Paddling the Rappahannock

Paddling the Rappahannock

As I’ve written before, finding the best air mattress bed is purely situational. You don’t use a hammer to sink a screw and you don’t take a twenty pound, $1,999.00USD Comfort Boulevard QUEEN SIZE “Quick Luxe” Raised Air Bed Mattress hiking with you despite how comfortable it would doubtless be to sleep on. You want the right airbed for the job and, if you’re an outdoors enthusiast, there’s a lot of room to debate the best air mattress for hiking and camping. By room, I mean variety and by debate, I mean a sometimes frustrating amount of options (and associated opinions) from which to choose.

In picking an air mattress for outdoor use, you really need to define more than just the final inflated product in its final destination. For example, hikers traveling long distances on foot absolutely HAVE to consider weight. Their airbed should afford a good night of sleep, not force them to crave sleep prematurely because they’re exhausted from carrying it. It also needs to be compact because, on extended hiking trips, every inch of pack space is a premium.

For those of you who are looking for supreme comfort in an air pad for hiking and camping, consider theBig Agnes Insulated Q-Core Sleeping Pad Silver/Gray, Wide/Long
. I’ll write an article about it soon, but for now I want to talk about one of my specific use requirements and that’s kayaking.

As a Washington DC area resident, I spend most of my time in my kayak doing day trips. But when I’m not kayaking DC, I’m doing multi-day excursions requiring back-country overnights. The upside is that I can comfortably carry around 100 pounds of gear in my kayak, so I don’t suffer many of the limitations hikers do. Or, at least, I don’t suffer them to the same degree. Depending on the length of the trip, space can still be a consideration. I just have more of it to work with thanks to bow and stern storage and that means I have the luxury of sleeping in considerably more comfort than my hiking counterparts.

For outings of 2 or more days, my air bed of choice is the excellent Nemo Equipment Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad and I’ll tell you why. It’s comfortable. No, I mean it, it’s really comfortable. There is little worse than a bad night of sleep after a long day of paddling. You’ve either been cold for most of the trip or hot for most of the trip and you’ve been relying completely on your back, shoulders, arms and core for locomotion for hours on end. The last thing you need when you’re already primed for a stiff neck, back and shoulders is a bad night tossing and turning on a whisper-thin airbed.

The Nemo Equipment Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad inflates to a 3” depth and affords me a roomy 25” X 76” platform on which to toss and turn. I have broad shoulders so the usually conservative 20” width you find with most portable air pads just leaves me miserable most nights.

The Cosmo also includes a pillow top which, though thin by any standards, somehow manages to take this airbed over the top in terms of comfort. It does increase the volume of the bed when stored, so you can opt to leave it behind if space is truly at a premium, but I’ve found it makes the bed so much more comfortable that I’ll always find a way to make room even if it means I have to take something out of my hatches and lash it to the top of my kayak.

Last, but not least, the Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad has an integrated foot pump! That’s right, you don’t have to suffer manual inflation (never fun when you’re exhausted) or partial self-inflation (which if we’re honest is never sufficient and always requires lung power to truly fill up). Nor do you have to carry a separate hand/foot pump or pray the batteries in your electric pump are good.

The Nemo Equipment Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad comes with a good stuff sack and patches, but, as a kayaker, I stuff the whole kit into one of my 30Liter dry bags along with some incidentals anyway, so that’s not as big a concern for me.

As much as I love DC Kayaking in the beautiful areas of the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, it’s those multi-day outings in the wild that really set my head straight. Blissfully sleeping through the night on a NEMO Equipment Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad let’s me do it in style.

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