I am about the worlds worst sleeper. Falling asleep is no problem, but staying asleep is another matter entirely. The slightest noise will wake me from a deep slumber to ‘all stations go’ in a split second. Let alone a finely tuned circadian rhythm that floods my body with cortisol hormones like clockwork every morning.
Hence sleeping in a tent was always going to be a challenge. There is nowhere to hide from rustling trees, dog barks or noisy camp grounds. Any light source, be it a full moon, caravan park light or the arrival of the next day’s dawn, seems to be exaggerated in a tent. So I’ve started sleeping with one of those black airplane sleep masks. These little suckers are actually REALLY GOOD!
Another factor is the whole sleeping bag thing. Having slept like a starfish the last 2 ½ decades in a queen size bed, Mummy sleeping bags are a little on the ‘snug side’….. So it didn’t take us too long to work out that perhaps zipping our bags together might be a good idea. In fact, we purposely bought left and right side zipped bags with the intent of doing this on the odd occasion. Well the odd occasion has become ‘all the time’ after just one night in our own little cocoons. We keep them zipped together and stuff the whole lot into a Sea to Summit large compression sack.
Don’t get me wrong, the sleeping bags themselves are actually really nice. We went for 800+ loft, down fill, Macpac Express 600 STD. These bags are super warm, maybe too warm, I don’t know. But I DO know that I hate being cold at night, so I’d rater have a sleeping bag that’s too warm and you can open up than one that’s not warm enough.
We also invested in a Sea to Summit silk sleeping bag liner. The jury is still out on this one. It makes perfect sense to have a liner to keep the sleeping bags fresh for longer, especially on those hot sweaty nights. Of course, you can wash Down sleeping bags, but it sounds like a bit of an epic drama to do so. It is just a bit of a shame that the liner takes on a life of it’s own in the dark of night and appears to have this ulterior motive of trying to slowly strangle you like a Boa Constrictor whilst you are asleep. By the morning you are sometimes swaddled so tight you almost need a can opener to escape it’s evil clutches.
None such sinister problems with the mattress! It’s a self inflating Thermarest Prolite Plus Womens sleeping mat about 1” thick and they are actually surprising comfortable. I always like to puff mine up a little more so my child bearing hips don’t dig into the ground.
We are both the same height so a women’s size is sufficient for both of us. They are a tapered at the end though, so you don’t want to thrash around too much or you’ll end up on the bare floor. The first few night I woke up pretty stiff and sore the next day, but as time went on I didn’t mind it at all.
The third and final piece is a pure luxury item, a PILLOW. Yes, I can hear a ‘gasp’ from the weight conscious riders out there. Most bike tourers will happily stuff a bag full of clothes and rest their weary heads on it at night, but we decided to take pillows with us. Our first set were 2 medium Thermarest Compressible Pillows, but the filling was a bit on the light side, so we’ve upgraded to self inflatable, foam filled Black Wolf pillows. They roll up super small and are more supportive than the Thermarest. I even sewed up some rather fetching flannel pillow cases!
In the end I need not have worried too much about getting a good night’s rest. The first two nights were pretty average, but I found that by the third night I was so tired from riding all day for 3 days and not sleeping for 2 nights, that I pretty much passed out anyway. After that, I was fine 🙂