Sunday, November 6, 2011

The sleeping gear

Good morning, Ed here.

Gear selection is going to be one of the most important parts of the trip.  Gear can make the difference between being well rested happy people who are having the time of their lives and the most miserable crabby people you have ever met.  Since we prefer to be well rested, happy, and have the time of our lives, we are trying to make wise selections with our gear.  Today, let's talk about sleeping gear.  To give different perspectives on the gear, I will write my thoughts and Devon will write hers. 

Normally, we like to compare shop and look at multiple sites when we are looking to purchase items.  For the sleeping bags, pads, and pillow (we bought one at the local Academy Sports store), we went to  My parents gave me a gift card to Amazon for my birthday this year, so we used it for some of the gear. is an amazing site where you can purchase just about anything you can think of from multiple vendors.  Most of the time, you can get good prices here as well.

For the pads, we went with the ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Series Self-Inflating Air Pad.  We went with the long pad which measures 25"X77"X2" per the manufacturer.  In reality, I don't think it is 2 inches thick, more like an 1.5 inches.  These pads weigh 3 pounds 15 ounces when packed, so they are very light weight.  For me, the pad worked just fine.  I found it quite comfortable and could not feel the cold bleeding through the bottom of the sleeping bag.  The pad is self inflating with a twist valve at the top.  It inflates fully in about three minutes.  I did find that I had to give it a few extra puffs to firm the pad up a little before settling down for the night. The pad rolls up tightly and measures 6.5"X 26" when rolled up, so it will stow nicely in our trailer.  Here are some photos of the pads:

Here is one of the pads rolled up in its bag.  The two rolled up items above the pad are our camp pillows
Here it is in the tent.  I have not opened the air valve yet, so it has not started to unroll.
I unrolled it a little and opened the air valve.
A close up of the air valve.
The pad self inflating.
These pads fit perfectly side by side in our tent. I thought I had a photo of it fully inflated, but I do not. 
Now that we have a nice comfy pad to sleep on, let's take a look at our pillows.  We purchased Devon's at the local Academy Sports store when it was on sale.  She will share her thoughts about her pillow in a later post.  My pillow was ordered on  I went with the Columbia Cloud Haven Packable Fleece Pillow

What I liked about this pillow is that it has a self contained stuff sack and it rolls up quite compactly.  It also fit nicely in the hood of my mummy sleeping bag.  The problem with it is that it is very thin and does not provide much support.  I found it quite uncomfortable and woke up a few times at night due to neck pain.  I am not going to bring this pillow on our trip and plan on giving it to my sons to use for their Scout camping trips.  I plan to sacrifice some space in our trailer and purchase a regular pillow and pillow case from Walmart to use.  However, if you have any recommendations, please post a comment or send us an email.  Here are some photos of the pillow:
Here I am opening the pillow stuff sack.
Here it is unpacked.  It does have a nice and soft fleece cover, but it is simply not going to work for me.
 And now for what I believe is one of our best purchases so far, our sleeping bags.  We went with the Pureland Track300 -8 C / 17 F Mummy Sleeping Bags.

These bags are excellent.  They are rated to 17 F degrees which will be more than adequate for our trip.  During our test, they worked quite well.  They warmed up quickly and we were very comfortable all night long.  The bags stuff down to a very compact size in a compression sack and weigh in at 5 pounds each.  The interesting thing about these bags is that they are not bulky at all and feel thin.  We were a little skeptical at first because they seemed so thin, but we were quite impressed with how warm they are.  One thing to note with these bags, they can be zipped together to form one large two person bag which could come in handy for those extra cold nights ;-).

The bag stuff easily into the compression sack. 
Ahh, warmth and comfort.
There is a flap secured with Velcro to seal the cold out by the zipper.  There is also a zipper at the foot end of the bag that you can unzip to get a little air flow at your feet if it gets to hot in the bag.  We did not test the zipper at the foot of the bag.
There is a nice bib flap on the inside of the bag which seals the cold out from around your neck.

It also has a draw string that you can pull to seal the hood around your head.
I'm ready for the cold nights ahead.
Welcome to our home on the road!
Over the next few weeks we will be posting reviews and information about additional gear we have purchased as well as some bike prep posts.  

Next week, we will learn how to make a very light weight and efficient camp stove from these items.

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