Author Topic: sleeping while backpacking  (Read 6700 times)

TheGibberingPotato

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sleeping while backpacking
« on: June 15, 2015, 06:56:12 PM »
Looking for some backpacking gear advice here:

I am just starting backpacking; I am a side-sleeper, a light sleeper, thrash about in the night, and generally sleep woes are the bane of my existence.

For my sleeping pad, I got a thermarest all season, size regular.  It is 20 inch wide.  I could not sleep on that thing.  I chose it after reading many reviews, but had not anticipate the width of the pad being a problem.

I returned it and ordered a size large (25 in wide) but am wondering if even that will be wide enough.  I would try to get a sleeping pad that is 30 in wide, but that is bordering on ridiculous.  I am not a huge guy (5'10.5"; 165 lbs).

I am curious if people have general backpacking sleeping recommendations, gear or otherwise.  I will definitely be having a 25 inch wide pad at least.  The All Season did seem reasonably comfortable in terms of the feel of the pad, so I am less worried about that.
If the 25 in wide doesn't work out, then I could try either the Klymit Static V Luxe, or the thermarest camper XL.  Both are 30 in wide, the former being light weight and the latter being heavier (2+ lbs) but supposedly the most comfortable thing you can have for backpacking. 
If it means sleeping comfortably, I am ok with carrying a 2+ lb pad;  Hopefully a 30 in wide pad is not necessary.

I backpack with my wife, and we share an REI half dome 2 plus tent; the thing is fairly wide (56 in) and so it could fit me having an absurdly large pad, although not both me and my wife having enormous pads; possibly it could fit a 25 in and a 30 in, but I don't know how precise all of the measurements are.

My last question is, I have traded in my sleeping bag for a sleeping quilt in the interest of less weight and to allow myself more room to thrash about.  Any opinions on this choice wrt quality of sleep?

human

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2015, 07:23:04 PM »
I've done some backcountry hiking in quite a few places. If 25 inches wide is what you want you should check out the neo air xlite large. I'm a side sleeper 6'2" 175lbs and find the neoair regular fine for me. I admit 20 inches sometimes feels small but I love the light weight. I really can't see there being much more comfort in the all season or xlite than the neo-air. The only real difference is the internal insulation, yes the all season isn't tapered like the neo-air but as a side sleeper that shouldn't matter so much. If you really need the insulation get the x-therm, they have a 25 inch wide version too and it is much lighter than the all season. I use my xlite with a 20 degree bag down to 20 degrees no problem. Maybe I'm really underestimating the amount of moving around that you do while sleeping but I can't see the tapered bottom causing too many problems.

If you are hiking and not car camping I think 30 inches wide is a bit ridiculous, I don't think I've seen a sleeping pad that big being carried by hikers carrying their own gear. The neoair camper is almost 2.5 pounds, that's a lot of weight for a sleeping pad, heavier than my sleeping bag in fact. I think you'll find the support of the xlite or neoair the same as the all season, the only difference being tougher materials on the all season. I have a basecamp which is massive, it's so big even deflated that it takes so much space in the trunk of my civic that I don't even take it car camping and I find the comfort not much better than the xlite, the width of course is awesome. I use it for guests crashing at my place now.

FWIW if I lived in the U.S. next to an REI with easy return policy I would order the xlite large try sleeping on it at home and return it if it doesn't fit. I think 25 inches wide will do much better, unless something else is keeping you up. The first few times I went camping the night noises like loons cooing all night and flowing water kept me up all night, the lack of drunken screaming or sirens blaring was also strange.

If you are new to backpacking, I suggest you check out the backpackinglight forum, that's where I get all my gear related tips.

Edit: not sure if this is allowed but three pages of sleeping pad for light sleepers: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=62459
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 07:28:20 PM by human »

TheGibberingPotato

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2015, 07:47:15 PM »
I've done some backcountry hiking in quite a few places. If 25 inches wide is what you want you should check out the neo air xlite large. I'm a side sleeper 6'2" 175lbs and find the neoair regular fine for me. I admit 20 inches sometimes feels small but I love the light weight. I really can't see there being much more comfort in the all season or xlite than the neo-air. The only real difference is the internal insulation, yes the all season isn't tapered like the neo-air but as a side sleeper that shouldn't matter so much. If you really need the insulation get the x-therm, they have a 25 inch wide version too and it is much lighter than the all season. I use my xlite with a 20 degree bag down to 20 degrees no problem. Maybe I'm really underestimating the amount of moving around that you do while sleeping but I can't see the tapered bottom causing too many problems.

If you are hiking and not car camping I think 30 inches wide is a bit ridiculous, I don't think I've seen a sleeping pad that big being carried by hikers carrying their own gear. The neoair camper is almost 2.5 pounds, that's a lot of weight for a sleeping pad, heavier than my sleeping bag in fact. I think you'll find the support of the xlite or neoair the same as the all season, the only difference being tougher materials on the all season. I have a basecamp which is massive, it's so big even deflated that it takes so much space in the trunk of my civic that I don't even take it car camping and I find the comfort not much better than the xlite, the width of course is awesome. I use it for guests crashing at my place now.

