Sleep System

This category contains items directly related to sleep, i.e. sleeping bags, quilts, sleeping pads, pillows, etc. There are a lot of companies out there making awesome sleeping bags and pads, but it’s up to you to find the style, warmth, weight, and price that agrees with you and your comfort levels. 


I used this bag for section hikes on the AT, as well as my thru hike of the PCT,  and CDT; let me tell ya… I was not disapointed. I don’t think any other company is making sleeping bags with the quality of Western Mountaineering. There are companies making lighter bags for the same warmth values, but not the same quality as WM. These bags come with a lifetime warranty and a durability that’s hard to match. The “regular” size is well under two pounds in weight, while the “long” size is just barely over two pounds. Western Mountaineering is pricey, but you get what you pay for.


This is the lighter version of the Alpinelite listed above. They’ve done away with the larger hood portion, shaving off some more weight.



If you’re sensitive to the cold and know you’re going to be hiking the fall or early spring, you may want to switch to a ten degree bag. Western Mountaineering won’t leave you disapointed.



Z-Packs recently began using vertical baffles on their sleeping quilts/bags instead of the traditional horizontal baffles. This has resulted in a more efficient distribution of warmth throughout the night. My girlfriend uses a Z-Packs ten degree quilt for all her thru hikes and has no plans to switch anytime soon.




If you’re looking for super light and super affordable, then look no further. I own a hammock gear top quilt and under quilt, and I have almost no complaints. It’s light and tough, but I feel like it could be warmer. Luckily, their custom quilts come with an option to “over fill;” so my personal recommendation would be to request several ounces of down overfill in your quilt. Don’t forget to also check out their hammock under quilts, should you need one. Despite the bag pictured here, they have switched to vertical baffles in their quilts. If you’re looking for quality on a budget, these are the quilts for you’re looking for.




Enlightened Equipment is probably the premier “down quilt” making company out there right now. They have a bunch of styles for different purposes, and they utilize a vertical baffle design that I believe is more efficient than the horizontal baffle design of most other bags. They can get a bit pricey, but more and more people are making the switch to enlightened equipment’s versatile quilts. They also make under quilts for hammocks, so be sure to check those out too, if you’re in the market.




Katabatic Gear is another cottage industry gear manufacturer who’s quality is right up there with the best of them. They are a little lesser known than some of the other cottage businesses, but everyone I’ve met who has one of their quilts is wildly impressed.



When it comes to simplicity and durability, the Thermarest Z-lite is leading the fight. It’s a closed cell foam pad, therefore it is indestructible. Stab it, fold it, tear it, tape it back together, whatever; it’ll still work exactly as it was intended too. I used this pad for my PCT  and CDT thru hike, although I cut it to torso length. If you are a creature of comfort, then this pad is probably not for you. It’s not meant to be comfortable, but simply to provide a barrier between you and the cold ground.



Of all the inflatable pads I’ve sampled and tried, this one is my favorite. I have very broad shoulders, and the “Long Wide” version of this pad is nearly 27 inches wide at the shoulders, tapering down to about 14 inches wide at the foot end. It’s down impregnated, so it’s super warm. It comes with the option of a special Dry Bag (called a Schnozzel) that doubles as an inflatable pump that blows it up in literally seconds (no lung effort on your part needed).  You may have to purchase the Schnozzel separately. For just under a pound, I love using this pad for my shorter excursions when my comfort is treasured.



This air mat is one of the most popular inflatable air mats among thru hikers. For it’s size, warmth value, and cushion, it’s surprisingly light; if not the lightest sleeping pad for out there for the cushion and warmth.



This is the largest and lightest air mattress I’ve been able to find anywhere in regards to width, length, and thickness. If comfort is paramount to you… this is your mattress.


This is quite literally the lightest three season inflatable sleeping pad on the market today. I own this pad, and it weighs less than 8 ounces. I’m a little big for this pad, but I’ve made it work, and it is comfy! If you are a petite woman, or a guy under 180 pounds; you’ve hit the sleeping pad jackpot with this one.



I would consider any kind of pillow a “luxury item,” but this one is so light, it almost doesn’t qualify as anything. I’ve tried one before, and my best friend thru hiked with one; he’s sold for life. If you are a creature of comfort, then this inflatable pillow is right up your alley. You can inflate it to whatever firmness you want.



 For the pillow lover out there who will settle for nothing less than a premium quality down pillow from a premium quality company… this pillow is for you.

Leave a Reply