I’ll admit, when it comes to sleeping pads i’ve been really picky. Chelsea doesn’t seem to care as much, but for me picking the right sleeping pad is essential. It’s already hard enough sleeping somewhere other than your own soft bed, but sometimes the wrong sleeping pad can be worse than just sleeping directly on the ground. Finding the right sleeping pad for me meant trial and error. I felt a little like goldilocks;this one’s too small, this one’s too high, short, puffy, warm, etc.
The first pad i tried was the Big Agnes Q-Core SL Sleeping Pad.
I selected this pad because it had very high ratings/reviews and it’s super ligt weight. It’s a pretty expensive pad, but we used some clever REI discounts and sales and got a great deal on it (Chelsea is an amazing bargain shopper). After a few trial runs on this pad i decided it wasn’t for me. I loved the super light weight feature, but i felt like the pad was too high off the ground and way too narrow. I felt like i was sleeping on a 2 x 4 all night and would roll off the side at any given minute. This made for a very uncomfortable sleep. I think part of the reason it’s so narrow is that the pad is made to fit inside a pocket on the bottom of Big Agnes sleeping bags, in a way that prevents the bag and pad from moving when you turn during your sleep.I actually had a big agnes sleeping bag and used them in conjunction, but i still had that “sleeping on the edge of a cliff” feeling, and would wake up jammed in the crack between the edge of the pad and the sleeping bag…anyone who has slept on a waterbed before knows this feeling. So this pad was out…too narrow for me.
The next pad a tried was a heavy, yacht sized REI pad, the REI Camp Bed 3.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad.
This pad was extra wide and truly comfortable. I had found my perfect pad; or so i thought. Turns out the pad is so wide that it doesn’t fit into our tent with Chelsea’s pad, or pretty much any other pad. Our tent is a fairly small backpacking tent, so there’s not a lot of floor space for my deluxe yacht sleeping pad. This REI pad also had an issue of weight and size. I doesn’t roll up very compact and weighs about 5x’s that of the Big Agnes pad. I was willing to carry the size and weight in exchange for the comfort, but the fact that it meant Chelsea would have to sleep outside of the tent was a deal breaker 😉 So for that reason, the REI pad was out.
After a little more searching around for the perfect pad we discovered (remembered) that we actually already own some good sleeping pads and had forgotten that they were packed away in the garage; Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout Sleeping Pad.
These pads seemed perfect, and guess what, my picky self had already gotten the long/wide version, so no sleeping “on the edge” feeling for me. It was decided, these were the sleeping pads we would take on the trip with us…and we did! After a few nights using the pads on our trip we noticed that we were both waking up sweaty in the middle of the night and sticking to our sleeping bag. At first we thought it was just really warm weather, after all we were camping in the Summer season. We also thought this heat could be from our sleeping bag, it’s rated at 30 degrees. However, after laying on just the pads by themselves it was decided that our sleeping pads were holding in way too much heat and this was the cause of our waking up feeling like we slept in a sauna. We stuck it out with these pads for about a month until we came across the next mega-sized sporting goods store in Fargo, ND. at which point we swapped our pads out for a lighter insulation rated Therm-a-rest pad
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture WV sleeping pad.
This is the pad we’re still using at this point in our trip and i’m happy to say that we are sleeping much more comfortably, and don’t wke up sweaty and hot every night. We sent our old pads home, as these are still great pads and will definitely get some use when camping in colder climates/seasons. We’re constantly learning new things on this trip and are so grateful for this opportunity and lessons. For more information about these pads, click the links within the post and go to the “specs” tabs on the REI website. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more product updates.