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Topic: thoughts on sleeping pad mod, can I fold it to make a pillow?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
JRinGeorgia Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 12 2013, 5:05 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi all, the gist of my question is this: I have an REI Stratus air pad (knock-off of the BA IAC, same type of I-beam construction), quite comfortable. I have the wide/long model for the width, don't need the extra length but that's the only way to get the extra width. I am thinking of folding 6-8 inches of that length back on top of itself to create a full-width air pillow as part of the pad, but I'm wondering if anyone foresees any problems with this idea.

What brought this about is my search for a comfortable pillow. I need a good night's sleep on the trail, and I'm a toss-and-turn primarily side sleeper, that's why I got the wider pad and works well. Basically I'm looking for a wide pillow (when I toss and turn I roll around on the mat and want my head to have a wide area to land on as well) and also relatively tall, to keep my spine aligned when sleeping on my side. And, of course, comfortable. I've tried the air pillows but too much curve and bounce, plus not wide enough. I've tried clothes in a stuff sack but not enough support. I've tried the compressible pillows, but if they compress well in your pack then they compress too much under your head. You can probably guess how well using my boots works for me.

Then I actually came up with something that works well, but it's too heavy. I took two Intex air pillows and put them side by side inside a standard (household) pillow case, then put in all my soft stuff -- clothes, stuff sacks, etc -- on top. Basically a combination of the air and clothing methods, while mitigating the negatives of each approach -- combined, the air layer gives height and support that clothes don't, and then the clothes on top of the air layer neutralize the "head-bounce" effect and give some cushioning. The Intex pillows are 11x17 each, so side-by-side they are a full 22x17, virtually the size of a standard pillow. They also are very flat and squared off, not bubble-like, so they create a uniform bottom layer of support in this pillow concept. Works extremely well.

Except...weight. Each Intex is 6 oz, so using two of those with a pillow case I'm pushing a pound, just for a pillow. That's when I thought of folding over the sleeping pad to serve as the air support portion of my hybrid pillow idea. If it works then I would only need a top layer of clothes in a wide-enough stuff sack or pillow case. Even better, my weight penalty would be minimal -- I'm carrying the weight of the sleep pad anyway so only adding a pillow case (plus the tape or whatever I use to keep the pad folded over).

I tried folding it and then using webbing straps to hold it down, but those air-filled I-beams really want to straighten out, so the fold doesn't hold well. My thought is to use duct tape and/or Tenacious to permanently keep the end of the pad folded over. A big long strip to go over the fold-over and wrap all the way around the bottom of the pad. My thought is to tape it up with the pad inflated, concerned it may not inflate properly or line up well if I taped it when deflated.

Has anyone ever tried something like this, folding over an I-beam air pad? Whether you have or not, do you foresee any problems with folding over the I-beams of the pad? Seam blow-out, material tearing, reduced life, compromised functionality, or simply tape not holding? Or, maybe even better, any alternative ideas for a big comfy pillow? Any/all feedback appreciated. Thanks!


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Franco Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 12 2013, 6:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In your case I would try to put clothing and maybe even your pack under the mat to lift it up rather than folding it.
Or you may try what I now do , that is to wrap up some clothing inside a pillow case (a piece of silk liner) and use that inside the hood of your sleeping bag.
That way you don't need a wide pillow and it will not move out of the bag.
BTW, took me a long time to work out that my previous attempt failed not because of the stuffing (clothes) but because of the feel of the 'pillow" sleeve (nylon)
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 12 2013, 8:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Franco @ Feb. 12 2013, 3:34 pm)
QUOTE
In your case I would try to put clothing and maybe even your pack under the mat to lift it up rather than folding it.
Or you may try what I now do , that is to wrap up some clothing inside a pillow case (a piece of silk liner) and use that inside the hood of your sleeping bag.
That way you don't need a wide pillow and it will not move out of the bag.
BTW, took me a long time to work out that my previous attempt failed not because of the stuffing (clothes) but because of the feel of the 'pillow" sleeve (nylon)

+1

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JRinGeorgia Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 10:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey guys, thanks for the thoughts, however this won't address my issue. Two reasons:

- I already am using my clothes on top of the air layer of the pillow, none left to go under the pad. I haven't found it comfortable to put my head directly on an air layer, so I use the clothes as a cushion layer above the air layer inside of this pillow concept.

