After spending a 4 day camping trip laying on rock in the early 2000's, I had decided camping would require cots and a very large tent to accommodate them. The large tent then begged to be filled up with more and more gear. On scout trips the scoutmaster was easy to find because all you had to do was look for the largest tent in the group. It wasn't long before our camping accommodations were referred to as the "Taj Mahal". We had all the comforts of home, but being the last ones to set up and the last ones to tear down was getting old.
How I learned to love sleeping on the ground (and forsake my cot)
When I signed up for Wood badge for the 21st Century, a BSA leadership course geared for adult leaders, I found myself in need of a tent that I could easily put up myself. That meant saying goodbye to the large comfortable cot. We took a field trip to REI in Pittsburgh to look for things I would need for my solo tent camping. None of this would have happened or happened as well without the excellent and caring service by the associates at REI.
My Sleeping Bag and PadThe first item on my list was a new sleeping bag. The sales associate showed me the "Lulu" Big Agnes 20 degree synthetic sleeping bag/pad system. The sleeping bag was a modified mummy, which is great because I toss and turn while I sleep and can still do that with this bag. The unique feature of this bag is the lack of padding on under side half of the bag. This helps keep the bag light, which makes it perfect for backpacking. Instead of padding, the underside has a pocket for the blow-up sleeping pad (Also by Big Agnes, the Insulated Air core Sleeping Pad). The pad almost looks like something you would see floating in a swimming pool. There is a bit of Primaloft insulation in the pad which helps make up for the lack of insulation on the underside of the bag. I fell in love with it instantly.
There is a hole on each side of the bag at the top of the pocket for the air nozzle. Once I get in the bag for the night, I adjust the firmness of the bag by reaching up and twisting the air nozzle to release some of the air. Before I get out of the bag on the last morning, I twist the air nozzle all the way open to remove the air and get it ready for packing. It packs up very small (approx 3" x 9" roll) and has it's own stuff sack.
And My Second Sleeping BagSince then I have purchased a 45 degree Big Agnes bag for warmer weather. This bag is a rectangle and is made so that my 20 degree bag can slip into it. I am a freeze baby so I was thrilled to find this bag!
Since then we have gone from constructing and tearing down a camping mansion, to a super quick set up and tear down of our small, and not so humble weekend abode.