Sleeping comfortably

10:56 a.m. on May 20, 2015 (EDT)
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Thermarest has produced this "infographic" on getting the best rest while backpacking. Aside from its commercializing, it does have some useful information. One of the more interesting items is the slope of the ground - as most experienced backpackers know, the ground is never level at campsites. Their comment is that a slope more than 2° will drive you nuts. Never having actually measured the slope of the ground I am sleeping on, I don't know. But somehow I never seem to find truly level ground - I'm usually too tired to care.

Their closing statement is the outdoor person's motto:

"More nights under the stars = more happiness"

11:19 a.m. on May 20, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks for the link Bill S.

I especially like #5.

I almost always lay down on the ground for a moment before pitching my tent, this will tell me more about the spot I have picked than just standing there looking at it. I have found it very useful.

12:11 p.m. on May 20, 2015 (EDT)
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I feel pretty lucky if I can find a spot big enough to pitch my Hubba without either a big rock or a bunch of tree limbs so consider level to be a relative term. 2% sounds like luxury!

I look for spots where I can set up so my head will be slightly elevated but my hips won't roll down hill laterally. The perfect flat spot is pretty rare where I spend most of my time so I try to work with what I've got.

9:52 p.m. on May 23, 2015 (EDT)
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In good weather, I spend a few minutes getting settled into a good spot. Circling the campsite looking at all the angles, then laying on my groundsheet for about 5 minutes and making minor adjustments before "investing" in setting up the tent. In not so good weather, I go with my gut and hope for the best making adjustments from inside the tent. I am not a pillow carrier...use my clothes in the sleeping bag stuff sack. Anyone else a pillow carrier? As I age I may consider changing that part of my SOP...

10:54 p.m. on May 23, 2015 (EDT)
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I frequently so some gardening and excavation before rolling out for the night. When a slope is unavoidable, but your head up and your feet down. Sidehills are the worst and to be avoided.

8:35 a.m. on May 24, 2015 (EDT)
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Hammock.

6:01 p.m. on May 25, 2015 (EDT)
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Flip I don't always do anything...but I bring my compressible pillow (Thermarest product) as long as space permits. A pillow is certainly not a necessity...but I find a pillow combined with a lot of other  techniques (only some of which were mentioned in the article) SOMETIMES result in rejuvenating sleep (food and sleep are two places where increases in comfort can really pay-off for me).

8:48 p.m. on May 25, 2015 (EDT)
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Goose is EXACTLY right, no roots, no rocks, no acorns or irregularities of the ground.

7:36 p.m. on May 27, 2015 (EDT)
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I'll have to check out the Trailspace reviews on pillows...definitely something to add to my gear list as an option. I sometimes get caught in the gram counting cycle but don't need to on most of my shorter trips that I have time for at this stage in my backpacking career...

10:33 p.m. on May 27, 2015 (EDT)
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I have not used it yet, but I bought one of the ultralite cots from Cascade Designs this spring.  My biggest problem sleeping is I move too much and slide off my pad and I hope being on a cot will solve this problem.  For me sliding off the pad is a much bigger deal than 2 degrees.

12:49 p.m. on May 31, 2015 (EDT)
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+1 for a hammock. Never looked back since I made the switch

8:09 p.m. on May 31, 2015 (EDT)
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In my early years, my family lived in Honduras (my father was with InterAmerican Affairs, a branch of the State Department during WWII). We slept in hammocks as the standard bed during the warmer part of the year.  When we moved back to the States and were living on the reservation in the middle of the Sonora Desert, in the summers, we tended to prefer hammocks on the screened-in upper floor in the house. But when camping, we didn't have suitable trees for the most part (saguaro cacti do not make for a reasonable support), though in the summer we usually spent a month somewhere up on the Mogollon Rim and did use hammocks there.  The summer I spent as Nature Counsellor at Camp Emerson, I used a hammock for those overnight hikes I guided Scout troops. I had one amusing incident that I at first blamed on the boys playing a prank. In the middle of the night, something bumped me from underneath. I woke up with a start, then grabbed my flashlight and scanned the area. On one side of me, there were several does, and on the other side was a 6-point buck. Luckily, the buck was skilled enough in getting past low-lying branches that he had not poked me with his antlers.

During my early Yosemite climbing, I used a bivy/hammock on walls requiring more than a day to climb (still have it). You anchored yourself to the wall so you didn't roll out of the hammock during the night.

