Not so Fast Asleep- How to increase your comfort with a raised Bed

Mindset…… of the most important tools we have when discussing Bushcraft and survival is our mind. I see this day in day out while teaching and you can always tell when somebody is going to either thrive or flounder when out in the woods, all down to their mindset and outlook on the situation. Even beyond the very cornerstone subjects of lighting fires and finding water etc. Without a good mindset, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

In this blog, I thought it would be interesting to show you how a change in my mindset improved my comfort while out in the woods 100 fold and allowed me to use simple and elegant solutions to improve my situation. This, after all, is what true bushcraft is all about.

One of my downfalls as a person is my tendency to rush things that probably should have more time taken over them. Now this isn’t entirely my fault and over recent years it is something I have taken the time to amend, just to slow down and think about things in a little more detail. Like most of you reading this blog I live in the western world with very fast paced way of life. Everything is about how fast we can get from one place to another or how fast we can get food inside us so we can go somewhere else even faster. We have instant information and gratification in the form of modern technology and if we need anything it is there almost instantly due to the miracle of internet shopping. This undoubtedly, contributed to my ‘natural’ instinct to try and do everything just as fast while out in the woods which as many of you will know just doesn’t work. If you need water you have to collect and process it before it is safe to drink where at home it just comes out of the tap. Food is just there at home in the fridge or a phone call away. Out in the woods, it could be days before you have a proper meal.

It was this lesson that took me a considerable time to learn when I was younger but hopefully one that I am starting to get the grasp of.

Whilst recently teaching out on a course I discovered one of these ‘take your time’ scenarios. Now for those who don’t know, I’m a ground dweller, that’s to say whilst out in the woods I sleep straight on the ground under my Tarp. This is a very simple and very quick set up which is practical when teaching courses and due to an underlying back problem I find it much better for my back to sleep on the ground rather than a hammock for instance.
Now there are few drawbacks to sleeping on the ground I’m not going to lie.

  1. Unless you have a very good thermal insulator underneath your sleeping bag you will get cold as the ground saps your heat very quickly and you will constantly wake up during the night feeling cold. Not nice.
  2. If it rains you get wet. Even if you pick the best spot in the world, and pitch your tarp amazingly well, in British woodland the ground can get saturated quickly and you will get wet. Even under conifers where the soil is quite sandy, the water tends to run straight over the top and you will get wet.
  3. No matter how good your sleeping mat or thermo mat is, unless you buy a £300.00 transportable bed then you’re going to have to contend with the uneven ground which coupled with rocks and roots, branches and hollows, makes sleeping on the floor, if not terrible, an uncomfortable night.

Even if you are well practiced at this way of sleeping it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. I chose to favor this way of sleeping mainly because of its speedy set up;- it doesn’t take too much time to put a tarp up and sling your kit underneath. One way of improving your sleep is obviously to build a bed. This will keep you off the floor and will eliminate nearly all of the problems mentioned above if done properly. However building a bed means work and time both of which are invaluable when out in the woods and something unprepared to unnecessarily waste, earlier on in my bushcrafting career as it seemed an impractically long amount of time to build a bed just for one or two nights.
However, as I recently started to change the way I think and I decided to take a little time setting  my up home and to smarten my camp up with a bed. To my great surprise, I discovered that I can build a wonderfully simple and comfortable raised bed in less than 10 minutes with hardly any effort. A very simple bed just raising you off the ground and giving you a comfortable platform to sleep on really is the most wonderful use of ten minutes I have ever found especially when it means I am well rested for the next day’s workload.  Nothing had changed. Not the materials I had to hand. Not the tools. All that had changed was my mindset towards the task and it transformed the task of setting up my home in the woodlands from something I didn’t really take too much care on to something that I spent 10 minutes on, which then made my life out in the woods 10 times more comfortable.

Here’s how to build the bed that I use;-


Once you have identified your spot,  you will need to find two sturdy logs. these are going to be your head and foot ends of your bed.  They don’t have to be as big as these two shown here they can be as little as 4 inches in diameter and still work just bare in mind that the smaller these are the lower the bed will be.




Next will be to measure how long the bed is going to be. The easiest way to do this is to get down and dirty and lay on the floor. Make sure when you measure you give yourself some wiggle room as you can see in the picture below I get an outstretched arm’s length of extra space. This is important as there is nothing worst than having a bed shorter than you otherwise your head or feet (or both) will be hanging off the end.




Once you’ve marked the head and foot ends,  lay your logs where you have marked. One at the foot and one at the head end. This now gives you a visual reference for the next collection process.



Next were are going to collect the spars or slats if you like. These are going to be the actual platform you sleep on. Now depending on what size you are will determine how many of these straight spars you are going to need I usually have about 4 which works well for me. The spars need to extend well past both the head and foot end and need to be as straight and as branch free as possible. It’s also important to remember that if the Spars are too thin then they will flex and possibly break so I usually go for something about wrist size.

Arrange these spar between your two logs and space them evenly with about 2-4 fingers spacing between each one as shown below.


Now logically, some of you readers may be thinking surely is best to have no space between the spars and invest a little more time in collecting 4/5 more spars and building one solid platform. Not necessarily. Don’t forget this blog is about how simple resolutions can enhance your woodland experience and actually leaving space between the spars allows you to sleep comfortably on your side as your hip can slip slightly through the gaps making it more comfortable.

The next step is to secure down the outermost spars so they can’t move or slide of the bed-frame while you’re asleep. All you will need for this is four sturdy pegs for driving into the ground on the outside. The important thing to remember is that you are basically trying to contain the spars from falling out of the bed-frame BUT NOT stopping them from moving freely inside the bed frame. This means that you can readjust on the go.

This might seam illogical to have everything moving around but in my experience, this seems to work better that having them all fixed down as when you move and wriggle in your sleep they move and adjust with your body to make it comfortable but not some much that you fall through.   14194224_1087286281318593_1348817488_n





And that’s it !!

A very simple solution to increase your comfort while out in the woods.





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