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Air mattress for staying dry in a tent.

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Air mattress for staying dry in a tent.

Old 02-21-16, 07:39 AM
  #1  
Sharpshin
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Air mattress for staying dry in a tent.

As I've posted, I'm going to the UK/Ireland for two months this summer.

My tent is an REI Quarter Dome....



I have never camped in such a wet climate. I'm envisioning setting up/staying in the tent during possible rain events and considering the possibility of some water pooling inside the tent.

I was thinking that an air mattress (Big Agnes) under those circumstances might elevate me off of the wet tent floor.

While I am a huge convert to inflatable pillows, ordinarily I sleep easily directly on the ground and would not even be considering bringing an air mattress except for possible moisture issues.

Needless to say a quality air mattress ain't cheap and even a compact one occupies a significant amount of space when packed.

Is it worth it for the uses I stated?

All opinions appreciated.

Mike
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Old 02-21-16, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
While I am a huge convert to inflatable pillows, ordinarily I sleep easily directly on the ground and would not even be considering bringing an air mattress except for possible moisture issues.
Where have you camped? Has the ground always been warm?


On my first touring trip of the UK, just a short 6 days around Wales, I didn't figure I needed a mat to sleep on because many of the camping areas are grassed.

Night 1 - I rolled out my very lightweight sleeping bag and went to sleep ... for about an hour. Then I was awake and very, very cold. The cold from the ground seeped through the tent floor, through my lightweight sleeping bag in and into my bones. I had a really bad night's sleep.

Night 2 - I laid one of those space blankets on the tent floor and then laid out my lightweight sleeping bag. I also dressed in just about everything I had brought with me. Marginally better. I managed a little bit of chilly sleep.

By the 3rd or 4th night, I had borrowed my cycling partner's big gortex jacket and put it under my sleeping bag too. Again, marginally better ... but every night of that trip was cold.


I would never camp in the UK again without some sort of mat. Never had issues with water or pooling or anything like that ... just cold.
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Old 02-21-16, 08:10 AM
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I've camped all over the UK and northern Europe. It can be very wet and cold. There are a lot of good reasons to use a mattress in addition to the possible problem of water inside the tent. This is also not a great climate for down; synthetic bags have advantages when it comes to wet weather.
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Old 02-21-16, 08:30 AM
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Where have you camped? Has the ground always been warm?


Not always.....


A quick trip down memory lane; Dog Canyon New Mexico, Christmastime maybe five years ago, temperatures in the teens me and the dog brung three Chinese exchange students who "had never seen the stars" (air pollution) camping.



They occupied my dome tent upon mats and buried under blankets and sleeping bags. Me and the dog did alright on a groundsheet under wool blankets but this was one of the few occasions she chose to sleep UNDER the blankets

But points well taken re:temperature issues.

Mike
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Old 02-21-16, 08:38 AM
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This is also not a great climate for down; synthetic bags have advantages when it comes to wet weather.


On my one bike trip there was one night in Upstate New York where it actually got down to 49. All I had brung on that trip was a cotton sheet. I did alright wearing three layers of thin nylon shirts and pants under my rain gear but do agree I would not want to do that for a whole trip.

I do historical re-enacting quite a lot, and have developed a great appreciation for old-school wool blankets under cold and damp conditions, weight and bulk notwithstanding. One of my four panniers is just gonna hold a blanket, nothing else.

I do not know how these compare to modern synthetics or purpose-built items. I am hoping that the blanket and a sheet will work for me. June/July I am expecting lows in the 40's.

Mike
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Old 02-21-16, 09:34 AM
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I would never consider going anywhere without some form of inflatable pad or mattress, especially for a two month trip. I have not camped out without an inflatable pad or inflatable air mattress ever since I bought my first Thermarest pad many many years ago. At that time I was very happy to retire the old half inch closed cell pads that I used before.

That said, if you think you may need an air mattress to get you up off a wet floor, perhaps you need to do a better job of seam sealing your tent. My air mattresses are full length, but all my pads are the shorty pads for lighter weight and compactness. If I had a tent where I would be nervous about water coming in while using one of my shorty pads, that tent would either be re-waterproofed or become history.

I think most of the air mattresses are only two inches (5 cm) thick, and therefore might not float you high enough if your tent becomes a swimming pool.
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Old 02-21-16, 09:41 AM
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Do you have a preference for firm sleeping surfaces? Is so I am wondering if an air mattress would be too soft. Maybe something like the thermarest Z Lite would work well. Very light, firm, but a bit bulky.... I would think with seam sealing, a ground sheet, and a light pad you'll be in good shape.
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Old 02-21-16, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
and even a compact one occupies a significant amount of space when packed.
What do you consider significant? My Nemo 20R insulated pad packs down to 8"x4". My old ThermaRest Pro Lite 3 is probably a bit smaller. If you get a pad, I recommend one with horizontal baffles. I had a Big Agnes Air Core with vertical baffles and it drove me nuts. I felt like I was on a pool raft.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
What do you consider significant? My Nemo 20R insulated pad packs down to 8"x4". My old ThermaRest Pro Lite 3 is probably a bit smaller. If you get a pad, I recommend one with horizontal baffles. I had a Big Agnes Air Core with vertical baffles and it drove me nuts. I felt like I was on a pool raft.
+1 and I don't exactly love the feeling of the v-shaped baffles on some of the Klymit pads although I haven't actually slept on one so maybe they are OK.

