3 of 5 bananas
$74.95 @ REI
After a couple of years of carrying a queen size inflatable mattress when we were car camping, or just sleeping on the ground when we were hiking, Scoot and I decided to buy a couple of those self-inflating sleeping pads. We were skeptical about their effectiveness and we hated to spend that much money on something that we had no confidence in, but we caught them on sale and decided to give them a try. It was one of the best camping gear purchases we have made.
We bought two of the Therma-Rest brand Basecamp Sleeping pad at REI on clearance for around fifty dollars a piece. The first time we used them while hiking I was amazed it just how comfortable they were, but I honestly figured that it was a fluke thing, that we were really tired or that the ground was soft or something. I could not believe that something so small could be so comfortable. Well, it was not a fluke. We have given away our big inflatable mattress and now use the therma-rests exclusively. Ours are about 1.75 inches thick and in addition to making you more comfortable they insulate you from the ground, and because they are so thin they heat up fairly quickly. The big inflatable mattress we had before seemed to leach heat away from you as the night progressed, but I have not noticed this at all with the therma rest.
They roll up into about a five inch diameter circle and I usually strap mine to the outside of my pack. I suggest that you also buy a compression sack (about $12.00) that fits it if you are going to hike with it much, it is just easier. Another great accessory for these matresses is a “Trekker Chair Sleeve”. This sleeve fits over the matress and converts it into a camp chair with a back. It may seem silly, but I can tell you that everytime I let my fellow campers try it, I am afraid I am going to have to fight to get it back. These run about $35.00, but they are well worth it in my opinion.
Even though they are a little pricey this sleeping pad/chair combo are well worth the money and the weight in your pack. I know that when we get ready to go out for an overnight stay, they are some of the first things I pack.