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So I have recently developed an appetite for camping and thinking about buying some gear. Since I'm not sure how committed I'll be, I want to keep my purchases on the lower side. So I have chosen

Tent: https://www.decathlon.in/p/8513471/tents/camping-tent-mh100-2-person-grey

Sleeping bag: https://www.decathlon.in/p/8556634/sleeping-bag-and-mattress/trekking-mummy-pairable-sleeping-bag-trek-500-5c-wadding-burgundy

I'll be getting an inflatable sleeping pad too. The Sleeping bag is rated at 5 C comfort and 0 C Limit. Most of my camping will be above 5 C but I was wondering if I ever chance upon camping in north India with temperatures of -3 to -5 C (not going anywhere colder than that), can I supplement this bag with woolen socks/gloves, beanie, thermal clothing, thick jeans and a bomber jacket plus a quilt? Or do I have to rent a better rated one. Would rather not go for their 0 C sleeping bag which is 20% costlier and I'm already stretching my budget. Any other suggestions welcome. :)

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  • For alternative views to "should not put on any clothes inside the sleeping bag" see outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/645/… – Martin F Jan 5 at 22:27
  • Requests for shopping advice are not usually a good fit for the stackexchange format. Answers tend to be of very ephemeral usefulness. – Ben Crowell Jan 5 at 23:34
  • Just an aside if you are thinking of camping out in India and are not with an organised expedition. A school friend of mine, John Elcoate and his girlfriend Wendy Mills, were murdered on the road to India in 1971. They were backpacking and sleeping rough, and were killed for their possessions, as I heard it at the time. See Visiting Grave Sites ¶4 and Friends of The British Cemetery. You can afford a good hotel in India: use them. – Weather Vane Jan 6 at 0:30
  • Are you camping next to your car, or will you be carrying all your gear to a remote location? If you're camping next to the car it's easy to bring a spare blanket or two in the car, and if temperatures really get too cold for you in the tent you can spend an uncomfortable night in the car. If your only gear is what you carry on your back, it's much more important to have everything you need as lightweight as possible. – csk Jan 6 at 4:16
  • I would only use an inflatable mattress if I don't have to carry it (car camping) and the pump. I only ever use a foam mat. – Weather Vane Jan 6 at 9:20
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A very useful (and not expensive) way to adjust a sleeping bag's insulation is a liner. This also reduces the need to wash the sleeping bag, prolonging its life. With access to even a basic sewing machine, liners are easy enough to make, if it's easier to get the fabric than a ready-made liner. There are several types:

  • The cheapest liners are thin polycotton; even they add a little warmth (perhaps a couple of degrees) - or allow you to open the foot vent without feeling a full draught, if you're a little warm. Pure cotton liners are comfortable, a little warmer when dry, no good if they get damp. They're more meant for hostel use.

  • Silk liners are supposed to be excellent for warmth and weight, but I've never used one. They're expensive.

  • There are some synthetic liners that claim to be (almost) as good as silk, and I'm likely to get something when I can go camping again.

  • If your sleeping bag is really underrated for the conditions, polyester fleece liners are an option, but they add a fair bit of weight and bulk to your pack.

If you want to travel light, I'd get the sleeping bag that meets your best guess for immediate need, and a thin liner, with the minimum clothing underneath for decency when you get out of the bag. If you need more insulation, a thicker liner and/or proper base layers will make the difference. You can also upgrade your sleeping mat for more warmth, at the expensive of more weight, even to the extent of a foam mat under an inflated one. A lot of heat is lost to the ground

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    And in very warm weather, a liner alone can be enough. – Martin F Jan 7 at 0:36
  • @MartinF I believe that to be true, but have never experienced it personally - a liner in a fully unzipped bag yes. – Chris H Jan 7 at 7:14
  • @ChrisH thiss is the comment I was looking for. I do have ~2lb allowance to add either a liner or a fleece/ down blanket. I can't find any ready made liners in India tho :( Any idea how to fashion one? – coldbreeze16 Jan 8 at 17:59
  • @coldbreeze16 it's as simple as getting a piece of your chosen fabric twice as big as you need, folding in half, and sewing. I'm a sewing machine novice, but for me choosing the fabric would be the hard part. I've only visited India briefly, but I get the impression it wouldn't be hard to find someone to make one given a picture and dimensions – Chris H Jan 8 at 18:44
  • @ChrisH directly sewing to the bag won't damage the filling material inside the bag? I was kinda thinking like glue and velcro. – coldbreeze16 Jan 9 at 17:47
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Assuming you are always going to carry extra warm, dry clothing to use around camp, when temperatures will usually be cooler and you'll not be generating any of your own heat, then yes, you can use those same warm, dry clothes to keep you warmer in the sleeping bag. If you take off that warm, dry clothing and then get into a thin or light-weight sleeping bag, you will need an extra quilt or another thin bag to keep warm -- extra weight you may not have otherwise needed to carry. See is-it-warmer-to-sleep-naked-in-a-sleeping-bag