FWIW if I lived in the U.S. next to an REI with easy return policy I would order the xlite large try sleeping on it at home and return it if it doesn't fit. I think 25 inches wide will do much better, unless something else is keeping you up. The first few times I went camping the night noises like loons cooing all night and flowing water kept me up all night, the lack of drunken screaming or sirens blaring was also strange.

If you are new to backpacking, I suggest you check out the backpackinglight forum, that's where I get all my gear related tips.

Edit: not sure if this is allowed but three pages of sleeping pad for light sleepers: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=62459

Thanks for the forum recommendation.  I will check it out and consider the XLite.  I had seen that pad recommended, and considered it... it is actually the same price as the large all season.  Part of the reason I went against it was the tapered shape, which gives less room for the legs tossing around (not sure if this would bother me, but it might).  But also, I have seen various reviews saying that the XLites are actually less wide than their indicated width (so the 25 in would actually be 23 or something like that... talking about the widest point of the pad).  I don't know whether this is actually true, but I really did not want to compromise width.  I am not someone who lays down and just falls asleep.  Rather, I go through a number of flips and turns, like a woodland beast going through his death throes, before finally settling down for eternal slumber (I am an exquisite linguist obviously).  When I was on the 20' All Season, it felt so small that I would just have to pick my position and stick with it, no where to put my arms, the slightest movement placing me off the pad.  Being constrained like that drives me insane, I can't take it, I'm too fidgety.  I'd rather have more than enough room than not enough... the main thing I have to worry about is taking up so much room that my wife doesn't get any.  In my house, I sleep on a king size temperpedic fortress of a bed, clearly intended for kings and not for me where it take up most of the bedroom... but it is so worth it, for the luxurious sleep it affords me; somethings are worth the money even if not mustachian (I'm not sure those MMM recommended memory foam beds have the high density foam which temperpedic sells, which is what makes them stand out).

The Klymit Static V Luxe is worth checking out; it's light, inexpensive, and huge; I wonder what the catch is. 

Cranberries

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2015, 08:08:34 PM »
I have extensive backpacking experience (work related for the most part, though I have been backpacking recreationally since I was 9).

I have not personally tried it, but I would consider the big agnes system of an integral sleeping pad pocket with a shaped pad. Another option, depending on where you are hiking, is a camping hammock. With a normal system of a pad and bag, I consider waking up multiple times during the night to readjust because I have slipped off my pad to be normal and a wider pad would probably not fix this. I use a full length thermarest z-lite folded over on itself so that it is double thickness under my torso and a 10 degree northface woman's bag. I also roll a fleece jacket under my waist when I am on my side and keep my pants in a stuff sack under my head. most of my experience is in the Sierras.

I may be wrong, but I would suspect that all a wider pad will give you is increased weight. I would definitely buy all the more pricey gear from REI for the return policy.  It is common for people starting out to get gear that is far or bigger then they will want.

A sleep blanket sounds awful unless you are in the tropics. Have you tried it yet? There are some bags that are sown with stretchy bits so that they expand with you when you squirm, but still keep the size of the air pocket you are heating to a doable minimum.  I would look into those and see if there are any with the weight and warmth ratings you want.

If you post the sorts of places you are hiking, what your experience is, what sorts of trips you will be doing, and a list of your gear, I would be happy to give more specific advice on your kit.

Edited to add: it sounds like your problem is with falling asleep, not with slipping off the pad during the night.  I am not sure what the best solution to that would be, other than avoiding bivvysacks at all costs. You may be right that a wider pad is a good answer.  What about getting a really warm pair of bags and zipping together with your wife?  It gives a huge amount of room, allows for better snuggling, and would give you more room to squirm.

edited again to add:  I just googled backpacking quilts.  Interesting.  It looks like it would require less thrashing at night to stay warm on a cold night, but with practice sleeping in one position I might be able to handle it.  As someone who does not cut the handle off my toothbrush, I think I'd rather have a zipper and not be woken up by the cold.  For warmer places it might work out well for someone like yourself though.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 08:20:37 PM by Botanist »

human

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2015, 08:22:08 PM »
That klymit is 26 ounces, that's pretty heavy (thats the catch) but if heavy weight doesn't bother you maybe you should try it. For reference my base weight (all gear not counting food and water) ranges from ten to twelve pounds and I could easily drop a pound and a half by getting a lighter weight pack. For a two night three day 50 mile solo trip I have just under twenty pounds loaded with food and one liter of water. I only mention that to show you that weight means more to me than bringing luxuries although I do bring a kindle. Some people of course carry less. Maybe the synmat ul7 would work better for you.

