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Question for fellow side sleepers
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Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/08/2014 15:26:37 MST Print View

I'm not new to BPing but fairly new to doing it anywhere under 55lbs... and steadily shaving weight and replacing gear. I'm at a point where my next big weight savings will be my sleep system and I have some concerns about the options, being a side sleeper (and fairly restless at that).

Mummies drive me nuts but I suffer through it. I'm currently lugging out a MH Extralamina 20 (long) on the shoulder seasons and a MH Lamina 0 (long) in the winter, both synth bags. Obviously switching to down is the next step but I'm stuck wondering if I stick with a bag or make the transistion to a quilt.

The Xtralamina has a full zip and I've attempted to use the quilt feature of this bag a few times with varied success... as I'm sometimes restless it ended up slipping off and I woke up freezing. I'd assume that straps around the pad would help allieviate that issue... maybe? Not drinking coffee right before bed might help as well, but that's a different issue.

Looking for ideas/recommendations from fellow side sleepers on quilt vs bag vs ?


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/08/2014 15:32:57 MST Print View

Many quilt users prefer a full sleeping bag for colder weather, let's say around 20F.

I like quilts, but was hesitant at first. I bought a used synthetic quilt here on BPL years ago, that was only good for warmer weather. But it gave me the opportunity to experiment with minimum investment. I think a lot of people buy quilts that are to small around the shoulders and it causes them grief.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/08/2014 15:33:39 MST Print View

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/08/2014 15:33:53 MST Print View

I am a side sleeper mainly and use both quilts and bags, if using bags I try to move with the bag, its takes a bit of practice.

Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
thanks on 01/08/2014 15:41:28 MST Print View

Appreciate the replies and thanks for the link Doug.

Joe Lynch
(rushfan) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
montbell bag on 01/08/2014 16:50:13 MST Print View

I use a super spiral sleeping bag from Montbell. It has a lot of give and is very light. I'm very active and the bag works for me.

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
Side sleeper/stomach sleeper on 01/08/2014 17:37:23 MST Print View

I purchased a GoLite 20F quilt a few years back and it's been great in weather above 50F since I can spread my hands wherever I want outside the bag. In temperatures between 20 and 40 it's too cold for hands to be outside so I tend to wear a puffy and camp gloves to maintain my freedom. Anything colder and I'm trapped in a mummy bag - where if I were to sleep on my side I need to move the whole bag onto its side and endure a few minutes while the backside down lofts.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Side sleeper/stomach sleeper on 01/09/2014 05:57:55 MST Print View

I'm what they call an athletic "rotissérie sleeper..." and I never liked mummy bags...I always got tangled up in them. I tried the Big Agnes system where you slide your pad in a sleeve in the bottom of your bag...worked like a champ in terms of not letting me get tangled up, kept me from falling off the mat; it was almost perfect. I just couldn't lie on my back with my knees bent - my most favorite position for bedtime reading.

I found a great deal on a golite 1+ season down quilt and I've never looked back. It was literally the solution to all my problems...except for the problem that I now own too many quilts!

I have slept all the way to the mid teens in a quilt with only an occasional minor annoyance of keeping it tucked in under me at those temps (no margin for error there!). But otherwise, they are perfect. I do make sure to buy WIDE quilts so I have enough width at my shoulders and butt to keep it tucked under me if I need to, and so far I haven't used any pad attachment systems. I can roll over on my mat, lie on my stomach, then roll the other way, and it all pretty much stays put.

It's nice because with the quilt system you don't breathe into the hood of the bag. This was a HUGE problem for me as a side and stomach sleeper and I'm sure contributed to some shivering nights.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Side sleeping on 01/09/2014 07:15:54 MST Print View

I am a restless side sleeper. I use a foam pad, so after about an hour of sleeping on one side, I wake up a bit uncomfortable and have to roll over. This happens 5-10 times a night.

