Something to sleep on

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This page is a subsection of SCA Without Breaking the Bank. It provides information on sleeping bags and mattresses.

General tips about sleeping comfortably

  • Things you will definitely want: something to keep you warm (blankets, sleeping bag, or cloak), something to keep you off the ground (air mattress, foam pad, camp bed, etc.), and a pillow. Even if you don't have much money, see if you can borrow these from someone. You will thank me for it! Sleeping on the cold, hard ground with nothing below or above you is uncomfortable and can even make you ill (hypothermia, anyone?).
  • See if anyone has what you want: Bedding and tents are areas where people frequently "upgrade" to newer and better gear, which means there might be people in your area who are getting rid of old (but still usable) air mattresses or camp beds.
  • You don't need a sleeping bag: Several blankets or cloaks work just as well, and are probably more accessible if you've never been camping.
  • Use your cloak: If you have a warm cloak, you can use that as a blanket. Wool cloaks are amazing in cold weather (and it can get cold, even in the summer). Even better, it's period!
  • Hats and socks: Most of your body heat leaves through your extremities, especially your head. Wearing wool socks and a hat can keep you much, much warmer on cold nights.
  • Body heat: It's cold and (despite my warnings) you don't have gear to keep you warm. When all else fails, body heat is very good at warming you up. Though some people assume that sleeping in the same tent (or bed) with someone involves... erm... more than just sleeping, this isn't necessarily the case. If you're uncomfortable and don't have a significant other to share your bed, find someone you trust and ask them if they would be willing to share their bed for sleeping and only sleeping. You'll generally find someone who's fine with that.

Five-step method

While the kindness of others can get you through rough spots, it's nice to have your own gear. So, here's how to apply the five-step plan to sleeping gear:

  1. Get it free: I'm sure you have some stuff you can use. Blankets, sleeping bags, pillows. I'm sure you (or someone you know) has many of the things you need to sleep properly. You might even have an air-mattress or camp bed. If you don't have it, borrow from a friend who does. Some people have several mattresses or beds, or might not be going to a specific event and could be willing to lend you things you need.
  2. Barter for it: As per usual, if you can't get it free, you might be able to get it for objects other than money. If someone has something you'd like to buy, ask what they'd like in return. If you want to barter "in kind" (ie: something having to do with sleeping gear), you could offer to help them set up and take down theirs (setting up a queen-size camp bed with air mattress and blankets can take time). You could also offer to wash out their blankets after the event. You could even embroider their device on their blankets, if they're period buffs.
  3. Pay someone in the SCA for it: I mentioned above that people often "upgrade" to newer sleeping gear. Because of their bulk, they might be willing to part with their used gear at good prices. I know a couple who are getting a camp bed for about 1/4 store price, simply because it was too much hassle for the previous owner.
  4. Get it at discount: For air mattresses, sleeping bags, and blankets, check out your local army surplus store. They will often have very good deals of this kind of camping gear. Garage sales and thrift stores are also an option (I found a wool blanket at a salvation army store for CAN$4.)
  5. Get it cheap: Camping stores often have end-of-season sales in the fall, when things like summer-weight sleeping bags and air mattresses are cheaper. Also, you can check out camping goods warehouse stores, if there are any in your area.

Submitted tips

Submitted by Kade

I'd say this would go for both, something to sleep in, and something to sleep on. If by any chance you are able to set up camp between two trees, it's fairly simple to tie a length of rope between the trees, and drape a large peice of fabric over it. Also I would suggest a hammock for something to sleep on, it can easily be strapped to two trees, and it would definatly be more period than a foam pad, or an air mattress. Both of these items are very easily set up, and extremely portable. If your concerned about the rain, you could use a water resistant material for the tent. Also, if your concerned about insects you could sew some tight weeve mosquito nettingto your hammock (or use it like a sleeping bag, on top of the hammock and zip yourself up nice and tight.

Submitted by Cariadoc of the Bow

You might want to point people at the article on building a rope bed, based on a period picture, webbed on my site. My estimate for the adult version is a total cost of about $40, and clever scrounging could probably cut that down a good deal.

Submitted by Kat

Make your own sleeping bag by using your cloak... or should that be, make your cloak so that you can use it as a sleeping bag.