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Thread: Tent Anxiety

  1. Default Tent Anxiety

    Hello. I am a very experienced camper. From backpacking, to car camping, to remote hunting camp camping, I have done it all. I am 37. In my 20s some years I slept 100 nights outside, one way or another. I am an avid outdoorsman, hunt and fish, and the thought of camping makes me just happy.

    One more preface, I am a poor sleeper. I take tylonal PM to help me sleep, it makes a HUGE difference... that and earplugs pretty much allowed to exist in a tent/small cabin with other snoring men.

    Recently, I have a new problem. I go to sleep fine, then wake up later and get clausterphobic/bad anxiety. I HAVE to get OUT. To the OUTSIDE. Last weekend, with my bro in the tent, I was about to jump out of my skin. I made a bunch of noise and took my bag/thermarest out by the fire... built it up and laid outside. I was HAPPY as crap. I didnt sleep that great, but wasnt anxious.

    That was ok, but once this summer camping in a downpour I couldnt get out... I was trapped. It sucked. :-(

    I DONT want to see a shrink. Anyone else run into this type hell?

    thanks, sorry to be a first time poster with a need...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not Our Forte

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Keeper

    I DONT want to see a shrink.
    But you'll take advice on something this serious from random people with no qualifications?

    Sorry, but this is not what we do around here. If this bothers you as much as you indicate and represents such a significant change in your life, then you really should be seeking professional help. Short of seeing a Psychiatrist or Psychologist, there are also licensed therapists and counselors who can handle problems such of yours. All such professionals rightfully take pride in their discretion. If cost is a problem, most communities offer help on a free or sliding scale basis. But this is one area where you want something better than you'll get "on the street".


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France


    Hi Fire Keeper,

    My Mom is claustrophobic and always had a hard time sleeping in a tent. Last summer, we went camping and I suggested she slept in the screen room we used to get away from the bugs and have dinner. She slept very well and didn't panic at all. It does not offer the privacy of a tent of course, but I guess it's better than sleeping by the fire. Plus, some screen rooms are self extracting (sort of like pop-up) and easier to pitch than most tents. She might not have the same type of claustrophobia you are experiencing but maybe you could give it a try.

    Also, I don't know which kind of sleeping bag you have, but mummy sleeping bags may cause you to feel trapped, especially if there's a hood on it. Using a camping fan may also help you a little bit if you fear the lack of oxygen.

    As for the anxiety I agree with AZBuck and think you should see a therapist and try to resolve that issue. There's nothing to be ashamed of, everyone experiences psychological fragility at one moment or another in his life wether it's depression or phobias or any other related stuff.

    Good luck!

  4. Default

    AZ thanks for the reply. I understand this isnt the best place for it, but oh well. I think you are taking it a little too far though... not sure if I am ready for camping therapy.

    Gen yes the screen room is an idea... but Ill probably just end up sleeping outside like I used to. Not as many critters on the ground that bother you in the Rockies where I learned to camp and slept outside by default... and you are right on with the bag. I was sleeping in a good down NF mummy... but bought the "Big Cat" from REI 2 years ago, it is roomy yet packable.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Tents with two big doors?

    There are some tents that have 2 big doors (or a door and a window). If you get ones with a vestibule, you might be able to keep these open all night and still have protection from rain. I usually sleep with the rain cover off so I can watch the stars unless rain is suspected. That also helps things open up and feel less crowded. Of course, if the weather is good, there is nothing wrong with sleeping outside. If it rains, maybe you would do better with a lean-to tarp type of set-up?

  6. #6



    I am not sure if you are still checking this thread but I thought I would chime in. I have occasionally had similar episodes of waking up and feeling too shut in. What helps me is to get up and walk around for a few minutes, even doing some jumping jacks and toe touches if I'm really anxious. Then I will go back in and count until I fall asleep. The movement helps my body to relax and the counting helps my mind to focus on something other than how anxious I'm feeling.

    I completely understand how you could not want to see a therapist though. But, there is nothing wrong with trying one out, especially if the problem just gets worse. In my own experience I have found the key to be not allowing myself to keep thinking about how anxious I feel. I have tried chanting prayers but found numbers to help me more than words. I always go back and sleep in the tent because I know the anxiety does not reflect reality and I choose to conquer it rather than go out of my way for other arrangements. I hope this helps a little bit and best of luck to you!

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