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Need some ideas on sleeping pads
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alexander Holmes
(ventman) - M

Locale: SoCal
Need some ideas on sleeping pads on 03/24/2014 12:31:35 MDT Print View

I was wondering what sleeping pads those of you who backpack with a wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend use? We have two neoairs (the mummy style ones) and when we are sleeping one of us always finds the "hole" that is formed where the foot end of the pads tapers. I was wondering if getting a double is better or getting two rectangular ones and couple them together. Any ideas\suggestions would be appreciated. If you have a couple pads you would be willing to trade for some lightly used neoairs that would be cool too (just a side note I am not trying to make this a gear swap thread).

Thanks for your help in advance,

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Our system on 03/24/2014 17:08:44 MDT Print View

We made a joiner sheet for two tapered thermarest pads, perhaps you could make something similar.

We used fleece on top because it is warm and we had it on hand!


The bottom has a nylon pocket top and bottom to hold the pads and some elastic in the center.


In use, we Velcro Our Ray Way quilt to it and we're set!


You do need a warm hat when using a system like this in cold weather -


What are you using on top? A double quilt?
We slept under our quilt several times with just a string tying the two pads together around the middle. This sorta worked but decided we wanted something more like an orthodox bed and warmer.

Our new system works great and is very warm and reasonably light if bulky.

Edited by Bawana on 03/24/2014 17:10:11 MDT.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Need some ideas on sleeping pads on 03/25/2014 00:33:51 MDT Print View

Unfortunately, there is no great commercially available, lightweight system that I've found for the couple's sleeping pad conundrum.

With that said, I'd definitely suggest going with rectangular pads. All mummy shaped pads are just a nightmare to try and couple effectively, IMO.

Exped offers a fairly simple coupler kit consisting of velcro straps, but I think it can be improved upon greatly. I'm currently scheming an improved version of this design that keeps the middle elastic separator idea while eliminating the problematic velcro closure and cutting the weight by at least half. Hopefully each strap will weigh about an ounce, but we'll see.

Edited by dmusashe on 03/25/2014 00:35:41 MDT.

Nathan Avery
Feathered friends on 03/25/2014 01:55:59 MDT Print View

From what I can tell after researching this issue a fair amount is that the best commercially available system is the feathered friends penguin groundsheet which accomodates two 20 inch wide rectangular pads up to 72 inches long for the regular sheet or 78 inches for the extra long. It accomodates pads up to 2.5 inches thick. The sheet weighs 14 ounces so when paired with something like two of the BA clearview pads you could still have something of reasonable weight. It also can zip onto a penguin nano sleeping bag to make a bed for two. I'm sure you can make a cheaper and lighter system yourself, but i think that is the best one thats commercially available.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Feathered friends on 03/25/2014 02:17:25 MDT Print View

I too was excited about the Feathered Friends sheet system until I saw that the sheet weighed 14 ounces. It's just hard for me to stomach blowing 14 ounces on a piece of my sleeping system that provides almost no insulative value.

I also question how much room two people will have when they used a zipped open FF sleeping bag as their top quilt. I suspect that the open air gap between each person would be quite bad with this system, but I have no first hand experience. The girth numbers (64") certainly don't look promising compared to something like the Z-Packs twin quilt (84") which is almost universally regarded as actually being wide enough for two people without inherently creating much of a middle air gap between both people at neck level.

Edited by dmusashe on 03/25/2014 02:18:29 MDT.

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
It works on 03/25/2014 11:55:21 MDT Print View

Actually, the two-rectangular-20”-pads-and-single-bag-as-top-quilt thing that Feathered Friends is doing works amazingly well.

You do need a long version sleeping bag though, because that way you get extra to wrap around yer head and tuck in to fill any gap between the two people sleeping in there. This extra length is probably critical!

I’ve never used the Feathered Friends rig but my wife and I used the similar “Thermanest” system fer nigh on twenty years!
Not once did I ever feel bothered by drafts between the two of us, because I was smart enough to get the long sleeping bag.

Old Thermanest system –

This is the bottom showing the pads. Note that one pad is a Wal Mart blue foam pad!
Doesn't get lighter and cheaper than that. Also doesn't go flat or need blowing up, and is pretty warm. The pad next to it is a 1980s vintage Thermarest and boy, that thing is the ultamate in comfort and warmth, but it is heavy.


The top bag was a single tapered rectangular synthetic bag rated at 20 degrees.
Using it as a top quilt was never constricting at all. But then, I'm 5'7" and 140 pounds, my wife is a little taller with broader shoulders and heavier. Two 200 pound whales might find it tight?

The sheet that joined the two pads was made of a poly / cotton blend and weighed about a pound. Naturally there was a zipper on the sheet that matched the bag.

Over time, the synthetic bag died and has little of its original warmth and loft left, while retaining the original weight. Time to make another.

My new system was an attempt to re-create the warmth and comfort of the old system at a lighter weight, and was entirely successful.

We did try just draping the Ray Way quilt over us as per Ray Jardine practice, but it wasn't very warm. I simply used string to bind our two tapered thermarest pads together, and that sorta worked, but it did not provide the cozy draft free "bed" that a full joiner sheet does.

Indeed, the bottom sheet can be made lighter, but I was going for warmth and cheapness, and had the fleece handy. I did use velcro instead of a zipper for simplicity and light weight, but a full zipper will be warmer.

