Whether backpacking or car camping, typically I’m going to be so zonked from hiking that I’ll sleep deeply. But a comfortable sleeping set-up makes all the difference in being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning, or an evil swamp witch. Here’s how I have my tent prepared for a good night’s sleep.
As I wrote before, I choose a Klymit Static V inflatable sleeping pad. Especially when backpacking, a campsite might still have tons of rocks and roots beneath you, so a pad is vital. Typically pads are either inflatable or a foam pad. The choice is up to you, just do your research! There are multiple varieties of the Static V, winter campers might want to look into an insulated one. The original Static V retails normally for around $55, but I got a killer price on mine on Prime Day a few years ago, and know others have purchased theirs at Costco for a bargain.
This next item is something I had never heard of and didn’t know I needed, but is now in my pack for trips. Klymit makes a sheet that slips over their Static V pad. The sheet is useful for a few reasons–one, it is machine washable, protecting the life of your pad even longer. Some people are starting to use down or synthetic quilts when camping on warm nights instead of a sleeping bag, and a sheet will further protect your pad, especially if you are a sweaty sleeper. Second, the pad helps cut down on that annoying swish sound of a pad and sleeping bag rubbing on each other if you are a mobile sleeper. Lastly, the sheet has a designated pouch for you to tuck your pillow so that doesn’t slide around either! At $30 and 5.6 ounces, this is a bit of a luxury item when car camping, but I like using it. I actually got mine in the Cairn outdoor gear subscription box!
As I said when talking about my backpacking luxuries, a pillow to me is worth the extra nine ounces for a better nights’ sleep. There’s tons of pillow options: compressible, inflatable, stuff sacks made to be soft, or the ol’ balling-up-a-sweatshirt trick. I personally went for a compressible Therm-a-Rest pillow that I can use backpacking or car camping that has served me well. The boyfriendo used to just ball up clothing, but for Christmas last year I got him a Rumpl fleece pillowcase stuff sack that was a huge step up in comfort for only a few ounces more weight. Just be careful if using clothing or a pillow stuff sack to not use DEET-covered clothing (or smoky clothing!).
Lastly is your sleeping bag, or as I mentioned above a camp blanket or quilt of some sort. I’m planning a post all on how to pick a good sleeping bag, so I’ll keep light on the details here, but sleeping bags, especially for summer trips, are fairly straight-forward. I use the REI Joule 30 down bag, considered a ‘three season’ bag, as it is warm enough for standard conditions in spring, summer, and fall, but if you’re just car camping there are plenty of cheap sleeping bags that will suffice. The more technical of an activity, the more technical your bag should be. Some people use a sleeping bag liner. Bag liners are similar to a pad sheet in that they keep your bag clean and free of oils from your skin, but they are also useful in that depending on material, they provide 5-25* extra warmth, helping a three-season bag become a four-season bag.
All of these items have served me well so far, although I’ve only gotten to use the sleeping bag and sheet once so far. I love how all 4 items fit perfectly in my backpacking pack’s designated sleeping bag chamber (my old synthetic bag alone did not fit in there!). With there being so many routes one can choose for sleeping pad, pillow, and other sleeping set-ups, your mileage will vary with what you choose. I’m hoping as I grow my gear closet to add a camping quilt for warm nights, and maybe a bag liner to extend the life of my sleeping bag, but for now, I’ll know I’ll keep my trusty four items in my tent always.