Long post warning.
This past march I got the MYOG bug and taught myself how to use a thread injector. My first project was a gathered-end hammock. I loved it for afternoons in the woods and a few naps. It wasn't until this past fall that I slept overnight in it. Overall, it was pretty comfy, but I'm a side sleeper and had issues with my hips and knees getting torqued through the night. Yep, I slept diagonal and had 83% sag. I even put a pillow between my knees.
So I went back to the ground, thinking, "It wasn't uncomfortable when I was in Scouts."
I must have had amnesia or something, because I swear my old Z-Rest was comfortable as a young kid and teenager. That thing got me through a few years of overnight trips, and then finally Philmont. It's been 12 years since that trek through New Mexico, and my first night back on the ground wasn't comfortable at all. Prior to my return to the ground, I bought an REI Stratus pad - budget friendly pad...seemed thick and comfy. It did not do the trick with keeping me comfortable. I would wake up with my knees, hips, and shoulders killing me. I probably had to adjust my position 10 times each night.
I'm sure this is the quintessential question for backpackers - how can I sleep comfortably?
Here's my experience with pads - for reference, I'm 6'3'', lanky, and 165 lbs wet.
1) Z-Rest - after years of use, it's pretty useless for me.
2) REI Stratus - 2.5" maybe on the outer baffles, but certainly not in the middle. My hip and shoulder can hit the ground even when it's fully inflated. This leaves me a little disheartened with air-filled pads. Would I have a different experience with a NeoAir or Exped?
3) Classic Thermarest - borrowed this from my dad. He used it over 12 years ago on our Philmont trek. Hips and shoulders DONT touch the ground when I laid down on my hardwood floors. This has me baffled (no pun intended) because it's about 1.5" thick. I have not spent a night in it yet, so take this with a grain of salt.
This is where it leaves me - stuck between wanting to find a good ground system and wondering if I should go back to hammocking. An asym hammock and quilt system would be too expensive, and possibly too heavy (I know there are exceptions). A ground system would be lighter and more affordable, but I might have to learn to sleep differently.
Thanks for reading. Any thoughts?