Do not underestimate the warmth that the joiner sheet adds to this system. While it does not have any loft of it's own any trapped air space adds to the warmth and it seals out the drafts very well, and is a much nicer surface to sleep upon than a plastic mat. This last is important to us because we sleep nude in all but freezing weather.
We don't need to wear clothing to bed, this system is warm enough without it for most 3 season camping.

Also, a very real bonus is the shared body warmth! You just don't get that with two separate sleeping bags.

Our Thermanest system was heavy, but it was still lighter than two bags and two pads, and got us used to thinking of a single bag open as a top quilt over us with "just" the pads for insulation below. Twenty years ago I thought we were being pretty slick and high tech and all that!

Trust a couple that has been using such a system fer a very long time, it works very well, and for us was as comfortable as our bed at home.

Edited by Bawana on 03/25/2014 12:00:32 MDT.

Rob P
(rpjr) - M
Exped on 03/25/2014 15:40:20 MDT Print View

I was on Exped's website recently and noticed they had several new double pads, FYI.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Feathered friends on 03/25/2014 16:06:23 MDT Print View

I think the weight of the Feathered Friends sheet system is greatly exaggerated. We got it and it measured several ounces less that advertised (sorry, I don't have the number). It might be worth stopping by and just weighing it. Also, the fleeces is heavier, but adds a bit of warmth (it is certainly more comfortable to get into). The nylon version is lighter (although I don't see it on the website, which is weird).

Back to pads, I think it might make sense to also look for the first generation Neo-Air, although I think there are probably some good pads out there that are rectangular as well. Personally, I think I might go with a little bit of closed cell foam. As long as you can keep the pads together, a bit of foam should work well.

Edited by rossbleakney on 03/25/2014 16:12:41 MDT.

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
pads on 03/25/2014 16:41:49 MDT Print View

I'm using an older Thermarest Prolite 4 and Trail lite regular.
The older Prolite 4 is annoyingly tapered ( but does work ) but the newer pad isn't so bad and two of the newer pads should work just fine.

You can see in my photos above how bad the gap is. In practice, we don't notice it.

I dunno nuttin' about those new air mattresses though. Don't trust 'em and don't have enough hot air to inf;late 'em! :)

- I see that the Thermarest web site says my newer pad should be several ounces lighter than it really is!

Our original Thermanest sleeping bag alone weighed 67.7 ounces, just over four pounds.
Each of the two thermarest pad weighed about 37.8 ounces, the coupler weighed 18 ounces and the massive Lowe Alpine System compressor stuff sack they sold me at REI to carry the bag in ( which certainly shortened the life of the sleeping bag ) is 7.7 ounces all by itself!
Thus this comfy system weighed in at a hefty 169 ounces or ten and a half pounds.
At 5-1/4 pounds per person I didn’t think this was out of line twenty year ago!

With my new system the modified Ray Way quilt weighs 45 ounces in its stuff sack
The fleece joiner sheet weighs 16.3 ounces.

Great weight savings were also made by the use of the newer thinner ( and less warm ) and tapered thermarest pads. One is an older Prolite 4 that weighs 24.8 ounces in its lightweight and-almost-too-tight stuff sack. The other is a new Trail Lite regular at 28.6 ounces in its over sized and heavily built stuff sack.

Total weight so far is 114.7 ounces or 7.1 pounds or about 3.58 lbs. per person. Not bad, considering the comfort and warmth!

In practice we don't use the thermarest stuff sacks so we're actually a tad below that.

Uh, but I have a confession to make. Last year I got two “Cocoon Air Core” inflatable pillows, as seen in the photo above. My wife is ambivalent about ‘em, but I simply love them! I feel they are well worth the extra weight because I do indeed sleep better with one. I guess I’m getting soft in my old age…
These two pillows weight 6.6 and 6.7 ounces respectively in their stuff sacks, for a total weight of 13.3 ounces, bringing the sleep system weight up to 128 ounces or exactly eight pounds total. I think. Feel free to check my math.

Maybe sounds heavy at first. but it ain't. Remember we're talkin' couples gear.
My wife carries all the bedding for a light if bulky load. She is sticking to her old internal frame pack which is probably about five pounds. On our last four day trip in February her base load was 16 pound.

I carry all the food, the tent and the stove. My base load is typically between ten and eleven pounds ( big cook kit ) but carrying all the food and three quarts of water I'll start at 26-ish pounds for four days.

Not sure what y'all are carrying but I don't feel these weights are too unreasonable, at least fer us.

Edited by Bawana on 03/25/2014 16:44:28 MDT.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Couples pads on 03/25/2014 17:41:03 MDT Print View

We use two BA IAC full length pads with nothing to hold them together. We have not had a problem with them separating. We have been using a tent with a PU coated floor thought. It could be a problem if the pads easily slid on the floor. We also use a double wide Ray Way quilt.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Couples pads on 03/25/2014 19:21:13 MDT Print View

Big Agnes, Exped, Klymit, and (to a lesser extent) Thermarest, all make viable rectangular pads for lightweight backpacking.

What lots of people seem to want is a rectangular Thermarest XLite, but such a thing doesn't exist right now. The closest thing to that that Thermarest offers is the All Season Neoair.

Edited by dmusashe on 03/25/2014 19:24:43 MDT.

alexander Holmes
(ventman) - M

Locale: SoCal
Great many thanks on 03/28/2014 05:18:40 MDT Print View

Thanks everybody for your input. It was very helpful to hear and see what works for you.

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Anytime. on 03/28/2014 10:37:29 MDT Print View

Your welcome Alex, let us know what you wind up using!