• 2014
  • Sep
  • 15

JMT - John Muir Trail 2014 - Gear Review - Sleep System

For our hike of the John Muir Trail this summer we were using a brand new sleep system.
I want to document some of the lessons learned.

Equipment Choices

In the past we have spent some time in the high Sierra (for example hiking the Rae Lakes Loop) and have previously encountered very cold nights. In some cases we have seen water frozen inside the tent. So in preparation for the John Muir Trail we decided to invest in some warmer solutions.

On the trail

The THERM-A-REST pads come with their own bag, which allows to inflate the bags quickly, this also keeps your moist breath out of the bag, and limits condensation inside the bag.
When we first slept on the pads we both where afraid that the sounds they make when moving might keep us awake during the night, but it turns out that these sounds are really not a problem at all.

The choice of a separate base layer for sleeping instead of a liner also created the option to wear the base layer around camp when the evening turned called, or would have enabled us to wear it as base layer in very cold conditions - but luckily it never got that cold on our hike. Having a separate base layer also kept the sleeping bags clear and us warm.

Our down jackets where turned into pillows during the night. This worked particularly well for the Sierra Design Jacked with a hood - my wife was able to basically fold the entire jacket into the hood which created a very stable and perfectly sized pillow.

We both found that wearing a warm hat helped a lot in cold nights.

Conclusions

We have never slept as well as we have with the above mentioned sleep system.
In Yosemite Valley we slept in quite warm weather, and simply left the sleeping bags open the coldest night was in the upper Vidette Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park. Temperature in that night must have been well below freezing (since most our gear and the ground was frozen).