Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Sleep System

As stated in an earlier post, one generally needs to be prepared for nighttime temperatures down to as low as -7 C (20 F) on the PCT during the early and late sections. One can expect a lot of wind in places, and occasional rain or snow. In this post, I'll simply state my gear choices and their rationale.

Sleeping bag

I'll be taking my Jacks 'R Better Rocky Mountain No Sniveller quilt (size L), which weighs about 800 grams (28 oz) and can keep me warm down to 20 F. I have come to like quilts, because you never get hot in them since you can easily toss it aside in your sleep. Quilts are especially convenient for hammocks, too. This quilt can be converted into a down jacket that comes down to the knees, though I've found it's rarely practical to use it as such. I'll also have the down hood along with it, which adds another 2 oz. 

There's a chance I'll trade my down quilt in for something lighter in the mid-summer, if temperatures are expected to be 10 C (50 F) and over at night. I might take the Backpackinglight Pro-90 quilt, for instance, saving 400 grams (14 oz) of weight. 

ADDED LATER: No, scratch that idea. Everyone says cold nights can occur anywhere along the trail. 

I am undecided as to whether or not to take my silk sleeping bag liner. The reason would be to keep my quilt clean. In the past I have generally slept in clothing, but the liner would allow me to take it off. The silk liner weighs under 5 oz. The cheapest silk liners are to be found on New Zealand websites, and the cost of shipping to the U.S. is minimal for such a lightweight item. 

Ground cloth

I'll cut a two-man Adventure Medical Kits emergency blanket in half lengthwise and use that as a ground sheet. It weighs 1.5 oz, and the reflective side makes it useful for creating shade, or signalling for help (never tried that). Since I'll be sleeping in my hammock most nights, I'll mainly use it during breaks or as I'm going to bed. 

Sleeping pads

I would normally take a pad for just my torso, but since I'm planning to sleep in a hammock most of the time, I'll need a longer pad. I expect to take the GG nightlight torso pad and the 1/4'' thick hammock pad, cut in half lengthwise (now 50 cm x 155 cm). I've found adequate sleeping pads to be very important to getting a good night's sleep, and a big difference can sometimes be as "cheap" as an extra 50 grams of pad under the torso. So I don't regret adding another 100 grams of padding to my sleep system, as this will translate into better sleep. I'm not taking an inflatable pad because of the greater weight and risk of puncture. I'll have spare pads sitting at home ready to be mailed to me if the pads I take eventually get too flat (which they can do after days and days of use, though hammocking seems to not flatten them as much). 


The hammock involves a total weight penalty of approximately 1 lb (hammock + extra pad), however, I feel I'll be very pleased I brought it. I'll be taking the inexpensive ($20) Travel Hammock, which is long and wide enough for me, about as light as mass produced hammocks come, and has a very easy set-up system. It may lack durability, but I can always call up Campmor on the trail and get a new one mailed to my next town stop if necessary. 

Tarp and bug net

Discussed in previous post

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