Expert insights for outdoor enthusiasts.

Sleep system options

Feb 7, 2023 | Blog

The Standard

Sleeping Pad -A sleeping pad creates a barrier between you and the ground. the ground can be uncomfortable and also sap away warmth from you. Utilizing either an inflatable pad or a solid foam pad will place you up off the ground and insulate you from the cold. Solid foam pads don’t need maintenance or setup but take up more space. Inflatable pads can be thicker, partially filled with insulation, and pack smaller. Both are lightweight.

Sleeping Bag– Your main thermal management gear. It gets colder at night so you want to pick a sleeping bag that is temperature rated for the conditions you will be in. Down bags are generally the higher price point option that can packed smaller and is lighter weight. Synthetic bags can keep you warm just as well but do not compress as small. There are also a few different shapes and a few key features. Mummy bags are shaped to be contoured to your body and have less unused space for air to full which make them more efficient at keeping you warm. Water resistant bags can be helpful if dealing with a lot of condensation or heavy rains. Some cold weather bags have vents that can be opened in warmer weather to avoid overheating.

Pillow– These can be inflatable or down filled pillows that pack small and light. They are smaller than a normal pillow and fit in your sleeping bag.


Hammock– simple single person sleeping option. generally set up between 2 sturdy trees. in the summer it can be used standalone and moving to colder temperatures it can be combined with a sleeping bag and an under-quilt.

bag liner– thin fabric liner to slip inside the sleeping to keep the bag clean and free of dirt and oils from our skin.

thermal bag liner– also designed for inside a bag but these are thicker and designed to add 5 to 25 degrees of warmth to a bag.

sleeping pad and blanket– a reasonable summer option when its warmer than you want to sleep in a bag.

Cot-raised up self standing sleeping pad. A good car camping option for comfort. A bit heavy and bulky for backpacking.

inflatable mattress-Another car camping option. many of the family car camping style tents are designed with setting a queen sized air mattress inside.

Portable Futon– similar footprint to an air mattress and thicker filling than a tradition sleeping pad. Takes up more space than the other option, but good for car camping and wont deflate.

general sleep suggestions– sleep dry, do not sleep in sweaty or wet clothes. keep your sleep outfit and sleeping bag dry in your pack, wearing clean clothes to bed will extent the life of your sleeping gear. Decide when you want to go to bed and stop drinking an hour beforehand and make a last bathroom run 15 minutes before you expect to sleep.

warm weather considerations – Ventilation is key, try not to overheat and sweat. unzipping a warmer sleeping bag or just using it like a blanket can be cooler and more breathable than a sized up one. A small battery powered fan can keep the air from getting stale.

Cold weather considerations– Sleep with base layers on and have a beanie for your head. Fill gaps in your bag with spare clothing and add a liner to your kit if the temperatures call for it. You can pre-warm your sleeping bag before bed with a little extra work- warm up water in bottles and place them in the bag.Also keeping your next day clothing with you in the bag will make putting clothes on much more comfortable. In addition you can increase the general temperature of the tent by properly setting up your fly and using candle lanterns over battery powered lanterns. The batteries are less effective in the cold and you can purchase clean burning candles.

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