My last backpacking trip made up my mind that the self-inflating sleeping pad that I am using is an enormous pain in the butt to stay on top of at night. I figured out that the main reason I have been getting a restless night’s sleep is because I keep waking up to try and maneuver myself back onto the sleeping pad, which when I’m wrapped up snug inside my sleeping bag is an exercise in futility.
The pad I have been using is the REI Lite-Core self-inflating pad (regular size) which weighs less than 2 pounds and rolls up into an ultra compact size. For the most part I love this pad, it’s just impossible to sleep on top of without coming off – which is a significant problem as that’s the sole purpose of the pad! I’ve even tried putting the pad inside my sleeping bag which wasn’t very pleasant and didn’t help with ground insulation, but did stay under me all night. Needless to say I’m not willing to do that again. I’ve also used my friend’s BigAgnes inflatable pad, which is better and bigger than my REI Lite Core but still very hard to stay on.
So what are my options? No pads, foam pads?
I’m thinking of purchasing a Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite closed-cell foam pad and using that on my next few trips. It’s about half the price of the REI Lite Core, easily half the weight, and I don’t have to worry about getting a puncture. In fact the only downside I can think of is the size when it’s folded up, it’s definitely going to have to go on the outside of my pack – but I can think of some good points to that, such as being able to use it seat or sitting pad to keep my butt dry can clean at stops and the bright color will work in my favor to serve as a perfect warning to nearby hunters.
A lot of backpackers have different types and thickness pads for different seasons. So a foam pad would be a good thing to have handy with minimal investment. I also think it would work quite well inside my Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym, but I’ll let you know how that goes. It may sound good in theory but work poorly in practice, hence the importance of continual practice hikes to familiarize yourself with you gear and find out what works and what doesn’t work before you head off on a multi-night.