Also, note that Cascade Designs (Thermarest) are really good about replacing pads if you have a major issues.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:28 AM
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T.H.E.R.M.O.D.Y.N.A.M.I.C.S. people!! You are a small warm body. The earth is a large cold body. The cold doesn't "seep in" (sorry, Machka) but the heat seeps out. Your warm little body is fight a losing battle in trying to make the world as warm as you are.

Of course you should use a pad! Preferably one that is thick enough and well insulated enough to resist the earth sucking all the heat out of you. Big Agnes pads do a very good job of insulating you against that problem but so do many other pads. Personally I find the air ones to be far superior to the old foam pads in just about any metric you want to measure.. insulating ability, packability, cushioning and weight.

I use a Big Agnes Q-Core which is infinitely adjustable in firmness...it depends on how hard you blow into the pad. It's a bit heavier than the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core but rolls into about the same small size...about the size of a 1 L Nalgene water bottle.

Of course you should get one, Sharpshin. Bicycle touring is hard enough without going out of your way to make it less comfortable.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:45 AM
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First put a Vapor barrier , sheet of Plastic under your tent,
that will solve the dampness seeping thru the Bottom fabric.


Insulation filled air mattresses is what you should seek.

But NB the dampness gets into the mattress with the air* and Mildew makes the air tight coating leak ,

then You Just buy a new One.

* even if you dont blow it up with your mouth. (your breath is of course moist)

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-25-16 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 02-21-16, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
+1 and I don't exactly love the feeling of the v-shaped baffles on some of the Klymit pads although I haven't actually slept on one so maybe they are OK.

Also, note that Cascade Designs (Thermarest) are really good about replacing pads if you have a major issues.
+1 Thermarest, good company.
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Old 02-21-16, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Insulation filled air mattresses is what you should seek.

But NB the dampness gets into the mattress with the air* and Mildew makes the air tight coating leak ,

then You Just buy a new One.

* even if you dont blow it up with your mouth. (your breath is of course moist)
There are now 2.5 oz battery operated pumps that will do this for you. I didn't think that blowing up a mattress was such a big deal after riding bike for 7 hours a day but turns out for me with a big pad it's kind of a drag day after day so I might give this a try. And it would help with the moisture issue you describe.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:10 PM
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I've found that an air mattress is definitely a necessity when camping, for both warmth and comfort. I own and love the Thermarest NeoAir Xlite. It weighs 12 ozs., is 2.5'' thick, and packs down to a incredibly small size compared to other air mattresses. I really want to upgrade to the NeoAir Xtherm. It has a R-value of 5.7 yet still only weighs 15 ozs. I don't know of any other mattresses that have such a good warmth/weight ratio. (seriously does anyone on this forum know of a superior pad when both low weight and high warmth are desired?) The one drawback is that they are both a little expensive.

Last edited by soulcyclist; 02-21-16 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:27 PM
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If you don't want to blow, another option is one of the Nemo pads that has a built-in foot pump. IIRC, it adds a couple of ounces to the total weight. Another nice feature of many (if not all) Nemo pads it that they are designed with a "bubble" at the head end to act like a pillow.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

I use a Big Agnes Q-Core which is infinitely adjustable in firmness...it depends on how hard you blow into the pad. It's a bit heavier than the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core but rolls into about the same small size...about the size of a 1 L Nalgene water bottle.
While I still use my Exped UL 7 (A great pad, don't get me wrong) the Big Agnes Q-core pads are some of comfiest camping mattresses I've ever laid on. How on earth some people still manage with those inch thick self inflating pads is beyond me.

Also, while there are plenty of reasons to want a way to inflate a sleeping pad other than blowing into it, the growth of mold shouldn't be one. Unless you have a down filled air mat, pretty much every manufacturer explicitly says it's ok to inflate their pads by mouth.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:37 PM
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I prefer the self inflating pads, specifically the Thermarest Prolite Plus (20"X72"X1.5" 22 Oz.) and have been using that model (or whatever it was called way back when) for well over 12 or 13 years. Used it more for backpacking than bike.

