Lower back problems with inflatable sleeping pads
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mister jarvey
(everest88)
Lower back problems with inflatable sleeping pads on 12/07/2012 23:10:56 MST Print View

I'm having trouble finding a comfortable sleeping pad for myself. A pad that does work fine for me is the REI Camp Bed 2.5", but it's 4 lbs. It feels very firm with a few extra breaths. Several inflating pads are not nearly as comfortable for my lower back though- Thermarest NeoAir, Neo Trekker, Pro Plus. It seems that my butt is pushing down which causes a balloon effect and my lower back to arch upwards, which is really uncomfortable for me.

I was thinking perhaps a 100% closed cell foam pad might be better for my situation since they're very firm. I remember a friend in the Army was issued a thick, and extremely dense, ~1" cell foam pad around 1999 that I remember being very comfortable. Does anyone know where to get a hold of one of those?

Might anyone have suggestions about how else I could sleep better?

Edited by everest88 on 12/07/2012 23:55:12 MST.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Klymit Static V on 12/07/2012 23:40:01 MST Print View

I would definitely recommend the Klymit Static V pad, non-insulated one is around 16oz r-value 1.2, a pound and a half for the insulated one r-value ~ 5.0

The way its designed, when you lay on it and your butt/hips push the air, the air moves to the side square chambers, which balloon up slightly, preventing you from rolling off and preventing the V shaped sections from ballooning, creating pressure pouints. All you gotta do is inflate it, lay on it, and slowly let out some air until you're comfortable with the firmness.

Its one of my favorite pads, and I've used it comfortably down to the upper 30s with a sheet of reflectix underneath.

The Big Agnes Insulated Air Core is nice too. I use that when its colder. Short (60") Mummy version is 18 oz, with an r-value of 4.1 The vertical (head to toe), baffled tubes are very comfortable to lay on, again, filling it all the way and letting out some air once on it.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 12/07/2012 23:44:30 MST.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: Lower back problems with inflatable sleeping pads on 12/08/2012 08:44:17 MST Print View

It's hard to say, but you might be having problems because your pad doesn't correspond well with your sleep position. Just a thought; but I learned the hard way that different sleepers need different kinds of padding.

I'm part of a minority-- a stomach sleeper. When I lie down to sleep on an inflatable pad, my hips sink lower to the ground than my shoulders and thighs. That causes my abdomen to stretch and my lower back muscles to bend-- almost a backwards pinch.

When I first used an inflatable pad, I would often wake with a sore back. I attributed it to hauling a heavy pack all day. But after I changed my gear and began very rarely carrying a pack weighing more than 25 lb, and still had the back pain, I thought something was up. I went back to using a very firm SI pad, and haven't woke with back pain ever since.

Bottom line: think about your position and make a careful ergonomic decision.

mister jarvey
(everest88)
sleep on 12/08/2012 12:10:28 MST Print View

I prefer to sleep on my back.


I tried searching online for the thick Army foam mattresses, but couldn't find any.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Lower back problems with inflatable sleeping pads on 12/08/2012 12:43:52 MST Print View

I haven't been able to get comfortable on inflatable pads with narrow tubes (like the BA) or horizontal tubes (like the NeoAir). For me, as a side-sleeper, I need a pad that can be blown up only about halfway so that my hip and shoulder sink down enough (but without hitting the ground) that my spine is in a straight line all the way. Pads with vertical wide tubes work far better for me. However, I think my problem is different from yours, as is my sleeping position. I did notice the same effect as you when I was on my back with the NeoAir.

I can't sleep on my back, even at home, without my lower back muscles cramping excruciatingly. The only way I can back-sleep is with a pillow under my knees to keep my legs bent, straightening my lower spine. If all else fails, you might want to see if you can find something to achieve that effect, maybe a larger size inflatable pillow.

From your description, I'm wondering if a self-inflator, like the Thermarest Prolite, might work if you blow additional air into it to make it stiffer. That would certainly be lighter and far less bulky than a 1 inch CCF pad.

Spending a couple of nights sleeping on the floor at home with a new pad is a good idea, so you can have a thorough trial but can return it as new if it doesn't work out.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/08/2012 12:47:08 MST.

Brian Keith Gunter
(bkgunter) - M

Locale: Midwest
sleep on 12/08/2012 13:48:58 MST Print View

Ben,
I just posted a sleeping pad for sale on the Gear Swap page. Its a regular length, vertical tubes 3" thick Insul-mat. If you're interested in trying that type of pad. It doesn't work for me but my wife really likes it.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Lower back problems with inflatable sleeping pads on 12/08/2012 21:03:02 MST Print View

I believe sleeping pads are a lot like comfortable hiking shoes. We all will need to find out what works for us - by using them.

Of course, it may depend on a lot of factors. If you are used to a Camp Bed, you may need to gradually "step down" from that.

I have slept comfortably for years on an old Luxury Edition Therm-a-rest, but have been trying to get used to a Neo-air. I have found that the neo-air really takes a lot of adjustment in a way my old LE never did.

Perhaps what you may try is a combo: a thin closed celled pad ON TOP of the Neo Air. The closed called pad will dampen the "balloon effect."

I know it's a little counter-intuitive, by why not try it out? I bet it'll sill be lighter than many other solutions.

(As a side sleeper and with lower back issues, I always sleep with a pillow between my legs. This has been a doctors recommendation for years now.)

Good luck!