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A guide on choosing the best air mattress or sleeping pad for the trail

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If you’re planning an overnight hike, the essentials that can make or break it are the essential provisions (food & water) and a good night’s sleep.

Getting the former right is not so complicated – you know your needs, you know the trek you’re tackling and you plan the volume and how energy-dense your food needs to be to keep you going.

On the other hand – getting a good night’s sleep outdoors is a bit trickier and calls for a bit more planning. The paramount choices you’ll need to make are the tent, the air mattress (or sleeping pad) and an add-on like a sleeping bag.

Today, we’ll look into what you need to know to choose a good air mattress. We’ll go over some basic rules-of-thumb and then we’ll mention a few specific products that might be right, depending on your scenario.

The basic questions

Before you even look at specific products, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Are you backpacking or driving to the trail?
  • Will you be setting permanent camp or move daily?
  • How do you adjust the size of the airbed to the size & shape of your tent?

Scenario 1: You’re driving to the trail & setting up camp to get back to each day

This is a scenario that will give you the most options to choose from because you don’t have to think about the weight of the airbed, the only thing to think about is fitting it into your tent.

The one mistake people make

You look at the space you have on the tent floor, you look at the dimensions of the air mattress, do the math and if they fit you might think that you’re OK.

It might sound basic, but we’ve seen it too often to ignore it – people tend not to take the slanted sides and the height of the air bed. This part is especially important if you have one of the two most common tent types – a ridge or a dome.

The inward sloping of the sides will become a problem if you go with a high-rise blow up mattress. The higher the air bed, the more it reduces the sleeping capacity of a tent with slanted walls.

For a 2-person tent

Rule of thumb: If it’s a 2-person tent you’re “working with”, a low-rise twin airbed or pad is your safest bet. Our picks as the best air mattresses for this scenario are the SoundAsleep Camping Series & the Lightspeed Outdoors TPU.

As per the user reviews we looked at, the SoundAsleep Camping Series is the top-rated classic airbed – it comes in Twin & Queen size, inflates in just under 3 minutes (the pump is included) and comes with a 1-year warranty.

It sits at 9” and will not “waste” any significant tent space.

The Lightspeed Outdoors, on the other hand, is not what you’d call a classic model. The first thing that’s not classic about it is the material – it’s not vinyl but TPU. TPU is closer to the “feel” and characteristics of fabric than plastic.

It stretches less and, as a result, feels firmer.

The 2nd thing that’s worth mentioning is that it is an inch longer and an inch narrower than a twin airbed (usually 78 x 60 “). It sits at 8 inches high.

The SoundAsleep weighs just under 10 lbs (twin size) and the Lightspeed Outdoors is significantly lighter (just over 5 lbs).

Not only were these two models top-rated by users but they’re also labeled as best air mattress as per TheSleepStudies.com – a website that tests and reviews air beds.

For a 4-person tent

A 4-person tent will be approximately 65 feet square. These are large enough to comfortably fit in a queen size inflatable. Our pick here & the best queen size air mattress is the Coleman SupportRest.

We didn’t have to do much research because this Coleman is the official camping air bed of the National Park Foundation.

It’s raised at about 20 inches and comes in Twin & Queen size. One thing to be aware of though, is that it doesn’t come with the pump by default. If you go with the Queen size, you’ll have to get the pump separately. The combined price of the two (the bed and the pump) is just over $70.

If you need something more durable & heavy-duty, you might look into Coleman DuraRest that was one of the top picks as per the Independent.co.uk.

Scenario 2: You’re backpacking or moving camp each day

In this scenario, an inflatable mattress will simply not be an option; they are too heavy to be carried around. You’ll want to go with a sleeping pad.

The best air camping air pads are significantly pricier than the options we mentioned above. The reason behind it is the fact that more technology goes into keeping you warm with a pad that’s lighter than 1 pound.

Our top pick here is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm. This Therm-a-Rest has been top-rated and listed as Editor’s choice as the best sleeping pad at OutDoorGearLab – a website that tests outdoor products, including sleeping pads.

What’s better about it is that the company managed to design so that it’s amazingly light and thin (just over 1 pound and 2.5 “).

They did it by using what they call triangular core baffles and ThermaCapture material. The former minimizes heat transfer between the ground and top surface of the pad, while the later reflects the body warmth of the sleeper.

If you don’t need so much insulation

If you’re not expecting cold night on the trail, you can go with something more budget-friendly, like the Klymit Static V. It’s wider and more comfortable than most pads in its price range. You can see more reference info about types and option you have when choosing a sleeping pad on REI.com

Do bear in mind that the R-value (describes how well the pad insulates the sleeper) of this Klymit is much lower than the mentioned Therm-a-Rest NeoAir (1.5 vs. 5.7). This means that it will keep you comfortable but won’t do much in terms of keeping you warm.

