A Wider Lighter DIY Sleeping Pad

Unless you are tiny (like my wife Della) I’m sure that you have found that when you sleep on your back your arms fall off the sides of a ‘standard’ 20″ sleeping pad such as my wonderful Exped Winter mat shown. This is both uncomfortable and cold. Of course you could buy a (much) wider mat – but they are usually only 24-25″ so not much better, particularly if you are (likely) larger than me, and they can add hundreds of grams to your pack load too. Some people suggest I use my shoes for this purpose, but as my shoes are almost never dry at the end of the day…

Though enjoying a good night’s sleep is just about the most important thing you can have in the wilderness (to which add, having a great time and getting home safe), a wider pad is not necessarily going to do it for you, particularly with all that extra weight. What you see here is a way of doing it without adding any weight at all – as the three pillows shown likely weigh less than the one pillow you are currently using!

The little $20 gadget which did this for me is a Kleva Seal Bag Sealer which I bought recently from K-Mart. It will seal up the Graham Air pillows I wrote about here, but I am still looking for something which will do a better job. I would like the sealed strip to be wider. You will want one of these though for your freezer bag cookery & etc. They are just great, and attach magnetically to the fridge.

I have added four small (sewing) grommets to the two side pillows. I will attach them to the sleeping mat like I did the Stop Losing Your Pillow. That will pull them in close and keep them in just the right position. Each of them weighs 19 grams at the moment but they are nearly 18″ long and need only be around 12″. Some cord and a couple of these clam cleats will only add a gram or two. So the wider mat will weigh an additional ounce at most. I think sewn loops of gross grain ribbon will work more robustly than the grommets which are a bit flimsy.

You will also notice the foreshortened pillow I wrote about before. It weighs 12 grams. You will have to be careful with these pillows, but I used one for over two years (until I replaced it as it was so shamefully grubby), so if you are careful you will get some miles out of them – and anyway they only cost about $2 each.

I was going to use the two pillows I wrote about here (which would make a much more robust set-up, but I have been sleeping on the floor in the loungeroom of late (on account of some insecticide poisoning – more about that later) and I have found them just too comfy to be cutting down right now. Besides they weigh around 100 grams each (which would make the set-up using two halves) that weight. I have ordered a couple of lighter ones from Amazon.

Of course you could place some insulation (eg Primaloft Gold, or etc) inside the pillow before you sealed it up to make for a winterised kit.

This post should be read in the context of ways to shorten or modify a sleeping pad.

PS: You could also use the Kleva Seal to create a long, thin plastic tube with which you could make one of these, an Inflatable Bathtub Groundsheet. Another idea I am toying with is an inflatable space blanket quilt. Stay posted…

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2 thoughts on “A Wider Lighter DIY Sleeping Pad”

  1. Hi
    It is quite common for hammock users to put an elastic sleeve over their mat with foam cut-outs (mimicking the klymit ‘wing mat’ to protect elbows and knees from draft but obviously that’s easier as there is no marrying of mat to pillow heights.. how high do these pillows inflate in comparison to your mat?
    I’d been looking at these pillows but was reticent to buy such a bulk order. I found singles at Dutchwear (14 inches by 11 inches by a reported 4 inch loft which weigh 16.5 grams including the straw $2.. the JRB ones are now $3) https://dutchwaregear.com/product/inflatable-pillow/
    Thankfully in the UK we now have a reseller of these (henge_hammocks) at £4.70 which eliminates any P&P and fuss.
    Maybe a sleeve if light enough would still be a more elegant solution.. though I can’t imagine it coming anywhere close to the weights you are proposing. If it had a secondary feature e.g. ‘plushness’.. this might be of benefit to us quilt users.. gods know what material that could be though..
    Cheers Rigby

    1. Hi Again Rigby, I have spent over a year of my life sleeping out in a hammock – in all weathers. I just use my normal pad (eg Thermarest Neoair Womens and my normal sleeping bag Montbell. Again have a look at this link: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/06/12/thermoplastics-101/ I think the heavier pillows are more suitable. I do have some other posts for hammock campers, such as: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/06/30/no-cold-shoulder-spreader-hammock/ & https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/02/07/hammock-pad-extender/ & https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/01/11/klymit-hammock-pad/ & https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/03/06/side-insulation/ I have lots of other hammock posts if you do a search on my web page for ‘hammock’, thus: : https://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=hammock Cheers, Steve.

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