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Most comfortable CCF pad for side sleeper
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Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Most comfortable CCF pad for side sleeper on 12/22/2008 10:16:44 MST Print View

I have some back problems. I spend most of the night sleeping on my side. I have been comfortable enough to sleep through the night (not ideal, but it works) with my Prolite 3 short on a GG Nightlight 3/4, but this weighs 21 ounces! I have tried 4 other setups in my quest for a good night of sleep, in reverse chronological order:

GG Nightlight 3/4- didn't cut it on its own- 8oz
Prolite 4 large- not very comfy and 2#
BA Insulated Air Core- OK comfort-wise, too slick (I would slip off during the night), and too narrow- mine was only 19" wide when blown up. Weighs 20 oz if I remember right (I returned it)
Thermarest Trail-something 20"x72"x1.75- slept well, warm (something like R 4.3?), 2#4oz

What I am considering:
Ridgerest Deluxe short- seems pretty soft when I try it at a store
Thermarest NeoAir- I don't really know any more than I've read on this forum about it. I think I saw 14oz for full length 20"x72"x2.5"(?). I could live with the weight if it gives me a good night of sleep

I Could combine any of the above with a GG Thinlight for additional comfort and/or warmth

What do you side-sleepers out there use? Is there a CCF pad that you can use by itself? Or a lighter inflatable solution?

I appreciate any and all thoughts you have on this. It has really detracted from my experience when out for more than a night or two.


John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Deluxe Short on 12/22/2008 11:05:01 MST Print View

Does Thermarest make one of these (thick blue pad)in a short length? Can't find it on the Thermarest site.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
re: Deluxe Short on 12/22/2008 12:19:20 MST Print View

Maybe I am thinking of the regular Ridgerest. If they don't make the Deluxe in short, I have a utility knife! That is one of the advantages of CCF.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Most comfortable CCF pad for side sleeper on 12/22/2008 12:50:59 MST Print View

I'm also a side sleeper, with occasional arthritic bouts in both hip and shoulder as I've gotten older. I've never been able to use a closed cell pad (either Z-light or Ridgerest). I used a standard Thermarest (probably the equivalent of the Prolite 3?) for years, but eventually it stopped working for me. I then got a 2" thick Thermarest LE (about 1 1/2 lbs.), but after a couple of years it wasn't enough, either.

I now use a POE Insulmat Max Thermo (now the Ether Thermo), an insulated air mattress. The 48" length weighs 16.9 oz. I have found that this pad works really well when pumped up about halfway--keeps my hip off the ground but otherwise feels soft and cushiony yet supportive. It's also less slippery when only partially full of air. (Sleeping on a fully pumped up air mattress is like sleeping on a batch of metal cylinders, IMHO.) The top surface isn't slippery, but I've had to put some SilNet drops on the bottom to hold it steady on my tent's silnylon floor. However, it has been much more stable for me than was the Thermarest LE (which had a tendency to pop out from under me every time I turned over). For me, the POE air mattress is more comfortable than the mattress on my bed at home!

I haven't tried the BA insulated air pad. However, I have tried the BA Clearview. The shortest length (a foot longer than I need, because I'm short and sleep curled up) was 11.7 ounces on my scale (advertised at 11). Even adding another ounce with a 1/8" Gossamer Gear Thinlight pad (cut to torso length) for insulation, it was lighter than my POE pad or the regular BA insulated pad. It also has a slightly sticky surface--no slipping! However, I found that with 8 tubes instead of the POE's 6, the BA mattress when blown up is effectively thinner. I could not achieve a happy medium between having my hip on the ground or having the pad so hard that it was uncomfortable, not just to my hip but all over. I do have quite ample (!) hips, so this may not be an issue for more slender folk.

I suspect that there will be a lot of "bodies" lying on the floor at REI or other gear stores trying out the NeoAir when it comes out in April. It certainly is significantly lighter than other air pads, but I'm going to reserve judgment until I try it. If it isn't at least as comfortable for me as my POE pad--well, at least I'll save a considerable wad of cash.

Whatever you buy, spend a couple of nights on the floor at home with it before you take it out on a trip, so you can take it back if it doesn't work. I've slept on a lot of campsites (especially here in the NW where we are required to use established sites) that were just as hard as any floor.

To me, a restful night's sleep is worth however many extra ounces I have to carry to achieve it. I figure I can always cut weight elsewhere.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/22/2008 12:56:56 MST.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
side sleeping on 12/22/2008 12:51:25 MST Print View

I don't have a good answer for the best sleeping pad, but your question reminds me of one I've had for a while: what's the best sleeping bag for side sleepers? I've spent years with mummy bags cinched up around my face and trying to find the best way to roll onto my side without suffocating myself inside the sleeping bag. Is that the only way to deal with not sleeping on your back?

