A Good Night’s Sleep

Back from a great trip to Sweden to see the Out-laws (the last summer that I can refer to them as that before they become the In-laws…). Managed to fit in a couple of gorgeous days of canoeing, with an overnight camp, on a long narrow lake; Stråken. The weather was very hot and sunny almost the entire twelve days we were there with temperatures often in the low thirties centigrade. Magic.

So, what of the sleeping?

I’ve already posted about sleeping bags but they are only part of the story.

Sleeping Bag Liners

We use silk bag liners to keep the sleeping bags clean and add a fraction more warmth. They also give some flexibility if it’s hot because you can use them instead of the bag. Not a problem we expect to encounter in Iceland however (the clue, being in the name).

Silk liners are usually eye-wateringly expensive but the ones from Jag Bag of New Zealand are far more affordable. They are available very easily in the UK from Paul over at Terre Vista Trails.  They come in either Fine (lighter) or Endura (heavier, tougher).

They are very light – the fine is reckoned to be only 85gms on the site but I must admit mine is 108gms.

It’s worth the weight in my opinion because it keeps the bag so much cleaner. And clean down is warm down. Also I don’t want to send them to W.E. Franklin more often than I really have to.

Sleeping mats

Foam sleeping mats won’t deflate so on long trips this can be quite an advantage. Just try finding a leak in an inflatable mat without a bath full of water and washing up liquid! But foam mats aren’t as comfortable or as small as an inflatable mat.

We’ve been experimenting with all kinds of things. Including aluminium faced bubble wrap used as insulation in construction. However we’ve found that it’s far better suited to use as a pot cosy or wind-shield since it’s actually heavier and colder than the same-sized piece of cheap foam mat.

For the main mat we’ve been using Torsolites. They’re very comfy and warm, at least for the area that they cover.

They take a little getting used-to as you tend to roll off them more easily than a larger mat. But for the weight and incredibly small packed-size they’re worth it.

We’ve discarded the stuffsacs that came with them in favour of a loop of 4mm shock cord of the same diameter as the stuffsac. Although the cord is fractionally lighter (only by about 2gms) we mainly prefer it due to the lack of faffing-around trying to get the mat back in the bag.

Torsolites don’t work so well on their own though since there’s nothing under your legs and so they can get cold. So one third of a cheap Gelert camping mat does the trick. It only weighs about 58gms once the edge has been shaved down by 10cms. Who needs that much width anyway?

With the foam mat we also get some contingency should the inflatable mat get a puncture.

It’s worth pointing out that, despite what this picture might seem to show, the mats actually cover the whole length of the sleeping bag apart from my head which I rest on a Gecko Micro Fleece. I simply pulled the silk liner down a bit to show the PHD bag underneath and hadn’t realised that it makes it appear as if the mats are even more minimalist than they really are.

Ear plugs

If you’re sleeping in a hut, or even with a snoring tent partner, ear plugs can be a lifesaver. We’ve recently been using Ear Seals Earplugs and find that they really do block out noise.


A hat isn’t the first thing most people think of for sleeping kit but the difference they make is astonishing. All this winter I’ve been using one of my all-time favourite bits of kit; the Extremities Power Dry Beanie (Extremities is the brand name used by Terra Nova for their clothing range).

I’ve found that if I ever wake up cold, it’s because the hat has been pulled off my head as I’ve moved about. Putting it back on warms me up in just a couple of minutes.

We’ve also found that hats are especially useful if you’re hair is wet, like after a sauna for example.

11 Replies to “A Good Night’s Sleep”

  1. Thanks Roman! Ah but I’m afraid that this was only the pre-walk “training” trip to see LB’s family. The training is in eating lots of food and drinking Swedish beer to gain valuable body-fat and rest our “highly trained” legs before we go to Iceland!

    The canoeing was a very simple matter of hiring a couple of open-canoes and taking the usual wild-camp kit (albeit in a huge 100L dry bag that I picked up at the OS Outdoors show).

    I have a backlog of around ten half written entries on Iceland prep many of which are unlikely to make it out before we go. I’m so busy with work and other commitments that I’ve not had time to post them. But I will be sending them afterwards which may actually be better since we will be able to see what worked!

    The midges were very much gone this year – too hot and dry. Whoohoo!

    And the few mosquitos were held at bay by PreVent spray (which I most certainly will be mentioning…)

  2. It is interesting how we all seem to gravitate to a similar mat system. I am now using a Torslite in combination with a cheap eva foam mat, it provides ample warmth and comfort.

    Prevent Spray I will need to look for that one.

    Enjoy Iceland, we are just back from Australia

  3. Chris – they are good. And comfy as long as you are actually lying on them!

    I’m sure someone such as yourself will have no problem with the minor hardship of rolling back on to them during the night ;)

  4. Have found a blindfold, or a buf/ear-warmer pulled down over the eyes a great help. Espescially when camping with the sun coming up at 5 in the morning and doing its best to wake you up..

  5. I think that’s one of those Marmite things – you either love the early sun or hate it!

    Personally I really like waking up in the light but I can see how it would be disturbing. Definitely something worth adding to this heading.

  6. Buff, a great piece of gear, the more I use it the more I recognize its possibilities. I now have a polar buff and the normal buff, both of which I use as head gear and neck gear for cold and warm weather respectively.

    I also like to see the sunrise in the morning, so the buff works well, with a bivy, as head gear.

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