Preparing for Fall Camping
Fall is a great time of the year to go camping. In most parts of the country, daytime temperatures are still warm enough to get outside to enjoy hiking, mountain biking or other pursuits, while cool evening temps make it comfortable for snuggling up in your 3-season sleeping bag.
As the temperatures start to drop, it is important to be prepared for sleeping during your fall camping trip. You might not be able to sleep without blankets anymore at this time of year. If you like it a little chilly in the evening, perhaps your best option is to sleep in a TravelSheet, which is lightweight enough to where you likely will not wake up feeling too warm or sweaty, yet, depending on the fabric, cozy enough so that you should be able to sleep just fine. Lighter than a sleeping bag, TravelSheet and Mummy Liner products are sleeping bag liners that can be used by themselves, placed inside a sleeping bag, or used as a liner in a hotel or hostel bed, when the cleanliness of provided bed linen is questionable. Travel sheets come in cotton, silk and quick drying synthetic fabrics.
Along the same lines as a TravelSheet are outdoor blankets, which come in several different weights and sizes for adults and children. The good thing about a blanket compared to a TravelSheet or Mummy Liner sheet is that they can double as warm weather sleeping bags. Who needs a sleeping bag if the fall temperatures at night get down to a balmy 60°-70°F. An outdoor blanket is perfect for this kind night. Look for blankets made out of polyester fleece or wool, for best outdoor performance.
Another option for fall sleeping gear is a sleeping bag. If you like sleeping outdoors, sleeping in a hammock is a great way to spend the night. There are dozens of hammocks to choose from, ranging in size, material, and also how you choose to set it up. Lots of people like to take naps on hammocks that are set up in their backyard or during a camping trip in the woods. There are others who enjoy getting all of their sleep in a hammock while camping. Of course, hammocks can be very simple to set up and studies have shown that sleeping in hammocks is better for your back than lying on a flat mattress.
The fall season is not the same all over the country. In the south, an outdoor blanket might be appropriate for balmy fall nights, while in Upstate NY or other more northern regions, night temperatures may be quite chilly, and will require you sleep in a sleeping bag. A three-season sleeping bag should work for all but the hottest summer nights and coldest winter nights, and is a perfect option for fall camping, when overnight temps vary greatly.
Air Mattresses and Cots
Realize that a temperature rating that a sleeping bag may be advertized as is assuming that the bag is being used with a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads add insulation under the sleeping bag, while air mattresses do not, so the temperature rating for a sleeping bag would not be the same when comparing sleeping on an air bed vs. a sleeping pad. Air mattresses and cots provide an extra level of comfort but may not be as warm because there is less insulation under the bag. A cot is great if sleeping on the ground or in a hammock is not for you. Cots are able to fold away for easy packing. If you enjoy a cool breeze as you sleep, cots allow air to pass through underneath, for great ventilation.