06 Jul Sleeping in the desert: all you need to know
The desert is a land of extremes; it can be extremely warm during the day, or very cold during the night. Many runners who have participated in the Marathon des Sables or other desert races have experienced this thermic shock and change of temperature. The range can vary from 45°C during the day to 5°C or freezing at night. Added to this shock, most people are very tired and are having a reduced intake of calories, two factors that increase the perceived cold at night.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Oman desert in November, when the Oman Desert Marathon takes place, is that these temperature extremes are less significant than in other deserts, and the night temperature is relatively mild. The daily temperatures are in the 30s and the night temperatures are between 15-20°. Comparing this with Europe, the night in the Oman desert is more or less like an early summer night in Southern Europe.
The Oman Desert Marathon will provide big tents for sleeping, where the runners will find shelter at the end of each stage. The tents are open on one side, so you will not be sleeping in an enclosed space and fresh air can circulate.
The organisers will also provide a ‘polartec’-type sleeping bag. This will be clearly numbered at the beginning of the race so that each runner can identify his or her personal sleeping bag at the end of each stage. The rules of the race state that a sleeping bag is required, but it is the runners’ choice if they want to bring their own from home, which they must then carry for the duration of the race, or use the one provided and carried by the ODM Staff.
For very experienced outdoor enthusiasts the solution offered by the organisers is more than adequate to ensure a good night, thus significantly reducing the weight carried during the day. However, a sleeping bag alone will not alleviate the discomfort of sleeping on a hard floor, so it is advisable to bring a roll mat. With this in mind, you can decide to use the bag provided by the organisers as a sleeping bag or as a mattress.
So, in summary, a very good solution is to bring with you an extra light sleeping bag and to use the one provided as a mattress beneath the sleeping bag.
But how to choose the right sleeping bag? The weight should be from 500g to 800g, no bigger than the size of a hand, and the technical specification to look for is a ‘1 Season’ sleeping bag – be sure not to buy a ‘1 to 2 Season’ sleeping bag. Prices vary from €20-60 (£15-£45).