By the way, you mention thick jeans, which are made of cotton. If there is any chance at all of getting cold and wet then cotton, or any other plant-based fibers clothing, is not a good idea. Wool or synthetics are better. See what-clothing-would-be-suitable-for-hiking-and-camping-in-0c, why-not-use-a-cotton-base-layer, or does-cotton-really-kill for longer discussions.

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  • Warm, dry clothes, especially base layers, are good fine tuning/extra warmth for sleeping bags. They also help a lot if you get out of the bag during the night for any reason. If wet, even in the warm, jeans can chafe horribly, another reason to avoid them – Chris H Jan 6 at 13:11
  • dry clothes are not that hard to achieve if you can choose to camp on days where rain is really unlikely. Depending on where exactly the OP is, the weather forecast can be accurate enough for that – njzk2 Jan 7 at 21:35
  • I won't be camping in rain at all, the weather here is quite predictable actually this far inland. But thanks for the tip. I had no idea that using cotton as even base layer was a bad idea. I can't stand wool direct to skin, I suppose polypropylene will have to do. – coldbreeze16 Jan 8 at 17:56
  • @coldbreeze16 - Silk is very good, too -- comfortable and quick-drying (but also expensive and delicate). – Martin F Jan 8 at 18:04
  • @coldbreeze16 - Welcome to TGO. If you ever have new info to share, it's a good idea to edit it (eg, not camping in rain) into the question. – Martin F Jan 8 at 18:07
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If you want to do some camping with a limited budget, you can start by looking at what gear you can avoid buying.

Options includes:

  • Renting
  • Borrowing (from friends, family, or a local hiking club)
  • Using whatever you already have.
    • In nicer weather, a fleece or a wool blanket is enough to sleep under
    • In non-mosquito times, any sort of tarp can make a suitable shelter

If you acquire gear, a few things you can consider:

  • second hand makes sense for some items (not for a sleeping bag, though):
    • backpack
    • sleeping pad (foam, not inflatable)
    • tent, if you can inspect it properly
    • I don't know about India, but in other countries Decathlon hosts second-hand trading days every year
  • tents are expensive, sometimes a tarp is enough (possibly complemented with a mosquito net)

I wouldn't recommend on counting on your beanie, gloves, ... to get through a cold night. You won't sleep too well, and if it gets colder than planed, you won't have a plan B.

One nice way to get a bit warmer at night is to use a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag. Make sure it won't leak, though.

Finally, if you know it won't rain, maybe you don't need a tent? (Depending on other factors, like windchill, privacy, and others, a tent may not be entirely necessary)

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  • Don't forget the benefit of a tent or even a well-positioned tarp against wind chill on any parts sticking out of the sleeping bag. They also offer privacy, and sleeping purely outside is unlikely to be acceptable at organised campsites – Chris H Jan 13 at 16:02
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    @ChrisH right. I'll rephrase, as I was considering that for a camper on a budget, the assumption that you need a tent to camp can be challenged. – njzk2 Jan 13 at 21:23
  • That's reasonable. I've camped without in a few places; on one trip we used the tents near other people and not when wild camping. – Chris H Jan 13 at 22:07
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The Sleeping bag is rated at 5 C comfort and 0 C Limit.

I suggest that you find out how that rating was arrived at. The temperature limits may assume that the sleeper already wears some (even thermal) underwear/sleeping clothes, and is inside a tent.


Others have already suggested that a liner is a good idea anyways which also adds some insulation. On the other end, you can also add another sleeping bag outside. You only need to make sure it is sufficiently large, so the inner one isn't compressed.

Personally, I prefer to bring a bigger sleeping bag that I expect to be OK temperature-wise with only a tarp/open tent. This gives me some safety margin (closing the tent) in case the weather is worse than expected.

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