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LauraT7

Winter camping sleeping gear

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My son (age 11) and I are about to go on our first winter campout - we have good bags - rated to -10or so, but I am concerned about sleeping pads -

 

Jon has a self-inflating pad that he used last summer for camp and did not find very comfortable. When we camp on our own, or when I go with the scouts in the summer, I usually use a full- size air mattress, as I have a bad back and want to be able to move the next day. I am a large person, and a thin mat is just not enough. But a regular air mattress will be too cold.

 

are we better of going for one of the expensive 3" self inflatables? or a combination of a closed cell mat and a thinner inflatable? Are the expensive mats really worth the $? or is there something I can put on my thick air mattress to insulate between me and the mattress?

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Use the regular air mattress for comfort, and put the closed-cell pad over it for insulation. Sleep in a tent, and put the rain fly on too. And wear your socks.

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A couple of things..

 

First, air is not an insulator. If you use one the cold WILL transfer through to you. As FScouter pointed out an air mattress will work in cold weather as long as you use something like a closed cell pad on top of the air bed to gain insulation.

 

Second, most folks don't use inflatable pads correctly. You are not supposed to inflate them until there is no flex. For maximum comfort inflate the pad and push in the center of the pad with one finger. When the pad flexs in about halfway or a little less stop. The pad is supposed to cradle your body. If it is still not comfy get a thicker pad.

 

As to your question about the "thermarest" style pads. I my opinion yes they are worth every single penny. I am a backpacker and weight and bulk is a big issue for me yet I retired my thin thermarest for a camprest LE (about 2.5 thick.) I gained a little over a pound of packweight but I rest easier at night. If you are ever in catcus country get a patch kit, you will need it.

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Whatever combination of pads and air mattresses you use, use full length. Otherwise your feet will be on the ground. I don't often make product endorsements, but Thermarest is the best.

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My Thermarest has worked well for 20 years. The official patch kit fixes leaks that are expected. Thermarest will also fix leaks at no charge if you're willing to ship it back to the factory.

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Thanks for your input -

 

I think I'll pass for now on the thermarest - as the one I really like is over $100 and I'm not really sure I would use it that much - With my bad back, I'll never be backpacking, so I don't mind the weight of hauling my full size airmattress - and I prefer 6" of lift to a mere 21/2"! LOL! if Jon gets into the High adventure stuff later - I may get him one - then.

 

for now, I think I'll take my big airmattress and a foam pad - I wonder if the "egg crate" foam from a regular bed matress pad would insulate enough - as long as it's above the ground - I've done that before in Early may, and was warm enough - with the new bags we got, we should be nice and toasty!

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LauraT7,

You got some very good advice so far I wouldn't be took quick to go to the air mattress and egg carton plan. You raise a question that new scot parents often ask. If I could offer some advice based on about 50 or more Polar Bear campouts.

1 Air Mattress- fine in Summer, ice cubes in winter. I use a 2" ThermaRest CampRest Pad that I paid $39 for from a well known catalogue/internet camp equipment supplier. Also a few layers of newspaper will give you very good insulation from the ground temperature.

 

2 Get a good sleeping bag, -10 is fine

 

3 Change all your clothes at Bed time right done to the skin, the clothes you wore during the day traps micro drops of moisture which begin to chill in the inactivity of sleeping. the less you wear in the bag the more comfortable you will be.

 

4 More impotant than socks is a knit hat. You will lose alot of body heat out the top of your head. when you get to warm take the hat off, too cold put it on.

 

5 I like having a pair of fleece gloves nearby

 

6 Drink lots of water, dehydration is as big a problem in winter as summer.

 

7 Don't close the tent up tightly. You need ventilation to carry the moisture your breath gives off or your sleeping bag will get wet and icy.

 

Hope these tips help.

