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Teeny-tiny sleeping pad?
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Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Teeny-tiny sleeping pad? on 01/16/2013 17:47:54 MST Print View

I need to get a sleeping pad for my 2-year old daughter (and possibly update the rest of the family's pads as well) for an upcoming multi-month expedition.

Small packed size is at an absolute premium (a lot of people's stuff has to fit in one pack), as is weight. Small size inflated is also a plus, though we have a decent amount of room in our mid shelter. Some warmth will be needed, since there'll be some snow on the ground in the early parts of the expedition, but kids sleep pretty warm. Is there anything like this (maybe something torso-sized for adults?) that might work?

Alternate idea - my husband is fairly handy, and if there's a larger lightweight pad that might be amenable to cutting in half and then resealing (with heat-seal or glue), we could possibly make it into 2 kid pads (for a 2 and 4 year old).

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Teeny-tiny sleeping pad? on 01/16/2013 18:23:00 MST Print View


I think cutting a long/wide pad would be your best bet. You could have two 36"x25" pads or differing lengths since the 4 yr old is taller than the 2 yr old. A lot of folks have cut down old NeoAirs and BAIAC's so those would be an option. Should be cheaper than two torso length pads if cost is an issue. Where are you guys going on your journey?


John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Teeny-tiny sleeping pad? on 01/16/2013 18:23:19 MST Print View

Hey Erin,

Best solution would be to try to score a used or second neoair original and cut it into two pieces.

I have posted articles on this and steve evens has a video on this. It is crazy easy to do. Just a pair of scissors and a clothing iron.

Try to stay away from the newer neoair xlite if you can, as the shape of it makes it a bit harder to work with.

I use to buy these and whack them into two or three pieces and sell them to folks who wanted a "neoair pillow" but did not want to do it themselves. It honestly is crazy easy to do. I could take a large and turn it into three pillows in under an hour.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Teeny-tiny sleeping pad? on 01/16/2013 18:25:56 MST Print View

Erin, I have a pad for you...
Sent you a PM.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Teeny-tiny sleeping pad? on 01/16/2013 18:29:36 MST Print View


Thermarest XS ProLite.

ProLite XS

20" × 36" x 1"

8 ounces

Party On,


Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: Teeny-tiny sleeping pad? on 01/17/2013 22:52:51 MST Print View

Thanks, sounds like the cut-down pad is the way to go, and I think Craig's will work nicely.

We're going to be walking/packrafting the coast of Cook Inlet, Alaska - about 800 miles. We're guessing 4 months (late March-late July) at a 4 year old's walking pace (we're not carrying him, but will carry the little one), but we'll have a better idea once we're a month or two in.

(more here)

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Teeny-tiny sleeping pad? on 01/17/2013 23:03:20 MST Print View

Thermarest and others make self inflating sit pads that may serve as torso pads for the kids.

Richard Fischel
cilogear airbeam frame sheet on 01/18/2013 07:48:34 MST Print View

May be too small, but it packs down tiny, weighs nothing, rugged and is inflatable:

With the trip you are planning I'd be reluctant to take a cut-down pad that I heat sealed myself unless you are really confident in your skills.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Two other possibilities. on 01/18/2013 14:48:33 MST Print View

Erin: on the sleeping pad Q: While I understand the volume advantages of inflatable pads, a 2-year-old just doesn't need much pad - she'll be a snow-suit sort of thing, right? Multi-purpose for day and night use. That's padding and insulation right there. And, if she needs a pad, and uses a closed-cell foam, it will be pretty small area and therefore a pretty small volume. Like a cut-down Z-rest that perhaps doubles as padding against the back of an adult's rucksack.

But if you want an inflatable, there are several brands and styles of seat pads from Thermarest and everyone else. Usually not UL, but small, high R-value, durable and with factory sealed edges. Get two. Then affix hook velcro to the edge of one and loop velcro to an edge of the other. They could double as seats in your pack raft, keeping your butt somewhat warmer and dryer. They might also be utilized as padding and/or structure in a stay-less, otherwise-unpadded pack to further reduce your weight and bulk. Heck, I've got one I haven't used for years (er, ever?) that I could leave in Homer for you to snag next time you're in town or hand it off to Seldovia friends. Let me know.

But if you're not going to multi-purpose whatever pad you use for her, I'd suggest increasing the padding on her sleep outfit just a bit to compensate. In large part because I wouldn't want to be relocating my child onto a pad many times a night - you will all need your rest, especially the adults! (the 2-year-old gets to doze in transit).

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Coachsurfing Cook Inlet on 01/18/2013 15:45:03 MST Print View


I saw on your website that you're looking both for remote support and in-town hiddiholes. We live of 13 acres on the bluff of Cook Inlet 2.5 miles north of the mouth of the Kenai River. And we know various interesting, adventurous (not as adventurous as your family!) folks on K-Beach to the south and in Nikiski to the north.

You could camp in our forest or sleep in the carpeted, heated, large garage loft.

And we make pretty good sourdough waffles.

And there's a full shop and 3 or 5 of every type of outdoor gear if you needed to tweak your set-ups after the first 150 miles.