I do have several hammocks - some of the Central American mesh construction, some with a closed construction. But for most of my backpacking and mountaineering, hammocks are just not practical. They don't work above tree-line (yeah, I can hang them from rock walls), and they don't work on glaciers and in snow conditions. When we were doing a lot of canoeing, we usually slept on sandbars - no place to hang a hammock there. I have used hammocks in ships and boats as well.

It's just like UL - in their place, they are fine. But they are not the ultimate answer. Every type of gear has its appropriate application along with its major flaws.

5:35 p.m. on June 4, 2015 (EDT)
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I always try to find a hollow and prefer to have my feet higher than my head. Just my way. I don't use a tent and just sleep under a trap. A pillow is a huge help. A folded up coat just doesn't cut it anymore. GD

6:46 p.m. on June 7, 2015 (EDT)
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MY GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP:

1. level, smooth tent site

2. an enclosed, floored TENT to keep out bugs, rain, snow and creepy crawlies like snakes. (ex. TT Moment DW)

3. a decent mattress for the season (Prolite or Trail Pro for me)

4.seasonally warm sleeping bag

5. quiet fellow campers

8:03 p.m. on June 7, 2015 (EDT)
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I just re-read the pro-tent post in this thread, sure seems like a lot of effort even from seasoned tenters to find the flat spot. 

Makes me love the air between to trees never a thing in the air causing discomfort to me in my down nest. Never have to stoop down and waddle into the vestibule of a tent trying to keep my knees of the cold wet ground. 

Enjoy your time in the woods however you choose.

10:16 a.m. on June 8, 2015 (EDT)
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dirtwheels said:

Makes me love the air between to trees never a thing in the air causing discomfort to me in my down nest.

Yeah, but you never had a herd of deer, led by a 6-point buck, run under your hammock and bump you in the middle of the night. Which I have posted about here on Trailspace before.

12:23 a.m. on June 9, 2015 (EDT)
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Bill, deer can't fit beneath my hammock, unless the deer is less than 18" tall since I rarely have hung above 2' off the ground, but IF I did encounter those 14" tall 6 point bucks I would hope I had my camera ready! ;)

How high were you hanging Bill? The whitetail around here average about 3' at the shoulder, the rack of a 6 pointer would be at least a foot above that. I'd love to see pictures of you getting that rig setup and jumping in. That sounds like a great thing to post on youtube. I only know of one guy on hammock forums that exceeds those heights and he sleeps in a safety harness. With 12' trees my straps are about 6' off the ground, how do you place straps that high? 

Seriously that would be an interesting video! 

I considered a bat hammock and a pulley system to try real elevated hanging but don't fancy the idea of sleeping in my safety harness, and I have a VERY nice one.

1:59 p.m. on June 9, 2015 (EDT)
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dirt, my hammock was hung at about waist height - 75 cm/30 in. The deer in the incident were mule deer that are about that high at the shoulder. When running through the brush, they usually have their heads down to duck under branches, presumably to avoid getting their antlers caught. Why would you hang your hammock so low?

3:45 p.m. on June 9, 2015 (EDT)
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Bill, I hang no higher than I want to fall as a rule of thumb. Higher if heavy rains are forecast or areas I think snakes may slither by as I usually use a bottom entry hammock. I also tie the hammock to the RL when unattended/occupied, never liked the idea of sharing my bed with critters. I'm a life long outdoors guy but new to backpacking, so I could just be doing it wrong.

1:13 a.m. on June 20, 2015 (EDT)
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I just used a thermarest cot for a week. It is about 2 1/2 pounds and heavier than most pads, but it is very comfortable, especially on uneven ground. There is good air flow for a nap during the day. It needs a thin pad like ensolite for cooler night time temperatures. I will be using it a lot.

12:16 p.m. on June 20, 2015 (EDT)
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I have thought about getting a couple cots for my wife & I when we go car camping. 

My only experience with cots has been the old wood & canvas ones that weighed a ton.

Having air flow around your body really does help with keeping you cooler in warm temps. Same reason I use a hammock many times.

2:39 p.m. on June 26, 2015 (EDT)
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If the tent bag doesn't start rolling when I lay it down, it is flat enough for me.  Just lay down with my head uphill and start snoring.  Of course I've been known to sleep standing up too.

June 16, 2019
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