- Putting anything under the pad will raise the pad in a "ramp" that won't work well for my neck. I've had some neck problems in the past, and what works best for me is to have a tall pillow that is cushy on top and supportive  underneath to tuck deep into the crook of my neck to support it (at home I use two pillows, a soft one on top and a firm one underneath). If the pad is ramping up underneath me then I won't be able to tuck it into the hollow where my shoulder and neck meet, instead it will be raising the shoulder lying on the pad and actually taking away some of the "tall pillow" effect.

As for stuffing the mummy hood, I don't wear the hood so stuffing it would be another pillow idea, which I've tried, but it really isn't wide enough for me and also if I roll the bag with me then the hood gets rotated out from underneath my head.

I envy those of you who can lie down, close your eyes, and wake up 8 hours later in the same position. For whatever reason I am the opposite. It's been a while, but there have been times over the years when I have woken up to a severe crick in my neck that prevented me from turning my head for a several days. I also have a pinched nerve in there, and with medical advice and experimentation I've found that a tall pillow that fully supports my head and neck, while leaving my body and shoulder flat on the mattress, is the best way to prevent this as well as for me to simply be comfortable.

EDIT: pack under the pad is an idea I will try, though I still think it will cause the pad to "ramp" and elevate my down-side shoulder.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 11:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In winter, I often bring pillows. I bring two "half" Qualofil pillows. I just deal with the weight. I don't like blow-up pillows. However, I would be looking at that route if I needed something bigger and couldn't figure out how to prop something under my mattress comfortably. If you under inflate the mattress a little, it will make it easier to do.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 11:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

seems like that could be rough on the integrity of the pad, but i'm just guessing here. those things are so damn expensive, personally i don't think i'd risk it.

i've had a hard time finding a good balance between packable and comfortable, pillow-wise. i have a duel-use stuff sack that's nylon on the outside, microfleece on the inside... i use it as a clothes bag and flip it inside-out to use as a pillow. though, i was never satisfied with just using that stuffed with clothes. now, stuff it with my down sweater and it sleeps like a dream. a straight down pillow never provided enough support, but this has worked perfectly for me.  

the only other comfortable option i've come across are Thermorest's "Compressible Pillow". they're filled with chunks of foam and don't really compress very well, but they are comfortable


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 11:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For winter this is my new favorite.

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews....strella

Summer I still like my MontBell UL Pillow

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews....0System

I can't really see making the mod you want work. Lying on the pad will just put more pressure trying to force it back to straight/open.

Good luck with it.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 11:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(rayestrella @ Feb. 13 2013, 8:21 am)
QUOTE
For winter this is my new favorite.

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews....strella

Summer I still like my MontBell UL Pillow

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews....0System

I can't really see making the mod you want work. Lying on the pad will just put more pressure trying to force it back to straight/open.

Good luck with it.

That's looking pretty dang comfortable from the pics. I think I need to go play with one of those in person...

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 5:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use one of these pillow case and stuff it with extra clothes, rain gear, jacket, whatever I have on hand.
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JRinGeorgia Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 5:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the continued feedback. I have explored many pillow options, including the Nemo Fillo as well as Montbell, Exped, FlexAir, BA Clearview, Snoring Bear, and more. The issue is that all of these involve adding weight that I thought/hoped I might be able to avoid adding. For example, Ray that Fillo looks great but it's 10.8oz, isn't a weight-saver to swap it out for the 2 Intex inflatables I have that are a combined 12oz and give me the width of a standard household pillow. Same math on the other pillows -- I'm hoping (naively?) that I can forego any additional air layer by using the extra length of pad I'm carrying anyway. The FlexAir is very light, that might be a possibility without modding the sleep pad.

