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Like a Newbie, But Cooler
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Discussion Starter #1
On my journey from random chubby guy to elite survivalist, I've been getting more and more prepared for the inevitable - actually being outdoors for extended periods of time :)

A couple days ago I pulled out the family tent. At least, it was the family tent five years and two kids ago when we first got it. We'll need something bigger for the family, but for this week it was great with just me and the boys in the back yard.

The first night, I used a big blow-up mattress and got the best night's sleep of my life. The mattress was comfy, and with no TV I went to bed 2-3 hours earlier than usual. Last night we did it again, this time without the mattress. I was extremely uncomfortable with only the plastic tent floor and a sleeping bag between me and the ground.

I'm wondering if you guys have any tips. I've been losing weight, but this is early in the process. That might help. Is this a common thing that just takes getting used to? Is weight a difficult barrier to overcome? Or are there other tips to make it easier?

It's not a big hassle to use the mattress, and it's even pretty portable. I'd just like to get to the point where I can live well on as little as possible. I ended up taking a hour-long nap in my bed as soon as I'd packed up the gear in our back yard.
 

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To secure peace is to...
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4,194 Posts
I have a Thermorest sleeping pad that I use for backpacking. Thermorest is quite proud of them. Yet, despite the big bucks I spent on it, it isn't very comfortable. In the years that I've backpacked, I've never, NEVER slept comfortably on the ground. I think we were meant to sleep in beds.
 

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SquiddusMaximus (Retired)
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3,059 Posts
I've found in my soiree in the desert that any pad is better than no pad at all. Also consider in colder climates having a barrier (poly, foam, cardboard, whatever) between you and the ground so you aren't wasting body heat on warming the ground beneath you as opposed to keeping in it your bag.
 

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Live Secret, Live Happy
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15,782 Posts
Sleeping on a thermarest (camprest thank you, I am getting old) is a good start. If you are car camping vs backpacking you might be more comfortable with 6in thick foam.

When I am camping in the late fall, or for an extended period (3-4 weeks) I use a Cabela's outfitter tent a oversized cot and a wood stove.
 

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Member
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The first two posts covered the main things: Thermarest pads are great and Tacoma was right, they sure are proud of them. Second, the layer between you and the ground is important depending on climate.

Another consideration is just how light you want to travel. I'm imagining you will have a vehicle since you wouldn't be carrying that family tent on your back so, if you have room, the inflatable is fine if it works for you. Personally, I use a cot when I'm hunting. It's comfortable and keeps me off the ground altogether.
 

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I have control issues
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5,976 Posts
Weight may not be the issue. In my case, it's age...as we get older, our bodies get WAY less tolerant of sleeping on hard surfaces. IMO, an air mattress or cot are ESSENTIAL for recreational camping. (Note, I do NOT suggest this for bugging out, when you want to travel LIGHT and QUICK. In that case, you are going to want to sleep lightly, anyway, so that you can be ready to jump and run, rather than sleeping so nice and deeply that anyone can sneak up on you.)
 

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Registered
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515 Posts
You gotta go oldschool and newschool.

First of all, despite it being bad for the tent, it really is worth it to throw tons of leaves and pine needles underneath where you will be sleeping. If you can wrap it up in a tarp, even better.

Next, always have a foam pad. Worth its weight in gold (and its size).
 

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Even the foam pads from Wally-World are better than the bare ground. First thing experienced outdoorspeople do is get off the bare ground. It has not worked for nearly a million years. Beds were the first human invention!

I have found that in the absence of good bedding I do better if I rest in the sitting position propped against a tree with my sleeping bag/blanket draped around me. I come to alert quicker from this position too.
 

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old hand
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7,441 Posts
you'll get used to it.

I've heard the thermarest is the best, and although I've never owned nor slept on one, I believe it.

I know that air mattresses can be comfy, but they will develop leaks and have no insulative qualities
... in cold weather, they are cold.

Anyhoo ... the reason I have no pad or mattress in my 'vanish pack' is because I feel I need to get used to sleeping on the ground. If I ever need to bug out, I will not have the comforts of home (and will need to get quality sleep) so I am trying to get used to the discomfort of sleeping on a surface that may be hard and uneven. It can be done ... you'll get used to it.

