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MTB trail camping gear: In search of a good night's sleep
I have to admit that I haven't slept under the stars for the past 10 years or so. Things were somewhat different in the past. In the 90's I had an opportunity to participate in several memorable adventures in Russia. The trips ranged from two-day snow scooter safaris to a full-week kayaking and white water drafting in wilderness. I also a chance to participate in a few ATV safaris in Russian Karelia. During all these exercises we almost always spent our nights in tents, both in summer heat and in winter at -25 degrees with the northern lights coloring the sky.
Sleeping bag: Marmot Hydrogen
- Warmth (two, three or four-season bag)
- Insulation (down or synthetic)
- Resistance against moisture and water
- Packability (size and weight)
Regarding the insulation, it is said that a synthetic bag rarely (if ever) surpass the lightweight and compact size of a down bag. On the downside, down looses almost all of its insulation capacity if it get's wet. Surely, that happens also to synthetics but to a much lesser extent.
Actually, I would have preferred a synthetic bag, maybe just because of many quality problems that I have experienced with some of down filled products (jackets, pillows etc). Also, given the nature of Scandinavian weather, some tolerance against wet conditions also sounded like a good idea. However, I still decided to prioritize light weight and compact size (compared to similar synthetic bags) of down bags. Based on many favorable reviews and user experiences I decided to go for Marmot. Two Marmot bags that I had on my final short list were Hydrogen (794g for a L size) and Plasma 30 (676g). I finally chose Hydrogen which is slightly cheaper but also some 120g heavier (or less light). Both are -1C rated bags. Packed size of Hydrogen is around 30 x 15cm (my measurement).
Mattress: Thermarest NeoAir XLite
Again, searching for reviews and user opinions made me have a closer look at Thermarest mattresses. My choice was Thermarest NeoAir XLite which is a new 2012 version of the previous NeoAir mattress. The shape is now streamlined to save some bulk and it now weights 460g for the Long (196 x 63 x 6.3cm) version. It comes with a repair kit and a stuff sack included. When packed it takes around 25 x 10cm (my measurement).
Many reviews seem to regard the NeoAir mattress as somewhat more comfortable than some of its competitors, for example Peak Elite AC. Considering that I have actually never slept well on an inflatable mattress no matter how thick (admittedly I have never tried a top-of-the line version), it will be very interesting to see how this one feels.
ExPed Air Pillow
Air Pillow (size M) measures to 38 x 27 x 11cm, has a packed size of 5.5 x 12cm and weights 80g. It also comes with a 5-year warranty on materials and workmanship.
What to make of it?
The picture shows packed size of:
- Marmot Hydrogen (Large)
- Thermarest NeoAir XLite (Large)
- ExPed Air Pillow (Medium)