One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to make in improvised shelter or sleeping on the ground is not insulating themselves properly. Either due to lack of training, experience, or even discussions about it around outdoors groups, I have seen this problem become more and more prevalent. This is especially dangerous during the cold nights or when snow is on the ground. You can lose massive amounts of heat through your body’s contact with the cold ground, thus increasing the risk of hypothermia.
There are several things that can be done to fix this problem. Many people advocate the use of cots, but the reality is that they can sometimes be no better than sleeping on the ground if it is really cold out. The cold air can circulate under the uninsulated cot and this increase your heat loss during the night. Sleeping pads do help, but all this increases weight that you carry with you. Considering what Mors Kochanski says, “The more you know the less you carry,” the best bet would be to know more.
This is where insulation beds come in. Natural materials such as boughs, leaves, and other vegetation work quite well as an insulator. By just piling up natural materials properly you can decrease your body’s heat loss and actually make yourself quite comfortable throughout the night. It also works quite well to spread down boughs and vegetation when sleeping on snow. The vegetation will insulate your tent or bedroll, cut down on the icing up of your ground cloth from melting snow, and will also keep you from sinking throughout the night.
Here is a quick video I found that explains the whole insulation bed concept.
In this video, the bed is actually raised up as well. This may or may not be necessary, but the insulation may be required to help maintain body temperatures throughout the night if you don’t have some other sort of sleeping pad or bedroll.