Over the years we have tried several sleeping equipment. Before our trip to Norway we used a two person Gelert air mattress (canvas) and two Bardani Collibri (rectangular shaped) sleeping bags with a comfort rating of +4°C. Unfortunately one of the sleepingbag zippers broke. And our Gelert air mattress was going flat over night also it is too heavy and too hard to carry around. Especially for the big journey we were planning. But above all this equipment wasn’t offering enough insulation on colder nights. Some of our motorbike friends use self-inflatable mats (therm-a-rest or other brands) because they offer better insulation. Most of these mattresses do have one disadvantage and that is the packing size, especially if you want some comfort.
Airmattress (Exped Synmat 7 Pump LW)
After some thorough investigation, we discovered the Exped air mattresses. They offer the same insulation as self-inflatable mattresses because they are stuffed with some isolating material. The material can be either down or a synthetic microfiber. Down is the more expensive option. The packing size doesn't differ much from the synthetic ones, but it offers better insulation. We choose the synthetic mats because we decided that they will offer sufficient insulation.
In 2011 Exped introduced an Ultra Light mattress which has a considerable smaller packingsize. Unfortunately it did not have the desired measurements. Also it is less sturdy. So we choose the Exped Synmat 7 Pump DLX (LW) mattress. These mattresses have an integrated pomp, an acceptable packing size and excellent specifications:
|Size:||197 x 65|
|Packing size:||27 x 15 cm|
|Filling:||150 g/qm Texpedloft Microfiber|
By using two straps the air mattresses can be joined together, which results in one large 2 person mattress. For us this works out fine.
In Morocco we had an issue with one of the mattresses. A seem let go, resulting in a big hump. Luckely this hump was at the foot section of the mattress. So it was still posible to sleep on it. However we got the mattress replaced under warranty. Once we got the new mattress we noticed that Exped changed the valves of the pump to a smaller version. Our old mattresses had a big valve which was getting harder and harder to open. The company where we bought it, made some effort to replace the old one aswell. In spite of these issues we are still very happy with our Exped mattresses.
Pillows (Exped Air Seat)
If you're on the road every day, you'll need a good night of sleep. A pillow adds a bit of comfort and offers just that. When we started our trip Marianne was using an Exped Air Seat as pillow. Sander took an ultralight Exped Air Pillow. Altough it packs very small and weighs virtually nothing, it wasn't sturdy enough for everyday camping. Somewhere in Africa it started leaking. We glued it a couple of times but it simply wouldn't hold. In Namibia we binned the ultralight pillow and replaced it with a cheap chinese inflatable pillow. Right now we are both using the Exped Air Seat as a pillow.
Sleepingbag (Nomad Triple-S)
Finding a sleeping bag with the right specifications was a little tougher. Sander didn’t want a mummy model at any cost. Even though the packing size of a mummy model in general is smaller. He just doesn’t feel comfortable in them. Also we prefer to zip our sleeping bags together and cuddle together.
We also didn't like down because it is said that it does not insulate anymore (or it insulates less) if it’s humid / wet. They say due to the modern technology this isn’t the case anymore but we still believe we made the right choice. In Norway Sander’s motorbike ended up in a ditch, soaking all our sleeping gear. We rinsed our sleeping bags under the shower to get rid of all the mud and algae and dried them. We doubt that it would have worked out as well with down as it did with our synthetic sleeping bags.
Anyway, our bag of choice is the Nomad Triple-S sleeping bag. This 3 season sleeping bag has a summer and a spring/fall side. This makes the packing size to be acceptable while it still offers sufficient insulation. If it really gets cold there is the posibility to tighten some elastic cords which turns the sleeping bag into a mummy model. The drawback of this is that the ‘wrong side’ of the sleeping bag might end up on top when using the sleeping bag by itself (not zipped together). If it really gets bad, the sleeping bags have a hood which works surprisingly well. Normally we just use the hood to protect and secure our pillows.
The specifications of our sleeping bags:
|Size:||235 x 80 cm|
|Packing size:||18 x 40 cm|
|Filling:||70 g/m2 3D-Polarsoft-Micro (Summer side)|
|Double layer 130 g/m2 Polarsoft 70 g/m2 3D-Polarshield-Micro (Spring/Fall side)|
To protect our sleeping bags, we decided it would be a good idea to use a liner. In that way we don't have to wash our sleepingbags too often. Washing a liner is so much easier. Initially we settled for the 2 person Lowland Silk liner. It virtually takes up no space and was the cheapest we could find that matched our criteria. The silk provides some extra insulation and in very hot condition we can just use it as a ultralight weight sleeping bag. We used the silk liner during our 9 months in Africa. About halfway it started falling apart and by South Africa we really needed to replace it.
In South Africa we bought a couple of Sea to Summit single liners. They seem to be a little better quality however the standaard versions we got are too short and they are less accessible compared to a double version. So back in the Netherlands we bought a Cocoon double liner made of Egyptian cotton. This should be more durable and also packs relatively small. We are still using this liner.
For protection againt Malaria and other mosquito transfered diseases we carry a mosquito net. We use it when sleeping in hotels where no such device is available. When we did Africa in 2013 we we're carrying a Care Plus Compact Bell. It's a pretty compact mosquito net and according to specifications it should be large enough for one to two persons. Although we managed, we should note that it is a bit small for two persons. With all sides sloping towards a central ring, it hard to avoid laying against the netting. Also the bell isn't dimensioned symmetrically, making it a struggle to find out how to install it properly.
Not being fully satisfied with the Compact Bell we started looking for something different. In our local outdoor shop we ran into the Sea to Summit Nano Double Pyramid. With a packsize even smaller than the Compact Bell. However it was lacking any anti-mosquito treatment. On internet we found out there also an option which is Permethrin treated, so we ordered it. We tried the net one time, to see if it is large enough. But we had no problem using it with our 2 person bed. Something that was almost impossible with the old Compact Bell. Being a better design with a larger footprint and a smaller packsize, we think it is the better option.