We believe we got our bases covered

This guide was planned to look at the process of choosing from different angles and scenarios. We believe we’ve covered 90 % of those. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comment section and we’ll do our best to help.

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Travel Tips

Musical Adventures in Rome

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If you like to travel and are a bit of a music fan, head to Rome. This beautiful city caters for all kinds of musical tastes.

You can find concerts in Rome, any day of the week. Most of them take place in the evening, which is perfect for tourists. It means that you can enjoy sightseeing during the day and fill your evening with a musical experience. Here are a few suggestions of where you might like to go and what you could be listening to.

Enjoy the opera

Rome is a great place to attend an opera. You can do everything from visit one of the city’s opera houses to enjoying an intimate performance in one of Rome’s many churches. As you would imagine, the standard of opera is very high. So, whichever option you choose, you are bound to enjoy yourself.

A dinner concert

Italian food is world-renowned and with good reason. It is always tasty and there are usually several courses. So, during your stay in Rome, you really should eat out as much as you can.

For a special treat book yourself a dinner concert. If you love opera or classical music, you are sure to enjoy the experience. There are several available. Just go online and pick the one that appeals to you the most.

Visit one of Rome’s jazz clubs

It pretty much does not matter where you travel in the world the chances are you will find a jazz club. Rome is no exception.  Use this guide to find performances of the style of jazz you like the most.

Go clubbing

If dance music is what you are after, again, there are plenty of venues offering DJs and live performances. Start by heading to Il Circolo degli Illuminati. There are three club rooms and a nice garden. This club offers an eclectic mix of musical genres. The 3 rooms offer House, Techno, Hip-Hop and chill out music.

It is also well worth visiting Shari Vari Playhouse. As well as music they offer the chance to enjoy a meal as well as a wide range of music. Genres include R&B and Hip Hop. This is the place to go if you like to dress up.

Live music jamming

It is always good to broaden your musical horizons and seek out emerging trends. If that appeals, head to Live Alcazar. There you can enjoy listening to up and coming singers and DJs. Later the dance floor opens up and the atmosphere changes. Effectively you get to enjoy two nights out in one, when you visit this venue.

Take in a music festival

The citizens of Rome love festivals and fiestas. They host them virtually year-round. Everything from Shakespeare to rock music is available. The Village Celimontana festival is an interesting one. It takes place in early September and despite only being 4 years old at the time of my writing this article is already crazy popular. It offers around 100 concerts that feature, jazz, swing, unplugged, rock and roll, tango performances, classical and all kinds of modern genres as well. You would be hard-pressed not to find something that you like.

Hopefully, the above ideas have provided you with some inspiration. Regardless of what musical events you choose to attend, be sure to book in advance. Rome is a busy city, so tickets do tend to sell out fast.

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Travel Tips

Hiking up and around the Caldera of Santorini

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Can we think to typical summer destination where sunbathers go to revel in the sandy beaches. In fact, what draws visitors to this volcanic island is its unique architecture of white-washed houses sitting atop of the caldera, accompanied by the most amazing sunsets Instagram is so full of. 

The only way to really appreciate the beauty of this island is to explore it on foot. There are several hiking trails on Santorini that will take you up and down the winding paths connecting the points of interest you shouldn’t miss. Grab some comfortable footwear and prepare to be stunned by the scenery along the way.

Hiking Trail of Ancient Thira

This trail can be done in two ways – either from Kamari Beach to Thira or from Perissa Beach to Thira and vice versa. Seeing as Santorini is one of Greece’s most spectacular islands, it goes without saying that it is abundant in historical monuments and the ancient Thira is one of the greatest representatives. For this reason, hiking to Thira is ideal for those with a knack for history and the love of nature.

This is an easy trail lasting around an hour and a half (around 3 kilometers). You can start at Kamari known for its unique black-sand beach. You should head uphill toward Zoodohoos Pigi chapel and Ancient Thira where you can spend some time exploring the archeological sites. After that, the descent toward Perissa starts and the beach will come into view shortly. Parissa beach is 4 kilometers long, well-organized with lots of beach bars and restaurants you can enjoy after a lovely hike.

Hiking Trail from Pyrgos to Kamari or Perissa

Pyrgos is a small inland village that often gets overlooked in the face of Fira, Oia, or Imerovigli but it’s actually rather charming and picturesque. This is why you can choose to hike through it and avoid the crowd usually encountered on the other more popular trails. 