Reservation clerks for Brooks Camp in Katmai NP thought we were crazy for bringing our 5 month-old to a bear-infested campground. Then Alaska Airlines lost our tent, stove, sleeping bags, and the DIAPERS!!! The other campers were very friendly and helpful for the 24 hours before our gear arrived. So we can relate to travel with small ones in AK, if not quite on your level.

On the remote support side: while we own 7 boats, none of them weigh over 63 pounds nor have a motor. But I've got friends that fly across the Inlet every day and I suspect they'd be willing to stage gear on a space-available basis to Tyonek, etc, on the other side. I also have some contact info for some of the oil facilities (like the Drift River tank farm and terminal) that sometimes are the only non-wilderness locations for scores of miles around (and I gather, are some of the wide range of people you are looking to talk to).

And, on the green power side: you'll be passing by Bradley Lake hydro power house at the head of Kachemak Bay. I think it's okay for HEA members to get a tour (can't imagine many ever show up). Or to consider it a press/author outreach and coordinate it with our public relations guy. If that's of interest, I and 8 people I know well are the staff's boss' boss' boss.


Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: Two other possibilities. on 01/20/2013 00:53:34 MST Print View

Hmm... Never thought about the fact that "sitting pads" even existed. Or about framesheets. And now my 4 year old's thermarest xs (which is kind of heavy, anyway) seems to be blistering, so I might need two.

If foam ends up small enough (haven't actually sized it out for a kid pad) it might work, but we really do have to squeeze everything (and maybe up to a week or more of food) in one pack plus a few subsidiary pouches. Every cubic inch counts! I don't think I can go with nothing, no matter how I dress them, simply for the sheer psychology of it. "My OWN sleeping pad" is an important part of getting the kids to actually sleep in their own bags in the tent.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Two other possibilities. on 01/20/2013 14:03:50 MST Print View

"we really do have to squeeze everything (and maybe up to a week or more of food) in one pack plus a few subsidiary pouches."

Been there, done that. Not on the scale or scope of your 800-mile journey, but multiple nights with a 2-year-old in the Kelty child carrier on my very obviously pregnant wife. She got lots of comments, "hiking for two?, er, three?" and then they'd look at me and realize that I had be carrying most everything for everyone. Works pretty well in upland Hawaii. Less so in Cook Inlet in March! And you've got four set of clothes, sleeping gear, etc.

Have you considered any kind of a rickshaw? I made one - just as a kid's toy for the driveway - that works quite well, although for trail use, I'd redo it in many way. I started with the two-wheeled cradle for schelping kayaks and canoes. Compact but wide tires, nice bearings, low height. When I've kicked around a similar trip, I also gravitate to thoughts of a decked canoe-like craft, probably stitch-and-glue construction, about 28 pounds, on removable wheels, balanced to take most of the weight, attached to and therefore steered by a waist belt. Get to a bay or stream: remove wheels, toss them in, paddle across, than back to walking.

Also, AND THIS COULD BE A BIG PLUS, consider the tides in Cook Inlet. 4 or 5 knots in some places at times, but even 1-2 knots of current, plus 1-2 knots of paddling and you're going place. 10-15 miles during a single flood up the east side or during an ebb down the west side. Do you imagine doing that in the pack rafts when the tides and winds allow? Your paddling speed would be quite low, it would mostly be in the tidal flow. Throwing sticks in the water every 30 minutes would let you see when the stick was making more progress than the hikers.

And yet, having a rigid craft, speedier and more voluminous though it is, could be very limiting (as you know more than most anyone). You're not going to climb a cliff or scramble through the devil's club with a canoe in tow, whereas you can thrash through anything inland, if for some reason the waterways aren't viable.

Along the lines of psychology - can your four-year-old carry a bit of volume? Does it help to feel like they're contributing? Sea-to-summit's day pack is 2.7 ounces and a sweater, hat and snack would easily fit inside.

Edited to add: Got your PM. I'll email direct about camping, shopping, and contact info for various local industrialists.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 01/20/2013 14:06:17 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Prolite for space saving on 01/20/2013 15:07:04 MST Print View

I bought a Prolite small model specifically for its compact size and low weight. It is my go-to pad for SUL mid-summer hikes. I supplement it it with a Z-seat sit pad for my feet, which a child wouldn't need.

I would look at a cut down Z-Rest for a less expensive (although bulkier) option. You could keep the extra sections for later use. From there, it's the blue foam pad cut to suit.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: Re: Re: Two other possibilities. on 02/04/2013 12:53:22 MST Print View

We have considered a rickshaw, which is what we ended up doing on Malaspina in fall 2011 (made out of a tiny bicycle wheel, foraged wood, and a packraft). But it's really really awkward once the terrain gets anything less than perfect (boulders, mud, brush, whatever). So our thought is that the balance tips against it, but that opinion could change. As for the 4 year old carrying volume, he's tiny for his age, and I don't want to increase his awkwardness too much, so we'll probably stick with a pack made for a preschooler that we have around here (slightly heavier, but actually fits him), and put just a small amount of stuff.

Packrafting the tides - Absolutely. That's something we're planning to take advantage of whenever it's reasonable. Where the channels are close to shore it'll be a major help. Some places, the channels are miles out from shore, so it won't work so well, but it'll be nice where it's nice (and also nice for rocky/cliffy sections of shore).