As for a quilt I've never tried one but check out enlightened equipment's line. From what I understand in cold weather a quilt should be strapped to the pad, not sure what movement is like then. I understand what you mean about arms at night, on the xlite regular I sleep on my side with arms crossed across my chest like a vampire. If it's cold and your arms are off the pad and on the ground your warmth will slowly get sucked out of you.

sheepstache

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2015, 08:25:45 PM »
My god I love my thermarest. I'm narrow so I can't speak to your width concern but I would mention some of them come in a 3/4 length and if you can handle that it would mitigate the weight of extra width a bit. You just use your bag and extra gear under your legs.

kindviking

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2015, 08:38:56 PM »
I used to sleep restlessly in a sleeping bag on an air pad (felt like a straightjacket!), but then I started carrying melatonin. One little dose keeps me asleep most of the night.

sheepstache

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2015, 08:49:58 PM »
I've used a household throw blanket during warm weather. In my experience the blanket actually requires more discipline. You can "thrash about" and fidget in a sleeping bag without thinking about it. Under a blanket, you consciously have to arrange yourself. Which is not so great when you're trying to become unconscious.

When it's warm enough that you don't have to worry about keeping it tucked around you to keep in the warmth or can let a limb or two spread out from under it, it's nice. But then, at that point you could also just sleep with your sleeping bag unzipped. I'm not against quilts, in fact, I'm planning on making my own, but in principle, as Botanist points out, the camping ones cinch around you, so it's not actually buying you more space.

Easy enough to tell, though, just bring a household blanket on a weekend trip and see how it feels.

Fuzz

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2015, 10:17:58 PM »
Part of it is that sleeping while camping sort of sucks if you're not used to it. If you use your pad 10 days, then on the 11th day you'll sleep better.

Retire-Canada

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2015, 10:52:01 AM »

My last question is, I have traded in my sleeping bag for a sleeping quilt in the interest of less weight and to allow myself more room to thrash about.  Any opinions on this choice wrt quality of sleep?

I like quilts. If they are designed well they seal along the sides in cold weather and in warmer weather it's easy to vent them.

I sleep side and back on a normal therma-rest. I find the correct inflation pressure is pretty key to me enjoying the nights sleep. That and a good pillow. I'm using an inflatable pillow. So much better than a stuff sack with some clothes in it.

Bateaux

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2015, 10:51:14 PM »
I had trouble sleeping on the ground.  Pads jut weren't thick enough to smooth out the rough spots.  I now hammock and I love it.  I sleep like a baby now and all my stuff is so much drier when I pack up.  I've slept through huge rainstorms and was dry as a bone.   My tent camping buddies were soaked.

john c

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2015, 12:50:24 AM »
Get a hammock.  I have a Hennessey, but other jungle hammocks are probably just as good.  They're very lightweight, and keep the bugs out. 

The trick is that you sleep on them sideways, so you lay flat in them.  It's a whole sleep system, though.  Ditch the sleeping bag, and get a quilt and under quilt.  You won't believe how comfortable they are for a side sleeper.

bacchi

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2015, 04:05:33 PM »
I may do a hammock eventually but it doesn't work well in a lot of the southwest. In guaranteed warm weather, I use a sheet and a 1/2" ensolite pad.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2015, 04:11:43 PM »
I had trouble sleeping on the ground.  Pads jut weren't thick enough to smooth out the rough spots.  I now hammock and I love it.  I sleep like a baby now and all my stuff is so much drier when I pack up.  I've slept through huge rainstorms and was dry as a bone.   My tent camping buddies were soaked.

Do you store your stuff up with you? I would love to know more about your setup, I know zero about hammocks!

TheGibberingPotato

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2015, 06:38:28 PM »
Get a hammock.  I have a Hennessey, but other jungle hammocks are probably just as good.  They're very lightweight, and keep the bugs out. 

The trick is that you sleep on them sideways, so you lay flat in them.  It's a whole sleep system, though.  Ditch the sleeping bag, and get a quilt and under quilt.  You won't believe how comfortable they are for a side sleeper.

I don't think a hammock will happen because there are two of us that want to sleep together, and we like the comfortable enclosed feeling of a traditional tent.  But maybe I just don't know much about hammocks and how that works while backpacking.

I have a quilt and will be testing it out soon.

Trifele

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2015, 07:33:45 PM »
I am also a light sleeper that thrashes a lot.  I used to use just a plain Thermarest and slept well enough, once I fell asleep.  However, after I had my kids my body changed somehow and I could NOT get comfortable.  I then tried many different kinds of pads, and also tried a hammock.  The hammock was a definite fail -- man I could not get comfortable and I thought my camping days were over.  Then I found the Big Agnes air core.  My 20" wide BA is 18 ounces and packs up tiny, like a nalgene bottle.  They also make a 25".  I have heard some people complain that the BA leaks, but I have had mine for more than six years and it is going strong with no leaks.  In any event BA is a good company and will replace it for you if you have a leak.  BEST sleep I have had while backpacking.  My DH wants one now.   

I also found that I sleep much better in a rectangular bag than a mummy, because of my frequent roll-overs.  Finding a high quality down rectangular bag is doable -- there are a few out there.   

I will have to check out the quilt.  Haven't heard much about those. 
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 05:08:49 AM by Trifele »

Bateaux

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Re: sleeping while backpacking
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2015, 10:06:29 PM »
I use the War Bonnet Black Bird double bottom hammock.  Some of my gear hangs from the ridge line.  Socks, shirts etc.  Most gear is right under me on a 4 x 4 square of tyvek house wrap.  Keeps my gear clean and dry.  Nice to sit on when the ground is wet or in snow.