My wife is interested in backpacking with me but we can't find a sleeping pad solution. She is 5'2' 145lbs. It must be 25 inches wide. We've tried the neo lite trekker torso length. Length was fine but not enough cushion in the hips. I'm ok with an extra lb of weight to carry to help her out. Can anyone speak to comfort with the gossamer gear air beams? They come In wide and are short so perfect size for her. Just not sure about comfort. I'm wondering if a two layer solution of air mattress with foam would help. The trekker combined with some foam or "feather bed" layer idea. She sleeps warm and doesnt need insulation. She needs cushioning in the hip area. Torso length works great. Thanks for any help.
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
I wonder if a simple 18" square of temperature foam in the right position would help. also known as "astronaut couch" foam...not cheap or lite but supply's an amazing amount of cushioning for an inch or two. last time I looked, "aircraft spruce" carried it.
Loc: Torrance, CA
I wouldn't get too focused on the short aspect. Find the right mattress for her. Different people find different mattresses comfortable. Go to REI (or a similar store that lets you try out mattresses) and try out all the different styles they have and see what she likes best. Be careful to not over-inflate the mattress. Letting a bit of air out helps. I think carrying a small piece of foam to add comfort around the hips is probably a good idea.
If you are camping on sandy soil dig out a depression to align with her curves before you set up the tent.
I used to use a self inflating pad, but the last time I used it, the air cap blew off when I laid on it. Someone gave me a yoga mat last year which I think will suffice as a replacement. It's light, gives a little cushion and didn't cost me anything. It's no air mattress, but I think it'll work just fine.
I've used Thermarests for 40+ years, and still have the first one I bought! For winter and car camping I use a self-inflating model that's 25x72x2. It's ridiculously comfortable. I have no problems with side sleeping, and I weigh 210. Worth looking at, but there is a weight penalty. We use neo-airs most of the time and keep them together with some elastic straps we made up. The little extra room I need I steal from my wife's side. They are very comfortable for how light they are. Once again, they hold my weight up very well.
Thanks for the reply. I'm not hung up on the length, but of course we are counting ounces and ideally we want to avoid carrying length that she doesn't need. We went to REI and tried out a bunch of pads. The trekker seemed like it would be good. And then she was unable to sleep on it through a night without pain in her hips. Playing wth letting some air out is a great tip, I didt think of that as I love a firm pad. I think that and some strategically placed foam is the next step. Though which foam and where to place it is the challenge. Thanks for the reply.
We do own older self inflating thermarest and an REI branded model. Before we tried the trekker I weighed them. 6lbs! And huge. there's no way I can carry one in or under my pack. They were bought for car camping only. Theye just aren't an option for us. We are both middle aged women. I used to be stronger but at this point in life ultra lite is the only option. Now, I could go to REI and see if there's a newer version of the heavier pad that comes in a short or torso size. I am still surprised that the neoair wasn't comfortable for her. I love my xtherm. Thanks for the suggestions.
I haven't been able to sleep on foam alone for 20 years or so. maybe very petite people can handle it. But over 40 and having hips and creaky knees and shoulder injuries... It requires an investment in a good air mattress. And perhaps even foam in addition. That's the route I'll take. thanks for the reply.
Jeanne, try inflating mattresses fully then adjust them by lying on them and cracking the valve until they feel comfortable. You'd be surprised how well you can dial them in this way. I micro-manage mine, depending on what's underneath the tent and how my muscles feel. Have your friend try this, instead of just blowing one up and lying on it. Makes a world of difference. Side sleepers need a good pillow too, because your shoulder elevates you. I use the Sea to Summit Aeros, which is the best pillow I've ever had , bar none.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
That's what I do, too! For comfort, think squishy! I let enough air out that my hip bone (when on my side) is almost but not quite to the ground.
IMHO, sleeping on a fully inflated sleeping pad is similar to sleeping on an oversized brick.
Mine is an Exped UL7 Downmat. Very comfy, although it seems a bit delicate. While it seems to be tougher than it looks, I haven't used it enough to know for sure. I seem to do fine on the standard 20" wide pad,
Unfortunately, it is really hard to find a short but wide pad. Some have actually bought a long wide pad, cut off the excess length, and re-sealed. Of course, that voids any warranty.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Loc: Portland, OR
She needs cushioning in the hip area.
If the issue is just at the hips, then I will join in the suggestion of adding extra padding directly under her hips in the form of a foam pad. I do something similar, putting my one foot square sitting pad underneath my Thermarest ProLite Plus pad right where my hips rest. For me it adds just enough extra to offset the extra pressure at that point.
This is about the simplest, cheapest and lightest solution possible, assuming you test it out and it works for her.
The suggestion to adjust the air so that the mattress is just soft enough that her hip almost touches the ground, but doesn't, is also sensible.
Loc: Torrance, CA
I wanted to reiterate bluefish's comment about the pillow. I tried most of the recommended ultralight pillow techniques and always found myself tossing and turning throughout the night. I got a therm-a-rest compressible pillow. It's not too heavy but it is kinda bulky. It is luxury I am no longer willing to live without. When I backpack with my kids, I throw the pillows in their bags. It fills them up, so they feel like they are carrying a full load without cutting into the miles they can do.
I also use a dual-system. I have an extra-short Thermarest pro-lite for my shoulders to hips, then two squares of blue foam- one for knees to feet and the other (actually a rectangle) to add width under the Prolite. I find that I need the extra width for warmth, but the Prolite, although small, is sufficient for cushion. The useful thing about this system is that the blue foam doubles for a sit-pad. I NEVER sit on my Prolite outside of the tent.
I do the same "blowup then deflate" for comfort. Only other thing to consider is that blow up pads can deflate a bit as the night gets colder because cold air has less volume than hot air. This is why you should not leave a fully blown-up pad in the tent during the day- it gets hot in a tent and the extra pressure may damage the valve.
Thanks. I definetly overlooked the need for her to play adjust the amount of air. And we are going to add to the pillow arsenal. In addition to the sea to summit inflatable pillow we are going to make or buy some down pillows or down stuff pillows. So she had good shoulder elevation plus something to put under the arm. Any light weight comfort that we can manage we are going to try. And we are going to make a pillow tip or foam mattress to over the pad. Thanks for all the suggestions.
This year I bought a Big Agnes insulated Double Z. Double Z I bought it because it is 4 inches thick and 25 inches wide. I bought it for my wife....at least that is what I told my wife. I then took it on a couple trips this last summer to test it out for her. I think she will like it. I might have to buy me one now.
I also bought the sea to summit large ultralight pillow. It is thicker than the other large one, and lighter. I then put a 1 inch thick piece of polyurethane open cell foam on top of just the pillow. Very comfortable with the pillow and 4 inch pad.
Edited by finallyME (10/23/1510:24 AM)
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
Jeanne-Take a look at the Klymit Sttic V air mattresses. I'm pretty hard pressed to find a comfortable bed anywhere, but have had good luck with mine. They are wider than the "standard" 20 inches. You may find some refurbished ones on eBay at a decent price.