Bob

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If you're not backpacking, and weight is not of the utmost importance, then the closed cell pad idea is a good one. When winter camping and I tow my own sled, I'll bring along a peice of closed cell foam padding a little bigger than my "ThermaRest" pad, and place it under the ThermaRest. Then the ThermaRest (fully inflated as others have said), and then the sleeping bag...all inside a tent, of course). I found a great bag at REI. It's a zero degree bag, man-made fiber insulation, with a flannel lining. I'll bring my next-day clothes into the bag with me, but I rearely wear much in the bag, even on the coldest nights, except the wool hat, of course). The padding underneath, and the bag with flannel lining (no cold spots) makes for a very warm and comfortable nights sleep. I've been out in this ensemble in the winter for a couple of years now, coldest night was 2 below not factoring wind chill. I was just fine...nice and warm and the pads made for a comfortable night. I'm not a small guy. I'm 6'-3", and around 900 pounds...only kidding...although it feels it sometimes...I'm really "only" about 250 lbs.

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I've heard the claim before that one will be warmer sleeping buck naked, than wearing socks, long underwear, and a long sleeved t-shirt. Could someone explain in scientific terms how a layer of woolies next to the skin would not help keep one warm at night?

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I used to be a believer in the "buck naked" method of sleeping bag sleeping. In cold weather I now prefer to sleep with some sort of clean (sleeping only) moisture wicking clothing. I've found that the clothing will increase the thermal qualities of the bag but will also keep the moisture away from your skin.

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As I said above, I rarely wear "much" in the bag. I might have indicated that I always wear "something", if for no other reason than to keep the bag clean. And, no, I can't explain these things scientifically. I only know that I can't sleep comfortably when I'm all bundled up in a lot of clothing and the bag. And I really can't stand the "mummy" bags. They're far too restricting. The one I have is a modified mummy, more rectangular than mummy. Room to move within the bag at night is a must for me. What I haven't mastered yet, though, is keeping the bag on the pad at night. The Thermarest I have is old enough to be before the advent of the new anti-slip fabrics that are used today, and I tend to slip off the pad at night sometimes, if not almost perfectly level.

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The "buck naked" in the sleeping bag thing is a myth and has been scientificly been proven false.

 

Matter of fact that theory is referred to as an "Old Boy Scout Myth" rather widely.

 

I'm trying to find that article that proved it. I'll post it when I do.

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Well, our new sleeping bags arrived yesterday - and they look so comfy I can hardly wait to try them out! Mine is a "modified mummy" (with foot room) and Jon's is a regular mummy bag. Jon HAD to test his - so he took a tarp out and laid it on the snow in the backyard, got his closed cell pad and his new bag and was quite comfy out there watching the stars for awhile!

 

I have always made liners for our bags out of old sheets, to keep them clean inside and for a light cover in summer when the bag is too hot - so for these bags I got liners of blanket fleece - they can be used in both our summer and winter bags as needed. I also got us each an inexpensive closed cell pad, and got an extra Coleman self-inflating pad like the one Jon already has, for me.

 

Tho I'm still tempted to try the closed cell pad ON TOP of the air mattress - seems to me like it should insulate well enough, while the air mattress gives extra padding... gotta think on it some more...

 

We do have a building with a fireplace - only the brave are going to sleep outside in tents - I do at least have a place to retreat to if it gets too cold...

 

by the way, we got out new bags from a site called "Rockiesports" and their service was great - they even gave us a 10% discount for being with a scout troop - if anyone is interested.

 

 

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PS - I'm not sure about this site's policy on posting links, so if the management needs to delete this, I'm posting it separately -

 

This site gave us a 10% discount on our gear, for mentioning we were with a scout troop. They were extrememly helpful, answered questions I had promptly via e-mail, and processed my order with speed. In addition, their prices on bags i was looking at were as good or better than most sites.

 

If anyone else would like to check them out - here's the link

 

http://www.commercemarketplace.com/estore/Rockiesports/index.html

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Don't forget to change your clothes before you go to sleep. Sweat in the clothes you wore the previous day will make you colder. Always keep a separate pair of clothes for night, including a warm hat.

 

We Wisconsinites know what we speak of.

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