Get a good night sleep on your next camp out with the Gear Guy’s handy guide to sleeping pads, bag liners, pillows and cots.
A sleeping pad is one of the most important pieces of camping gear you’ll ever own. In addition to keeping you comfortable while sleeping someplace hard, the pad will also insulate your body from the warmth-grabbing ground. A sleeping pad is something you’ll never grow out of, and as long as you take care of it, it’ll last for many years. So it might be worth investing in a good one.
There are several types:
The closed-cell foam Ridge Rest Sleeping Pad ($20, scoutstuff.org) is an ultralight backpacking classic. It weighs just nine ounces and has helped many a Scout sleep over the years. ($20)
The two-pound Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite ($60 to $70, cascadedesigns.com) self-inflating pad rolls up and packs small enough for backpacking trips.
The two-pound open-cell foam self-inflating Kelty Camper Pad ($60, kelty.com) has anti-slip dots on one side and comes with a repair kit. ($60)
BAG LINER / SLEEPSHEET
One of the handiest and most underrated pieces of sleep gear, the sleeping bag liner is truly multipurpose. In warm weather, it can be used alone as an ultra-light sleeping bag. When slipped inside a sleeping bag, it’ll boost the warmth of your bag by 10 to 30 degrees and will keep it cleaner and reduce wear and tear. Liners are made of everything from cotton to silk (expensive) to fleece (super warm).
The Sea to Summit Adaptor CoolMax Travel Liner ($45, seatosummit.com) is made with moisture-wicking CoolMax fabric, like lots of athletic clothes, and is well-suited for summer camping. This liner will also soon be offered in a version treated with InsectShield to repel mosquitoes and other bugs. ($55)
Another good liner for warm-weather camping, the REI MTS Mummy Bag Liner ($36, rei.com) is made of the same fabric used in REI’s MTS underlayer clothing and is specifically designed for use with mummy-style sleeping bags.
This is a camp luxury. Sure you can make your own, but if you have the space, sleeping with a packable, lightweight pillow is pretty darn nice.
The ENO Pro Pillow ($22, eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com) weighs 11 ounces and has a polar fleece side for cold weather camping and a microfiber side for warmer nights. Throw it in its stuffsack and it’ll compress down to 25 percent of its full size.
Wanna pack your own pillow? Bring along the 2.3-ounce, microfiber-covered Therm-a-Rest Trekker Pillow Case ($11, cascadedesigns.com) and fill it with all your extra clothes for an even comfier DIY pillow.
Gear Guy has been using the Slumberjack Quallofil Camp Pillow ($11, scoutstuff.org) for a really long time. It’s not the cushiest thing in the world, but it does the job and is affordable.
While you’d probably never bring a cot along for a backpacking trip, there’s nothing better than racking out on a cot on car-camping trips. They get you up off the ground for added comfort, better ventilation and for some, a better night’s rest.
The foldable Trekker Camp Cot ($60, cabelas.com) weighs 15 pounds and supports you comfortably with durable nylon fabric stretched across an aluminum frame.
The sturdy and wide Slumberjack Big Cot ($90, scoutstuff.org) has polyester fabric with an aluminum and steel frame.