Selecting Pads and Packs with the Hiking Sailor

Selecting Pads and Packs with the Hiking Sailor

Still deciding on your sleeping pad and pack? Here are some tips from Adrian Redgwell, the Hiking Sailor, who already made it through over 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail last year and is going to complete the trail going SOBO this year. He is part of Hike for Mental Health. Adrian is Canadian, which will explain all the "eh."

Sleeping Pads

One term you will hear a lot about is R-value, which basically means how much the pad can retain warmth. Also be aware of your pad’s limitations when sleeping in a shelter. Protect it. In the end, it is up to you to choose your comfort level. There are three types of pads to choose from.

Air pads

There are many to choose from and the thicknesses range from 1 to 5 inches. Now remember that you have to blow these up each night and depending on the thickness and the way the pad is made, this could take a while. An option here is a bag that you fill to replace your breath. No condensation this way, too. One major CON to be aware of is these pads can be punctured. So always carry a small repair kit for this. These pads’ weight can be as low as 14 oz.

Self-inflating open cell pad

No question that these are very durable. Thickness can vary but these are the heaviest out there and they self inflate somewhat. Not a fan myself.

Closed cell foam

Now these pads are an ultralight’s dream, weighing as low as a couple of oz. Very difficult to destroy and you can cut it in 2 and use one part during the day as your bum seat. Alas, there is minimal back support, so you might not get a good night’s sleep.

For more information about R-values and keeping snug at night with the right kind of sleeping bag and pad, read Gilad's post.

Packs

Adrian with packs inside his homeChoosing your pack is one of the most difficult decisions of your hiking adventure and it is my hope that my experience will help you decide. To start, there are now three types of backpacks you can choose from:
  1. Normal 5 pound packs: This is usually the cheapest pack you can afford however, you can really get some solid packs that work for you. These heavy packs have all the creature comforts to enjoy your adventure.
  2. Light 2.5 to 3 pound packs: These packs are usually your second pack you ever purchase and they are usually between $150 to $350 USD. They are still very comfortable to wear and pack great comforts. These are the best bang for the buck packs out there.
  3. Lighter than 2.5 pound packs: These packs are usually bare bones but some still offer a range of comforts.  Pricing can be over $150 to $600 USD. These are the best of the best, but because of the light material used, handle with care. Examples are Osprey, Gregory, ZPacks, Hyperlite, Gossamer Gear, ULA, Six Moon Designs, and other various pack companies.
In closing, shop around for deals and wait for the sales. On average, if you can get a pack from 2 to 2.75 pounds for around $180 USD, you are way ahead of the base weight game.
Gilad's note: don't forget that lighter packs are meant for lighter gear. Packs have a comfort weight carry and a limit weight, and when opting for a frameless pack, it is even more important to carry the right weight.

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