Overnight Low; 45 Degrees

Overnight Low; 45 Degrees

Overnight Low; 45 Degrees

This is the first entry in a new blog series called "Overnight Low". After leading over 100 bike camping trips, I have become a student of what to expect for sleeping conditions at night, and always look to share this info with people who are coming on my trips or just general knowledge,

The Setup

On the nights of November 3rd and 4th, I (car) camped in Robert Treman State Park, a few miles south of Ithaca, NY. The interesting thing about these 2 consecutive nights was that the conditions were very similar, allowing me to try a few slight variations on a gear.

The overnight low temperatures for both nights were listed as 45 degrees, with little wind and no rain forecasted,

The Gear, Night 1

  • Tent: Kelty Late Start 2 Person. This is a tent I sell at the shop, but haven't used personally ( I always look to use the gear I sell). The tent set up very easily, had a fly and (optional) ground tarp, single entry, and had a nice selection of gear pockets inside. Zippers and construction were sturdy. It is a "3 season" tent, which concerned me slightly.
  • Sleeping System:
    • Big Agnes Gunn Creek 20 Degree Down Bag
    • Big Agnes Air Core (3 season, R 1.4)
    • Big Agnes AXL Pillow
    • Notes:  I normally would have used my Big Agnes 15 Degree Lost Dog Bag with my INSULATED Big Agnes Air Core pad, but I had lent those out. I also had a cotton bag liner at the ready.
  • Clothing: 
    • Cotton T-Shirt and heavyweight hoodie
    • Under Armor tights/leggings
    • Freshly Minted Wool blend socks
    • 45Nrth Wool beanie

The Result, Night 1

To be honest, by around 4am, I was a little chilly in my mid-section and my feet.  Not having my bag and pad I normally would have used definitely effected my comfort level. I though about deploying my cotton bag liner, but just didn't want to bother. This was what I  would consider mild discomfort.

The Gear, Night 2

Everything stated the same for night 2 EXCEPT that I put in a second layer of heavier wool socks, and used one of those emergency foil survival blankets (reflective side up) under my sleeping pad.  I've carried one in my kit for years, and was actually looking forward to trying this method out.

    The Result, Night 2

    Things went much better on night 2.  Nigh 1 wasn't miserable, but on the 2nd night the socks and foil blanket really took the edge off.

    Products Mentioned in this Article

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    David…Temp ratings are less about comfort and more about survivability. I was only slightly uncomfortable (also owing to the fact that I gave my partner my R4 insulated pad).

    Joe (718 Cyclery)

    The technique of adding the silver blanket over your sleeping pad makes me think that you are essentially adding more R-value to your pad to maintain body heat. It’s smart in a pinch!


    I’m surprised you were uncomfortable with a 20 degree sleeping bag if it was only 45 degrees.


    Hey Joe thanks for sharing the valuable insight, and detailed specs… Love how being out in the element forces us to be forward thinking! As the slightest oversight can have memorable consequences! And rule number one for me being that no matter how meticulously you plan and how experienced you are, there will still be sneaky little things that will manifest and show you who’s the boss! And for the rest of us who’d prefer predictability and comfort (You know who you are!) there is AirBnB and hotels! Albeit comfort is highly subjective hence my kids and I would always prefer spartan camping over other options. Planning and packing the night before is half the fun!

    Bob G (Croton)

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