Once you are in Pyrgos, it will take you around 6 kilometers to get to Kamari or Perissa. First, the path will lead you to Profitis Ilias Monastery which is also the highest point of the island so you can expect to catch some stunning views of the surroundings. Continue south and after 1 kilometer, you will come across yet another picturesque church – the Church of Christ. Similar to the previous trail, you will walk through the Ancient Thira where a signpost will await, telling you there is about an hour and a half until you reach Kamari or Perissa. From there on, you can choose your path depending on the beach you want to visit.

Hiking Trail from Fira to Oia

This is one of the most scenic and extensive walks along the Santorini’s caldera that will take you from Fira (the island’s capital) all the way to the northwestern tip of the island where Oia is located. The route is approximately 6.5 miles long which translates to 2 to 5 hours of walking, depending on your fitness level and the duration of breaks you make. 

Your route should start in Fira where you will head toward the north in the direction of Firostefani. The sea should be on your left the whole time and don’t rely on the signposts too much as they are scarce. After reaching Firostefani, your next stop should be Imerovigli, a village just 8 minutes from Fira perched on a cliff of the caldera. Once in Imerovigli, you can choose between several mazy paths if you want to take a detour around the village. If not, just follow the path you came across which will push you forward toward Oia. This uphill walk will take you across one short section of the road where cars pass but that’s just a 200-meter section after which you continue via a dirt path until you finally start descending toward Oia.

Hiking Trail in Thirassia

This hiking trail is not actually located on Santorini but on its neighboring Thirassia. Not only does it represent a stunning hiking experience but it also provides hikers with a unique opportunity to gaze at the caldera from an entirely different perspective. 

Ferries run regularly from Oia to Thirassia several times a day and the tickets are rather cheap so you can easily hop to Santorini’s sister island. You can start at the village of Manolas and continue uphill until you reach the chapel of Prophet Elias. From then on, you will push ahead toward the southernmost part of the island where the monastery of Panagia is located. All the while, the majestic caldera will be visible just like the Aegean sea stretching in all directions. This track is almost 3 kilometers long and moderately difficult, easily crossed in less than an hour and 15 minutes. 

Additional Tips for Santorini Hiking

  • Stack up on water and snacks as there will be few shops along the way, some of which may not even be open at the time of your hike.
  • Embark on the journey as early as possible in order not to get scorched by the summer sun which reaches zenith as early as 11 am.
  • Prepare your route thoroughly and talk to the passers-by you meet along the trail in case you are not sure about the directions.
  • There is little to no shade along any of the trails so make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen.

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Travel Tips

Unmissable, Romantic New York For Couples

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New York is the perfect destination for couples for so many reasons! There are incredible vistas and delicious food. Then there are the quirky bars and endless entertainments. There are even some pretty romantic spots to experience together if you know where to look. Something that we aim to help you with in the post below. 

Picnic In Central Park 

A long strip of green, in the grey of the metropolis, Central Park is a must for couples visiting New York. In fact, despite its diminutive size, there is no shortage of romantic spots to hang out here. 

For those with a literary bent try Conservatory Water were bronze statues of Alice in Wonderland, and Hans Christian Anderson are to be found. Alternatively, visiting Belvedere Castle can make you feel as if you have been transported into a fairytale. A place especially beautiful when the sun goes down and the moonlight glints off windows and turrets at night, 

Of course, if you want to add an extra layer of romance, taking along your own picnic is a smart idea. You can even go to places that will pack up a luxe lunch for you if you like?

Take In A Broadway Show 

Next, if you are looking for an enjoyable couples experience in the city that never sleeps, heading to the bright lights of Broadway should be your next consideration. In fact, it is where you will find some of the most famous productions in the world are being performed. 

Of course, how much you enjoy this experience as a couple, will have a lot to do with making the right show selection. Happily, there are so many shows to choose from, it should be relatively easy to find something that will delight you both. 

You can even get things like these Book of Mormon tickets online before your trip. Something that means you won’t have to waste time queuing outside in the often bad weather to nab a seat. 

The Hayden Planetarium

Another popular location for couples to visit while in New York is the famous Hayden Planetarium. In fact, there you will find some pretty impressive science and natural history based exhibitions to geek out on.

Then there is the fantastic Dark Universe show projected onto the huge curved planetarium room. An experience that many couples enjoy together. 

Walk Brooklyn Bridge

Finally, one of the most romantic spots in the whole of New York is the Brooklyn Bridge. What many people do not realise is that it’s entirely possible to walk the bridge. In fact, doing so can make an enjoyable couples-based activity. 

 

Of course, you can choose to make this 30-minute journey on foot at any time of the day. Although, once the sun goes down, and all the city lights are glowing is the most magical time. An experience that makes a stroll along Brooklyn Bridge perfect for couples looking for a romantic promenade. With the added bonus of getting to look out over the glorious city that is New York! 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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