That size takes some getting used to...they make it in 25"X77"X1.5" also. I tried one of the lighter Thermarest models a few years ago and had puncture problems. The only other pad that I would like to try out would possibly be the Evolite (they have two models don't know the difference at this point) I looked at them at REI and they roll up into a pretty small package and take up less space than the Prolite Plus.

My take on it...they keep on making them lighter and lighter but maybe a pad is an item that I want a certain tuffness out of it, especially the part that contacts ground. Whatever the material they use for the bottom of the Prolite Plus, it's some good stuff because we have plenty of thorns, etc. out in the woods where wife and I backpack and we use them a lot.

I will admit when I find a product I like I stick with it but I can see where folks want to go as light and compact as possible; plenty of pads out there are like feathers compared to the Prolite Plus.

I replace my pad every few years if it needs it or not, it's an important part of my gear and I get my $$ worth out of them as much as they are used.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:38 PM
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I like inflatable mattresses, they really do make things more comfortable. But, one night during a heavy rain my seam tape started to come off, and it got pretty wet. The pad does little to keep you out of the puddles.

I would never recommend the BA aircore. Everyone has different luck with things, but Ive gone through four. Two were warranty replacements. Within a few days two of them needed re inflating once, then twice a night. One of them didnt hold air from the get go. The last one i bought lasted a few weeks before leaking, and I didnt bother sending it back, but threw it away halfway through a trip.
On all of them, the insulation came loose, so that it was all clumped at the ends, and useless for insulation.

Several other people I know have had poor luck with them as well. Last time I was in a REI garage sale, there was a pile of about nine air cores.

Ive tried the klymit static V's, and find them to be a little more comfortable, inflate faster, and above all, have not lost air overnight. The packed size of the Static V2(uninsulated) is around the size of a can of pop. Really like it. Have not tried the thermarest neo air, but my old thermarest is 20 years old, and never leaks.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:43 PM
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Polyethylene sheet under your tent will Help.. slightly smaller than tent 'footprint' so rain wont flow of rain fly on top of It

And from experience: Dont expect the body of water you cam By to Stay in it's Banks once it starts Raining Heavily..
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Old 02-21-16, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
There are now 2.5 oz battery operated pumps that will do this for you. I didn't think that blowing up a mattress was such a big deal after riding bike for 7 hours a day but turns out for me with a big pad it's kind of a drag day after day so I might give this a try. And it would help with the moisture issue you describe.

If its snowing the moisture is taken out of the air as its what is making the snow flakes

IF You are in the blistering Hot desert then the air will also Be Dry .. during the day .


Other than that there will be a Moisture content in the air.

the battery operated Pump will still be drawing the air from the atmospheric conditions where You are ..

I own a Supremely comfortable Down filled air-mattress. It came with a coupling to use the stuff sack as a Pump.

But Like the OP I was Touring the Emerald Isle Of Ireland

and the relative humidity of where I was introduced enough atmospheric moisture

to get the little , native to every where, fungi spores started.
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Old 02-21-16, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
There are now 2.5 oz battery operated pumps that will do this for you. I
Got links?
Trying to find one of these as I use a 2.5x25x72 BigAgnes pad, super comfortable but blowing it up is always a chore (though I do enjoy the light headedness sometimes). A Small pump would be a blessing.
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Old 02-21-16, 05:17 PM
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Exped puts in a foot pump in some of theirs . But that wont help if you bought BA..

You will have a tire Pump,+ a little creativity and you can make an adapter hose.
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Old 02-21-16, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Bicycle365 View Post
Got links?
Trying to find one of these as I use a 2.5x25x72 BigAgnes pad, super comfortable but blowing it up is always a chore (though I do enjoy the light headedness sometimes). A Small pump would be a blessing.
Here is Thermorest brand.


Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Mini Pump | Backcountry.com

I have been using a Microburst pump (same as Thermorest or at least they look the same) for several years with no issues.
https://www.camp-tek.com/
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Old 02-21-16, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Bicycle365 View Post
Got links?
Trying to find one of these as I use a 2.5x25x72 BigAgnes pad, super comfortable but blowing it up is always a chore (though I do enjoy the light headedness sometimes). A Small pump would be a blessing.
https://www.amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Str.../dp/B00RPF3PLO
Big Agnes Pumphouse Pad Pump Dry Sack - REI.com

Here are a couple of nonmotorized pumps which double as stuff sacks.
Not sure if the s2s works with your pad, but the ba pump would.

Last edited by mstateglfr; 02-21-16 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 02-21-16, 05:58 PM
  #25  
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Get thee to a nunnery, I mean a REI, and try laying down on a bunch of them. I suspect that if you've slept on the ground comfortably in the last few years, then pretty much any reasonable campmat will work well for you. Check out their reasonably priced synthetic sleeping bags for summer use, and you will see that both will fit in a pannier with most likely room to spare, and take up less space than your blanket.
Have fun visiting various outdoor stores.
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