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What do you sleep on?

Discussion in 'The Great Outdoors' started by Kevin, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. Kevin

    Kevin Special K Founding Member

    When tent camping, what is your preferred method of separating you from the ground? I grew up and still use solely a sleeping bag to keep me warm, but as I get a bit older I'm finding myself tossing and turning and waking in the morning with an achy back. I've tried out some of the cots available at Gander Mountain and elsewhere and they are luxurious but bulky. Will a sleeping mat/pad under my bag help with the sore back in the mornings?

    It isn't killing me just yet - After a quick walk around / stretching I feel fine - But it'd be nice to get a bit of a better sleep while we're out.

    Any tips?
  2. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    I am 58 and noted the same problem. I have a Thermarest self inflating pad. It has foam inside so that when you open the valve the foam expands and fills the pad then you close the valve. I found that I like to put a couple breaths into it to firm it up a bit more. Mine is 1.5 inches and works well. If I bought one today, I'd probably go with the 3 inch. Just depends on what kind of camping you are doing. If I was hiking to camp, I'd select a more compact lighter system. But most of my camping is canoe camping.

    In the summer a good air mattress would be ok, but in cold temps they don't seem to insulate at all and are cold to sleep on.
  3. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

    I've always slept in a sleeping bag on the ground. I've also spelt in my car and in the back of my truck.
    I have a friend that uses and air mattress. We aren't backpackers or minimalists. Our camping is typically at a friends cabin in Michigan but we bring tents when a lot of us go.

    I think a foam pad under the sleeping bag would go a long way. They usually roll up quite small.
  4. Kevin

    Kevin Special K Founding Member

    I seem to have bad luck with air mattresses the few times I've used them at other peoples' houses. Seems like they're always deflated by morning for some reason. I like the sound of that Thermarest pad though. Does it compact pretty well? We have young kids so no more backpacking for us for the time being. All of our camping is at campsites near the truck so we've got room to pack. I just prefer to remove as much bulk as possible. I might see if I can find one of those pads around here to try out.

    I've looked at those regular foam pads before and they just seem like they aren't going to do much for the comfort factor. Insulation, yeah, but it seems like they'd flatten out as soon as I laid down on them. Maybe I need to give them a shot though.
  5. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    I had the closed cell foam pads and used them for years. They do definately help comfort wise, but the Thermarest and impersonators are quite comfy. I think there is one that I was looking at called Fat Airic. As to air mattresses, Don't know what kind you were having trouble with, but a good quality fabric pad might be your ticket. I think Big Agnes is a maker that I've looked at before. My Thermarest rolls up to about 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter. the thicker ones I know are fatter when rolled but have not owned one.
  6. Chuckles

    Chuckles Founding Member

    +1 for thermarest. It is nice to be able to adjust it in the middle of the night without bothering anybody. I have mine for years. They always work and I always sleep well.
  7. EdipisReks

    EdipisReks The Picasso of Creepiness Founding Member

    King size Serta Beautyrest pillow top. I have no complaints, and I have three bad discs and probable RA.

    Yah, I don't sleep on the ground anymore, which means no camping.
  8. Andy

    Andy Founding Member

    Normally car camp so weight isn't really an issue, always carry a camp stretcher and a 4in foam mattress.
  9. gavination

    gavination Founding Member

    There are a variety of pads and mattresses these days. Big Agnes and Thermarest are probably the most popular. They make both pads and mattresses. The former being foam the latter being air filled. Both make them upwards of 3" thick I believe. As well as other companies. These are the usually the most comfortable and the squeakiest.

    Kevin, they tend to deflate some due to loss of volume as the air inside cools from body temperature down to ambient room temperature. At least in cold environments. Inflate them early then add more air before you go to sleep to account for volume loss. YMMV, but this works from my personal experience. If it's a warm environment or it continues to happen, it may leak. Seek manufacture assistance for leaks. They're both good companies with good warranty programs.

    Drawbacks are they aren't as light typically (but there's are things like the Neoair which make my generalizations inaccurate) and traditionally not as warm. I don't think this is as true anymore, but some people will still think a mattress is colder because air will conduct heat away as it warms up and is continually cooled by the ground. If you're camping on snow or to below freezing temps, put a cheap blue foam pad down under your air mattress or a second mattress. I think the highest r-value mattress you can get is 6.0 from Thermarest. It's a "Dream" and also $200. Others vary. You can ask about the r-value to get an idea about the warmth rating.

    If weight isn't an issue, you can always carry a massive Costco inflatable queen mattress. If it's cold out, put blankets under you before sleeping under the blankets or sleeping with your sleeping pad. Those mattresses are thick and will sap you of body heat while you sleep. The down or synthetic on the bottom of the bag that you're lying on and smushing, won't keep you warm. It's lost its loft once you flatten it, this its insulating properties.

    These are fairly general comments. Hope they help!


    Also, if you want to try an air mattress, buy from companies with good return policies in case they leak or you just hate them. Typical places are REI (formerly Return Every Item until they changed their policy to one year, still pretty good though if you can stomach their bad customer service) or Backcountry.com where you can return anything.
  10. Andrew

    Andrew Have Pen Will Travel Founding Member

    I use a Thermarest NeoAir, and it's great. I just put a foam pad under it if I'm out in really cold weather (below freezing).
  11. Kevin

    Kevin Special K Founding Member

    Just bought a Thermarest NeoAir Camper for car camping. Going to take it out this weekend to see how it works.
  12. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    Sounds Great Kevin
    I don't think they had those when I got my Thermarest foam air pad. I bet you'll be very happy with it.
  13. I used to be in my sleeping bag on the floor with a foam mat under it but as I have got older I need more comfort it seems. Might seem a little OTT, but when I go fishing for 24 hours or more I use a bedchair similar to this, you can adjust the back to different levels, from flat to propped up like and armchair.
    Obviously useless if you have to hike any distance but we normally park no more than a few hundred yards from where we fish so things like this are easy to take, folds down reasonably small and keeps you off the floor altogether. Our fishing trips are more of a get together so we normally take lots of creature comforts:D
  14. Kevin

    Kevin Special K Founding Member

    I guess I never updated this thread. I LOVE my Neoair. My wife forced me to buy her one after our first trip out with mine. It makes a world of difference in both comfort (No more hard ground) and temperature control. It seems to insulate me very well.

    If this one dies, I'll be buying another similar product immediately.

    Now I need to get myself a hammock to play with :)
  15. I have carried a neoair all over the southern Sierra. I sleep cold so my tolerance for cold is low but I was fine with it to about 30 degrees. I know others that take it to 20 degrees.

    Buy a patch kit...

    They are comfortable however.
  16. Kevin

    Kevin Special K Founding Member

    I'd recommend it. I've already used mine around 15 times. It packs up small enough to fit in a backpack without taking up much space, it's light, and it works great.
  17. chinacats

    chinacats Founding Member

    A bit late to the party, but this is the time of year that I really enjoy my Exped 9. Have to carry it on the outside of the pack, but it is an inflatable stuffed with down and has an R factor of 9. I leave some other things out to compensate for the weight, but very much worth it.

    Should also mention that it allows me to carry a lighter sleeping bag (20 instead of zero degree in colder weather).

    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014

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