JMT Trip Planning: Sleep Systems

Well, it’s still not summer of 2018… so I am left to continue to dream, and to plan, for our future JMT hike. A couple of weeks ago I posted about the cook kits that my son and I will be using on this hike, and today I want to share with you our sleeping systems, or at least the core components of our sleeping systems… By this I mean our sleeping pads and our sleeping “bags” or other similar items. While I do briefly discuss supplemental items, such as clothing, this post will highlight only the core pieces of our kit, and other items will be discussed in future posts. So on with it!

In my research, I quickly learned that the High Sierra summers are quite a bit different from our Southeastern US summers… Here in July, I typically can’t take off enough clothing to get comfortable… and then I tend to sweat so much that I stick to everything! From what I gather about the Sierra’s though, the July nights can drop into the 20’s (F), and it’s not completely unheard of to dip into the teens! So, with this in mind, I decided that we would need to carry a system that would keep us warm to around 20F, but (and of course) that it needed to be lightweight! The choice was a rather simple one for me!

I have long since been a fan of the NeoAir sleeping pads. While some complain that they are way to noisy (which I don’t disagree… although to a much lesser degree than most say), I find that they provide me with the best nights sleep when out in the backcountry over any other method/pad I have tried. For me, it’s comfortable, warm, and the lightest air pad option that I care for. As well, my son too has now used both, the Exped SynMat UL7 and the NeoAir XLite, and he too prefers the XLite!

I will be using the large NeoAir XLite (since this is the pad I already have), and I picked up the regular size from REI a few weeks ago for my son. In addition to the XLite’s, we will both also carry a ~20″ x 60″ wide, 1/8″ thick, CCF pad (from Lawson Kline a few years back – no longer available). These CCF pads will pull double/triple duty though… We will carry them outside our pack’s for easy access during the day to use as full length sit down/lay down pads, and then at night they can go under our XLite’s to provide additional protection, or on top of the XLite’s to provide additional warmth.

While the XLite’s will be keeping our bottom’s warm, we have decided to go with the 20F Zpacks Sleeping Bag as our top insulation. As I have mentioned before, the Zpacks bags are actually a hybrid between a sleeping bag and a quilt. They do not feature a hood, however, they do include a 3/4 length zipper, without a draft tube (although one can be added), which by design should be located at the bottom of the bag (as opposed to the side, or the top). This design allows me to zip myself up inside the bag for those coldest nights (as with a traditional sleeping bag), or unzip the bag and drape it over me on warmer nights (as with a traditional quilt). For me, this design is more versatile than either a traditional sleeping bag, or a traditional quilt. And yes, they weigh very little too! (Check them out almost blowing away in the video above…)

Thankfully, I already owned my own Zpacks sleeping bag, however, this was one item I needed to pick up for my son. But, I lucked up at the ATKO17 last weekend and got a new one with “cosmetic issues” (which I still can’t find) for $100 off normal price! Score!! 🙂

Besides this, I will be carrying my trusty GooseFeet Gear down pillowcase with the Exped UL Air Pillow inside it. I need a pillow to sleep, and for me, this has been the best option I have used to date. My son is young, and obviously he does not require a pillow… LOL…

So, here is a break down of our sleeping systems with weights:

Stick’s Sleeping System

  • Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite (Large): 15.5 oz
  • Lawson Kline’s 1/8″ CCF Pad (~20×60″): 2.7 oz
  • Zpacks 20F Sleeping Bag: 19.5 oz
  • Exped UL Air Pillow: 2.05 oz
  • GooseFeet Gear Down Pillow Case: 1.61 oz
  • Total Weight: 41.36 oz or 2.59 lbs

Burnt Rice’s Sleep System

  • Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite (Regular): 11.9 oz
  • Lawson Kline’s 1/8″ CCF Pad (~20×60″): 2.8 oz
  • Zpacks 20F Sleeping Bag: 20.4 oz
  • Total Weight: 35.1 oz or 2.19 lbs

So, these are our core components to our sleeping systems. As I mentioned above, we will also have some clothing that can supplement these pieces if necessary, or more likely, we will use to keep our sleeping bags clean (yes, that means we will be carrying “sleeping clothes”). And as I mentioned, this will be covered in future posts… So, be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the series covering different systems for our future JMT hike! And of course, feel free to leave any information that would be helpful for our hike!