I started using a quilt last summer, and I find it much easier (and lighter, of course) than a mummy bag. Basically, I lie on my side, and I tuck the edges of the quilt under myself. When I roll over, I repeat the process. It takes just a few seconds each time. Once I got a few nights' experience, I found that I could do it without even thinking about it and fall back to sleep almost immediately. I only use the clips (it's a Katabatic quilt) to attach to my pad when it's going to be below freezing. Even then, they don't make much difference if you tuck the quilt under you.

My quilt is normal width. If you get a wide quilt, you will find you have even more margin for error, and you'd probably have little trouble keeping cold air out when you roll over.

Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
re:Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/09/2014 10:14:48 MST Print View

Great info folks and LOL @ athletic "rotissérie sleeper..." Jennifer! I can relate!

It sounds like I just need to make the switch and move to a quilt... and get practice at keeping it on throughout the night.

I'll keep my eye out for good deals on gear swap for a long+wide quilt for me and a regular+wide for the wife.


Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: re:Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/09/2014 10:51:03 MST Print View

"I use a super spiral sleeping bag from Montbell. It has a lot of give and is very light. I'm very active and the bag works for me."


I have the ULSS#3 and it works great for me as a side sleeper.

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Mummy Bags on 01/09/2014 13:21:53 MST Print View

I have most of the issues described above with mummy bags, but I'm also at an in-between height (5'8" or 9", depending on who you ask), and I feel like I'm always not fitting into the hood right. (Usually, I get a face full of sleeping bag and a ton of drafts because the face hole is wide open.)

I had a bad first experience with quilts, mostly due to poor choices in sizing, etc., but I picked up one of the Golite Z30 quilts when they were on sale and have been loving it ever since.

That said, my biggest problem is getting my pillow to stay under my head.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Pillows on 01/09/2014 14:48:02 MST Print View

"That said, my biggest problem is getting my pillow to stay under my head."

Let me know when you fix that in a lightweight way. So I can steal you idea! ;^)

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Re: Pillow on 01/09/2014 14:49:53 MST Print View

I think my next step is to try one of these:

It looks promising, but I want to figure out the rest of my sleep system (i.e. pad in this case) before shelling out the cash for something that may not fit.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Pillow on 01/09/2014 15:48:43 MST Print View

Wallace is a BPL member. He offered a discount to BPL members a few months back and I picked up a couple of these pillow cases. As one would guess, my teenaged daughter wanted the black one because it was more mature and I wanted the one with the monkeys.

I use it with an Exped UL pillow and when I don't need to sleep with it on, I throw my down sweater in there too. As a side sleeper, it works great and is really comfy.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Pillow pocket on 01/09/2014 15:52:12 MST Print View

I've tried a "pillow pocket" on a BA sleeping bag and that didn't work for me, no where to put my arm...

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Sleeping bag as quilt; pillows are tough on 01/09/2014 23:01:52 MST Print View

I'm a thrasher when I sleep - lots of movement, many different positions. Using a mummy bag as designed, and a thin foam pad, resulted in many nights of poor sleep in the backcountry.

About two years ago, I switched to a 2-inch-thick Therm-A-Rest pad – vastly improved comfort.

I was tempted to try a quilt, but couldn't justify the expense. So I started using my sleeping bag like a quilt. I just open up the zipper all the way, and drape it over me.

Much more comfortable, and just as warm into the upper 20s. Between the thicker pad and the sleeping-bag-as-quilt, I'm sleeping much better. My next major purchase will be a quilt, maybe the EE Enigma.

I'm also a pillow mangler - sometimes I want a thin pillow (on my back or stomach), sometimes I want a thick pillow (on my side). At home, I can reshape a feather pillow literally in my sleep.

Lightweight backpacking is a whole different story. If it's cold enough, I don't have extra clothes for a pillow, and water bottles & similar stuff doesn't mangle.

Just a couple of days ago I got a Big Sky inflatable pillow. Haven't tried it yet, but it looks promising. I can sleep on the skinny part in the middle, on one of the ends, or standing on a long edge.

