Jun 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm #1260269
As mentioned in a previous thread I have experienced inflatable sleeping pad failure in the backcountry twice in the past three years. Once my pad and once my wife's (last weekend). The pads were well taken care of. Stored properly at home and in the pack. The leaks were slow and annoying. Slow enough that they would take 30 minutes to an hour before you were finally compressing them down to the ground. Fast enough to make for a cold uncomfortable night.
I am rethinking sleeping pad options and would like some thoughts/experience.
My experience is as follows (3 season Canadian Rockies – lows down to -8 celcius at worst with most nights around 0 to 4 degrees celcius):
1) Guidelite thermarest – Pre-ultralight pad. Was quite comfortable but over 2 lbs. Cold hips at lower end of the temp spectrum.
2) 3/4 ridgerest and pack underfeet. – Warm under torso, nice pseudo pack frame. Cold uncomfortable feet. I really don't have much additional clothing or gear to stick under my legs. Could get to sleep but waking up achy many times during the night.
3) MEC 3.8 kelvin pads. – Warm and comfortable. leaked air slowly from impossible to find site. Did not add the best structure to frameless pack. Returned pad.
4) Thermarest prolite 3 short with ridgerest pad under legs and 5 mil yellow evastazote foam (as reviewed by Mike C) under thermarest. – Warm, able to sleep with pad deflated a bit to improve cushion as hips bottom out on yellow pad rather then the ground, seemed like good puncture protection, weighs 22 oz which is nearing the top end of my tolerance, find myself chasing the ridgerest pad during the night as it shifts away… too many components to pack!
5) Full length ridgerest cut in half (last weekend) – I like the weight, takes up huge volume… pack half as pseudo frame and half lashed to outside of pack, might be comfortable if I could choose a site with softer ground but many times in national parks I am restricted to setting up on the TERRIBLE, hard, cold, compact gravel tent sites.
So two questions:
1) To those who said they had inflatable pad issues and have sworn them off for closed cell foam pads what are you doing to get a good sleep on them?? Any tricks or suggestions? Is there a more comfortable closed cell pad then a ridgerest? Pad combos?
2) To those that love their inflatable pads… My wife is primarily a side sleeper. She also tends to be a cold sleeper. I have my doubts that she will ever manage a closed cell foam pad. This last trip at 3:30 am in the morning she said (yelled?), "Ever since we went ultralight the hiking has been great but the sleeping has SUCKED!". Although I did not admit it, I can't help but think she might be right. So people? Any suggestions on a comfortable, warm, lighter weight option that still works well with a frameless pack?
Thanks in advanceJun 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm #1621070
W I S N E R !Participant
"1) To those who said they had inflatable pad issues and have sworn them off for closed cell foam pads what are you doing to get a good sleep on them?? Any tricks or suggestions? Is there a more comfortable closed cell pad then a ridgerest? Pad combos?"
Just do it a lot. And stop brushing your teeth and shaving and bathing. Cast off the silk sheets and feather beds and embrace the ANIMAL within.
Oh, and WHISKEY.
…proven to make the cold, hard ground SOFT.Jun 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm #1621075
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
There is no easy answer to this, and it is so individual. I also frequent a popup trailer forum, and many people there complain they cannot get a good night's sleep on a 3"-4" foam mattress!!
I think the most important item is how often does someone sleep outdoors. Once or twice a year, a foam pad is probably never going to work. Every weekend, then yes closed foam will be fine.
Another important item, IMO, is what kind of physical condition is your body is in. I am thin and in fairly good shape, and that probably is helpful.
I don't have any back, muscle, or joint problems.
Pretty rare for me to go below freezing temps at night, except a few trips each winter that may go down to 25F. Here is what I use:
Cold or lots of rocks, peebles, debris in deserts –
1/8" full length GG ThinLight, with a BPL TorsoLight. Pack under legs.
Above freezing in deserts, with good chance of mostly sandy ground –
GG 1/8" ThinLight with a GG NightLight Torso, or a trimmed GG 3/8" torso size foam pad. Pack under legs.
In mountains – GG NightLight Torso or trimmed GG 3/8" torso size foam pad. Pack under legs.
My wife refuses to backpack, because she is NOT sleeping on the ground. But if you were willing, there is no doubt an air mattress would be used. I have a feeling the same is going to be true is mamma is going to be happy. If she isn't happy, no one is happy :). I have never used one, but a DAM sounds interesting.Jun 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm #1621079
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Two main choices here:
1) Sleep on the ground at home until it feels natural and comfortable. This is what I have done much of my life. I also 'taught' myself to sleep on my back. It makes the ground a lot more comfortable :)
2) Continue using an inflatable and take your chances that you won't get a puncture. Unless it's winter, where I would take an inflatable AND a CCF mat. Outside of winter, having your mat go flat is merely uncomfortable, not life-threatening. Oh, and carry a repair kit so, at most, you will hopefully only lose one night's sleep.Jun 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm #1621080
The 1/8" GG Thinlight and Nightlight… are they as dense as say a ridgerest or evastazote pad?
