Gear Selection: Baby Sleep System

Sleeping Pad

Rigid sleeping pad

Its not recommended to let a baby sleep on an inflatable sleeping pad. The current recommendations are for babies to sleep on firm sleeping surfaces.

So inflatable pads are out, and we don’t co-sleep, so Toothless needs his own rigid sleeping pad.

We have selected the ZLite SOL. These are low cost, lightweight, rigid, have a good R value (2.0) and lay flat. So they are a pretty common option to use with a baby.

We already have two from hiking in our earlier (younger) days and currently just use them as sitting pads when snowshoeing. So one of those two will be used for Toothless, and we will cut it down shorter to be a more appropriate length for him and to shed some weight (and volume).

The general issue with these is they just take upon so much volume.

Doubles as a Frame Sheet

One way to make better use of the volume of the ZLite takes up is to use it as a framesheet for your backpack. This is a very common approach with sleeping pads and isn’t groundbreaking.

My pack is a ZPacks Arc Haul, so it doesn’t use a framesheet. But Natasha’s pack does have a (very heavy) framesheet. Normally she hikes without the framesheet and it’s perfectly comfortable for her, but for longer stretches where her pack gets heavier (like the longer sections of the GDT) her pack gets too uncomfortable and a framesheet is needed.

Since our pack weight is increasing by about 5 lbs with Toothless, and we will be hiking shorter days with him (longer between resupplying and thus heavier packs) this means Natasha will likely need a framesheet for the entire GDT this year.

So with a cut down ZLite, it can double as a framesheet and save quite a lot of weight when compared to using the framesheet that is designed for her pack. From memory, I think it’s a little over 100g of mass savings.

Change Pad

We need somewhere to change Toothless on the trail. It needs to be easy to clean, a little insulated and cushioned if possible. It should be easy to access and lightweight.

One thing that immediately came to mind was to use his sleeping pad (ZLite) but we opted to go with a separate change mat for the following reasons:

  • Taking the ZLite out of Natasha’s pack would not be quick or easy since it will be used as her framesheet.
  • If using the ZLite as a diaper change mat, it could get dirty with solid waste, pee or dirt from the ground. It could also get wet. This is not ideal to have your baby sleep on (even if you clean and try to dry it)

So we opted to carry a EVA foam pad from Mountain Laurel Designs. Why this?

  • Its under 50g, so even by adding this to our pack weight, this plus the ZLite is still lighter than Natasha’s framesheet.
  • It’s flexibile and can be stuffed on the outside of my pack for easy access.
  • Despite the flexibility, it lays pretty flat.
  • Its a little insulated and soft which will be more comfortable for Toothless.
  • We picked the short version which is about perfect size for an outdoors change mat.
  • It has an R value of around 0.4. For cold nights, we can put it under the ZLite to improve insulation. The damp or dirty may will never contact Toothless.
  • It should give some grip to the floor of the tent to keep the ZLite from sliding around while Toothless bounces around at night.

Sleeping Bag

For the sleeping bag we went with a Morrison Outdoors down sleeping bag. We have tried it on Toothless and it’s still just a little long in the arms but it seems cozy and he seems to fit in it otherwise. The build quality is great and it feels very cozy.

Where that takes us

Overall I think we have a pretty good system, planned out but we will have to put it to the test!

4 thoughts on “Gear Selection: Baby Sleep System

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