The Joy of a Shared Sleeping Bag

Hayden O'shea

If you are an adventurer who escapes into the backcountry for recreation, you have probably heard someone say that body heat can be crucial for survival. You may have heard it from an experienced mountain guide or your grandma while you’re telling her about your outings. Either way, they’re right.

There are hundreds of old photos and videos of alpine climbers who are straddling a ledge trying to stay warm at possibly over 15,000 feet. The climbers are huddled together with less than an inch between them and, in most cases, they are stuffed into a single bivy sack to stay warm. A team might only bring one bivouac sack on the climb because it will save space and it will be efficient enough, when shared, to spare them from the cold. It’s basically just survival 101, but you don’t have to be an alpine climber to reap the benefits of another person’s free body heat.

If you enjoy the minimalism aspect of camping to the extreme, bringing one sleeping bag to share is not such a ludicrous idea. Generally, sharing an enclosed sleeping space comes between people who are romantic partners, but don’t let that stop you. In the backcountry, there are no standards and there is no judgment. It may come up as a planned endeavor or it could come organically while joking about the cold, but either way, it’s never a bad idea. At that point, you might as well just leave the extra sleeping bag at home and conform to the other person — it’s sort of like having a dog — but fitting into a sleeping bag designed for one person may come at the cost of comfort.

However, there are sleeping bags and bivouac sacks out there to fit two people. These sleeping bags range from about $50-$200. Although for the serious minimalist duo, a double sleeping bag may not be your style due to its size. For the normal backpackers, bringing this single sleeping bag is a benefit to the weight of your pack. One person can carry the sleeping bag and shed some other items onto the partner. If you don’t have the money to buy a double sleeping bag, you can simply create one with two sleeping bags. So, if weight isn’t an issue, bring two sleeping bags and zip them together. Most sleeping bags will zip together, regardless of the brand or model.

There is one rule for sharing a sleeping bag with another person. Always, no matter how much you know this person, make sure they sleep with some clothing on! Being blind to this may lead you into a very strange night and an awkward morning. Other than that, there are not many guidelines to snuggling up to stay warm at night. Honestly, if you’re a serious enthusiast of adventuring, sharing a sleeping bag will not be the most desperate thing you’ll ever do. If you think sharing a sleeping apparatus with your mate is desperate, have you ever tried going to the bathroom in the middle of an El Cap push?

Give it a try for yourself and stuff your body right next to someone else’s in a claustrophobic bag. All for the sake of shedding weight and establishing a deeper connection with the adventure and your partner.