So, I went out Saturday night here in North Georgia. It was cold (~20°F low, never really got above 35°) and I had a decent, but not overly difficult hike to get to my spot. Long story short, I couldn't sleep because of excruciating pain in my shoulders and back to the point that I chose to make 2 trips back to my car the next morning rather than try to carry the full load.
More details: I went to bed colder than I should have and have a World Famous UL inflatable pad (read: very much not insulated). It was really cold and I was really in pain the first couple hours. My body heat finally overwhelmed the pad and I was warm the rest of the night and around 3 am my back pain subsided, but the shoulders still hurt today even. I'm 33 and have some previous injuries so it's not going to get any easier as time goes on.
I've used this setup twice before down to the high 30s and had one good night's sleep and one bad, so this was the rubber match, so to speak. It seems like if I'm warm enough to sprawl out and toss and turn I can get by. The pad is 1.5" thick and I'm left questioning whether going to a 3" pad would really make things any more comfortable. Insulated pad would obviously help temperature wise, but not comfort. The other pads I'm looking at are much smaller which may also be detrimental. My wife would prefer to sleep in the same tent from a mental comfort standpoint, so I've been trying to make this work but when I got home yesterday the first thing I did was setup the pad on hard ground and the hammock nearby in the backyard and asked her to lay in both for awhile.
So what would you do? Spend $200+ on the latest and greatest air pad or buy the $500 Hammock Gear Wanderlust kit and convince the wife that hammock camping is where it's at?