At least it provides some entertainment for the folks sharing tents/shelters with me.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
RidgeRest on 12/22/2008 12:59:20 MST Print View

I use a RidgeRest, and double up my hip area with my sit pad- comfy.
I bought a full length mat, and cut it into three things, most of which are dual use.
1/ I replaced the pack support (ULA Circuit) which also doubles as leg insulation when sleeping.
2/ I made a sit pad for the stops during the day, which doubles as a hip pad at night
3/ the rest as a sleeping mat.
The weight as a pack support didn't add much to the pack, and the sit pad weighs next to nothing.
The sleeping pad itself, which goes from my shoulders to below my knees, weighs 202g only.
I love the RidgeRest!! I hope this helps.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Side sleepers and mummy bags on 12/22/2008 13:07:28 MST Print View

I learned sometime in childhood to take my sleeping bag with me when I turn over in my sleep. This practice causes a bit of a problem at home, though. This morning the quilt on top of my bed was mostly on the floor and my dog was sleeping on it! A quilt for backpacking obviously wouldn't work for me. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't use a Big Agnes sleep system, because I'd end up with the pad on top!

If you habitually end up with your face buried in the back of your bag's hood, maybe a quilt would be better for you. If your bag has a full-length zipper, you can try this configuration out without buying anything.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
side sleeping/ air mats on 12/22/2008 13:18:30 MST Print View

"To me, a restful night's sleep is worth however many extra ounces I have to carry to achieve it." Amen!
Isn't it uncomfortable to have your feet hanging off the end of a mattress that thick? I sometimes use my pack under my lower legs and feet with the Prolite 3 (which is only 3/4" thick despite Thermarest's nominal dimensions), but there would still be quite a difference in height with a pad as thick as the POE.
I'm 6'3", I can't curl my legs up enough to fit on a short pad!

I always just turn the sleeping bag with me so my face is always in the hole. I don't know how else you could do it. This just means that I have to make sure that the down is evenly distributed in my sleeping bag. Also makes it hard to keep the pillow on the mat.

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Most comfortable CCF pad for side sleeper on 12/22/2008 13:38:31 MST Print View

“What do you side-sleepers out there use? Is there a CCF pad that you can use by itself? Or a lighter inflatable solution?”

First of all, my family and I have tried so many air-core mats and finally realized they’re still too firm-before-bottoming-out for us. This is only for us. I rarely find other people with this problem. And I did get tired of blowing them up day after day after day after day…

For lightweight 2-3 day treks, I’m fine with the GG torslolight (3.6oz) bumps down and an open cell 11x17x1.5” (3.5oz) on top of that.

On other treks I use the ¾ length Prolite 4 (16oz). This is also just as comfy as the woman’s prolite 4 and even MORE comfy than the regular (72”) prolite 4. How is this so? It might have to do with the surface area and the ballooning effect.

Now I’m curious with the new die cuts of the prolite series for 2009 if they are even more comfortable yet.

Tim, when you experiment with that Deluxe Ridgerest let us know :)

May everyone find their sleeping zen.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Most comfortable CCF pad for side sleeper on 12/22/2008 13:50:22 MST Print View

The short pad isn't a problem for me because I'm 5'3". When I'm in my normal sleeping position (fetal), my feet are on the pad. In fact, 60" pads are longer than I need. I don't have a problem if my feet go off, since my knees are still very much on the pad. In my current tent, my dog sleeps at my feet, so if my feet go off the pad they encounter my footwarmer! The POE Ether Thermo does come in longer lengths, though obviously with more weight. First, try the shorter length out on the floor to see if it works for you.

It's often suggested putting the pack under the legs. Of course by the time the food is hung elsewhere and the extra clothing is either on the body or being used as a pillow, the pack might be too thin to do the job. Mine is part of my pillow, so I haven't tried it at the other end.

While we all wait for the much ballyhooed NeoAir, you might want to check out the BA Clearview, which comes in 60" or longer lengths. If it isn't too thin for you (as it is for me), it's otherwise light and not very expensive. No slipping problem there.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:side sleeper pad on 12/22/2008 13:59:58 MST Print View

tim, i know you mentioned that you tried a big agnes pad, but did you try the whole system? i have arthritis and found the air core works the best, but you need to have the sleeping bag that goes with it. it would be to slippery just using it with any old bag. good luck...

