103: SNOOZE: The Sleeping Episode

Show Notes: Episode 103

Today on the First 40 Miles, SNOOZE: The sleeping Episode.  This does not mean you can sleep through this episode.  However you may sleep a little better on your next backpacking trip after listening.  On today’s SUMMIT Gear Review, we’ll share a down sleeping bag that’s a great deal!  Then on the Backpack Hack of the Week, a quick fix for an uncomfortable air mattress.


  • A Perfect Night’s Sleep
  • Barriers to a great night of sleep
  • Why is my sleeping bag so cold??
  • EN13537 rating system for sleeping bags
  • Upper Limit— the temperature at which a standard man can sleep without excessive perspiration. This test is done with the hood and zippers open and with the arms outside of the bag.
  • Comfort— the temperature at which a standard woman can expect to sleep comfortably in a relaxed position.  This is the one that matters most!
  • Lower Limit— the temperature at which a standard man can sleep for eight hours in a curled position without waking.
  • Extreme— the minimum temperature at which a standard woman can remain for six hours without risk of death from hypothermia (though frostbite is still possible).  This is not the number you want to use for planning your sleep system.  This is the lowest temperature you can be in and still survive.  Not fun.
  • NOTE: EN 13537 states that a “standard man” is assumed to be 25 years old, with a height of 1.73 m and a weight of 73 kg; a “standard woman” is assumed to be 25 years old, with a height of 1.60 m and a weight of 60 kg.”

Top 5 Elements of Sleeping Well on the Trail

Temperature Control (and Moisture control)

  • Get a bag that is rated for the nighttime lows you’ll be experiencing on your trip
  • Be sure to account for altitude
  • Warmth: Nalgene Baby (episode 94) or a the Zippo Hand Warmer (episode 67)
  • Warmth from clothing: base layers, a hat, all clothing layers
  • Women sleep colder than men…so account for that…
  • Dry is an important part of warmth
  • Sleeping pads are essential

Good Physical Health

  • It’s surprising how just a little bit of stomach acid can keep you awake for hours
  • A change in diet can cause heartburn.
  • Keep a few TUMS antacid in your first aid kit
  • Headache, leg aches, cramps, growing pains…
  • If you’re experiencing leg cramps: remember to hydrate and make sure you’re getting electrolytes. Another common remedy is mustard (in packets)…
  • Elevated caffeine consumption can also mess with your ability to sleep
  • Peak physical health really starts before your trip

Eliminating Fear and Anxiety

  • The more you sleep outside, the easier it is
  • All that adrenalin for nothing

Eliminate Pressure Points

  • Hammock solves all pressure point problems
  • Air-filled sleeping pad: cushions your head shoulders and hips
  • Pillow helps relieve pressure points


  • Camping next to a body of water
  • The sounds of a gentle stream can provide just the right amount of white noise to block forest sounds
  • The sound of an ocean can make it hard to fall asleep
  • Try ear plugs or ear buds

If you’ve had a rough night, here’s the good news!  You always sleep better on the second night!

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Slumberjack Sojourn 20 Degree Bag


  • Relaxed mummy shape, which means it’s not so tight…a little more roomy
  • The Slumberjack Soujourn 20  uses 550 Fill Power gray duck down which has been treated with DriDown™ to stay dry 10 times longer, maintains more loft when wet or damp, and dries about 1/3 faster than untreated down
  • Deep hood with dual adjustment cords
  • 3″ wide, full length draft tubes along both zippers prevent heat loss and keep cold air out


  • Not EN Rated
  • Temp Rating: 20° F
  • Dual 57″ long zippers (with two sliders each) means you can vent your bag on summer trips
  • You can poke your arms out of the bag, without losing warmth from the bag. Great for cold nights where you want to trap the warmth, but you still need access to your hands.
  • However no “feet out” functionality on the bottom of the bag.
  • “Double-Dri” waterproof panels on the hood & footbox provide additional water resistance
  • Black colored “Solar Liner” fabric allows fabric to dry more rapidly in the sun


  • Weight: 2 lbs 14.5 oz
  • Stuff Sack Size:16″ x 8″
  • Length: 82″, so it fits people up to 6’ tall


  • Machine wash when needed and dry completely


  • $180… but found on Slumberjack’s site for $135
  • Check Groupon.com for Slumberjack deals


  • Roomy
  • Great deal for down, it’s affordable down, great features, has some safeguards built in to protect the down.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Deflating Your Firm Air Mattress

  • A friend borrowed one of our sleeping pads for a trip. He slept horribly for 3 nights, and on the 4th night someone suggested that he deflate the pad slightly, and he slept much better
  • If your pad isn’t comfortable, try deflating it.

Trail Wisdom

“A great many people, and more all the time, live their entire lives without ever once sleeping out under the stars.”
-Alan S. Kesselheim