How to Sleep Warm When Wild Camping in the UK

With all the recent snow, it was a perfect opportunity to test my new winter gear set up. I sleep cold…. VERY cold.

I suffer from Raynaud's and therefore I have poor circulation. It's important to keep warm when sleeping, so I hope you enjoy this video as I test my new winter gear set up.

My theory in keeping warm when sleeping in a tent, comes back to a good layering system. We all know that layering up when out on the hills is a good answer to keeping warm while hiking, but adding more clothes to your body when sleeping is not the answer.

Let me explain my layering system to you (video explanation is at the bottom of this blog).

Layer #1 – Your sleep clothes.

The amount of times I have watched YouTube trail journals where the vlogger is wearing every item of clothing they have as a way to keep warm on the trail. This just doesn't work as we need body heat to warm the down in your sleeping bag or quilt. Ideally, the only items of clothing you should ideally wear are a set of thermals, socks, beanie or down hoodie, and if it's really cold then put on some woollen gloves. If the situation is getting bad then I would also recommend wearing your down puffy jacket – which will warm up nicely.

Side note: Always keep a pair of thermals for sleeping in seperately. Do not use this pair whilst hiking. You always want to have nice, dry clothes for sleeping in.

Thermal underwear (Women's) –

I'd like to mention “down booties” as these are just a brilliant asset to have in your pack They weigh absolutely nothing and they keep your feet toasty warm. Please make sure you purchase ones that have an elasicated top so that they stay on your feet. I previously purchased a cheap pair of down booties from Ali Express but they always ended up around my neck or somewhere in the bottom of my footbox rather than on my feet! The Sundick (bad name I know!) are popular and well worth the investment.

Sundick Down Booties –

Layer #2 – Quilt or Sleeping bag

I am a quilt convert, mainly because I wriggle a lot in my sleep and I hate the feeling of being all twisted up in a sleeping bag. There are pros and cons of a quilt, but coupled with a down hoodie, and a sleep sheet for the pad then I find this combination is great for me.

Layer #3 – Fitted Sheet

As mentioned above, underneath my quilt I have a lovely fitted sheet that attaches to my Exped Sleeping Pad. This gives a little bit of extra warmth, but it is more to do with feeling like a cotton sheet at home. This particular sheet has a netting that goes around the bottom edge and wicks away any moisture – therefore giving me some extra protection.

Exped Fitted Sheet –…

Layer #4 – Silver Foil Blanket

Sandwiched in between my fitted sheet and my sleeping pad is a foil blanket. The fitted sheet keeps the foil blanket in its place and therefore it does not move in the night. They are inexpensive(emergency blankets that they use at the end for marathon runners) and it reflects your heat back to you throughout the night – which also helps keep the down feathers in your sleeping quilt nice and toasty.

Layer #5 – Sleeping Mat / pad

For winter camping in the UK, it is important to protect yourself from the cold ground. Having a sleeping pad with a higher R-value (4+) is ideal. I use the Exped Down Mat Lite, which has an R-value of 4.7. I like this one as it is filled with down, rather than foil. The foil ones are crunchy and noisy and they keep me awake (although the foil blanket doesn't, which is weird).

Exped Down Mat Lite Sleeping Pad –

Layer #6 – Hand Warmers

About two hours before I go to bed, I will place two hand warmers / heat pads into my quilt. One in the foot box area and one in the torso area. If it is very cold I use the bigger heat pads (that you are meant to use for back pain). But if it is spring / autumn and only a bit chilly then regular hand warmers will do. I find they are still warm in the morning and I then pop them into my hiking boots to take the chill off.

Heat pads –

Layer #7 – Foil Foam Mat

Some may think that this is overkill, but underneath my sleeping pad, I have a foil foam mat which I have cut down to torso length. This does not reflect any heat, but will add some extra R-value to my sleeping bad and give me extra protection from the cold ground.

Layer #8 – Hot Water Bag

I used to have a hot water bottle, but now I like to use a hot water bag. A bag is easier to snuggle up too and it doubles as an ice bag if you had bad knees etc when on the trail. I love my little hot water bags!

Hot water bags –

Layer #9 – Nice warm pillow

For all of my hikes up until 2020 I used the Thermarest pillow which I adore. The only problem is that it is bulky. I swapped it out for the Decathlon Trekking Pillow for this winter test and it worked rather well. I'm still not decided as of yet, but I think I will end up with the Decathlon pillow going forward.

Decathlon Trekking Pillow –


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