Sleeping under the stars
Some of the most popular memories that participants recount from their DofE journey is that on expedition. That feeling when you finally enter the campsite after a long day of journeying and know it’s time to rest up and give your feet the well-deserved break they need. It’s a time when the group comes together once again to make dinner together, share stories around the fire (or the Trangia in this instance), have a laugh, and eventually tuck themselves in for the night to recuperate ready for another day.
Sleeping under the stars is known for being an unforgettable experience during a DofE expedition and to make it all the better, we’ve come up with some useful tips to ensure your stay in the outdoors is as fun and comfortable as possible!
So, if a more snug and pleasurable experience is what you want to get out of your time on expedition, read on!
- The correct tent is vital! Look out for something with a porch to store your boots and pack at night plus good ventilation to stop condensation building up inside the tent. The Vango Nevis and Scafell tents are great choices for this! Tents like this are light, strong and will protect you from any bad weather that heads your way during your expedition.
- Pitch perfect! You will need to find a perfect spot to pitch your tent. You’ll be seeking somewhere with flat, dry ground that doesn’t have too many rocks or tree roots, which may make it hard to peg out your tent. A sheltered site away from overhanging trees is ideal, but if you have to pitch in the open, point the tail of the tent directly into the wind to make it easier to access the tent and prevent any undue stress on the poles.
- Just roll with it – People often forget the importance of a decent roll mat. It acts as a protective barrier between your sleeping bag and the ground, meaning that your sleeping bag will last longer. A camping mat will also help insulate your body and keep the cold from the ground away from your body. Vango’s Single Trek and Dreamer mats offer just that; plump foam insulation with a soft touch, which is still easily compactable.
- Optimum temperature = a great night’s sleep! The right sleeping bag will provide a comfortable night’s sleep. For maximum comfort while camping in the UK we suggest you opt for a 3-4 season sleeping bag to keep you warm whatever the weather – but make sure your sleeping bag is appropriate for when your expedition is! If in doubt, check with your DofE Leader. We suggest Vango’s Nitestar and Ultralight Pro sleeping bags. Both have excellent insulation, fantastic compressibility and are super lightweight!
- Makeshift pillow: Don’t hurt you neck craning up at the sky all evening. Roll up some of your clothes and put them in a dry bag…voila! A makeshift pillow. Now lay back and enjoy the view.
- Want extra protection? A sleeping bag liner protects the interior of your sleeping bag from sweat, sunscreen, body oils, dirt, and mud – especially great if you are borrowing a sleeping bag. With this protection in place, you can launder your bag less, which means that it will last longer (a great money-saving hack!). Lifeventure’s sleeping bag liners are made of cotton and are guaranteed to offer that extra level of cleanliness and warmth!
- Check the weather! Make sure conditions are suitable to star-gaze from your tent – you don’t want to get caught up in a windy rainstorm.
- Layer it up – As night sets in, it might get a little chillier. Ensure you’ve got enough layers on to keep you toasty! Vests, t-shirts, long-sleeved tops and fleeces will prove very handy. The Craghoppers Stromer and Mannix fleeces are a great extra layer that can provide warmth and comfort when settling in for the night.
- Keep unwanted pests away! Flies and bugs are attracted to light in the darkness, and if you’re watching the stars with an unzipped tent door, it may be best to turn any lights off/down. Lifesystems insect repellent might help keep the nasties away! For added protection, Lifesystems mosquito net may also be highly beneficial (especially in summer, or if you’ve pitched near a water source).
- Eat a hearty dinner! Make sure that you plan a nice warm dinner for the perfect way to wind down and re-energise yourself for the following day. Firepot and Wayfayrer offer a brilliant selection of meals, including meat, vegetarian and vegan options – plus puddings too! (Cook a small distance from the tent to keep your camp safe). Smores are also a fun option and a great group activity!
Once you’ve set up your tent, created a delicious meal, (made some smores), got ready for bed, then finally you can sit down in your sleeping bag and enjoy the sunset. Turn off your torches or other lights for a moment and let nature do the rest once the dark sets in. Hopefully, you’ll see the galaxy and stars open above you: an experience you won’t forget.
Use your exclusive DofE Card to save on tents, sleeping bags and more instore and online at the DofE recommended retailers GO Outdoors, Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors or Tiso.
For even more advice on getting a good night’s sleep, visit our sleeping bags and mats advice page.