I could swear the question a duplicate; even to one of my own old ones! Failing to find it I might just as well ask.

Imagine temperature somewhat/far below freezing; a sleeping bag, bivy bag and ground pad capable of taking it. However I am of the impression that it is a Very Bad IdeaTM to breathe inside the sleeping bag.

One solution is a tent. If it is perfectly sized(not too big) and winter-adapted (no air vents, not single layer) it might raise the temperature with 5°C. Not much help at -20, is it?

There must be some practical solution to this exact problem!

How can I get a good night's sleep while breathing very cold air - it hurts to breathe even when awake?

  • 2
    A sleeping bag with a drawstring like this one? Nov 5, 2022 at 8:37
  • 3
    Note that a tent also protects you from wind chill and dew. Nov 5, 2022 at 8:49
  • 1
    A tent also helps against the dryness of such cold air (though well below freezing it often causes more condensed dampness than it protects from)
    – Chris H
    Nov 5, 2022 at 13:29
  • 3
    Please state why it is a Very Bad Idea to breathe inside the sleeping bag. Are you concerned about CO2? I have often put my head inside my sleeping bag and have always awakened normally, feeling OK. To be exact, I have often scrunched down in a zipped up bag until my head was inside, but I have not drawn the drawstring tightly to encase myself in the bag. A whisper of fresh air hitting the top of your cap or scarf is enough to prevent you from poisoning yourself, in my experience.
    – ab2
    Nov 7, 2022 at 18:53
  • 2
    @ab2 Humidity, probably.
    – jinawee
    Dec 17, 2023 at 17:15

2 Answers 2


One option is to wear a balaclava or neck gaiter. Yes, you breathe through it so it may get damp, but you can keep your face, nose, and neck warm while exposed outside the sleeping bag.

If in really cold conditions, you might consider getting a hot tent. The wood stove will keep it quite comfy and cozy in very cold weather.


Surprisingly I found a mask works better than any scarf for me:

  • it is invariant with wind, heavier breathing and distance to face unlike a scarf
  • is somewhat easier to adjust compared to constantly trying not to strangle myself
  • compact.

enter image description here image courtesy of https://rx-safety.com

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