-- Rex

Edited by Rex on 01/09/2014 23:21:32 MST.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/09/2014 23:29:27 MST Print View

". . . being a side sleeper (and fairly restless at that)."

Something that was fairly liberating to me was reading in a BPL thread this idea that maybe it isn't a bad thing that we don't sleep straight through the night. It sounds stupid but it was a real "a-ha" moment where I realized it was ok to have trouble falling asleep (especially when I don't get out for enough nights in a row to get used to it), toss and turn, wake at strange noises and then go back to sleep. You could look at it as just another part of the skill set of UL backpacking, being "comfortable enough."

As for gear, I'm a side sleeper and have also been happy with a quilt (a Nunatak Arc Alpinist) for some time. There are more options that when I bought my quilt, but in general, I'd choose:

(1) a wide quilt (maybe slightly heavier than a narrow one but worth it)
(2) appropriate R-value underneath you.
(3) the right shape of sleeping pad for you (short or full-length, tapered or rectangular, horizontal or vertical tubes)

If the quilt doesn't work, you can always sell it here and go back to a bag (maybe a Montbell stretchy bag or a Western Mountaineering bag. Both brands are popular here).

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Big Sky inflatable pillow on 01/10/2014 10:34:57 MST Print View

"Just a couple of days ago I got a Big Sky inflatable pillow. Haven't tried it yet, but it looks promising."

Be sure to let us know how it works for you. I am curious to know if you liked it.

Kelly G
(KellyDT) - F
Hoodless bag on 01/15/2014 21:51:53 MST Print View

My habit is to turn side-to-side within the bag. I found that a down mummy bag worked most of the time... but a couple times, I had cinched the hood to a small opening because of the cold, and later woke up, not actually panicked because I recognized where I was and such, but probably slightly suffocating from side-sleeping inside the hood and therefore a reduced oxygen supply. Loosening the cinched hood was difficult in the dark when needing a good breath of air. Decided I hated hooded mummy's.

I bought a Z-packs bag (no hoods) and added a separate Goosefeet down hood. Perfect. Hood moves with me, nose is always able to breath, and no issue with air gap/cold getting in around the neck. Love it.


Charley White

Locale: Petaluma
re: Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/15/2014 22:29:03 MST Print View

Kelly G. Side to side in the bag. Also hate to wake up with my face in the black hole. But I kept and still use the hood when really cold. When near zero in my 15deg bag, there is nothing like going full mummy on your back, battening all the hatches. body seems to know this is not a night to thrash around. Mindful sleep? Who knows.

Edit to add: "full mummy" is shy of covering the mouth; never want to breathe into bag. Life of striving to nose-breath generally successful. If really cold, will cover mouth with raised Turtle Fur neck gaiter. Mummy hood when off head makes really nice pillow pouch. Never drifts away.

Edited by charleywhite on 01/16/2014 10:47:00 MST.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
side sleeper on 01/16/2014 07:23:59 MST Print View

In 2007 a Marmot Helium was my goto bag and it was a very comfortable bag but I went to quilts to save 10 oz or more. But I was not getting a good nights sleep so
I gave up my quilt and went back to a bag. I was warm in the quilt as long as I laid in place but my sleep was not good, if I rolled from side to side there were drafts and I did this for a few years. But now Zpacks bags and Feathered Friends Vireo bags are 18 oz and I get a more restful sleep. I prefer a hoodless bag, it's just warmer to have my breath outside the bag. The Nanosphere protection on the Vireo is incredible, condensation just rolls off. I went so far as to leave my bag in the rain, weighing it before and after and no weight gain, bone dry. Yet no zipper is not for everyone but it works for me.
I use my pack for a pillow with my clothes inside but I'm going to try the zpacks stuff sack pillow.