I actually had a fair night's sleep on Wednesday night even though I put no preparation into the area that was to be my bed. I didn't have a sleeping bag ... I just slept in my clothes. As it got chilly during the night, I ended up putting my rain jacket on as it was the only thing I had with.

See pics of my overnight camp on this thread:
http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=66617

... so the tip ... the advice ... keep doing it, you'll get used to it.
 

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GunGourd beat me to it. Before putting down a tarp under your tent, pile leaves and pine needles, then the tarp and if you still need more cushion/insulation a layer of wadded up news paper works pretty good when place between the footprint tarp and the tent floor.
 

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Shuriken snowflake
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16,826 Posts
"Can't" sleep without a pad here. The ground is too cold. I've used fancy ones and not so fancy ones and been all ok. And even if they are just flat, they are not too bad for comfort. Also I find sleeping on a lawn in a tent much harder than in the woods, because in the woods the ground is uneven and you can adapt your sleeping position to that.
 

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Wanderer
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259 Posts
Just PCSed to CA and did a DTY move (for anyone not military, just ignore that part) and now I'm sleeping on my floor on a few sleeping pads until I get paid and can go get a new mattress.

From over a decade of experience using camping pads, a few years selling them, and the last few weeks sleeping on them in my bedroom, I'd suggest two alternatives to an inflatable mattress:
-Thermarest closed-cell foam pad. Closed cell just means its solid foam, not open-cell which needs to be inflated. It doesnt pack as small, but it's as comfortable if you get the egg crate style, comes in varying thicknesses and lengths for different uses and body types, and can not break. I know, a rare thing to say on a forum that puts gear through the abuse such as we do, but I can affirm that I have slept on rocks, cacti, even ripped a foam pad in half once to share with another backpacker and it was Still a foam pad...just shorter.
-TempurPedic foam beds are wonderful, if expensive and heavy. For car camping Ive found that a thin (2in or so) pad of the material, which you can order or find at some mattress stores, is perfect. I wouldn't want to carry it all over the woods, but if you're sleeping within 30 feet of or in your car this is the most comfortable thing you'll find for the situation.
 

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Frozen Patriot
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664 Posts
I don't even want to think about the pain my low back would be in if I had to sleep on just the floor. I've had all types of sleeping pads and would have to agree, the thermarest is the best. Unfortunately my last one wore out and I've been too cheap to buy another. What I've got right now is a single blow up and its not too bad as long as you don't try to sleep in, because its usually lost most of its air by morning but they're cheap, like less than ten bucks at wally world.


DS
 

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Misfit Toy
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2,185 Posts
Back in the day, I used to carry 2 ponchos and a liner. I'd lay the rubberized OD green poncho on the ground and cover myself with the camo poncho/liner combo. I used my LBE as a pillow.

This was in warn or moderate temps btw.
 

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Like a Newbie, But Cooler
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks, everybody!

I took your advice and decided not to feel like a newb just for needing something between me and the ground. Looking into sleeping pads, especially therm-a-rest, but for my last camping night I stuck with the air mattress.

I also wrote a blog posting about it, and gave credit to the replies that helped me the most.

Thanks again!
 

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Firefighter-HazMat Tech
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469 Posts
On my journey from random chubby guy to elite survivalist, I've been getting more and more prepared for the inevitable - actually being outdoors for extended periods of time :)

A couple days ago I pulled out the family tent. At least, it was the family tent five years and two kids ago when we first got it. We'll need something bigger for the family, but for this week it was great with just me and the boys in the back yard.

The first night, I used a big blow-up mattress and got the best night's sleep of my life. The mattress was comfy, and with no TV I went to bed 2-3 hours earlier than usual. Last night we did it again, this time without the mattress. I was extremely uncomfortable with only the plastic tent floor and a sleeping bag between me and the ground.

I'm wondering if you guys have any tips. I've been losing weight, but this is early in the process. That might help. Is this a common thing that just takes getting used to? Is weight a difficult barrier to overcome? Or are there other tips to make it easier?

It's not a big hassle to use the mattress, and it's even pretty portable. I'd just like to get to the point where I can live well on as little as possible. I ended up taking a hour-long nap in my bed as soon as I'd packed up the gear in our back yard.
Sleeping pad, and also hollow out the ground under your hips...does wonders.

That being said, as a member of the military and as a firefighter...you sleep in rough places long enough...ya kinda get used to it lol.
 
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