ThanksJun 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm #1621082
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Not even close. At first look, the thinlight looks like open foam, but it isn't. Extremley flexible. I don't what the NighLight is made from, but it looks and feels "plasticy" but it is very flexible also. Kind of hard to quantify it. Actually, my next purchase is going to be one of Steve Evan's ground pads, to replace my ground sheet and the thinlight. Haven't seen on in person though.Jun 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm #1621083
I find the torso sized nightlight far more comfortable then a ridgerest. To increase comfort with a foam pad, don't camp where the ground has been compacted to concrete like hardness by 20+years of people camping in that same exact spot.Jun 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm #1621084
@bcrowellLocale: Southern California
"To those who said they had inflatable pad issues and have sworn them off for closed cell foam pads what are you doing to get a good sleep on them?? Any tricks or suggestions? Is there a more comfortable closed cell pad then a ridgerest? Pad combos?"
I think different people just have different needs in a sleep system. The differences may be physical or purely mental — but, hey, just because it's mental doesn't mean it's not real. When my father and I first started backpacking together in the 70's, he was perfectly comfy sleeping on a closed-cell pad, but now he's pretty much given up on backpacking because he finds he gets miserable from lack of sleep.
Personally I'm fairly comfortable sleeping on bare ground with no pad, the only noticeable problem being that my hips tend to get sore when I sleep on my side. Since my closed-cell pad is only 4 oz, I'm happy to bring it for that extra little bit of comfort.
For me, much greater sleep issues are:
– cold gusts of wind across the face
– noise from mosquitoes buzzing around my headnet in the early evening, before it gets cold enough to make them inactive
– worrying, e.g., if I'm responsible for my daughter and the trip is not going smoothly
I find that it helps if I keep track of the time using the stars. I can look up and see that a bright star like Vega has moved quite a way across the sky since the last time I woke up and looked. That feels good to me psychologically, since I know I've just had a couple of hours of sleep.
It also helps a lot if I adjust my circadian rhythm to a very early schedule before I go, getting up at 4:30 or 5 am. That way, by the time the sun goes down I'm fighting to keep my eyes open.Jun 17, 2010 at 7:00 pm #1621094
@abhittLocale: southern appalachians or desert SW
"4) Thermarest prolite 3 short with ridgerest pad under legs and 5 mil yellow evastazote foam (as reviewed by Mike C) under thermarest. – Warm, able to sleep with pad deflated a bit to improve cushion as hips bottom out on yellow pad rather then the ground, seemed like good puncture protection"
You were there in my opinion but just the wrong combination of pads. I have gone to a Thermarest Prolite XS and a cut down, 36", ridgerest at 14 oz. Very comfy, warm and at least one of them is puncture proof in case something happens. Pack under legs unless it is snow or frozen then a full length ridgerest or a full length cut in half. The slight deflation of the inflatable is what makes it the most comfortable.
I almost always sleep out of a tent and at or below freezing so the warmth and durability are important. I also use the pads as the frame in my Six Moons Designs packs, perfect combo. I am like Nick, in good shape, fairly thin and 6'1".
Everyone is different in their ability to sleep on hard ground. I tried for a while to just use a ridgerest but slept like hell so went back to the inflatable and then added the ridgerest back in for warmth, comfort and durability.Jun 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm #1621096
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
How did you teach yourself to sleep on your back? I've tried to teach myself but it does not seem to work.
Being able to sleep on your back is a very desirable ability/trait. You need much less padding, less pillow, etc.Jun 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm #1621111
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
"How did you teach yourself to sleep on your back?"
Maybe better to say I was forced to learn to sleep on my back after a neck injury. Now I wouldn't want to sleep in any other position, even at home in a comfy bed.Jun 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm #1621123
I did not realize that there was a prolite XS. Thanks for suggesting it. I checked out the dimensions and it might just do the trick. I like the idea of having 36 inches of both ridgerest and prolite 3. It solves some of my packing issues, would provide the cushion I am seeking and leaves me with enough ridgerest to go from my head to my hips in the event that I get another puncture. Great idea.
I have been interested to hear people mention fitness as a factor. I am 5'8 and 155 lbs. I work out and do some mountain bike racing so I consider myself to be in decent shape. I actually wonder if being on the lean side would make for greater difficulties getting comfortable. Maybe a little extral natural padding would help out. Just a thought.
JeffJun 17, 2010 at 10:08 pm #1621135
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Padding, natural and otherwise. I consider myself fairly lean (read: bony hips), and am a dedicated side sleeper. Last summer I was foolish enough to take only a section of 1/8" Thinlight on a trip in Glacier. In many national parks, you really are obliged to sleep on hard, hard dirt. I ended up folding the pad in half and shoving that and my pants under my hips to enable me to sleep.
I gave up on inflatables because I've had two leak over the years (little, annoying, all but impossible to fix). On soft sites a cut down Ridgerest does the trick. Pack and a bit of thinlight under the legs. In winter I add another full length foam mat, for harder sites this summer I'll be experimenting with a torso sized Z-rest under the Thermarest. We'll see how it goes.