Regardless, what I have concluded is that, for my comfort, I will need a tall pillow that offers both support and cushiness, and so far that seems best achieved by an air layer and then a clothing layer on top of the sleeping pad itself. (note: pending some trials with Tigger's idea of putting my pack under the pad).

Cen, a stuff sack convertible to pillow case is exactly the kind of thing I am hoping to use on top of an air layer. By itself that is not enough height/support for me.

As for the Thermarest, been there done that (size large). It's very comfortable for a few minutes, until the weight of your head starts to act on the foam's compressibility and also shifting the foam pieces from the center of the pillow to the edges, so you end up with a very flat pillow for most of the night.

There may not be a "good" solution here, I'm trying to create a pillow that really is over-the-top for backcountry but thought I might have found a back-door way to achieve it with virtually no weight gain (for me). May be just a pipe dream.

I appreciate the feedback on the mod idea itself, you guys have the same concerns I do about the sleep pad failing if so modified or, at the very least, the binding not holding. Ray, I agree my body weight would add a lot of strain to the manner in which the pad would be bound, and so if I try this I know I would need to keep it under-inflated a bit to make sure I don't blow anything out.

Any further feedback appreciated as always. I will continue to mull this around and let everyone know what happens.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 10:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes I do exactly what you are talking about. But I have a Neo Air Xlite. The baffles go the other direction so it easily folds that way. I have the X large for the width even though I'm only 5' 7". So I can easily fold a section either under my head or under my legs to get extra height.
I also had a custom tall pillow made by Bender. It is 6 inches tall when fully inflated and weighs under 3 oz. Unfortunatley I lost it, and to my knowledge he is no longer in business.
So the perfect pillow hunt continues.
For sleeping at home/motorcycle camping/ short trips where I don't care about weight I use one of these.
Side Sleeper
It is awesome and has really improved my sleeping. They can often be found on sale at walmart for around $20
Good luck. Let me know if you find a great solution!!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 14 2013, 10:56 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks Eric, good to know someone else has tried something like this (though the difference in pad construction could make all the difference in the world). Still mulling if I want to risk trying this, but in some ways comforting to know that if I'm crazy for the concept then at least I have company   :p

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 1:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Update: couple of nights test-drive sleeping with my pack under my pillow, on top of the pad rather than underneath it. FYI my pack has a mesh-suspension flow-through back, so the frame curves a bit more than typical, giving the empty pack a little more depth (or, a little more height when it's lying down under my pillow). Overall not great, but not bad. Was able to fully support my head and neck, and that's what counts. It's workable for now, I think I will hold off for the moment on any pad mod.

I've been thinking of a new pack and that could change things. Thanks all so much for the suggestions!


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 03 2013, 2:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey all, I turned to the community with this issue and got some good helpful input, just wanted to update everyone on the resolution.

While I remain intrigued at the mod idea, I didn't do it. Instead I picked up a NeoAir XLite (size XL). I have slept quite a few nights on it, with my pack under the pad at the head (thanks Franco and Tigger!) and added a large-size "monkey pillow", which some of you are familiar with (basically a stuff sack pillow with elastic straps to hold it on the pad). BTW I got it in all black so it doesn't look like it was made from my daughter's pajamas.

This is working really well for me. The horizontal baffles on the Xlite mean that it works better for the pack under one end (vertical baffles on the other pad acted more like a "ramp" up to the raised part). The horizontal baffles on the Xlite allow it to lay flatter up to where the pack is underneath, then bend more straight up, then bend more flat over the top of the pack, forming more of a stair-step instead of a ramp, better supporting my head and keeping my spine level while side-sleeping. The pillow has been very comfy and adds only 2oz.

Again I really appreciate all the feedback (great forum!) and wanted to let you all know how I worked it out.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 1:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Xlite is pretty nice, isn't it?  :)
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 8:44 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Definitely. I'm surprised the crinkling sound doesn't bother me, I think the pillow and down bag help absorb some of that (though I'm upgrading to a quilt so I might hear it more). The XL gives me some room to toss and turn. And about 3/4 of a lb less than the old pad.

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