The old axiom, ‘Travel light, freeze at night,” while certainly a truism, can be lessened considerably in temperate climate zones by adding a couple very lightweight items to your ruck as well as taking the advice of many other experienced people such as JC Dodge, Max Velocity, Sierra 12 (we feel like we have a connection to these guys, as they include “Defensive Studies Group” in their name, which is very close to ours), and Mosby, whether on their blogs/sites or through their commentary at places like WRSA.
During our last ‘Train the Trainer 1: Essential Skills” course, conducted from 15 to 18 M ay 14, the class faced temperatures in the 20’s on their first two nights along with snow flurries and 25mph gusting to 30mph winds. Learning occurred.
So, how not to freeze at night with light gear?
First, we recommend including a lightweight set of long underwear. Polypro, under armor type; silk all work equally well So will cotton, reighght up to the point that it gets wet….just sayin’.
Next, consider replacing your USGI Woobie with one from Wiggy’s. Color/pattern isn’t so important as the Lamilite used to provide the insulation. You can order through GLSC, who’s an authorized distributor if you like or direct from Wiggy’s. Right now he’s selling these at 20% off. While you’re at it, get the light weight ‘patrol bag’, too, and replace your USGI surplus. Wiggy’s products keep you warm even when they get wet. The Lamilite pulls moisture away from your body, and it works. Technically, it’s ‘hydrophobic’ in that water does not attach itself to the fiber, and therefore, keeps you insulated while it’s self-drying. See this video for a real-world demonstration:
Clean medium weight socks, such as the Vermont ‘Darn Tough’ recommended here along with a toe warmer (we like ‘Grabber’ brand as they seem to last longer both in storage and when used) on each foot adds a lot of warmth. If it’s really cold, open a couple ‘Grabber’ brand hand warmers in the bag, and for older, cold/weather sensitive hip joints, get a couple of adhesive body warmers and attach to your pants. You will sleep like a baby as long as the situation allows.
Sleeping in clean clothes, taking off your wet clothes and storing them between the ground pad and your bag will help, too. Immeasurably.
Add a watch cap or light face mask/head covering to your sleeping gear. Remember ,we lose most of our heat from an uncovered head.
Why do this? Training, let alone ‘real world’ WROL/SHTF scenarios will steadily exhaust you. Just the stress alone will start to take a toll, let alone the change in diet and sleep deprivation. So, when you do get to sleep, it’s important that you sleep as comfortably as possible, given the exigencies of your particular situation, which may include the need to have no fire/visible light.
If you can, while you’re still looking around, get the most bomb proof poncho for your ground cloth that you can find. The old 1960’s issue rubberized poncho is getting more scarce than hen’s teeth, but are worth the money you’ll pay if you find one. Short of that, get the best you can find.
Adding a ‘space blanket under your bag will help retain residual heat.