Category Archives: sleep


Your home away from home

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When heading out for a night or two it is well worth thinking about where you will stay. Normally we first think about camping in a tent, but there are other great options like a camping hammock, caves, Bivvy bags, huts and even hostels when closer to towns.

Not all options are available on all trips, but each provides a unique way of experiencing nature. Hostels are great for luxury and for large groups, a hammock can be pitched in steep country but is less social. Caves are a wonderful way to sleep in the open, sheltered from the elements but are on a first in basis. This is about what is available to you on your next trip and what will work best for you and your group.

Sleeping Bag

Everything you need to know about sleeping bags

“A sleeping bag is a tortilla for a human.” Mitch Hedberg

A sleeping bag is a fundamental piece of gear for warmth and comfort on overnight trips . The quality of sleeping bag that suits you depends on the type of trips you are doing, how cold the areas you are walking in, and how exposed your campsites will typically be.

Sleeping Pad

Everything you need to know about sleeping pads

“Never waste any time you can spend sleeping.” Frank Knight

Sleeping pads provide a comfortable insulation layer between you and the ground. They serve two purposes: firstly, to prevent your body from losing heat directly to the ground, and secondly, to provide comfort and ensure a good night’s sleep. Recently, air-filled sleeping pads have become increasingly popular due to their comfort, lightweight and small packed volume.

Whether you have an ultra-light small sleeping pad or a simple foam mat, it’s worth taking time to think through how to care, pack and look after your pad to ensure that it lasts long and serves you well!

Inner Sheet

Everything you need to know about inner sheets

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” Leo J Burke

Bushwalkers use inner sheets (sometimes called ‘liners’) to provide a protective layer between them and their sleeping bag and add extra warmth. The insulating properties of a sleeping bag decrease significantly if the bag gets dirty, particularly with body sweat.

Sleeping bag inners reduce the amount of dirt, mud and sweat getting onto the sleeping bag and can also increase insulation by as much as 5℃. They are usually reasonably lightweight can be easily cleaned at the end of a trip because they are a separate easily machine-washable item.

Carrying an inner sheet increases your sleeping options. On hot nights, just use the inner sheet. On cool nights, use both inner sheet and sleeping bag. On in between nights you might sleep in your inner sheet with your sleeping bag unzipped. Back home, clean the inner sheet, and you’ve instantly got a fresh clean sleeping area again!

Check & Pack Checking and packing your inner sheet

When packing your inner sheet, make sure it is clean and dry, and check for wear and tear on the fabric, including thin parts or tears.

A great way of saving space is to pack your inner sheet inside your sleeping bag and compression bag.

If you can’t find your inner sheet, an alternative is to carry a change of clean long-sleeved clothes (e.g. thermals) that you can sleep in. This is a reasonable replacement for an inner sheet and prevents your sleeping bag getting too wet. Just be mindful that tight fitting clothes are not always a good idea when sleeping.

Use in the field Using your inner sheet in the bush

Caring for your inner sheet in the field is similar to caring for your sleeping bag – treat it gently, avoid using on sharp surfaces. Air your inner sheet out each morning before packing away. At bedtime, climb into your inner sheet then slide your sleeping bag around you.

Care and Maintenance Looking after your inner sheet

The two main properties of a sleeping bag inner sheets to think through are the material and the shape.

Sleeping bag inner sheets generally come in two forms – mummy shaped or rectangular/barrel.

‘Rectangular’ or ‘barrel’ shaped inner sheets are the most common shape. They are broad, leaving plenty of room for you to get in and out, and also move around in your sleep.

‘Mummy’ shaped inner sheets fit the human body shape well and generally feel tighter than rectangular inner sheets. They use less material than rectangular inner sheets and are therefore lighter. Mummy shaped inner sheets can sit neatly into mummy shaped sleeping bag.

The main materials to choose from are synthetic polyester and spandex, natural fibres such as silk or cotton and fleece material.

MaterialImage/examplesProsConsApproximate Price
($ - cheap; $$- moderate; $$$ - expensive)
Synthetic polyester and spandex

Kathmandu Sleeping Bag Liner Thermal

Sea To Summit Expander Sleeping Bag Liner - Long

Moisture-wicking and breathable. Stretchy, comfortable material. Not made from natural fibres.$$

Sea to Summit
Silk Travel Liner - Rectangular

Mont Silk Inner Sheet Standard

Lightweight and compact. Absorbent and breathable. Feels nice on skin. Quick drying.Pricey$$$

Denali Travel Liner White Envelope

Single cotton inner sheets-yha - pillow slip

Durable and strong. Cheap. Feels nice on the skin.Heavy and bulky.

Does not insulate as well as other materials.

If inner sheet gets wet, cotton takes a long time to dry out and is not an effective insulator when damp.

Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Fleece Liner - Regular

Stratus Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner (10°)

Very warm; feels nice and soft on the skinHard to use by itself on a hot night because it is so warm.

Material is bulky and heavy, so takes up a lot of weight and volume in backpack.

Insect repellant
Some inner sheets come with inbuilt insect repellent for protection. Worth checking out if using open shelter designs such as a tarp without a mosquito net.