Edited by anthonyweston on 01/16/2014 10:11:53 MST.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Question for fellow side sleepers on 01/16/2014 09:08:21 MST Print View

once i flip around a few times i'm out for the night so quilts are not problem for me. get the sides tucked in and i'm good. with my EE rev x 20 i use the top snap to keep it around my shoulders. my myog summer quilt doesn't have that yet but it isn't usually necessary

as for pillow, i have the exped air pillow and took a piece of stretch cord from one loop to go under the pad and attach to the other loop with a mitten hook. if your pillow doesn't have loops you can make them with a few pieces of tenacious tape and a hole punch ;)

Edited by JakeDatc on 01/16/2014 09:10:59 MST.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Pillow staying in place on 01/16/2014 11:47:26 MST Print View

I have a Montbell pillow which has a hole in each corner. I used thick shock cord which runs in an X pattern through the holes, and is tightened with a cord lock. I slide the pillow onto my inflatable pad, and tighten the shock cord if necessary. It's difficult to slide the pillow even if I want to.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Re: Making the Switch to a Quilt on 01/16/2014 14:31:15 MST Print View

Nick is right that a quilt may not be the best choice for some of the more athletic sleepers (you know who you are) when temperatures drop significantly below freezing. That said, to me, a quilt can nearly always be just as warm as a bag. I would not unzip your ultra-lamina all the way to experiment with quilting. Most quilts have zippers that go up as far as(or above?) the legs. so you may want to try a 2/3 unzip. Quilts also usually connect around your neck. You "could" go fetal and find your back side exposed in a quilt, but if you get a wide enough quilt it's really nothing to keep it wrapped around you through the night. The colder I am I find the more surely I do so.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Big Sky inflatable pillow on 01/29/2014 22:18:35 MST Print View

Tried the Big Sky inflatable pillow with cover at GGG. Worked pretty well, though I'd be happier if it was about 1 inch thicker for side sleeping with big shoulders.

Undecided on the cover, but that was very comfy. Next trip I'll try it without the cover.

Definitely a keeper.

-- Rex

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Question for fellow side sleepers on 02/02/2014 20:38:46 MST Print View

I found it hard to sleep on my side in a sleeping bag that has a hood. The bag never wanted to follow me as I tossed and turned. The quilt seemed better because of the straps keeping it put on the pad, but much of the time I just wrap the straps around my body instead. Still works. I wear a Ray Jardine bomber hat that I sewed myself to keep my head warm. When it's cold, I add a second quilt, a JRB wearable quilt. I leave my down jacket at home and wear the quilt in camp and then drape it on top of me in bed. Keeps out the drafts of my quilt.

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
side sleeper on 02/02/2014 22:23:17 MST Print View

I've taken to tossing and turning a lot, and side, rather than back, sleeping.
Just changed from bags to a quilt, and am very happy with it. I got a wide Katabatic Palisade whose attachment system eliminates drafts, and that has an overstuffed collar that cinches down around the neck. Maybe I've been instantly spoiled by Katabatic's features, but using it at low temps hasn't been an issue. First 3 nights were 20s, ~10F with layers, and ~0F with a down hoody.
No more twisting, burrowing, and breathing into the bag, plus so far I seem to stay on my pad better(presumably due to being clipped to it!).

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Very restless side sleeper on 02/03/2014 07:26:25 MST Print View

I'm a veteran tosser and turner, and claustrophobic as well. Mummies give me fits. Quilts were the answer for me except in winter. The past two winters I've been experimenting with a Nunatak Arc Expedition (5 F rating), with some success. Sometimes I go back to my 25-year old Western Mountaineering Sequoia, a nifty mummy-semi rectangular hybrid, also rated at 5 F, supplemented by an overbag if necessary. A recent find was a BA Q Core pad that magically keeps me atop it, which helps particularly with the quilt. With the quilt I wear a down sweater that has a fabric hood, plus a watch cap.

Petra S

Locale: Ohio
Side Sleeper on 02/15/2014 10:42:32 MST Print View

As a side and back sleeper, I can't stand mummy bags. However, I went on my first winter hike, having bought a Feathered Friends Murre and slept like a baby! It's made for women, and I can turn and roll and the bag stays in place! I can even have enough room to bring up my knees when I'm on my side.

