Overnighter, testing gear

Tomorrow I’m pedaling from my home in West Orange, NJ up to Walden, NY.  It’s about 70 miles there and back.  I’ll pedal most of the day and then the plan is to arrive at the Shanti Mandir ashram around 7:00 and join the lovely people there for an evening of meditation.  I’ll then sleep in the woods on their property and then leave very early the next morning and pedal home.  Of course  I’ll stop once in a while on both days and sing and play some Sonic Divide music!

It will be cold, but my sleep kit will keep me warm.  Here it is:


I put the dollar bill there to give you an idea of the incredibly small size.  So the red bag on the far right is my sleeping bag.  It’s down and rated to 30F.  To the left of that is the bivy sack, which is basically a body bag.  It takes the place of the tent.  The red bag in the middle is the tarp.  On nights where it might rain I attach that to the bike and spread it out to the ground.  On the far left by the dollar bill is the air mattress.  This is all ultralite gear.  Here are the weights:

sleeping bag      24 ounces

bivy sack             7 ounces

tarp                       9 ounces

air mattress        10 ounces

Total weight = 50 ounces or 3.2 pounds

Not bad for a room for the night.  Here is what it looks like when it’s all laid out:

home sweet home

Actually, in that picture from 2014 is my old air mattress, which was about twice the packed size of my new one and twice the weight.  Here is what the new one looks like:


The weird shape is based on the theory of “body mapping” or the idea that  you only really need padding where there are pressure points, which is your hips, shoulders, head, and feet area.  The other areas are left open, which saves a lot of weight and packed space, and also allows the down in your sleeping bag to loft better.

When I first rolled it out on my cement garage floor I thought “No way is this going to be comfortable.”  It only took me three full breaths to blow it up (versus 30 for the old air mattress, which is tough after riding for 12+ hours) and then when I laid down I was shocked to feel that indeed it was just as comfortable as the other one, and quieter too.

But the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding will be the overnighter tomorrow.  Temps will be in the low 30s/high 20s, so I’ll know for sure by the middle of the night if this thing works to keep me comfortable and warm.  We’ll see!



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