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Big Agnes sleep system on 12/22/2008 21:40:25 MST Print View

Since I'm a side sleeper, and I take my bag with me when I roll (see above), a sleeping bag with a pad sleeve (I think this is what you are referring to?) would not work for me. I might have to get near a Clearview and give it a test. That NeoAir is sounding good (but expensive!).

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Side sleeper on 12/22/2008 22:44:16 MST Print View

I'm a side sleeper, and I can't even think about using anything but an air mattress now. After using a POE Insulmat Max Thermo, I don't even see how anyone can use a CCF pad or Thermarest. And I don't care what it weighs, it's the only way my hips don't wake me up painfully every hour. But don't overinflate it! Nice to see that POE and BA have taken enough market share that Thermarest had to come up with the Neo. Costs twice as much as my POE, I can't believe it will be twice as good.

Edited by skinewmexico on 12/22/2008 22:45:22 MST.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
re: Side Sleeper on 12/23/2008 05:38:21 MST Print View

I'm with you, Joe. I just switched to closed cell foam sleeping pads after years of inflatables, and it was a pretty uncomfortable transition. I did get used to it eventually, but I'm guessing that by the time I turn 30, I might be singing a different tune.

One amusing thing about being able to sleep on my side on closed cell, though, is that I found I was able to sleep on my friends' hardwood floors without any padding whatsoever and still be perfectly comfortable. I wonder what that says about the cushioning of closed cell pads?

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Side sleeping on 12/23/2008 07:07:07 MST Print View

I could sleep about anyway I wanted before I was 30. Now that I'm 50, I'm finding that a lot of the little abuses I subjected my body to have come home to roost. If I don't have enough padding, I sleep until my hip wakes me up hurting, roll over, repeat all night. Not restful.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Side sleeping on 12/23/2008 07:25:33 MST Print View

I'm a side sleeper and until late last year my long distance treks were with just a Nightlight Torso (3.5oz). I decided to try a Montbell UL 90 (10.2oz) and now I occasionally use that when I want a luxury sleep and am willing to carry the extra weight. In colder weather I attach the Nightlight to the MB using the MB attachment system and punching a hole in two corners of the CCF. Colder and I'll add a Thinlight pad underneath. So far, so good on these old bones.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Side sleeping on 12/23/2008 08:44:47 MST Print View

Joe Clement -
Question for you: Which hip hurts? The 'Down' hip or the 'Up' hip?

Both my wife and I have observed that it is actually our 'up' hip that wakes us. As if it is not the pressure on the 'down' hip, but some sort of tug or stretch affecting the 'up' hip due to its angle towards the other knee. Just as interesting is that we Assumed it was the 'down' hip until we really paid attention.

We are baffled. We know a little about physiology, but can't quite figure out what connectors are unhappy. One more data point would be useful. First, it would confirm our observation, and second we could pursue identifying the offended part.


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Hips on 12/23/2008 08:49:29 MST Print View

Mine is the down hip, unless I'm sleeping on an air mattess.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Which hip? on 12/23/2008 11:08:13 MST Print View

My bottom hip is the one that starts hurting. When I turn over, it continues to hurt, and then hip #2 (now on the bottom) kicks in. After that, both hips hurt! The same is true of my shoulders. Without the air mattress, I wouldn't get much more than an hour of sleep.

Blowing up the air mattress: I don't enjoy it, either, but it's a small price to pay for comfort. If you want an air mattress but really hate blowing it up, and don't mind an extra 1.5 oz., there's the Big Agnes Pumphouse Pad Pump. It works quite well as a pad pump, although it takes quite a bit of practice to learn to use it (in other words, practice at home, not on a dark rainy night by headlamp). It works with both the POE and BA pads (I have no idea about Exped). However, I found the Pumphouse a failure for its other advertised uses as an inflatable pillow or as a dry bag. The fabric is too porous to hold in air or keep out water. If you use a pack liner for waterproofing, though, the Pumphouse is fine as a non-waterproof sleeping bag stuff sack. I take it along for overnight trips, but do the huff and puff routine on longer trips. I also use it at home to pump warm dry air (from the heating vent, electric heater or outside on a hot, dry day) into the pad. I let the pad sit a while, then deflate and re-pump. My theory (completely unproven!) is that several repetitions of this routine will dry out the moisture from my breath that remains inside.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Hips on 12/23/2008 15:12:07 MST Print View

Hi Joe

Try varying the pressure in your air mat. I found that having it too high was bad. But having it so low so my hip hit the snow wasn't that good either :-)