View Full Version : Camping: Comfy Pillows and ground Pads??

05-19-2011, 08:58 PM
I have wanted to take a tour with folks for a long time now. One troublesome issue for me when it comes to camping has been sleeping at night. We have tent camped and I just cannot sleep. Part of it is that I hear everything outside the tent ... but the biggest issue is comfort.

I find the ground and a blow up Coleman mattress made a mess of my back. I need a nice cushy pillow as well.

I tried out the Thermarest ones at REI. They are not too bad, the Large seemed like a likely best choice. I will give up some space with the largest one they offer in order to have some form of head support.

I am willing to compromise some weight for a truly comfortable sleep, but if there is truly light weight foam pads or the like that will allow me to sleep... please let me know.



05-19-2011, 09:17 PM

i have this. and i think it's great. after 50-75 miles of biking with full gear, up and down hills, whatever, i lay down on this and i'm out. i don't have a pillow tip. i'm thinking of getting one, but haven't bothered yet. i usually roll up my flannel shirt. not the greatest.

05-19-2011, 10:17 PM
Keeping weight down is pretty important to me in backpacking, and I expect it to be for bike camping, too, so I went from a narrow, full-length, lightweight Thermarest to a 3/4 length ultra-light (15 oz). That, a 2-ft square of blue foam (serves as sit pad, stove rest, foot insulation at night, padding along back of pack, emergency splint) and a "pillow" have gotten me through many nights on everything from ocean shores to mountain tops, including snow, ice and rock. A camping spot that's level with gentle contours for hips and shoulders is a real blessing.

My pillow is the thin nylon stuff sack for my sleeping bag, filled with spare clothes folded to fit and make an even surface. A fleece sweater makes a nice, soft top for my head and gives me a pre-warmed layer handy to pull on when I get out of the bag. Some of my buddies carry a small, cotton pillow case to pull over the stuff sack and make it comfier.

There are very small down pillows that weigh only a few ounces that are tempting, like maybe 8" x 12" or so. Not sure who carries them, offhand.

Consider medication like Lunestra or Ambian to help you drift off. I also sometimes use cyclobenzaprine for muscle cramps, but it requires a prescription so check with your doc. Usually, as rainperimeter says, I go to sleep pretty fast after a hard day.

Yes, it is a bit Spartan and it's not what you asked for, but that's how it works out for me.

05-19-2011, 10:27 PM
I can see working with what you have in terms of creating a cushy pillow.

the mattress seems more challenging.

The blow up mattresses are of some consideration, but seeing the fatter heavy one ala Coleman did not work well for me, I am wondering if something jelly filled or foam, memory foam style... would wrk better/ maybe a couple kinds combined? I think the 1.5 inch to 2 inch thick ones just won't do either.

I got an Ol man like back. Meh.

I like the idea of drugging up. Maybe I can take Valerian root?

05-19-2011, 11:17 PM
Sure, valerian or Earl Grey or Sleepy Time...whatever works for you. A bit of dark rum in instant cocoa...

One thought for the mattress is a combo of something like that Peak Elite AC that rainperimeter mentioned topped by either the lightest Thermarest inflatable or a foam pad like a RidgeRest or Z-Lite. That can still come in under 2-lbs, which isn't prohibitive. Try adjusting the amount of air, that can make a big difference in comfort. Foam pads are also awfully handy for things like sitting on damp logs, grass or park benches, or changing a tire.

I have to admit, I also have a Thermarest Camp model. It's really comfy but it's also 4-lb. Car camping only.

PS - My back is an old man back, too.

05-20-2011, 03:02 AM
With a few inches of padding underneath, I have felt comfortable in this position in many situations in my life. There is no need to go into much more detail than that I think.


05-20-2011, 11:00 AM
I have seen folks heat up Klean Kanteens while camping. What do you use to heat beverages?
Rum sounds nice too.

I am thinking of joining Cycle Wild on a trip, seems like a great way for a newby touring guy to get up to snuff on this stuff.

I would like to bike tour somewhere within 60miles or less just to get the hang of it and learn about loading my bike, etc.

have any areas I should look into?

They also seem to often stay in Yurts which would likely have some sort of bed in place to lay a sleeping bag on. This would be a great way to start too.

I will look into the different mix of pads.

05-20-2011, 12:53 PM
My stove is a Svea 123 purchased in 1969, used with a Sigg Tourist cook set. It has never failed me, though I did have to replace a valve once after a trip. It is a little heavy compared to some of MSR's ultralights, which is what I'd get if I replaced it, but lighter than a Coleman backpacking cartridge stove, which is carried by many backpackers and bikers. Cartridge stoves are easier to use. Sterno stoves work OK, a bit slow to boil or cook larger pots of dried goods but fine for heating up water, freeze-dried meals, etc., and they are cheap and available at most supermarkets, and many country stores have cans of Sterno. There are other good, lightweight stoves in a range of prices, often at mountain shops, and there are even designs for alcohol-burning stoves (http://zenstoves.net/) you can make out of a tin or aluminum can; some people swear by them and there is loads of good, general advice on that site.

Cycle Wild sounds good to me, too. I've been meaning to join one of their rides for awhile now but life has been busy, and maybe I'm getting a little soft with age for those winter rides. :) They have a map linked from their website of the Portland area "rideshed" (http://www.cyclewild.org/where-to-camp-by-bike/) which has lots of possible destinations. I also like Grant Petersen's articles on bike (http://www.rivbike.com/article/bike_camping/bike_camping_vs_touring) camping (http://www.rivbike.com/article/bike_camping/a_kit_for_one_night_out).

PS - I strongly suspect that you could share someone else's stove on a Cycle Wild trip, though you should check with them, first.

05-20-2011, 08:58 PM
My stove is a Svea 123 purchased in 1969, used with a Sigg Tourist cook set. It has never failed me, though I did have to replace a valve once after a trip.

Best. Stove. Ever. Same for the cook set. I did get the little pump to pressurize it - faster than warming it up in my hands. Bought mine in, um... 1972. I think.

05-22-2011, 09:12 PM
Best. Stove. Ever. Same for the cook set. I did get the little pump to pressurize it - faster than warming it up in my hands. Bought mine in, um... 1972. I think.

I considered that pump but didn't take the plunge. Svea performed great on the summit crater of Rainier (decades ago), so after that I just left well enough alone. I carry a cheap-o plastic eye dropper (REI) to suck a CC of preheating fuel out of the tank--no more hand-holding. :)

On the Sigg's stove holder (the bottom piece), I glued a layer of cork underneath it. It's about 3/16 thick, donno where it came from but maybe a cork note-board, like for thumbtacks. I used Barge cement, trimmed the cork to fit. It keeps the Svea insulated when it sits on rock or snow, both to keep up fuel pressure and to keep the stove from melting down into the snow.

05-22-2011, 09:25 PM
The Svea is a beautiful piece of work. I got to get mine out and fire it up. Never used it in extreme conditions, but for the kind of fair weather camping, I did, eventually I figured out the simplest, most effective way to get a little fuel up to pressurize the stove for fuel delivery was to get up and close and personal with Svea...take the burner off, open the valve, put mouth over where the fuel comes out, and blow to build pressure...close valve...put burner back on...open valve...fuel comes out...fills cup....close valve. Light fuel in cup, allow to stove to heat a bit...re-open valve for that encouraging hiss...Light the burner and you're on your way.

05-22-2011, 10:03 PM
Heh, yeah, I tried that, too. Didn't care for the taste of white gas on my lips.