Courage is knowing what not to fear.

~ Plato ~

Happy Campers do it Wedged

October 3rd, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 10 secs

Happy relaxing in the great outdoors

Why do it wedged? Because there is no room to sleep in any other position. Ask anybody who has ever bought a tent, van, or boat and they’ll tell you. There is more room on a car’s rear parcel shelf than you’ll ever get in a tent.

Who are the people who measure sleeping spaces in tents anyway? What are they on? I mean, take one look at the brochures for tents and vans and

you’ll see body configurations declaring sleeps 8, 16 or 24 (honestly, who takes twenty-four people in their car for a weekend away?). But take another look at these optimistic pamphlet pics. Assuming everyone sleeps tightly in a sardine position sandwiched to cover the entire floor…then yes, the Acme Backbuster Tent will sleep 8, and the MarriageBreaker1000 will take 24. But who really sleeps like that?

I admit I am not a happy camper when it comes to sleeping on hard ground doing sardine impressions. Truth is, tents boast everything but the simple, happy pleasure of a good night’s sleep. At least, not for me.

No, if there was truth in advertising they would announce: “For that next night out in the wilderness, look no further than the ‘Bushwhack Bivouac.’ Guaranteed to leave you cold, bleary-eyed, and aching for another day in the great outdoors.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love being in the wild and am happy to go discovering and exploring. But it’s time the preserving power of sleep was recognized and respected as a necessity.

As it is, sleeping bag designers are happy co-conspirators. They promote sardine sleeping too, like it’s some kind of decadent luxury. But every sleeping bag I’ve ever tried felt more like an oversized quilted sock. Leaving little more than your nose peeping out, you are left warm but helpless; like a swaddled baby. That makes sleeping bags perfect for cramming people into tight tents. Cramped and squished like this, you get the added bonus of being repeatedly kneed… in all the wrong places.

This same deliriously happy approach goes into making sleeping mats just wide enough for you to lean… a little.  By leaning to the left and then to the right your co-sardines can all lean in with you in a happy arrangement I call synchronized sleeping (Lean and the whole tent leans into you. But toss and turn and you’re on your own.).

This trend toward built-in-discomfort is of course part of happy camping culture. Just like those lightweight seat things. These happy little devices proudly boast that “…now everyone can experience seated bliss anywhere in the great outdoors with the delights of lightweight foldaway convenience.” Well that’s the spin. But sitting fireside with friends whilst balancing on one finely tensing buttock is not the happy experience it’s cracked up to be.

Still, if you use one of these happy butt balancers consider yourself lucky. Soon they’ll be releasing a same-sized model seating eight…

So tell me, are you a happy camper? Do you find camping the happy experience it’s cracked up to be? Or, do you feel unhappy at the mere mention of lying down on hard ground?


  1. Feegs says:

    Yes, I admit I’m the same. Okay now and then to lie on hard ground with rocks and roots. But you can’t beat something soft when you’re sleepy.

  2. Naomi says:

    There is an increasing gap between the thought and the practice of camping in the great outdoors . Am more inclined to an inner spring mattress these days!