Till next time, thanks everyone, and happy hiking! 🙂


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the companies listed above. I am not getting paid in any way, from any one, to present this post. This is a reflection of my thoughts, and plans for what is to come!

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
This entry was posted in Gear, Sleeping Bags, Sleeping Pads, Trip Planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to JMT Trip Planning: Sleep Systems

  1. Pingback: JMT Summer 2018 Permits & Plans | Stick's Blog

  2. Pingback: JMT Planning… Random Gear Selections… | Stick's Blog

  3. HT Chen says:

    great post! a minor quibble because i found it immensely distracting while reading: there is no need for an apostrophe when you’re writing in plural form. for example, sleep systems as opposed to sleep system’s and cook kits instead of cook kit’s. not trying to be a grammar police here, but just wanted to point out the errors because i’d like to share your blog, but am reluctant to given all these errors. hope this helps:


    • Stick says:

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed the post, feel free to share it! And while I agree I sometimes do or don’t use apostrophes in the correct places, but grammar was never my strong suit! Overall though, I don’t think it’s near as bad as some others I come across, but I’ll try to do better though! lol…



  4. jessesleeper says:

    I have also started planning a JMT hike (prompted by your original post). I’m shooting for 2018 but might not be able to find a partner till 2019. Anyhow, I almost went with the Zpacks bag but liked the specs on the HG Burrows better. They are significantly less expensive and I prefer the water resistant down to the extra 50 fill power. Plus I can add the zipper and more down if desired. Btw, Gossamer Gear still sells those CCF pads (where I bought mine several years ago) for $18. I always bring mine for the same reasons: protect against punctures and keep it outside for taking a quick nap or break (lying down, naturally). Thanks for sharing – as always!


    • Stick says:

      Sounds great! Maybe we will run across each other on the trail! 🙂

      I picked up a HG 50F Burrow (with overfill) a few years ago. They are nice bags, and I am glad to see that some time back they started offering them in different widths and such… but at the time, they were one width, and that is narrow (although, being that they are a hammock company, that makes sense). I will say that if you decide to get a zipper, really pay attention to the width though… If my HG had a zipper, I would never get it zipped with me in it!

      Funny thing you mention the treated down… That was the one thing that I wish could have been different on the ZPacks bag, so I talked with Matt about it at the KO last weekend. He said that the treated down can potentially have more static (due to the process?), which would cause the down to cluster together rather than fill out. While they didn’t get a significant amount of complaints about users feeling cold in their bags when they were using the treated down, they said that since going back to untreated down, those reports have thinned out quite a bit. Coincidence? Who know’s… but there are still quite a number of folks that are skeptical about the treated down. I personally have come to the conclusion that, for me, it doesn’t matter. If it’s what comes in a product, I’m fine, if not, I’m fine too.

      On the overstuffing, many companies already overstuff by around 30%. This seems to be a good middle ground between having enough down to make up for any immediate loss of loft (likely due to moisture), while not going overboard when the bag is dry. While the down in the bag holds the warm air in, and essentially determines temperature level, there is only so much the down can do, which is based on the height of the baffles. Saying all of that, Zpacks has a good take on it, which is basically, if you want a warmer bag, don’t add more down to it (remember, it’s already “overstuffed”), instead, get the next warmest bag. The next warmest bag will have taller baffles, which creates more vertical space so that the down can loft even higher.

      And yes, GG still sells the 1/8″ pads ($22 – shipped!). I have one, but it has been cut in half a couple of years ago. The one’s I have from Lawson are still intact, and IMO, they seem to be a bit better than the one I had from GG. It seems sturdier, tougher. My GG pad got ripped fairly easy, so far though Lawson’s pads have held strong. I wish he still sold them (they were less expensive too!). Unfortunately though, GG is the only place that I know of off the top of my head that still sells the 1/8″ pads…

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and commenting! And have fun planning your adventure! 🙂



  5. milligan308 says:

    I enjoy watching your YT videos, this latest one was full of brevity 😛 and it’s great to read this blog to get the finer points, well done.


Leave Your Comment Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.