Having a good sleep system is important as I’ve discovered. How do you sleep while camping? I’m a picky sleeper and that’s not ideal for a person who also loves being outdoors. I’ve found a good compromise, but that also means bringing a little more gear than some other hikers.
I had an inflatable sleeping pad with some grooves during my Greenstone and Caples Hike in New Zealand, and that didn’t work for me. Firstly, I felt the cold from the ground. Secondly, it wasn’t as comfortable as I’d thought it would be. Additionally, it moved around a lot when I moved. The key thing which stopped me from using it again was the cold. I guess this would fine for summer camping when it’s hotter and more humid.
Sleep system base
My preferred sleep system now makes up of a base, Z lite Thermarest, which I bring on all camping trips now. You would probably have seen this signature sleeping pad, with the silver and yellow coloured sides. They do have them in other colours too, but it seems that the yellow ones are the most common which I’ve seen everywhere.
They fold up nicely and they are light. You can easily pack them outside of your backpack on the top or on the bottom. The best part about these pads are how much comfort they provide between your back and the ground. They are well-worth the added bulk and weight for a better sleep while camping.
The next layer I add on as a second base, for added comfort, is the self-inflating ultralight Thermarest. You’ll still need to inflate it slightly manually. What I like about this is that it is suitable for almost all-season camping and very lightweight for the added warmth and comfort.
We use the Big Agnes hooded sleeping bags and mine provides a higher degree of warmth compared to the Big Agnes sleeping bag which my husband uses. These are so fabulous because of the high quality down and the full side zippers which lets you unzip yourself from the cocoon for some ventilation. And they are heavenly to lie in after a day’s hike.
We use sleeping bag liners in addition to the Big Agnes as we’re usually hiking in colder weathers, during the fall. So we find ourselves having to camp in the snow very often. I bring two different liners with me – one thinner than the other. The thinner liner is used as the layer against my skin and I believe we can use that with the Big Agnes without the middle liner if it wasn’t snowing or too cold. We use the Sea to Summit liner and it is similar to this.
Some people do improvise for their pillows by using their clothes while camping. I think that might work and I might try that next time on a shorter multiday hike. I’ve chronic pain in my neck and shoulders which can be problematic without a good pillow.
I do think that I toss around a fair bit at night. I use the Sea to Summit Aeros at the moment after using the MEC inflatable pillow. After using the Sea to Summit Aeros, I’m now rethinking my camping pillow again. My husband uses the Aeros and that was how I bought it in the end for myself. It works for him as I think he’s more of a back sleeper whereas, I sleep both on my back and sides.
The Aeros seem to move around a lot for me while the MEC pillow has some silicon dots behind which help with keeping it in place. However, it can be difficult to find the balance for your head on that pillow. I’d tried deflating that a little but it ended up losing some support. Plus is a little small as I roll on my sides and I find myself falling off the pillow.
You can also check out this website for a review of camping pillows.
Check out a post on choosing your hiking boots.