What to Wear to Bed When Camping

No matter what sort of camping you’re doing, you have to go to sleep, and you probably don’t want to sleep sans clothes. While dedicated pajamas might be a simple solution for car campers, most other campers have to balance their desire for fresh, crisp PJs against space and weight limitations. The pajamas usually lose.


Clothing serves three purposes while you’re outside: keeping you warm; protecting your skin from hazards like sunburn, insect bites and scratches; and preserving your modesty when in the company of others. Although having your full body covered by a sleeping bag might seem to eliminate the need for clothing as a modesty measure, camping takes place in an uncontrolled environment. It’s better to keep covered, not just for modesty’s sake but in case of emergency, too.


Going to bed in dry clothes keeps not only you but also the inside of your sleeping bag warm and dry. Change out of your traveling clothes and into clean and dry long underwear tops and bottoms, if it’s cool enough, or at least underwear and a T-shirt if it’s warm. If you sleep in the clothes you intend to wear the next day, or at least the next day’s base layers, you’ll be ready to go right out of the bag.


Avoid cotton unless you’re camping in a hot, dry environment. Cotton puts you at a major disadvantage in cold or wet environments because it holds water next to your skin and loses its insulating ability when it gets wet, not just from rain or snow but also from your own perspiration. Instead, wear wool or synthetic wicking fabrics.


Wearing the right clothing to bed helps keep you comfortable all night long. Keep a pair of warm socks and a warm hat in the sleeping bag with you, even if you don’t think you need them when you first go to bed. If you get chilled during the night, put on the hat and socks. They’ll make your entire body feel warmer.

If you’re camping in cold weather, keep any extra layers you plan to put on the next day in the bag with you, too. Not only will you have them readily available in case you continue to feel chilled, they’ll also be nicely warmed by your body heat and thus more comfortable to put on.


Any strong smells, including deodorant, perfume, cologne and some types of soaps, can attract a curious bear. Do without these smelly cosmetics if at all possible, or at least don’t wear them to bed when you’ll most vulnerable. Also, don't wear clothes you've cooked or eaten in to bed. Hang or secure this clothing with your food and cooking supplies, and go to bed in clean, dry clothes instead.