If you’ve ever embarked on a days-long hiking and camping trip, you know how critical a good night’s rest is before waking up at dawn and hitting the trail all over again. Now imagine the trekking scenario is not for pleasure, but a crisis in which walking to safety is your only play. Perhaps you find yourself in a manmade disaster, or at odds with Mother Nature, stranded on a jammed freeway dozens of miles from home. With sundown soon, you face the prospect of sleeping under the stars. You were wise if you packed your bug-out bag or emergency storm kit with a good sleeping bag.

The human body battles stress and involuntary reactions when it can’t maintain a restful state in frigid weather. Consequences can be devastating and swift. Fatigue, for example, is a real danger, as the body’s metabolic rate can increase fivefold and can burn approximately 100 calories in around 15 minutes. Next, muscles secrete a hormone called irisin, which stimulates heat production by drawing energy from white and brown fat cells stored in the body. When you shiver, your body directs its internal survival systems into overdrive to maintain an even body temperature; it boosts warmth by instructing muscles to burn calories, using its glycogen stores and rapidly burning off your fat stores. But a quality survival sleeping bag keeps cold at bay and the wind from chilling you to the bone, enabling your body to save precious resources it needs to endure the cold.

“Having survival blankets or sleeping bags on hand can help save lives,” said Steve Lynch, senior product manager for the American Red Cross. “They can be used in extreme weather conditions as well as other life-threatening emergencies such as treating someone who is in shock.” Sleeping warm and dry boosts your stamina, morale, alertness, health and ability to maintain positive momentum when your trek resumes.

Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL), Survival Frog, Sea to Summit and 12 Survivors make the following sleep systems. These compact, lightweight, and durable options will help ensure you’re able to catch a few valuable Zs while facing conditions reminiscent of World War Z.

For More Information

Survive Outdoors Longer

Survival Frog

Sea to Summit

12 Survivors

This article was originally published in “Survivor’s Edge” Fall 2017. To order a copy, visit

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