Liners and Pillows

It isn't all that often that you have a good hot shower before getting into your sleeping bag. In fact, sometimes you may even be just a little dirty, sweaty and smelly. Without some precautions, your bag is going to get dirty and sweaty and smelly too. O

It isn't all that often that you have a good hot shower before getting into your sleeping bag. In fact, sometimes you may even be just a little dirty, sweaty and smelly. Without some precautions, your bag is going to get dirty and sweaty and smelly too. On the other hand, washing a sleeping bag is not something you want to do very often. The conventional solution is to use a liner: a sort of light inner sleeping bag, and to wash it after every trip. You can get (poly-)cotton ones and silk ones. The cotton ones are OK but heavy; the silk ones are dearer but genuinely warmer and much lighter. And yes, they do last a long time (and feel good too).

Buy a very long one so you can pull it right up over your head - keeping the hood of your sleeping bag much cleaner and keeping your face much warmer in the snow. Sounds claustrophobic, but wait for a really cold night before you judge. It helps keep some of your warm breath inside the bag, making you warmer. The amusing bit is that you can usually see out of the liner over your face quite easily, but all others see is this anonymous body in a bag.

A less conventional solution is to take some very lightweight all-covering pyjamas. I made some silk pyjamas out of a couple of old silk liners and took them to the Pyrenees for two months in 2004. They worked very well, and allowed me a lot more freedom to wriggle around. I put a hood on the jacket and used it. This kept my head warmer of course, and protected the hood of the bag from the grease in my hair. I use silk pygamas all the time now instead of a silk liner.

 

Pillows

Yes, damnit, pillows. Why not? You use one at home for comfort, so why not in the bush? In fact, most of us find it impossible to sleep comfortably without a pillow. But you don't have to cart a whole pillow around with you. Many walkers find that a small cotton bag can be stuffed with some dry clothing and used as fine pillow. Note: this is one of those few places where cotton (or poly-cotton) has it all over most synthetics for comfort. Some carry a small blow-up pillow, while others carry a small piece of foam to go on top of a clothing bag for real comfort. What ever lets you sleep comfortably and weighs next to nothing. But do remember to wash the 'pillow slip' at the end of the trip: your face will put a lot of grease into it after a hard days walking.

The stangest thing is that the gear market historically has ignored the need for a good lightweight bushwalking pillow. Mats, sleeping bags, liners: they are all there, but not good pillows. Oh, sure, there are car-camping pillows galore. The whole thing weighs about 100 grams, and has passed the ultimate test: my wife loves hers.

An idea which has surfaced recently from a ouple of sources is an inflatable pillow. A company in America produces these for ambulances and airlines - they were losing too many expensive 'real' ones. But don't get too excited about the idea. most designs are like sleeping on a balloon: your head rolls everywhere. And most of them make an awful noise when you move. I tried one a couple of times, but only for about 15 minutes before my wife rebelled at being woken continuously.