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Old 07-27-09, 08:03 AM   #1
neilfein
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Tent sleeping

My wife and I have two basic tent configurations: 4-person tent for car camping with a large, heavy air mattress, and a lighter 3-person tent with Thermarests for touring. We sleep well on the air mattress, but not on the Thermarests. On our last tour, we alternated camping and B&Bs so we could actually get some sleep, but that gets expensive.

Does anyone else have these problems? Has anyone come up with a sleeping setup that's more comfortable than inflatable sleeping pads or foam pads, but not as heavy as a full air mattress? Is there anything in between the two? Perhaps padding the sleeping pads with foam, or doubling up? On what setup do you sleep well?
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Old 07-27-09, 08:09 AM   #2
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I sleep very well on a regular Thermarest, but the Thermarest NeoAir is much more cushy and lighter to boot. It seems excessively expensive, but I like it well enough to bite the bullet.
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Old 07-27-09, 08:10 AM   #3
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For myself an air mattress is an absolute must. I've never found a pad set-up that was good enough.

But there's room to downsize the air mattress a bit. They have low profile types. They look a lot like those flotation mattresses that you'll find in swimming pools, with heavier fabric. Not heavy and folds up small.

But even if it weighed 100 lbs, I'd lug it along for the sake of sleep. Just can't do without that. I guess some people can sleep on pads, but not me. It sounds like you're in the same spot.
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Old 07-27-09, 08:29 AM   #4
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I have two Exped mattresses that are similar to the Thermarest NeoAir mentioned in post #2. My Expeds have a lifetime warranty and are also expensive...$110-ish. One has down fill, the other has synthetic with a built-in pump...and is thicker, wider, longer...MUCH nicer than my old std thermarest! My down Exped is on the narrow side and used its bag as an inflation device...more of a hassle and I found that I did not need the extra temperature benefit of the down.
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Old 07-27-09, 08:57 AM   #5
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I know people who swear by this little cot for touring, they say it's as comfortable as bed at home.

http://www.luxurylite.com/cotindex.html
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Old 07-27-09, 10:12 AM   #6
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I tried the therma rest self inflating mats. they were only slightly better than nothing and a pain to packup every morning. I used a Big Agnes air mat for about a year but inflating it by mouth every night was a hassle.

I really like the Exped synmat deluxe and the air mat series. I currently tour with an Exped Airmat 7.5 Deluxe. The deluxe versions have a built in pump, basicly a valve with a foam chamber that allows one to easily pump up the mat. The airmat series do not have any insulation and pack very small.

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Old 07-27-09, 11:02 AM   #7
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If you're willing to blow it up yourself, you can get twice the comfort of a self-inflating pad for no more weight. I've given up on self-inflating pads.
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Old 07-27-09, 11:12 AM   #8
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Here's what works for me. I use a Thermorest self inflating mat (long version), but after it self inflates, I blow it up manually until it's reasonably firm. I know I'm not supposed to do this, but it's the only way it works for me.

I also carry an honest-to-goodness real pillow in a dry bag. It's a bit smaller than my regular pillow at home, but not by much. I'm a side sleeper and I'm miserable if my head isn't supported well with my shoulder against the ground/mat.

It took a bit of experimentation for me to find the setup that allows me to sleep well. Now that I've found it, I'm thankful every morning on tour.
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Old 07-27-09, 11:13 AM   #9
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20" wide mattress will force me to sleep on my side. If I sleep on my back then my
arms will roll off and feel numb. I sleep better with a 25" wide mattress. The other
items already posted seem pretty good too. Unfortunately they are wish list items
for me.

Last edited by Bat22; 07-27-09 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 07-27-09, 11:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
Here's what works for me. I use a Thermorest self inflating mat (long version), but after it self inflates, I blow it up manually until it's reasonably firm. I know I'm not supposed to do this, but it's the only way it works for me.
Not so, their web pages says:
"How do Therm-a-Rest self-inflating mattresses self-inflate?

When you open the valve, the open-celled foam responds by soaking up air, similar to a sponge absorbing liquid. Once the mattress has inflated, you can adjust the firmness by adding a few breaths or letting air out. It's that simple."



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I also carry an honest-to-goodness real pillow in a dry bag. It's a bit smaller than my regular pillow at home, but not by much.
Me too but mine is a good bit smaller (maybe 11x17 or so) and I stuff it in the stuff sack with my sleeping bag. It is my luxury item.

BTW: The NeoAir takes only about 15 breaths for me to inflate.
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Old 07-27-09, 11:32 AM   #11
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I know people who swear by this little cot for touring, they say it's as comfortable as bed at home.

http://www.luxurylite.com/cotindex.html
my word, what will they think of next! Almost wish I didn't sleep so well on hard ground so I could buy one of these (BF is getting to me
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Old 07-27-09, 02:02 PM   #12
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I sleep just fine on Thermarest pads, I have a couple sizes for different uses. The Luxurylite cots are a bit to much for me I'm sure I'd lose parts and render the thing useless. One friend who likes his is a bit on the heavy side, so foam pads compress under his weight, so the cot is working great for him. The down side is the price too, I think $220 is high, but a good nights sleep is hard to put a price on.
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Old 07-27-09, 03:41 PM   #13
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Exped Downmat works for me!
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Old 07-27-09, 04:15 PM   #14
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How well does the 20" wide mattress pads work? Seems a bit small when my shoulders gotta be at least 26" wide.
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Old 07-27-09, 04:41 PM   #15
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Several years back, I went backpacking in Guadalupe Mtns NP late in the fall. No fires allowed, windy and cold at night, nothing to do at dark but climb in the sleeping bag.

