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Winter Sleeping pad choice?

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  • #16
    I use a Nemo Cosmo insulated air pad with a closed cell pad underneath. Been using it for about 10 years all seasons. I know someday I'll probably be scrambling to put extra clothes under myself when it springs a leak, but I've never slept better camping. It's really changed camping for me. Warm and very comfortable.

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    • #17
      I have been experimenting with pads and pad systems over the years and have found that I find there is three considerations for me. I"ll start with saying that I do not use pine or spruce boughs when I camp. I do not like denuding trees that way nor dealing with the sap. Besides I often camp in a mixed hardwood forest or a provincial park where in both cases boughs are not available or are not permitted. I will instead put down a small canvas, Tyvek or reflective tarp to keep my gear clean and dry. Any pads I comment on I currently own or have owned in the past and have traded or sold. I am always ready to make a deal.

      First consideration is comfort as I am in my 50s now and a side sleeper. I toss and turn at the best of times and a large, thick and soft pad is most comfortable to me. In this regard a MondoKing (old version not 3D) or MegaMat I find very comfortable, warm and I usually sleep well. Bulky and heavy buggers though.

      The second consideration is portability and durability as compact more technical pads are lighter and fit in a smaller package when pilling on a toboggan or backpacking but I do not always find them as comfortable and they really hate sparky fires. The Therma-A-Rest Neo Air XTherm fits in this category and I really like this pad but find that I need the large size to keep me on the pad at night (I have the regular). I also use an Insulated Static V but find that it is more of a shoulder season pad (-5C and above).

      The third consideration is deep cold. I have camped out several times in the minus 20s and 30s Celsius and once at -42C. When it gets this cold the pads I have already listed will work but will also need help. I find that all pads other then closed cell foam needs to be enclosed with me and my sleeping bag in a bivy to prevent convective cooling and help to move the dew point outwards, and that few pads other than the really bulky ones have sufficient R value to keep me warm without doubling up. To date I have had success with the following in deep cold:

      * Gortex USGI MSS bivy bag with Reflectix or closed cell foam under a open cell Therma-A-Rest self inflating pad (both inside).
      * Gortex USGI MSS bivy bag with closed cell foam under a Insulated Static V (both inside).
      * Gortex USGI MSS bivy bag with a Therma-A-Rest Neo Air XTherm inside but space was tight.
      * Canvas Cowboy Bed Roll (Swag) with Megamat inside but space was tight.
      * Canvas Cowboy Bed Roll (Swag) with an Insulated Static V under a 3" open cell upholstery foam pad (both inside). My new favourite for both warm and comfort but is bulky.

      I live in the country and enjoy testing my gear by sleeping out on porch in the winter. Yeah people think I am nuts but if something isn't working I just drag it all back into the house and snuggle up to my wife to warm up. (And I bet you can guess how well that goes over. LOL) I have recently acquired a Nemo Cosmo 3d Insultated pad that I will test this winter in my canvas bed roll. I find it comfortable but the true test will be in the cold.

      So depending on what type of camping and the expected lows will determine what I bring. If I am car camping or using a snowmobile or quad to haul my gear in a toboggan then go big or go home. If I am using my Black River toboggan and snowshoeing in then I downsize some, and if it is cold but no snow and I am backpacking then it will be the technical stuff. I have too much gear.....

      I can't comment on the Exped down filled pads as I have not owned or used one. I do know some people have had problems with them leaking, but also many seem happy with the comfort and warmth.

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      • #18
        Jimmay, interesting to hear you mention pad cooling. I have always wondered whether wide pads could potentially suffer from this more as there will be more of of the pad surface exposed to the air. I like to roll my spare clothes and put them alongside the pad, thinking that it will help insulate the pad sides as well as helping keep my arms off the ground should I roll on to my back.
        I made a couple of “non-waterproof “ bivy bags for Undersky, specifically sewn oversize to fit a big pad and winter bag. Took me a couple tries to get them large enough. I think they are a great way to boost sleep system performance. I have begun using a synthetic Thermarest blanket that snaps to the underside edges of my pad. Helps move that dew point out from my main bag as well as adding warmth.

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        • #19
          Back in the day when Thermarest made rectangular pads and I had a different partner we used the 3/4 length pads with Velcro on the long edges and laid them across the tent width. I am now collecting older second hand short T'Rests to remake a wide winter pad. Narrow pads suck.
          For my solo trips I use a RidgeRest Long/Wide plus an older S2S Comfort + which replaces a still comfortable but heavier T'Rest Basecamp in the old rectangular shape.

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          • #20
            Just something to think about here.
            My beloved and I went shopping yesterday for a mattress for her and part of the solution was to get a heavy duty yoga mat.
            55kilo EVA foam and 20mm thick which we will cut down to size. They also had 25mm and 32mm but we couldn't afford either of those.
            Too stiff to carry on a rucksack but for car based/ sled transport should be OK, leave flat and just pack your sleeping gear in a travel sack as the top load on your sled as the Scandinavians seem to do

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