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…
There are now over 100 DIY ideas here: