Now if you’ve read this far into my odyssey, first of all, thanks. Give yourself a pat on the back. You probably think at this point that I’ve settled on the BA system and we will live happily ever after with lots of good sleep, no pinhole leaks, and many more happy camping nights ahead of us. Remember what I said in the first paragraph about needs changing and evolving? Yeah, that kind of happened. I’m currently on a long distance bike tour which will probably take a year or more. With the poor experience I had the the NeoAir, the thought of taking an air mattress on a trip into remote locations in cold conditions, where a failed mattress would be a big issue and would be a challenge to replace… I started looking into other ideas. I thought about doing a ‘self-inflating’ closed cell foam pad. This way if you spring a leak, you still have the foam inside the pad as cushioning and for heat retention. These pads though are a poor combination for me of not enough padding and bulky when packed up, sort of the worst of both worlds.
In the end I have decided to give a camping cot a try. Not deterred by my experience with trying to warranty my NeoAir in Japan, I purchased Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot. The size of the cot when packed didn’t seem to be too far off the size of my Big Agnes mattress, and the weight penalty I can deal with if I know I’ll have a leak free sleeping experience over this entire year long trip. I am concerned about cold air under the cot when the temperature drops. Therm-a-Rest make a liner to go under the cot to warm it up a bit, or you could go with some lightweight foam mats to keep some heat in. In even colder temperatures, I plan to try filling the space under the cot with spare clothes to trap the air, allowing it to warm somewhat from the heat of my body, and not have cold air circulating continuously through it. I doubt the cot would work for hiking, as it’s just too large and heavy. I’m willing to try it for the bike trip though, so I’ll report back on how it holds up and any shortcomings it might have.
*Update! I initially wrote this before my trip started. At the time of posting this, I have about two weeks of time with the cot under me. I will post an inital review of it soon, but sneak preview, I’ve been getting a great night’s sleep.
To conclude our saga…
I can’t recommend the Big Agnes sleep system enough, and I think the Q-Core SL mattress was the hands down winner for me. For shorter trips both cycling and hiking I feel totally comfortable taking that and I can be confident I’ll get a great night’s sleep. For a longer trip into more remote areas, however, a non-inflatable solution gives me more peace of mind.