Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Sleeping System: I Am Satisfied With Its Performance

I recently upgraded my camping sleeping system. It now consists of four main components: a sleeping bag, a stuff sack that serves as a pillow, a sleeping bag liner, and a sleeping pad.
Sleeping bag, liner, pillow stuff sack, & pad
Sleeping Bag
I chose synthetic over down because I already had a down bag. Thinking I might be camping while exploring water trails via my kayak in addition to backpacking, camping while bicycle touring, and car camping, I wanted a synthetic bag that would still offer some insulation even when damp or a little wet. After some research and snuggling into four of my top preferences, I chose the Regular Length Marmot Cloudbreak 30 because it offered the best fit.
Sleeping Bag Liner
Wanting to keep my bag clean and extend its temperature range, I added a Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor sleeping bag liner.  The liner theoretically extends the comfort range of my Cloudbreak down to 15 degrees, but I have yet to experience anything colder than 30 degrees, and then I was toasty warm. The liner also offers me the possibility of sleeping in just it on top of the bag in warm weather. One night last August it was rather warm when I turned in for the night. It was too warm to be in my bag so I crawled into just the liner and it kept me warm.  Only when the temperature dropped a few hours later and I woke up cold did I zip the bag around me.
Stuff Sack Pillow
I carry both the bag and liner in a nylon stuff sack made by Outdoor Products. Half of the inside of the stuff sack is covered with fleece. At night I turn the stuff sack inside out, stuff it with clothing or other soft gear, and use it as a pillow.
Sleeping Pads
My sleeping pad is a closed cell ¾ length Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest SOLite.  It provides enough insulation and padding from the hard, cold ground to give me a good night’s sleep. I was later seduced by a sale to obtain a full length open cell Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Voyager and added to that the Therm-A-Rest Trekker Chair ultralight, compact chair sleeve to convert the mattress into a chair.
The SOLite is far lighter than the NeoAir Voyager but it also takes up more space. The NeoAir Voyager offers more padding and insulation, and takes up less space, but weighs more. There is also the possibility that the NeoAir Voyager might spring a leak while in the field, resulting in no comfort and no insulation, while the SOLite is practically indestructible. I can also more easily use the SOLite to sit on during a rest stop than I can the NeoAir Voyager.
For longer backpacking trips where weight and reliability is an issue, I carry the SOLite. For shorter backpacking trips, cycling trips, and car camping where weight is not as much an issue, and when I could get by for a night or two if it sprang a leak, I carry the NeoAir Voyager. When I finally take that overnight kayaking trip I will use the NeoAir Voyager because it will be easier to fit into my kayak than the SOLite.
This post originally appeared on The Trek and has been slightly edited.

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