Extra features

  1. Zips
    Zips are an uncommon feature on inner sheets as they tend to add significant weight to an already lightweight item. Most sleeping bag materials tend to breathe well (and wick moisture away from the skin), so ventilation isn’t usually an issue.

    The exception is for this are those thicker inner sheets that can double as a summer sleeping bag. For example, Sea to Summit Reactor Fleece:

    Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Fleece Liner – Regular

  2. Pillow pocket
    Some inner sheets have an extra fold of material with room for a pillow. While the additional material adds extra bulk and weight, some people like having this style of inner sheet as it doubles as a travel liner for use in youth hostels with some bedding already provided.


Everything you need to know about pillows

“I love sleep, my life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know.” Ernest Hemingway

The perfect pillow is one that gives you a great night’s sleep, providing support and comfort throughout the night, but not taking up your whole pack! Depending on preference, some people prefer smaller or larger pillows, and harder or softer materials {ref =}.

It’s worth thinking through whether you need a pillow. Some bushwalkers are comfortable enough with using spare clothing or jackets to rest their head on or even inflating a cask wine bladder. If you are comfortable doing this, it’s a great way of saving weight and space in your pack. This is definitely something to test at home first before committing to it on a long trip.

Check & Pack Checking and packing your pillow

Pillows are quite straightforward to check and pack. It’s simply a matter of doing a quick once-over as follows:

  • Check that the pillow is clean & dry: check the fabric both upper and lower.
  • Check that the pillow is working & undamaged: Check for wear and tear on the fabric. If the pillow inflates, check that there are no punctures and that the valve is still intact.

Use in the field Using your pillow in the bush

As with most gear in the field, make sure to treat your pillow gently. Avoid using it on sharp surfaces, and take care to reduce the amount of dirt or mud that it comes in contact with. Inflate the pillow a little more than you think you will need once laying down, release a bit of air to make it perfect. Consider placing your pillow in your inner sheets or sleeping bag hood to prevent it from running away.

Care and Maintenance Using your pillow in the bush

Back home, wash at the end of each trip following manufacturer’s instruction. Dry thoroughly, and store in a cool, dry place.

Selection Choosing your pillow

There are a few different options for pillows. Most simply, repurposing another item of gear such as a jumper or jacket, or carrying a separate item for the job.

The big tradeoff is pillow selection is comfort against weight. Generally speaking, the more comfy options are bigger and bulkier, better suited to car camping than overnight bushwalks. The other consideration is how you sleep – on your side, back or front – which again may affect pillow the style of pillow you choose.

People that sleep on their side tend to favour a thick pillow so that their head is neatly aligned with their spine. People that sleep on their front generally do not need a lot of neck support, finding that a small thin and flat pillow is best. People that sleep on their back find a medium support pillow the best.

Having said this, it comes down to trial and error to figure out which pillows provide you with the most comfort. It’s worth getting right to prevent aching backs and necks in the morning!

Here are a few options that overnight bushwalkers can consider:

  1. Readapt clothing items already in your pack
    Consider using clothing items such as a jumper or jacket as a pillow. You can sleep directly on the clothing, or create a custom-made pillow using a stuff sack or dry bag.

    Stuff clothing into a stuff sack or dry bag so that there is a bit of bulk to the package, but it is still soft. Depending on how soft or hard you like your pillow to be, add more or less clothes. Avoid any sharp objects such as coats with sharp zippers or toggles. Move clothing around to ensure the pillow is even. Place stuff sack or dry bag inside a t-shirt or thermal to create a soft sleeping surface for your head.

  2. Compressible pillows
    Compressible pillows are filled with a foam, feather or synthetic fibre stuffing and can be stuffed down to a small volume using a compression sack. Compared to inflatable pillows, they are softer and better resemble a pillow you might use back home regarding comfort, however, over the night they do lose shape, and some users may find this uncomfortable. Down feather options provide the best insulation but tend to be pricey.

    Examples are:

    1. Therm-a-rest compressible pillow


    2. Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow


  3. Inflatable
    Inflatable pillows are firm and lightweight. Users must inflate by blowing air through the valve. Without any interior stuffing, they fold up small, however, some make crackling noises whenever users turn their heads, so check the material.

    1. Sea to summit aeros premium pillow


    2. Exped Air UL


  4. Hybrid
    Hybrid pillows are a combination of compression and inflatable models, with a compressible top layer to rest your head on but an inflated bottom. They bridge the gap between comfort and lightweight.

    Examples include:

    1. Nemo Fillo Elite Ultralite Backpacking pillow


    2. Exped REM


  5. Readapt a water bladder or wine cask
    You might hear bushwalkers joke about using a wine bladder as a pillow, but some people genuinely find this a great way of repurposing an item into a comfortable night’s sleep!

    Make sure the bladder is empty. Squeeze open the nozzle and blow air into the bag. When inflated to the appropriate amount, close the nozzle and wrap the bag in a shirt or thermal to muffle any crinkling and create a soft sleeping area. Although an old wine cask bladder is most common, any other kind of hydration bladder could also work.