My wife is a finiky side sleeper, and swears by a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. If you don't sleep well, life will suck.Jun 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm #1621136
drowning in spamMember
Maybe better to say I was forced to learn to sleep on my back after a neck injury. Now I wouldn't want to sleep in any other position, even at home in a comfy bed.
I slept on my back for a while after I injured it. I wish I never stopped.Jun 18, 2010 at 7:08 am #1621177
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
What has worked well for me on trips is:
Gossamer Gear Nightlight *(cut to 2/3) (+/- 6oz.)
Suluk46 1/8" padded ground sheet cut to size (1.6oz.)
The the use of a Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad cut down to 2/3 the full length paired with a 1/8" plastazote padded ground sheet available from Steve Evans of Suluk 46. The GG Nightlight is for padding and insulation and the 1/8" ground sheet functions as a ground cover and dampens small rocks, bumps, pine needles and tiny branches. I've found the Gossamer Gear Nightlight to be slightly more comfortable than my older Thermarest Ridgerest pad….slightly. The Nightlight is definitely more comfortable than my Z-Rest which lost it's comfort after a few trips, the small bumps all flattened.
The combination above works well for me with my packs, my ULA Ohm and MLD Burn accommodate my Nightlight pad for use as a frame sheet. The thin plastazote pad gets rolled up and strapped on the top of my pack taking up little to no room.
A combination I'm looking at putting together is a:
Gossamer Gear Nightlight Torso (3.7oz) *multiuse-framsheet
Suluk46 3/8" padded ground sheet cut to size.
I think the 3/8" thickness will bring the Gossamer Gear Nightlight closer to a 1" thick pad height and will provide additional comfort and excellent ground cover for my quilt. All this would likely be under 9oz. still for 3 season comfort and no fear of leaks or catastrophic failure in the middle of the night!Jun 18, 2010 at 8:05 am #1621196
When my father and I first started backpacking together in the 70's, he was perfectly comfy sleeping on a closed-cell pad, but now he's pretty much given up on backpacking because he finds he gets miserable from lack of sleep.
IMO that has to do with just getting older. I used a thin Thermorest pad for yrs. After a while my hips started bothering me (side sleeper). I switched to a Big Agnes insulated pad (2.5" thick) and slept great..until it decided to give out. I wish I could use an 1/8" thick pad by itself but I can't.
When I take my hammock I will use a thin pad in the summer but there are nights I still don't sleep well in a hammockJun 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm #1621297
Good sleep = happy partners
Get your wife a down-insulated air mattress. Thick, cushy, warm… just 'bout good as a bed.
I'd point out that in the failure of inflatable pads, it is usually user error/neglect. Sometimes the valves and random leaks people have mentioned, but I'd estimate ~70% are "induced" leaks.
I go out there to enjoy myself. I also function better on a good night of sleep; I don't subscribe to the belief/practice that being whupped at the end of a long day makes you sleep great on anything, I think your body appreciates some cushion more. For my tastes, it doesn't make sense to practice being miserable. Why not just carry a little more and sleep great?
Bottom line, my base weight is generally under 10 pounds and I carry a 2.5" thick mattress. If you cut the rest of your base weight down, it's no big deal to carry a "luxury" or two. Seriously. At that point, even if you carry an extra pound of mattress it's only equivalent to a pint of water. 8 hours of solid happy sleep is worth the weight in gold, IMO.Jun 19, 2010 at 6:03 am #1621457
Next week I will try out an attempt at a (bulky) solution: a cut down Ridgerest Deluxe (under 14oz), along with a small inflatable pillow. I think the pillow has been a source of quite a bit of my sleeping challenges. The dual density RR Deluxe may do the trick – at least it will be warm – I'm not sure how much it will pack down over timeJun 20, 2010 at 7:42 am #1621673
I sleep on one of these:
Ridgerest small: 8 oz (used if I can't spare the weight or soft ground is known to be available)
Exped Downmat 7: 32 oz (always use this in winter)
I'd rather sleep on a Ridgerest than a Prolite. The Prolites are mostly just air, and don't seem to pad all that well.
On the Downmat, I don't notice much difference between it and my bed at home. There's a short version which saves 8 oz I think.Jun 20, 2010 at 8:18 am #1621680
I agree with Brad on this. I had a montbell torso length pad and I wasn't comfortable sleeping on my side. I even added a ccf underneath that and didnt sleep well. Switched over to the BA IAC and had the best sleep that I ever had outdoors. I may be singing a different tune if I have a leak at night but so far so good.Jun 20, 2010 at 10:50 am #1621701
ABHiker: Sounds like your #4 is working but you need to hold the pads together. Have somebody make a light Cuben envelope to hold them together. Once you have the envelope you can try different combos inside it. For years I used a 1" layer of open cell urethane on top of a thermarest. In general I've given up on the very light thermarests due to slow leaks that are impossible to find in winter. I suppose the envelope could be refined so that there are just cuben caps that fit over the pad ends and are connected with cuben stringers. I believe there is such a thing as going lighter than a person needs to. Not getting good sleep to keep arbitrary base weights low is something I don't do.
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