One of the hardest things for me to figure out was my sleep system for the Appalachian Trail. I am starting in February which means I can expect to run into single-digit temperatures. Being that I live in Central Texas, I am used to triple-digit temperatures, not single digit. Living here hasn’t given me much of a chance to prepare, so instead, it was 2 years of researching.
Thankfully Texas graciously granted me mid-20’s several nights over the last two winters which gave me a chance to try out my gear in the backyard and make any changes (which I have).
My last test to check out my sleep system for the Appalachian Trail came earlier this month. It got down to 27 with a windchill of 20. My system kept me toasty warm despite the fact that I was only in my sleeping clothes, no beanie on my head and I left a big draft in my quilt as I didn’t clip it to my pad and instead used it as a half blanket, half quilt. I also did this “cowboy” style (meaning not in a tent or shelter but straight on the ground in the open).
Here is my sleep system for the Appalachian Trail.
Bag/Quilt: Years ago before doing a bunch of research I bought a Kelty Comic Down 20-degree bag. It kept me warm at 35 degrees and I still think it is a good cheaper bag. However, I knew that starting in February that I needed a warmer bag. I decided to go with an Enlightened Equipment Revelation 0-degree quilt. It allows me to use it as a bag but also as a blanket in warmer months (which I have done here in Central Texas).
Liner: I decided to go with the Sea to Summit Reactor Compact Plus due to a winter start date. Originally I had the Sea to Summit Coolmax version but wanted to give this one a try since it claims to add up to 20 degrees of warmth.
Mattress Pad: I went through four different pads trying to find the perfect one for me and my cold start date and settled on the Paria ReChargeS. Even though I am 5′ 9″ I chose the short version because I like to prop my feet up on my pack. With regular lengths, I was creating holes in them due to my pack being on it. I am also mostly a side sleeper that pulls my knees to my chest. I had no use for a regular length pad. By choosing the shorter length I am also able to save weight. This pad is also 23″ wide which is another feature I love. All other short pads I have found are only 20″ wide. The 3 extra inches makes a huge difference for me. This pad also has an r-Value of 4.3.
Pad Liner: Honestly I am not sure what to call this. It was a camp pad that I cut to size and is a pad for my pad lol. I use this to help with added warmth, as a sit pad, a windscreen when cooking and can be used to protect my mattress pad if I cowboy camp or sleep in the shelters. I cut it to size and it weighs just as much as the Thermarest Z-Seat I was carrying.
Pillow: Yes, I like a dedicated pillow! I have gone through 3 and have decided to start out with the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium. It is smaller than my Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow UltraLight but has a little padding on top. So we are going to see how that works out.
Take a Look
Here is a peek at my sleep system for the Appalachian Trail. I will also be using a stuff stack to blow up my sleeping pad. I have since switched out the pillow I will be taking to the one listed above.