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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

Time To Start Travelling Again – Soon!

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Fellow travelers, most of you must be feeling that old wanderlust very strongly right now! I’m pretty sure most of us are ready to go out and explore like we did before. The good news is that it looks like we are nearing that point.

Most major airlines and destinations are at the very least starting to open up and book non-humanitarian flights (check sites like SkyScanner & CheapOAir), with departure dates ranging from two weeks to three months’ time, depending on, depending on the destination.

So the question remains: where should you go first? Here are some of Four Jandals’ thoughts on the subject:

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

We’ve already been to Montreal many times before, as that link can surely show you. We really want to go back and enjoy the life in that vibrant city. Here’s a few reasons why:

-International flights will be available in a few weeks.

-Everything except for combat sports, amusement parks (La Ronde closed, too bad), and major events is now open.

-Cuisine, cuisine, and more cuisine. Bagels, smoked meat, poutine, mmmmmmm.

-Montreal for all it’s panache is surprisingly cheap if you know how to avoid the tourist traps.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Why Punta Cana? Great all-inclusives. This option is really good for people who just want to kick back and relax and not necessarily even move that much, which is something maybe we all want at one time or another.

Several days of beaches, buffets, luxury accomodations and absolutely no schedule. And nobody else does it quite like they do it in Punta Cana!

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City gets a lot of tourism, but for some reason it’s always been greatly overlooked as tourist destination, all the same. This is a shame, because this city has a whole lot to offer.

First off, it’s a world-class culinary destination. You can get food from all over Mexico and all over the world here, from chapulines on the street corner to tacos to seafood Veracruz style to asados to Michelin star restaurants, Mexico City will never fail to disappoint a foodie!

Besides this, together with NYC and London, Mexico City features some of the world’s best and most prestigious museums. One could literally spend months on end here and still not see everything the museums have to offer.

Add to this great live music and nightlife in general, and a generally great climate (it’s rarely below 10 degrees or above 30 degrees centigrade over there), and most importantly, seriously awesome people. Everybody should check this city out at least once.

 

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Travel Tips

G​ive yourself a Florida writer’s retreat

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While folks are still trying to social distance, many freelancers could use a getaway. The same gig in the same house with no coffee shops available to go to? It gets old after awhile.

A​ writer’s retreat might be in order for you. While holed away in a resort, you can get your freelancing organized on Top Content, order from hidden gem local restaurants, relax, enjoy, and get those creative juices flowing.

Florida may not be your top destination this summer. But if you’re looking for a new place to write all alone? Then severalFlorida destinations are a good bet, especially the less obvious ones.

S​tuart

North of Palm Beach County you’ll find calm, peaceful Martin County. Stuart is the largest city in Martin County. The small city boasts both great beaches and diminishing numbers of corona cases, and so it’s an ideal place to get away from it all right now. Because it’s on the water, Stuart is best known for its fresh seafood. Some restaurants are open for dining. Better yet, you can get fresh, local seafood delivered directly to your resort door.

I​slamorada

I​f you’re up for an oceanside drive to inspire your thoughts, make Islamorada the end of your journey. The Florida Keys are a writer’s paradise, even during the hot summer months. Less crowded than Key West and a lot closer, Islamorada Is everything you’re looking for in the Keys, only you can have it all to yourself. Almost every resort in town is directly on the beach, and yours for relatively cheap. Fresh seafood is plentiful, as is beautiful scenery. On your way down, stop at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.

A​popka

Immediately northwest of Orlando, Apopka features a ton of natural beauty and wifi enabled campgrounds. There are many RV and resort parks nearby, including Lost Lake RV Park and Magnolia Park, a campground featuring butterflies & peacocks. While trying to gain inspiration, you can stroll around hugeLake Apopka. Because it isso close to Orlando, Apopka has the shopping and amenities of a larger city. Once you’re there, though, you’ll feel like you’re way out in the country.

M​icanopy

Just outside of Gainesville and close to Cross Creek, the famed home of Florida writing legend Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, you’ll find Micanopy. Named after a title given to Alachua Seminole leaders, this town is a well-preserved slice of old Florida. One great place to stay is the Herlong Mansion, currently running a reopening deal.

S​ebastian

W​ith wifi-enabled camping grounds, coastal views, and quiet summers, Sebastian is a prime place to visit. The town motto is “Friendly People and Six Old Grouches,” but the six old grouches probably went back up north for the summer. Hotel rates are low, and between Sebastian and neighbor Vero Beach, you can fulfill whatever food or shopping needs you might have. One optionis the Sportsman’s Lodge, a weekly and extended stay property that boasts especially low rates between May & December. Call ahead if you’re looking to book a stay.

A​ change of pace can be great for the writer’s imagination. Hopefully, you can find it in Florida this summer.

 

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Travel Tips

The Best Cities for New Opportunities

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Even in this time, one service that will still remain essential is moving. While relocating to a whole new area might not be at the forefront of many people’s minds right now, there are lots of wonderful places ready to welcome you to a whole new lifestyle. Although lots of people are staying put this summer, moving is one of the safest adventures right now.

If you’re looking to start a new business in your new location, be sure to check out the New American Bancard company at https://www.northamericanbancard.com/ for help getting off the ground. The post-pandemic economy will be a place that a lot of people are looking to start over, so get moving now.

Sarasota, FL

With calm beaches, great culture, and a slower pace of life, Sarasota is a destination for more than just vacationing. Outstanding restaurants and the picturesque gulf waters are anchored by low cost of living and lots of available housing. Schools are great and performing arts thrive in Sarasota, and living close to The Ringling Museum is pretty great, too. If you need great local movers when you arrive, be sure to call Great Local Movers, who will be happy to welcome you to the jewel of west Florida.

Franklin, TN

Want Music City Magic without the Music City cost of rent? 30 minutes south of Nashville, you’ll find your answer. While costs in Tennessee are rising, Franklin remains an affordable option for many singles & families. Close to the Smokey Mountains for nature lovers, Franklin also boasts the historic Mockingbird Theater, a local gem.

Provo, UT

A booming tech sector and growing cultural scene helps boost Provo’s reputation as “the Austin of the Mountain West.” With low cost of living, an exciting music scene, and enormous job growth, you might want to get in on the goods of Provo now, while costs are still low. Proximity to the benefits of Salt Lake City and the stunning beauty of Zion National Park are also terrific reasons to head west.

Lancaster, PA

Close to Amish Country, Philadelphia, and dubbed the new Brooklyn, Lancaster is a great place to move to. It has outstanding restaurants, incredible shopping, and is a rising star on the East Coast. Lancaster offers a lower cost of living with reasonable access to the biggest cities on the Eastern Seaboard. It is a great place to relocate for both young professionals and for families.

Boise, ID

If you’re looking to leave behind urban life without leaving behind culture and opportunities, Boise is for you. Idaho’s largest city experienced growth three times that of the national average in the last decade. Boise is only looking up from there. The natural beauty of the city is boosted by a nearby central Idaho dark sky preserve.

Think of a big move like a very big vacation. Take the plunge, and you might thank yourself once the world has returned to normal.

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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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