(Credit: Aishah Muhammad, Instagram @heyitsaishah)
Imagine this: You’re planning a trip to Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile on the iconic W Trek. It’s a 4-day trip that is set to be in the winter time. Let’s make sure you are well-rested and most importantly comfortable each night you sleep!
It’s important to know the different options that you have when you are embarking on a long trip. Some backpackers will sacrifice weight for warmth, or vice versa. There are usually two key components that help keep you warm at night and help get you rested up for the next day’s hike: Sleeping Bag/Quilt, and Sleeping Pad.
- Opting to use a sleeping bag is the more common approach towards packing for sleep. They have a mummy-like shaped body that helps you stay snuggled up and warm. The design of these typically have a full-length zipper to enclose your body, and a hood feature to keep your head warm. One of the main advantages of using a sleeping bag is the guaranteed warmth. Because you are able to fully engulf yourself, you will rarely have a problem with getting cold at night. It may be a bit heavier and bulkier to pack, but it will definitely keep you warm.
- A sleeping quilt is a much more niche option that caters towards backpackers. Quilts remove the hood and back piece of the sleeping bag to preserve weight. One of the key elements to a quilt that may intrigue sleeping bag users is that you can regulate temperature to your liking. Because of the open-back concept, you have choices to cinch up the back to make it somewhat like a sleeping bag or leave it open and use it as an over-the-top blanket. Versatility and lightweight is the name of the game for quilt users. Can’t forget to mention that quilts are often cheaper than sleeping bags.
- Sleeping pads are an essential addition to sleeping bags and quilts. There are two main functions of the pad: 1) Provide cushioning against the terrain floor, 2) Act as an insulator between the ground and your body. There are a couple of options in the forms of sleeping pads, ranging from self-inflating, air, or closed-foam material. Being that they are lightweight and very compact, they are easy for packing and traveling on the go.
After a long day of hiking, the last thing you want is to have a sleepless night. Some things to think about before you pack is to know where you are going, what conditions will be like, and how you sleep. If you are a cold sleeper, you may opt to go for a versatile quilt, whereas if you are a warm sleeper, you may opt in for the warmth of a sleeping bag.
Remember to enjoy your trips, pack smart, stay warm, and most of all stay safe!