Sleeping on an incline

Curious how best to set up a tent and later sleep if all that is available is a slope or incline be it only a few degrees. i.e. no level ground available. Novice in camping, really!


man U R !
how steep? you will end up crunched into the bottom of your tent if the incline is steep but it’s do-able. so what? you do what you gotta do.


Put your pack under your legs. If the incline isn’t too steep you won’t slide much.

Hennessey hammock, unless you
are above tree line.

Another topic to compete with rudder/skeg, feathered/unfeathered, euro/greenland etc etc.

I just put up with the sliding downhill, but Clif Jacobsen sez that you should sleep across the fall line with clothes and packs wedged to keep you from rolling.

But Hennessey Hammocks do solve that problem.


several ways to skin this cat.
sleeping perpindicular to the slope and using extra gear to support/elevate downhill side of graound pad is the purest. But if you have good circulation and the angle is not much, I have found that sleeping head-downhill will eliminate most of the problems. You generally will not slip out of your bag (shape and design; especilly if a mummy), in most cases you will have a pillow or something used as a pillow which will tend to eliminate shifting, and you will have less room to slide. It has worked for me before on several occasions. Again, like others have said, a good hammock completely solves the uneven ground problem.

Head above heart.

– Last Updated: Jan-27-06 12:48 PM EST –

You will feel lousy the next morning if you sleep with your head downhill from your heart.

Sometimes there is really nothing you can do to eliminate the sliding downhill. It's interesting that others recommend sleeping perpendicular to the slope, that has actually worked less for me than feet downhill, but I guess that shows what the real answer is - experiment, find what works best for you. Don't you just hate it when people give you that non-answer? ;-)

As I predicted…
The debate rages!


Everybody has an E-Tool…

– Last Updated: Jan-27-06 12:51 PM EST –

just use the shovel to level a spot 20" X 72" (the Size of a full length thermarest pad). Put your tent up over that level spot, and while the tent will be leaning, you will be sleeping level...

another Tip;

Strip limbs from trees for dry firewood.

Screw Leave No Trace...

i cherish a good sleep
after a day on the water, i cherish a very good campsite (can you say flat tent spot) and spend alot of time looking for one. if there’s absolutely no flat spot around, you’ve (i’ve) picked a lousy campsite and move on to another, better one.

Another good tip

– Last Updated: Jan-27-06 1:39 PM EST –

The ground is often flatter along the banks of streams and ponds, so try to camp there, within 100 feet of the water, closer is even better. And here is a secret trick I have learned. If you can find the place along the water where animals usually come down to drink, camp there. Their little hooves trample down the soil and brush making it nice and smooth and level. Don't worry about them coming down to drink at night and disturbing you, your presence will scare them off.

I always try to have
my head higher anyway because I have really bad sinus problems. If its really steep (to where you might actually slide) a pack, or drybag under the bottol of my paco pad usually does the trick.

Head up …feet down

– Last Updated: Jan-27-06 3:08 PM EST –

The way God planed it.......

Thank you for the comments
Will placed material under the legs to level the spot. Alternative sites unavailable for the weekend of kayaking scheduled in April. Hammock sounds like the comfortable alternative! Thank you for the suggestions. Mark

Hennesey this, Hennesey that… Any…
Hammock will work. Otherwise, keep your head to the high side & don’t sleep with your boots on.

Paddle asy,


I’ve found
that sleeping with my head on the down-side of even a slight incline causes a great deal of unsettling dreams and a very poor nights sleep. For this reason, I always make sure my head is on the up-side.

Hammock cold
Head down hill=head ache. One concern with hammocks is poor insulation underneath you. With air moving underneath your body this has a tendency to make things much colder. No worries if you are at low elevation. But I wouldn’t do it at 5,000 plus.

sleepin’ on a slope
Bought a Big Agness Insulated Air Core last year and found it can level out my bed quite well.

Just let out air till I sink in, but not hit the ground. Worked for me, but then I can sleep just about anywhere.


Seemingly flat sites
I’ve been caught more than a few times by sites that appear to be flat but are just a tiny bit inclined. I always find out in the middle of the night, when my back aches enough to wake me into action.

What do I do? At that hour, I ain’t moving the tent. I switch positions. If my head was uphill, I lie so it’s downhill the rest of the night, and vice versa. If the incline is the REALLY bad one (side to side), I also swap positions and try to bolster the downhill side a bit with some clothing.

If the incline is bad enough that I know right away when pitching the tent, and I have no other choice, I lie with head uphill and figure I’ll be switching during the night.

If the ground is reshapeable, I do that. Usually it is not. Then it is a matter of grinning and bearing it.

One time in AK we camped on a narrow cobble beach. Cobbles the size of a man’s fist. I knew that I’d be waking up and cursing cobbles pushing into me, so I didn’t even bother setting up a tent. I flattened the cobble surface as much as I could, then put tarp and sleeping pad down. In the night, whenever a particular cobble bugged me, I simply reached underneath the tarp and moved the cobble to a better position.

I prefer to sleep across the slope.

Either I’m less sensitive to sideway slopes, or I found it easier to “repair” the site just enough so that the sideway slope isn’t really noticable.

Basically, my legs don’t know if one is slightly higher than the other. So as long as I got the shoulder to butt part of my body more or less level and flat, I’ll be alright. (the pillow takes care of the head part) That’s no more than 3 ft in length and 2’ wide box that I need to somehow made level. That’s a lot less work to do than trying to level the whole 6x3 underneath the sleeping pad! ;o)