Aloneness & (In)Security

This is a submission to the October 2019 Carnival of Aros: “Aromanticism and Aloneness”

In this post, I am going to use a very specific definition of ‘aloneness’. The definition of ‘aloneness’ specifically for this post is: you think it’s unlikely that there is another living human being within a twenty minute walk of your current location.

Obviously, this is different from how the word ‘aloneness’ is generally used, which is why I needed to spell out right at the beginning what I mean by ‘aloneness’ in this post. In my experience, ‘you do not think there is another living human being within a twenty minute walk, within five miles, etc.’ brings a very different feeling of aloneness than anything which I experience within physical proximity to other people.

I’ve spent a night sleeping a ten minute walk away from the nearest human being (that I knew about), and I didn’t feel alone (at least not in the specific sense I’m discussing in this post), which is why I decided to set the limit at ‘twenty minute walk away’.

I’ve discussed the experience of being alone before in the post “Something about Bedsharing”. When I wrote that post, I still felt fairly insecure about sleeping alone. Not as insecure as that first night at Walami Cabin, but still somewhat insecure.

Since I wrote that post, I’ve had a lot more experience with sleeping alone, and I feel a lot more relaxed about it. I think it is because I’ve spent so many nights alone where nothing bad happened, so my subconscious figured out that sleeping alone does not mean I will be harmed in the night. Continue reading

I Love My Homemade Backpacking Quilt

In a previous post, I discussed my homemade tarp. Now, I introduce my homemade camping quilt.

A picture of my quilt from the first trip where I tested it.

My love for my new quilt is without reservation. I have discovered that I am one of those people who strongly prefer quilts over sleeping bags, and barring unusual circumstances (i.e. I lost my quilt in the middle of a long distance hike and a sleeping bag is the only replacement I can get in a hurry) I don’t see myself going back to sleeping bags ever. Yes, one has to adjust a quilt more than a sleeping bag – but that is actually an advantage, since it is POSSIBLE to adjust a quilt, whereas with sleeping bags I am stuck with an awkward fit. There is a reason why people tend to use quilts rather than sleeping bags when they sleep indoors, and that reason also applies outdoors.

My quilt performed beautifully during my recently completed 400+ mile hike in Southern California. There were some cold nights when I had to boost it with accessories – but I would have had to boost a sleeping bag with the same temperature rating too. The issue was that my quilt is only rated to approximately 30 degrees F (approximately 0 degrees C), not that it was not a sleeping bag. And I was carrying those accessories because I knew that it might fall below freezing for a few nights (which it did).

Another photo of my quilt.

My quilt turns out to be a champion in the wind. This was important, because I was not using an enclosed shelter. First of all, the outer shell of my quilt is wind-resistant, and since the outer shell is oversized, I could drape the loose fabric to block drafts. Even on very windy nights, I only felt it on my face.

Furthermore, my quilt does not have a zipper. First of all, that means less weight, and second of all, zippers are my least favorite part of sleeping bags, because they seem to either jam when I want to get out of the sleeping bag, or they refuse to zip when I want to tuck in. It turns out I am happier without the zipper.

Speaking of weight, this quilt is only 19 oz., which makes it lighter than any sleeping bag with an equivalent warmth rating. On a long distance hike, less weight is always appreciated!

It is so nice not to have a hood attached to the quilt. The hoods on sleeping bags never seem to be in quite the right place for me, which is why I tend to not used them and use separate hoods anyway, and if I’m already using a separate hood, the hood built into the sleeping bag is useless weight/bulk.

See, there’s no hood.

Also, I sewed this quilt by hand. I even designed it myself, since I could not find a ready-made design I liked. Even though I was total newbie to this, I still managed to make a new quilt on my first try. Due to the lack of organized information on making a quilt available for free online, especially making one by hand, I posted the instructions for making my quilt here.

The cost of this quilt? Approximately 60 USD for materials (buying this type of quilt at retail prices costs about 200 USD). I also had to spend labor, but I was listening to podcasts as I sewed, and this did not take nearly as much time as sewing a tarp by hand.

And there is the additional satisfaction of having made this quilt myself. I even made it in my ‘bed’ in my own bedroom.

There is my partially sewn quilt lying on my rolled up mattress on top of the goza mat where I sleep at home.

There is a comforting continuity in that my quilt, which I slept in during my hike, was made in the very same place where I sleep at home.

I could keep on gushing about how much I love my quilt, but I think you all get the idea by now. And I have never had a sleeping bag this awesome, and definitely not just for 60 USD.