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So many choices for sleeping gear - best configuration?

Even though Florida is essentially a 3 season climate year round temperatures can range from 50F to over 100F. It's that 50 degree swing that makes selecting the right configuration just as important.

I think of the sleeping system in three parts. [1] the clothes you are wearing [2] sleeping bag or other container [3] insulation from the ground.

There are several reasons why you need to wear clothes and most of them have to do with survival. There's that dirty word again. But the point is; if you had to abandon your shelter in a hurry you would want to be wearing something. Anything. Also, clothing offers some insulation, wick moisture, some thickness to protect protect you from mosquitoes or things that might bite through the next layer.

Depending on the season there could be a lot of rain so either you'll get rained on or the ground will be saturated. Either way you want to be a little water resistant. But not so much that you wake swimming in a pool of your own sweat. Personally I do not use sheets or blankets on top of me so a sleeping bag or quilt is generally uncomfortable but I don't like mylar more than that.

Everyone will agree that you need a barrier between you and the ground. In survival situations you might make a bed of pine needles or leaves. If you have more time you might make a bed of sorts. Depending on how much time you have out in the field the choices will vary. You will have to choose between weight, volume, insulation, comfort, durability.

Here are the common items I have to choose from:


Not pictured here I have various lightweight Columbia shirts and pants. Wigwam socks and ExOfficio underwear. If I can get upwind of myself I might not change clothes depending on the duration of the hike except maybe socks and underwear for hygiene. I might change from short to long sleeves depending, however, everything should be treated with repellent.

Choices for containers...

SOL bivy
SOL thermal bivy
SOL sports blanket
SOL heavy duty blanket
Sea to Summit Reactor liner
Sea to Summit CoolMax Liner

Choices for insulation...

SOL sports blanket
SOL heavy duty blanket
polycyro
tyvek
Klymit Static V junior
Klymit X wave
Thermarest ZLite
Thermarest sitting pad
reflectix (torso or full length)

So many choices. The challenge is knowing what's going to give you the widest coverage for the temperature range and ground conditions you expect. Also, if you're going for a quick overnight I could argue for a small folding chair and staying up a little later enjoying a campfire or the stars. A few other considerations could be if the mattress is inflatable then a footprint or groundsheet is recommended. Also if the insulation later is torso length then some additional insulation is necessary for your legs. Some people have recommended velcro to attach sections or even a pillow to the mattress.

The biggest items are the thermarest and reflectix but since I'm a side sleeper I do not need as much coverage and so I could cut it to size. Maybe in half. It's also possible that I only need the sitting pad in some configurations for small area of cushioning.

Let the testing begin...

Not mentioned but I also have two pillows. The Cush is a pillow and a sitting pad. I will wrap the pillow in a shemagh for added comfort.

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