My tent buddy has a different take on the side sleeping solution though. He bought a custom made sleeping pad so that it would be big enough for him to side sleep without worrying about falling off. He uses his 15F bag unzipped as a quilt and down pants and coat over his long johns when it was really cold.

Can't say that either of us are ultralight, but we'd rather sleep well and carry a few more oz, than tired the next day on the trail :)

Likes Hikes
(BasqueJ88) - F
restless, broad shouldered side sleeper on 02/28/2014 13:03:16 MST Print View

I haven't looked back since switching to quilts. Like many others have said, having a wide enough quilt is going to prevent drafts for the most part. Pad attachment systems(especially Katabatic's), do a solid job of keeping out drafts. I rarely ever use straps and have no issues with drafts most of the time.

When it is <30, I will wear a hooded down jacket. Even in very cold temps I stick with quilts and have sold off any sleeping bags I owned. I just placed an order for a 0* Long/Xtra Wide from Enlightened Equipment for winter camping.

Lindsey Sommer
(lgsommer) - M
RE: Question for fellow side sleepers on 03/05/2014 17:47:44 MST Print View

I have spent so many years looking at threads about side sleepers! I am also a restless sleeper who basically spends all night rolling around. I'm currently using one of the new NEMO spoon shaped bags, and I like it overall because I can bend my legs more in the bag. That being said, I'm about to make the transition to a quilt because even the NEMO bag gets a bit tangled, and sometimes I think the whole headpiece is lost on me...

My new system is going to be a Hammock Gear quilt + occasional montbell thermawrap pants + occasional down jacket (which I carry anyways). I also get up alot at night, so for cold times, I think the extra layers might be good anyways.

And for nights that aren't below freezing, I think I'll enjoy the freedom of NOT being trapped in a bag :)

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Re: Big Sky inflatable pillow on 04/15/2014 23:34:54 MDT Print View

Used the Big Sky pillow on a recent seven night trip. On the last night, I had a "well, duh!" moment that made a big difference.

Old procedure: Set up camp, inflate pillow, make dinner, stare at stars, go to bed a couple hours later. The pillow is not thick enough for side sleeping, so I pile clothing on top if available. Clothing slips off, I wake up to readjust. Lather, rinse, repeat.

New procedure: Same as above, but add more air just before going to sleep. Pillow thickness is perfect, no need for clothing. I sleep much better.

Why? You inflate the pillow with nice warm air from your lungs. Then that air cools down to ambient temperature in a couple of hours. The air inside shrinks, and the pillow is skinnier. Top it off after the air inside the pillow cools down, problem solved.

Hope this helps someone else using an inflatable pillow.

-- Rex

Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
SS on 04/17/2014 15:58:02 MDT Print View

Side sleeper, wake up every time I turn over. FF Vireo was the answer for me. Tried the Palisade, didn't care for the attachment system (odd I know), got tired of the drafts or having to tuck after every turn over. The Vireo is always there, no mental awareness needed or job after every turn over. Feet are warmer with the Vireo. I guess the Vireo is narrow in the legs and feet, but I do just great with it. 18oz with some overfill in the upper half. So much better than having a hood, as I use either a Black Rock hat or a Goosefeet hood.

Using the Klimit X pillow; nice thickness if half inflated with a light down jacket on top. Or no jacket and a hard inflated thing under your head. A choice!


Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
side sleeper on 04/17/2014 17:38:03 MDT Print View

I echo Steve's recommendation of a custom Vireo. I love mine, with 5oz of overfill has proven comfortable down to 18 degrees in my merino sleep cloths alone and weights 22oz. Here is a BPL link for information on customizing a Vireo:

I also am using a 30 degree Zpacks bag for warmer weather, with the long zipper giving me the option of using it as quilt or as a bag. I pair both with a Goosefeet Down balaclava and down booties.