Where do you lie on the ‘hardiness’ scale below? I’ll admit i need at least a 6 if i’m going to get a good night’s sleep – though have been known to get away with a 2 on occasion (plenty of single malt helps).
1 – Rock. Where there’s no other option but to pitch on bare rock. The least comfortable of any method, plus the insecurity that you might tear the ground sheet at every turn. And did you tie the tent to enough rocks??? You’ll need a really thick sleeping bag and/or a good dose of single malt to sleep through this one.
2 – Any other natural surface (bar water in the liquid state). For real hard core uber-lightweighters who scoff at the softies who need a sleeping mat of any description, including No.3. Of course, you could be talking about compacted soil that’s nearly as hard as rock, or knee deep heather. I’m not going to be too picky.
3 – Bubble wrap. You want to go really lightweight but don’t want to risk going without a sleeping mat… Also useful for posting off those last minute Duran Duran memorabilia you’ve just sold on EBay.
4 – The Traditional Karrimat. Barely a molecule thick, this is a staple of DofE expeditions everywhere. Sometimes surprisingly heavy for what you get. Great for extending the height of your pack so it’s well above head height, when a low, discreet pack just won’t cut it. Doubles up as a sledge or a yoga mat. Arguably though as comfortable as a bag of spoons.
5 – The Thermarest and all it’s copies… Alpkit do a decent, cheap self-inflating mat. Usually the next step from those who decide that No.4 isn’t enough for them, and usually lasts one trip as it’s strapped to the top of the pack and ends up snagging every barbed wire fence on the trip. Gives a good night’s sleep if it doesn’t move about too much during the night and you again end up on surface No.2 for 3 out of every 4 hours. Best use is for those who like to take inflatable companions with them on the hill, they can just shout, “Just inflating the Thermarest… Wink wink”.
6 – The Down Mat… mmmmm… Exped do down mats like no other. As good as sleeping in a bed. Absolute luxury, and only a kilo. Might not want to get up in the morning though. They’re also a faff to inflate, so after a hard day on the trail there’s every chance that you’ll be so tired after filling that you end up sleeping on No.2 anyway. If you’re a restless sleeper, you’ll possibly fall off as well. Can induce vertigo if you’re used to sleeping on No.5 and means you’re sleeping with the tent roof in your mouth for most of the night.
7 – A bed – bugger the camping. The YH might be a better bet if you want this sort of comfort