a stickler for the evening bath than I am!

I reckon proper hygiene without plumbing is yet another often overlooked wilderness skill.     

But then, my wife and I have lived since ’98 without running water so maybe we’re a little more used to this sort of thing.

I always bathe in the evening, that’s when the water on our wood stove is warm, and I get to go to bed clean, which keeps the bedding cleaner, a real consideration when you live without running water and an electric washing machine….

 So Pathloser, if you have the extra water try washing down those sweaty legs of yours in camp at the end of the day with a washcloth or bandana. You can even heat up a pot of water and use a little soap if you like, just be sure to rinse off all the soap. It feels sooo nice to clean up at the end of a long, hard day! I've even scrubed myself down with a few handfulls of snow a time or three. Anything is better than going to bed sweaty and gross. 

If really shy on water, at least clean off real good when you do get to a spring ( well away from the spring of course! )

Try that, and I bet you’ll sleep better without the extra gear along!  

2:07 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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-if you camp near any kind of decent stream, lake or other water source, jump in after hiking.  it helps to wash off the day's sweat (and grime, if it's summertime & dusty or muddy). 

-there are pretty light merino layers these days if it works for you in cold weather.  i use 150 weight merino t-shirts for the steamy mid-atlantic summer.  i'm pretty sure smartwool and icebreaker (and maybe ibex) do 150 weight base layer bottoms too.   

-cocoon makes an array of travel sheets and bag liners, in pretty much any material you might want (and some you probably don't - they make cotton bag liners, but i'm pretty sure that's a backcountry faux pas).  i prefer coolmax.

if you are into self-customizing, you could look at the typical sleep sheet and see a natural fix - measure carefully, slice from the foot of the sleep sheet right up the middle, then use a sewing machine and finish off each open side and the middle - effectively turning the bottom of your sheet into 2 "legs." 


2:15 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Sounds like you need a cooler bag to me or to open it up some.

2:55 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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 If it’s sweat and grime from the days hike or cycle, clean it off first!

I knew someone would suggest bathing before bed.

 while I’m still hot from my excretions

I wasn't expecting that.

EtdBob, I just don't have that kind of discipline.

leadbelly, cutting a rectangle into leg sections is genius. Good old lateral thinking - I think you have it, by Jove. I will look into getting the right liner and probably try that idea.

Dewey, I would try silk (surely the coolest material?) baselayers but cannot be sure that I wouldn't feel clammy. When I got a silk bag liner, I wasn't expecting it to feel that way (my partner uses it now). Merino 150 feels warm even in the late spring, so I doubt I could use it in the summer inside a bag. I might experiment though (usually I wear a polycotton in summer).

ocala, it is like sweat rash, just some people cannot tolerate their own sweat. I can't sleep very well in the house if I haven't had a shower after a hike but I am just too lazy for a strip wash outdoors. Open it up with a sheet on the pad is an idea.

Thanks all.

3:55 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Very light wool long johns?  Maybe that would wick your sweat away?

5:18 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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I have some 140 Icebreaker Ts and find silk cooler in warm-hot weather. Washing is, of course, "de riguer" when one can, but, in some situations, you do not waste drinking water that you have packed 3000 ft. up in a long, hard day and just turn in sweaty and a bit grimey.

I co carry "Wet Ones" for certain parts of my elderly carcass and I am a moderate perspirer, however, I am a bit of a freak about body hygiene and keeping my bag(s) clean, so, the silk is the best I have yet found for me, others may prefer merino (or synthetics, which I dislike.)

6:52 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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During the hot humid summers we have in the Southeast US, and particularly in marine environments such as in the Atlantic coastal plain, I can not wear any underwear / boxers during my time outdoors. It is simply an invitation for a bad case of jock itch. The extra ventilation is great, and welcomed.

Before I turn in for the night I will wash up if possible, but if I am in a salt water environment I may not have the fresh water to spare for bathing. Bathing with salt water out of marshes really won't make you smell or feel any better, trust me.

If I am working river gorges in the Appalachians for trout, I am always near fairly clean fresh water, albeit very cold, so I can wash up and do enjoy doing so.

What I always do, mostly year round, is change into a dry base layer to sleep in, Cool Max in hot weather, Polartec or wool in cold weather (plus a beanie). This way if I need to venture out of my shelter during the night (I always do) I am already dressed and just need to pop on my boots and grab a light.

I used to use a silk or fleece bagliner depending on the night temps, but I have just gravitated to wearing a base layer to sleep in because I find it more convenient and allows me to sleep on top of the bag more comfortably.

Once I have had a morning cup of joe I change back into my day clothes and hang the sleepwear up with my bag to fully dry while I go about other chores.

Mike G.

4:22 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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trout, I have never tried a coolmax anything, apart from what they add to socks. It might actually be more comfortable than the many polyester variations, so if I see some baselayers on sale I will try em.

I am going to sew two legs into a regular silk/cotton rectangular liner first and see how that goes. I can always get the shape more 'mummified' if there's too much material. The silk and cotton is much lighter than standard bed sheet material, so if I make a thermarest cover then that could be used with an open bag for the summer.

Just to clarify, this is for spring into summer, when I often need to take a warmer than necessary bag because there is so much temperature variation. Last week we had 20 C and tonight is going to snow, here in the UK.


6:20 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Yes, I hope the liner modification works well. Of course you have to find what works best for you and your needs and I am the same way.

Let us know how it goes!

Mike G.

6:45 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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As I toss and turn all night I can't use a liner as I get all wrapped up in them.  I use long sleeve hospital scrubs that have elastic wrist bands.  I'd rather sleep commando but I just get to dirty to sleep in my nice down bags in that manner as well as sweating to much if I don't have some sort of a wicking material between me the bag and I.  I know, I know, there cotton and have no business being out in the back country,m but they do work fo me.  You might give them a try as there cheap.  Nothing lost if they don't work for you as they have so many other applications.  Nothing like wearing a set of wet scrubs on a hot day when it's 110 deg.


12:27 a.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Nothing like wearing a set of wet scrubs on a hot day when it's 110 deg.

The NPS recommends cotton when hiking in the summer in the Grand Canyon.  It's excellent in hot, dry climates. 

4:00 a.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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I used to buy sleeping bags with polycotton liners. They stopped doing those a while back (it was Anjungulak). The liner material is so fine, much finer than bed sheets, that customising a pure cotton liner would still be lightweight. But I have also been schooled in cotton-aversion, which is why I ended up with a mixed silk fibre thing. (Does anyone else feel a wee bit guilty killing all those grubs for silk?)

I will look out for a cotton liner on sale anyway, see how that goes - summer isn't really a hypothermia risk anyway. Or polycotton. Interesting on the scrubs idea. Thanks.

11:17 a.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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base layers

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