First night, I woke up every half hour or so when I turned over.
Second night, I woke up two or three times.
Third night, I slept right through, 12 hours worth.
So I think maybe part of it is just getting used to it. Switching back and forth every night may have worked against you.

The thinner you are, the better you fit the ground, I've found.
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Old 07-27-09, 05:17 PM   #16
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The thinner you are, the better you fit the ground, I've found.
Not me, I'm afraid.
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Old 07-27-09, 05:18 PM   #17
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Here's what works for me. I use a Thermorest self inflating mat (long version), but after it self inflates, I blow it up manually until it's reasonably firm. ...

I also carry an honest-to-goodness real pillow in a dry bag. It's a bit smaller than my regular pillow at home, but not by much. I'm a side sleeper and I'm miserable if my head isn't supported well with my shoulder against the ground/mat.
I also blow the thermarest up as firm as I can. It's the only way it sort of works.

Maybe I should bite the pillow bullet too. So far I went with rolled up fleece and such things, but they unroll, and they don't provide really provide enough support. Got a trip with some camping next week, and am dreading the non-sleep angle of it all.
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Old 07-27-09, 05:33 PM   #18
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I also blow the thermarest up as firm as I can. It's the only way it sort of works.
That is definitely not my experience. I find that the key is to get the pressure just right, but definitely not as firm as I can get it. It is extremely easy to get too much air in it. I usually blow it up a bit firm and then let air out until I almost bottom out. Different strokes though.
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Old 07-27-09, 05:36 PM   #19
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I used to have trouble sleeping in a tent on my small thermarest, but I did some experimenting and I came up with something that worked ... and that something involved a whole bunch of inflatable pillows.

Quoting from my 2007 European Tour account:

After much experimentation with the sleeping equipment I carry with me, I devised my most comfortable setup. First, my thermarest is more comfortable than sleeping with no mattress (I did that on my tour of Wales), or sleeping with one of those thin foam mattresses (I did that on my tour of Australia). Next, the most comfortable pillow setup for me is to use my clothing pannier as the base of my pillow structure, with my inflatable neck pillow on top to support my neck, and my inflatable Decathlon pillow propped against that pannier to support my back. Then my old faithful red inflatable pillow goes under my knees.
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Old 07-27-09, 06:27 PM   #20
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What's funny is my greatest comfort is using a cheap high density foam pad and siting my tent well. Look for untrampled ground, inspect the tent placement site for rocks, etc, and I sleep like a baby. I sleep better camping in a tent than I do at home on my bed.
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Old 07-27-09, 06:49 PM   #21
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I also blow the thermarest up as firm as I can. It's the only way it sort of works.

Maybe I should bite the pillow bullet too. So far I went with rolled up fleece and such things, but they unroll, and they don't provide really provide enough support. Got a trip with some camping next week, and am dreading the non-sleep angle of it all.
use compression bags to pack your clothing, and use them to form pillows
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Old 07-27-09, 06:52 PM   #22
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Several years back, I went backpacking in Guadalupe Mtns NP late in the fall.
First night, I woke up every half hour or so when I turned over.
Second night, I woke up two or three times.
Third night, I slept right through, 12 hours worth.
So I think maybe part of it is just getting used to it. Switching back and forth every night may have worked against you.

I had a similar experience backpacking when I melted my air mattress inadvertantly. The first night I awoke every 10 min all night, After that I slept soundly with only a ground cloth and sleeping bag for the next 8 weeks: of course it was 38 years ago...
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Old 07-27-09, 07:29 PM   #23
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I have had good luck with the Big Agnes inflated pad, seems like the "inbetween" that you mentioned. It's 2" thick and plenty light enough for bike touring. The key is to put just enough air into it so you don't touch ground, sleeps well.

http://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Pro...Pad/filters/34
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Old 07-27-09, 08:03 PM   #24
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or just sleep in a hammock.
i get a better nights sleep in my hennessey hammock than i do in my bed at home.

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Old 07-27-09, 08:23 PM   #25
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I have had good luck with the Big Agnes inflated pad, seems like the "inbetween" that you mentioned. It's 2" thick and plenty light enough for bike touring. The key is to put just enough air into it so you don't touch ground, sleeps well.

http://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Pro...Pad/filters/34
+1
I use this for backpacking and canoe camping too. It takes me less than 5 minutes to inflate. Being that I cary a frame pump with me when I tour I could probably rig something up to inflate with that if I was more ambitious.
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