The first law of outdoor slumber: You'll get a poor night's sleep if you're cold and uncomfortable. Prevent this by buying the right bedding. We recommend a sleeping bag rated at 5 to 10 degrees colder than the lowest temperature you expect to encounter, and a 1-inch-thick, self-inflating sleeping pad.
The next step is to find a flat campsite, preferably one with soft leaves, moss, or pine needles. Sleep with your head uphill when on sloping ground. Arrange tent vents so cold breezes don't blow directly on your head.
For folks who have extra trouble grabbing their 20 winks, we recommend the following trail-tested snoozing accoutrements.
Sierra Designs Flex Series Sleeping Bags
Elasticized hoods and baffles make these sacks the perfect mummies for mobile sleepers. Available in down or synthetic at various temperature ratings. Contact: Sierra Designs, (800) 635-0461; http://www.sierradesigns.com.
Therm-A-Rest Luxury Edition
This is the best super-thick sleeping pad we've tested. Cranky backs will love this 2-pound 5-ounce slab of softness. Price: $110. Size: 20 by 72 by 2 inches. Contact: Cascade Designs, (800) 531-9531; http://www.cascadedesigns.com.
Therm-A-Rest Deluxe Pillow
As comfy as my pillow at home, this 7.5-ounce ball of fluff compresses to grapefruit size for packing. Never again will I rest my melon on a sack of stinky clothes. Price: $22. Contact: Cascade Designs (see Contact above).
Negligible weight makes earplugs perfect for light-sleeping backpackers. Use with caution in bear country. Price: $1 to $3.
Draw the shades under a full moon or midnight sun by wearing blinders. Found at bath shops ($3 to $8).
A handful of gorp can help your body fight off sleep-depriving shivers. For long-lasting warmth, choose foods (like peanuts) with 20 to 30 percent fat content.
Wrap a leakproof water bottle filled with hot water in a fleece jacket and hug it to your stomach for hours of sleep-inducing warmth.
A small cup of herbal or decaffeinated tea calms the mind and body.