Firstly, it doesn't really sound as though you have much experience with sleeping in the great outdoors. Follow my tips and pack everything I tell you to, and you'll be fine. :) This is a bit long-winded, but you'll at least learn something you can use!
The easiest thing I could tell you would be to pack a tent, sleeping bag, and a pillow, and YES, you can carry those on a backpack. You just have to know how. You'll need bungee cords (preferable), or some sort of string or twine.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE A TENT: Bring at least two largish tarps (three is better), a roll of twine or string, and a roll of duct tape. If you don't have tarps, bring a whole shitload of plastic bin liners. Like, make off with the box. NOTE: You need to be near two rather close trees to make this work properly.
Find a patch of ground that is slightly raised in comparison to the rest - a number one camping rule is that you never make your bed in a hollow, unless you like going for a freezing cold midnight swim.
- Duct-tape two of the tarps together lengthwise to make one really big tarp, or tape about eight garbage bags together.
- Tie one end of the twine to one tree, run it under the join of the tarps (or the middle of your liner-sheet), and tie it to the other tree. Don't make it too high; the peak of your tent should be maybe three feet off the ground.
- Put the other tarp underneath.
- Weigh down the edges of the 'roof' with rocks. Pine needles, grass, and soil can provide a little bit of insulation, and will stop the wind from coming in under the edges of your 'tent.'
- Fold the open corners around one of the trees, or, if it's too far away, tape the end shut and weigh it down as well. Leave the other end open for use as a door. Tada! Insta-makeshift-tent. :)
IF YOU DON'T HAVE A SLEEPING BAG: A few blankets will do just fine. Make sure they're fleece or quilted. Roll them just like you would a sleeping bag, and put inside two plastic bags.
- Roll your pillow and extra bedstuffs into your sleeping bag. Unless your pack gets soaked, they'll stay dry. Put them inside garbage bags and tie tightly for transport.
- Find the biggest and sturdiest pack you can (I'm not sure if you have an actual rucksack or are referring to a schoolkid's backpack)
- Line your pack with two bin liners. Two is much better than one because it'll be less likely to tear.
- ROLL all of your clothing as tightly as possible. You'll fit a helluva lot more in. Shove it into the bottom of your pack inside the plastic bags, with what you'll be needing last in the morning on the bottom. This means you really don't want to pack your toothbrush, toilet paper, etc., under everything else.
- Once everything is in, fold the bin liners over carefully so that nothing is directly exposed.
- Run the twine or bungee cords under the top flap or the shoulder straps of the pack. Put the tent or sleeping bag on top, and then stretch or loop each end of the bungee or twine around the ends of the tent or sleeping bag and hook or tie it to itself. This will probably be easier to do if the pack is lying down.
- Then, depending on what you put on top, put the other on the front of the pack, right underneath the previous item - loop the bungee or twine the same way, but through the bungee or twine on the top item. You could also tie a strap through the bungee or twine on this around the pack so it stays put better.
- This will probably feel oddly weighted, but it's better that the weight be on the top rather than the bottom - the latter can damage your back.
Contrary to popular belief, the fewer clothes you wear to bed, the warmer you'll be. This is because there aren't any layers of clothing for your body heat to work through and warm up before it starts bouncing off the covers back at you. Also, if you wear clothes to bed, there's not nearly as much room for the air to circulate. and be trapped. If you're in a position to sleep in the buff, I'd recommend it. If not, as close to it as you can get.
If you have any further questions, feel fre to e-mail me. :)
Good grief, what a long post. O_o
I've been camping in this manner all my life - I was in Girl Guides from age five upwards, and Army Cadets from age twelve to age seventeen. I know how to survive a chilly night in a field, and how to pack for one.