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Keeping warm & comfy at night, 2 people, minimalist style? 
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Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2006 12:47 am
Posts: 14
Location: vermont
This is the first year I'll be sharing my tent with someone. In years passed, I've slept alone in a small tent, with a cheap-and-uncomfortable mattress pad. My girlfriend is coming with me this year (YAY!!!), so things will be different! I just bought a 10'x8' tent, and we're borrowing a queen-sized air mattress. The problem is, we're flying, and the baggage restrictions and fees seem to get more insane all the time, so packing as little as possible is key. The tent and mattress will already be bulky. How much bedding do we REALLY need to stay warm? I've always been fine in just my sleeping bag, but of course, that's when I'm zipped up inside of it. Do you think that we'd be okay with a set of fleece sheets and my sleeping bag unzipped and spread over us like a comforter, or do we need to bring another layer? Will having the body heat of another person make up for the heat that's lost through having the sleeping bag unzipped?

Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:23 pm

Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:00 pm
Posts: 412
ahhh. . .that sounds challenging in terms of airline luggage restrictions.
and, I'm chuckling to think of a queen size airbed and a 10x8 tent as being anything approaching minimalist. . .

Remember, those airbeds need some kind of insulation OVER the bed, not just sheets. . .the air in the bed gets quite cool, even in quite warm weather, so you need insulation from below, not just from above. I'd say put the sleeping bag under you for insulation, and get another fleece blanket to go over your fleece sheets. . .or a fleece blanket and some kind of lightweight windproof nylon sheet over the fleece blanket. . .

a lot depends on how cold it gets, and how warm you two tend to sleep (I'm on the furnace end of the sleeping scale, some folks are on the iceberg end of the sleeping scale). . . also depends on whether you're planning on sleeping in long underwear or nekkid. . .also remember that a 10x8 tent won't be as snug as your little two person tent which holds in a lot of body heat. . .

hopefully some other folks more experienced with airbeds will chime in. . .
good luck!

Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:42 pm

Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:00 pm
Posts: 412
PS: can you try it all out in a backyard or on a local overnight camping trip???

Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:43 pm

Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2006 12:47 am
Posts: 14
Location: vermont
Oh dear. Thanks for the reality check, SKWD!

You're right, an 8x10 tent and air mattress isn't very minimalist, is it!! I must admit, this is my gf's first fest, and I think I'm being a little too extravagant in an attempt to make it a good first fest for her. :) She's not sure she'll like it, so I'm doing what I can to make it nice for her. A large tent's kinda necessary, 'cause she's 6 feet tall, and as for the air mattress, I've had 6 years of being so uncomfortable on my cheap little pad that I habitually knock myself out with Benadryl to get through it. That was fine when I was solo and didn't want to be spending much time in bed anyway, you know? But now, I want our sleeping set up to be NICE!!! But I didn't know air mattresses need insulation under the sheets. Darn it. We'll try your idea of a camping trial run!

I'll make up for my lack of campsite minimalism by going nearly naked all week and not packing many clothes. ;)

Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:04 pm

Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:18 am
Posts: 1061
Location: Rochester, NY
hi lunasea! You're bringing your girlfriend! :)

SKWD is right. You need some sort of good insulation between the air mattress and you. A tent that large will naturally be colder then your small tent (more air space for your body heat to warm up).

When I camped with an airmattress, I brought along a monstrous old heavy thick cotton flannel & canvas sleeping bag (think of the kind for a hunting cabin) to open flat and serve as a mattress pad ... and then regular sheets and comforter on top of it. It was divine to sleep on but hell to schlepp! If you don't have good insulation, you will be chilled to the bone on cooler nights and sweating your butts off on the hot nights!

Can you possibly bring along a mattress pad?

I suggest for a sleep system, you bring 2 rectangular (as opposed to mummy style) sleeping bags that can zip together and a lightweight fleece blanket. This gives you 4 sleeping options:
    for very warm nights, sleep on top of the closed sleeping bags with just the fleece blanket over you
    for warm to medium nights, sleep between the two opened bags with only the foot zipped together with the bottom one (otherwise it will tend to slide off to one side)
    for medium to cooler nights, sleep inside the zippered together sleeping bags (each of you still have the option to unzip your own side some if you are too warm)
    for very cool nights, use the fleece blanket as a top sheet and fully zip the double bag

You're still going to need something to sit on for night stage, clothes, personal stuff ....

So perhaps you know someone who's driving to fest and can haul your heavier gear for you? Or maybe even lend you something? That might be the best bet!


"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."

Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:12 pm

Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:14 am
Posts: 110
i don't know if it would work but i would try it. you can try one of those emergency reflector blankets for under the air mattress. i would try it first though. also cardboard works great as an insulator under a mattress .

Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:36 pm

Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:50 pm
Posts: 27
Location: New Orleans
Last year I tried the emergency blanket under my air mattress. It's hard to judge from year to year because the weather varies, but there seemed to be a lot less heat loss.

Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:53 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:28 pm
Posts: 341
Location: Windy City
I have used an emergency blanket under my air matress since I got it 6 yrs ago & never have been cold. I would say it works well. Also is light & very small for packing. They do come in different sizes so make sure to get a large one.


Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:44 pm

Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 279
Location: SF Bay Area
We were just talking about this on fb (lunasea and I), but I thought I would post here... I am obsessing about this exact issue too.... First time at Fest with a girlfriend... She went once as a performer with her partner at the time and said that the air mattress was so hellish, they ended up sleeping on the foam pad..

Fast foward 10 years and add on some fibromyalsia and autoimmune diagnoses and I am pretty concerned about the sleeping...

I already have a larger tent, so that's not an issue. I bought large but cheap and very light pieces of fleece from the fabric store before my first fest, and have a down-alternative comforter that generally keeps me warm at Fest.... They are also so light and compactable that I am not toooo concerned about the airplane restrictions (first time flying). Plus, my g/f is an oven which is GREAT!

My big concern: our ailing bodies! will we be able to sleep on an air mattress???? we can't afford the fancy dream sleep pads... trying desperately to come up with an alternative. We are flying to chicago and driving from there, so we could buy stuff cheap...


one last thing: we got this air mattress frame that is only 20 lbs and has a case (very easy). I got a convoluted idea that I could use my 2" memory foam topper on it if I could come up with something study to rest on it.... thoughts? I think it's not going to work, but there are some creative womyn on these boards so I thought i'd put it out there.

ok, enough rambling. I need to go to the store...

Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:32 pm

Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:00 pm
Posts: 412
I got one of these last year: ... lating-pad
which seems to be somewhat similar to the Dreamrest. .. half the price. . .
most comfortable camping sleeping I've ever done. . .

Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:54 pm

Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:58 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Illinois
I got a camp futon from LLBean a few years ago for fest, and it is sooooo comfortable.

Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:11 pm

Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:40 am
Posts: 21
Location: northern nm
We fly too and just recently upgraded to a huge tent like yours. The space is amazing and it is MUCH colder. Two years ago we tried an air bed and really didn't like it, it was cold and too rolly. We've gone back to the plain double thermarest with a foam pad over. (We either get one in GR the night before the shuttle or a friend brings one for us. We've had no trouble finding someone to take it post fest - don't want to throw it out.) We cover with two zippable (together) sleeping bags, sheets - one fleece, one cotton depending on how hot/cold it is we set up differently. Two mini fleece blankets seem to be enough most years. I've slept naked with the sheet some years and worn long undies to bed with a hat and had space blankets under and over on a REALLY cold year, noisy but warm! We are 50 and 60+.

Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:26 am

Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 3:51 pm
Posts: 223
In order to test a sleep system for comfort, set it up at home and try it there. Do it in a room that doesn't have carpet - such as the kitchen. Sleep on it for several nights. Then multiply any discomfort you feel in the morning by a factor of 5 and that's approximately how comfortable it will be for a week in the woods.

(Staying warm is a different matter - but testing your system at home will at least tell you how your back and hips fare, how easy it is to get into and out of bed, etc.)

~Babs, who has spent the last week sleeping on a cot in her living room.

Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:35 am

Joined: Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:21 pm
Posts: 179
Location: Columbus, OH
I have fibro and live in a body where everything hurts all the time, especially my back. I could not imagine sleeping on an air mattress. I had one years ago when I was with my ex, and was very happy to let her take it. I found that no matter how much I blow up an air mattress, it still looses air, and I end up sleeping on a mushy uncomfortable thing with my butt directly on the ground since that's the heaviest part of my body.

I do a lot better on 2 therma-rests. I hold them together with yoga straps that also work to tie up the therma-rests for transit. Luckily, I can still get up and down off the ground fairly easily. My partner brings her own therma-rest. We push them together, but still sleep in our own sleeping bags. Not the most romantic and cuddly, but unfortunately staying in any cuddling position for long tends to just leave me in a lot of pain. I have an enormous cotton blanket that I bring along, which helps with versatility for weather. We sleep in our bags on cool nights with the blanket underneath or on top. On warmer nights, we can sleep on the blanket with sleeping bags on top, and on really warm nights or napping during the day, we can just sleep on top on the blanket, pulling a bit of the blanket over top if needed.

I have found that a tent tall enough to stand up in is an absolute must for me. Somehow I do OK on the ground as long as I can stand up without stooping when I need to.

Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:23 am

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:42 am
Posts: 57
Being in the "hot flash" stage of life, I'm never cold at fest, and seldom even zip up my bag. However, when camping in late fall or winter, I find that 2 down sleeping bags that zip together have always kept us toasty warm, and are plenty roomy. There are also sleeves that you can slip your Therm-a-rests into they don't separate.

Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:32 am
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