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Blankets?

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Sorry if my "tricks of the trade" comment made it sound like blankets are super special or something but there are a few things I've learned over the years that have helped to keep me warm in some very cold temperatures. One thing to note though, some of these "tricks" are based on historical accounts and they may not be everyone's cup of tea. That being said, here's what I've learned (and rely on when it's cold)...

1. Be sure you have good insulation under you. I realize that's a common thought for everyone here but you'd be surprised at how many folks just sleep on the ground with nothing under them. If I'm at a 17th or 18th century re-enactment my ground insulating pad is a bearskin. It's amazing how warm it is lying on top of that thing. For modern camping I'm currently using a Therma-Rest Pro-lite 4 inflatable pad.

2. When it's truly cold it's best to combine everyone's blankets and spoon. There are plenty of accounts, drawings, etc. that show up to 4 people huddled under blankets all together. Typically one would be put down as additional insulation over the bearskins and then the other 3 would be placed lengthwise across everyone (I hope that makes sense). This way each person's one blanket added up to 3 layers of warmth from above with an insulating layer below.

3. Be sure your blanket is clean! It's amazing how body oils can mat the loft in a blanket. The loft helps to trap air and create that layer of insulation we need to stay warm.

While not specifically blanket related, another tip is to never go to bed cold. Again, I realize I'm preaching to the choir but a lot of folks don't realize that the blanket/sleeping bag won't create warmth; it can only keep it in. Especially when using a blanket I'm sure to follow this key step. Sleep comes a lot more easily if your body isn't trying to keep itself warm throughout the night.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper
 
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Interesting tech blanket Tierney, thanks for the link. I keep trying to find just the right gear for just the right cost and effort. I'm sure I'm not alone here in these consumer quandaries. It's interesting how technology has improved/confused our options. Nylon replaced canvas, poly fleece replaced wool, rubber replaced waxed cotton...but only if you want it to. I keep leaning back and forth between traditional materials and new age ones. I paddle a plastic canoe with a wooden paddle.
Just the other day I was looking at a fleece throw blanket which could be custom made (at low cost) with an imprinted photograph. And I wondered which photo type I'd choose for a canoe camping fleece blanket. Lake country landscape? Maybe. Schmaltzy Elvis? Er, no. Dogs in a bar shooting pool? Definitely not. And then I thought of an idea that I knew would be perfect. A photograph of a 4 point Hudson's Bay wool blanket. And here I am back full circle at start.
 
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2. When it's truly cold it's best to combine everyone's blankets and spoon. There are plenty of accounts, drawings, etc. that show up to 4 people huddled under blankets all together. Typically one would be put down as additional insulation over the bearskins and then the other 3 would be placed lengthwise across everyone (I hope that makes sense). This way each person's one blanket added up to 3 layers of warmth from above with an insulating layer below.
snapper

That would've been a real hit on the Marshall L trip last summer. Not.
 
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That would've been a real hit on the Marshall L trip last summer. Not.
Brad are you saying you don't want to spoon with Mem. Kind of unfriendly of you. Besides, he looks kind of cuddly. Me, I'm warm in my hammock so I won't be spooning with either of you anytime soon.
 
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There was plenty of trees for hanging your hammock, and plenty of just plain hanging out. No cuddling. Or spooning.

I read recently about insomnia, and tricks to beat it. One was to go to bed slightly chilled, say right after a shower. Apparently the effect of warming up afterwards has the effect of inducing sleepiness. That seems counterintuitive to me. As snapper says, it's best to use your body heat and the insulation of coverings to best ward off a chilly night. I've had to step out at night for different reasons and been badly chilled on return. (The night air can be deceiving.) It wasn't funny at all trying to fight off the shakes and warm up. It doesn't take much to lose vital body heat, and a wool blanket does wonders to recover from the chills. And yes, spooning with my wife definitely helps.
 
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Just the other day I was looking at a fleece throw blanket which could be custom made (at low cost) with an imprinted photograph. And I wondered which photo type I'd choose for a canoe camping fleece blanket. Lake country landscape? Maybe. Schmaltzy Elvis? Er, no. Dogs in a bar shooting pool? Definitely not. And then I thought of an idea that I knew would be perfect. A photograph of a 4 point Hudson's Bay wool blanket. And here I am back full circle at start.

You don't need to go through the trouble of special-ordering a fleece blanket with HBC stripes. I got one on sale at the bay for $25 (normally $40). It will have to suffice until I can afford a real wool point.

http://www.thebay.com/webapp/wcs/sto...007-jet984--24
 

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I like the ventilation you get with a blanket, vs a down bag, but I dislike the weight (hard to beat a 20oz bag). I have a USGI "woobie" (poncho liner) that breathes "ok" and weighs about the same (20oz) for summer use here in LA. I also have a couple Polish Army wool blankets (5-6 lbs each) and an Israeli Army blanket (3 lbs) that I sometimes take car camping or canoe camping... great for around the fire or for insulating the bottom of a hammock.
 
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Blanket-and-quilt-sleeper-types: Has anyone tried the Sierra Designs zipperless "bed style" sleeping bags? I have been eyeing them for a while now if only because zippers become so wearisome. They appear to have some pretty interesting features. I as of yet don't personally know anyone who has actually tried to live out of one.
 
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I like the ventilation you get with a blanket, vs a down bag, but I dislike the weight (hard to beat a 20oz bag). I have a USGI "woobie" (poncho liner) that breathes "ok" and weighs about the same (20oz) for summer use here in LA. I also have a couple Polish Army wool blankets (5-6 lbs each) and an Israeli Army blanket (3 lbs) that I sometimes take car camping or canoe camping... great for around the fire or for insulating the bottom of a hammock.

I have a couple of down bags I use opened up as blankets. I much prefer not to be zipped in a bag, and figure that a 20F down bag works well as an unzipped blanket in 30-40F temps, and if it gets colder than expected I can bite the bullet and sleep in it zipped up, so it covers a wide range of temperature comfort.

I also have synthetic bags and blankets I use the same way, depending on the season and weight/volume packing issues.

The biggest difference I have found beyond the weight/volume difference is that my down bags, because they are so weightless, do not drape close to my body and leave a cooler than I would like void along my sides. The synthetic fill bags, being heavier, tend to drape more like a blanket and conform better to my body without leaving that unheated void on either side.
 
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I like blankest. For low elevation desert trips, I bring a flannel sheet and light blankets, no sleeping bag.
For cold weather trips, I bring a down bag and 2 Pendleton wool blankets.
 
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