What do you love about being outside

Sleeping outside: 7 answers about staying overnight without a tent

Can you just sleep outside like that? And where anyway? We'll tell you what you should know before your first night in the open air and which equipment makes sense.

When is the right time to spend a night outdoors?

Anyone who deals with the subject of "sleeping outside" for the first time should create comfortable conditions for the first field test. A warm night is ideal Temperatures over ten degrees. The weather report should announce stable conditions and no precipitation, because an unplanned wake-up service due to thunderstorms and raindrops is more than unpleasant.

Where is (not) allowed to sleep outside?

If you want to sleep outside in nature, you usually don't stay on a classic campsite, so you should first familiarize yourself with the applicable provisions on wild camping. The regulations in Europe vary greatly from country to country and often from state to state. In Germany, nature conservation or forest laws are mostly relevant sources of information.

  • tip: Regardless of whether it is forest or meadow - you can play it safe if you ask the landlord for permission.

A good, legal compromise are also so-called Trekking placesthat can be found in the Steigerwald, the Spessart, the Eifel, the Black Forest, the Palatinate, the Elbe Sandstone and the Soonwaldsteig in the Hunsrück. Here, too, the respective local regulations must be observed.

In addition, it doesn't always have to be a sleeping bag or tent - a hammock is also great for relaxing. To make it easier for you to get started, there are compact sets that you can compress to a manageable size so that they fit well in your backpack. In some models, even the mosquito net is conveniently integrated.

  • tip: Even if it is usually already standard: When setting up your hammock, make sure to use special tree straps and suspension ropes that do not damage the trees.

Forest and meadow: where is (not) a good place to sleep?

Ideally, the place you have chosen to sleep is so that it is safe to break off your adventure - for whatever reason - even in the dark. This means that it should be easily and safely accessible on foot. Make sure you always know how to get back home or to the car.

Popular picnic, swimming or barbecue areas sometimes turn into party centers or the like at night. Check in advance whether you can expect an undisturbed night's sleep at the place of your choice. Due to the rising damp, you should not camp right next to a river, stream or in the middle of a meadow. The farmer usually doesn't find the latter really funny either. In any case, one should refrain from the “bed in the cornfield”!

  • Important: Basically you should leave your sleeping place the next morning as you found it. That means: bury waste properly, collect rubbish and any handkerchiefs, do not deliberately destroy plants and leave the place in its natural state.

What equipment do you need for a night outdoors?

Basically, the less equipment, the greater the adventure. For the first night in the open air, a sleeping mat and a sleeping bag make sense in any case. In order to protect the sleeping mat and to make the space a little more comfortable, a picnic blanket is also worthwhile as a base. Alternatively, a fabric tarpaulin protects the sleeping mat from damage.

Depending on the sleeping bag and where you sleep, you may still need weather protection, because down sleeping bags without moisture protection can lose their insulating properties if there is high condensation. In this case, a waterproof bivouac sack makes sense. With synthetic fiber sleeping bags and impregnated down sleeping bags, this is not necessary in dry and warm conditions. Basically you can of course sleep outside without a sleeping bag. A mat is always useful when spending the night in nature.

If you are unsure whether the weather will actually hold up, you should also put up a tarp or tarp, which acts as a small roof to protect against rain. Since the "walls" are missing, a tarp hardly spoils the impressive "outside sleeping experience".

Last but not least, a headlamp or flashlight should also be in your luggage - in case you have to go out at night, your warehouse is sorted or the like. What else you need for catering - camping stove, pots, dishes, fire bowl and the like - depends on the individual plans for your adventure.

  • tip: Temperatures drop at night - especially in the mountains. You should also keep this in mind when looking at your clothing. A fleece jacket or insulation jacket and long trousers ensure comfort in the evening.

Sleeping outside by the campfire: you have to pay attention to that!

Campfires are not allowed everywhere and / or not all the time. It is therefore important to inquire about the applicable regulations and the current risk of forest fires in advance. Do not do this if making a fire has been banned due to drought!

And: if you start a fire while sleeping outside, you must ensure that it does not get out of control and that it is reliably extinguished before leaving the storage area!

Also make sure to keep enough distance to your equipment around the campfire. Sleeping bags, picnic blankets and sleeping mats are usually made of synthetic fibers. These are sensitive to fire and heat. Hardwood campfires are less prone to jumping than softwood fires. This means that there are fewer burn holes from jumping embers.

What to do if an animal comes

In Germany or Central Europe, the risk of being attacked by a wild animal is extremely low. Badgers, wild boars and foxes are usually not prone to attack and usually keep a good distance from humans. The important thing is: animals need rest, especially at night! Only sleep where it is expressly allowed and respect protection zones. Do not disturb the animals with too bright lights or loud music!

However, the little pests can be a problem. Mosquitoes love moisture and are particularly common near bodies of water, swamps and puddles. A light wind keeps the pests away, even in dry coniferous forests they are less common. A small fire also helps (see campfire point), but it should burn all night. In addition, it is worthwhile to watch out for ants when choosing a storage place in order to avoid any conflicts with the colony.

What else should I know?

A night in the open air, under the stars, may not be the coziest night of your life - but it is sure to leave a lasting impression. What might have been a bit scary the first time, soon gives repeat offenders a feeling of freedom and originality. But with all your thirst for adventure, you should never forget: We are only guests in nature! Only sleep outside where it is allowed, stay away from protected areas and treat animals and nature with respect!

What experiences have you already had while sleeping in the open air? Do you have any other tips? We would be happy to receive your comments!

More tips on camping and being outside in nature

Judith Hackinger


... prefers to go kayaking in summer. Born in Pinzgau, she discovered ski touring in winter. As an editor at Bergzeit, she turned her enthusiasm for the outdoors into her job.
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