Choosing a Sleep System
A good nights sleep is key to enjoying the next days activities and creating memories together. Lack of sleep can quickly create grumpy campers so a 'sleep system' is something worthy of your time to research and merits investment of your hard earned cash. Your choice of sleep system should depend on planned activities and the climate. For example, a four-poster bed may not be the best choice for a hike in the Himalaya nor a hammock system when travelling in open desert with over 100 miles between trees!
What do you need from a sleep system? Let’s start closest to the ground.
Mattress. Your mattress should be comfortable to sleep on and your choice should take into consideration how you sleep (on your back, side sleeper etc). It should have thermal properties suitable for the climate to provide good insulation (heat retention) and protection from the ground below. Those with creaky knees, may find it easier to get in and out of a bed a similar height to your bed at home. The mattress may therefore need to be an integral part of (or need to sit on) a hammock, camp bed or inflatable bed. Other factors to consider when choosing your mattress include puncture resistance, ease of assembly / inflation, storage, repair and cleaning.
Bedding. For inflatable mattresses, use of a cover protects the mattress and provides a familiar surface to sleep on especially if you choose to use a duvet or quilt. Some covers / protectors are offered by the manufacturers but otherwise a suitably sized fitted sheet can be used. Sleeping bags suitable for the climate and season are the traditional way to go. Planned activities will also drive selection of your pillow. Pillows can be fashioned from clothing and an empty stuff sac but there are some good inflatable pillows on the market today. If space and portability allow, some may prefer to take their own pillows from home.
In this instance, we are lucky not to be constrained by space or weight to transport our gear, nor do we need to worry about having to carry kit up hill and down dale between teahouses or to a campsite.
We chose an Exped mattress. These are excellent but pretty expensive. We opted for the Exped Megamat Duo 15 L+C. The search for a retailer in the UK was not very fruitful. The Exped UK Distributor wasn’t really very helpful beyond saying that these were not available in UK. Having searched online, the best price was offered by a company called Alpinetrek. Delivery was about 7 days.
These mats come packed in a bag with a hand pump and provide a luxurious sleeping platform. A home from home but just 15cm off the ground! They have a high thermal (R) value to protect sleepers from the cold. They are pretty easy to roll out and inflate with the pump provided but can be hard work and you need to allow time to roll up and pack away.
Our dogs have a knack of finding the most comfortable / cozy seat or bed wherever we are. Time will tell whether these mats will survive 'claws. We do try to protect them, and so far, so good.
We normally use duvets and bedding you would use at home in the 'Canvas Cottage'. When in transit, the bedding is stored in a waterproof compression bag to minimise the risk of becoming wet in the trailer, for example if driving through heavy, penetrating rain. Sleeping bags are carried in case of emergencies and for use during short or unplanned overnight stops in little houses, sheds, bothies or bunkhouses where we are moving on early the next morning.