This week I’m continuing to evaluate the gear choices I made during this year’s John Muir Trail thru-hike, which culminated on September 12th. I wrote a little about that hike a couple of weeks ago, and discussed my choice for sleeping bag last week. (If you check out last week’s post, be sure to look at the comments. There were lots of good ideas offered.)
This week: the sleeping pad.
As I stated last week, a good night’s sleep isn’t optional as far as I’m concerned. You are not going to see me recommend anything that isn’t thick and comfortable. I’m willing to spend some money to shave ounces, but I’m not willing to sleep on a foam pad—not at age fifty-eight!
During my first JMT thru-hike, a few years back, I carried a Therm-o-rest NeoAir that checked in (with stuff sack and repair kit) at slightly less than a pound. It was thick, warm, light, comfortable, and, unfortunately, prone to leaks. The first couple of holes I was able to find and repair, but the last one I never could. During the last few days of the hike, by 4:00 a.m., I was sleeping on a completely deflated pad.
It was also loud, and I turn frequently at night.
This year I started out with an old sleeping pad I had used before: a Pacific Outdoor Cruiser Mountain, which weighed thirty-four ounces. This is a self-inflating bag that took up a lot of space. While I was acclimatizing to the elevation (at Mammoth Lakes) for a few days before the hike, I gradually convinced myself that it was too bulky and too heavy.
At one of the many outdoor shops in Mammoth, I bought a Big Agnes Air Core insulated pad that shaved a couple of ounces off the weight, was about an inch thicker, and, when deflated, took up very little space.
I was very happy with the performance of the pad. It never developed a leak, did a great job keeping the cold from the ground at bay, and it was comfy, comfy. In fact, I was so impressed with the Big Agnes product, that I am considering buying another for my next hike: the Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Superlight.
The Q-Core I am considering is twenty-three ounces, nine ounces less than the Air Core.
A couple of more thoughts: another way to reduce weight is to carry a torso-only inflatable pad, and a short foam pad for one’s legs. I may consider that.
Now that I’ve shaved half-a-pound off my pad weight, I may actually add 2.3 ounces back and carry one of these. A fellow hiker (thanks, Dale!) allowed me to try his and, I have to admit, it was pretty neat. By the way, it fit perfectly on my Big Agnes pad.
Weight savings: 9 ounces.
Grade for my choice this trip: B. (I would have given myself an “A” if I had bought the Q-Core in the first place!)
Good hiking, Ray