Beneath the Sleeping Bag: A Guide To Camping Sleep Platforms

Ultralite Cot Getting a good nights sleep in the back country can be a daunting prospect, fortunately it doesn’t have to be. Keep reading for a detailed look at all the camping sleep platforms available at and to figure out which one is right for you.

First thing to consider when picking a solid sleep platform should be how you like to sleep and camp. Do you prefer firm surfaces? Elevated and cushioned? Will it fit in your tent? These are all things one should consider before making their purchase. Another important consideration is how you will be traveling. If you are backpacking a lighter, more portable platform would be ideal whereas campers taking a car to their destination would do well with virtually any option.

There are a few basic things that you should understand when shopping for your sleep platform. One being that camping sleep systems consist of two basic parts: a sleep platform and sleeping bag. While the other is that camping sleep platforms are the lesser known half of the camping sleep systems and come in various styles: cots, air mattresses, sleeping pads and hammocks. Here’s a look at each:


Cots come in two styles today, ultralight and standard. Ultralight cots sit just off the ground and use a folding pole frame with a special fabric spread across via tension. Cots were previously a platform that tended to be a bit clunky however, manufacturers are continually tweaking their designs to make these ultralight cots more appealing to campers who are backpacking or do not want to carry a lot of weight around.

Standards cots, on the other hand, are intended for car campers. Generally, they are very easy to setup and are similar in height to a bed. Also like a bed, standard cots offer under bed storage that makes organization easier.

Cots are some of the most comfortable sleep platforms and are most practical during the hotter months as they lack insulation between you and the air circulating around you. However, when used in tandem with a pad or blanket between their cot and sleeping bag, a cot can be a cozy and warm sleep platform during the winter as well.

Shop ACK’s selection of camping cots.

Kelty Good Nite Air Bed
Kelty Good Nite Air Bed

Air Beds

The Air beds appeal is in its similarity to your bed at home. Its comfort and convenience has made the air bed a fan favorite among campers for good reason- its endless options, ease of set up, and the “home-like” familiarity it provides in an otherwise rugged and unfamiliar camp site.

Most air mattresses come equipped with a foot or electric pump to inflate in a relatively short amount of time. Although these beds have been heavy in the past, many manufactures are creating beds that are lighter in weight so that backpackers and car campers alike can rest in comfort during their trips. If you are looking for something that will ease you into a camping lifestyle an air mattress would be the easiest transition from home to tent.

Shop ACK’s selection of air beds.

Sleeping Pads

Exped DownMat 7 Sleeping Pad
Exped DownMat 7 Sleeping Pad

The standard in camping sleep platforms today is the sleeping pad. They come in a variety of styles but in general, sleeping pads represent the lightest and most pack-able option around making it a great options for backpackers as well as car travelers. They provide on average about an inch of padding and insulation, which, while it might not sound like a lot, is a huge improvement over nothing at all. The two most common styles are inflatable and self-inflating, both of which utilize air for cushioning.

Inflatable pads are inflated easily with or without a pump and roll into a very compact size for easy travel. Self-inflating pads on the other hand use special foam that decompresses and fills the air gaps when you unseal the valve and unroll the pad. Resealing the valve traps air within the foam cells and boosts insulation and comfort. However, self-inflating pads are a bit larger when rolled up than air only pads.

Shop ACK’s selection of sleeping pads.

Foam Pads

Light, inexpensive and nearly indestructible, foam sleeping pads are a popular option for campers and those who just want a little something beneath them while they sleep. These pads use a closed cell foam that is particularly effective at insulating when sleeping on cold ground or on rough surfaces that could puncture an air filled pad.

Shop ACK’s selection of foam pads.

ENO Singlenest Hammock
ENO Singlenest Hammock


Much different than any of the other camping sleeping platforms available to back country campers, hammocks offer an intriguing option that many have come to love. Hammocks require minimal set up and are extremely packable and lightweight making them a viable option for campers who tend to pack light. They also offer a unique experience of not sleeping on a flat surface, which for many is an acquired taste.

Hammocks initially offer no insulation, so unless paired with a sleeping pad, they are more suited for warmer  weather. That being said, a wide variety of hammock accessories exist to help you setup and sleep in you hammock comfortably anywhere and anytime.

Shop ACK’s selection of hammocks.


Ultimately, when choosing your next sleep platform, you need to consider what makes you feel the most comfortable as well as how you tend to go camping. Are you a light packer versus a heavy packer? A backpacker versus a car traveler? Consider the weight you are willing to carry and the environment you will be in. Once these are taken into consideration check out with this handy guide and choose your new portable bed!

Kelty TraiLogic, Trail Science Just In Time for Spring

Have you ever laid out all your camping gear next to your backpack before a trip and snapped a picture just so you can point to it later and say that you fit such a great big assortment of gear in your pack?

There’s a certain feeling of satisfaction that comes from having a well organized camping pack – a pride in your preparedness. The problem is that gear rarely operates as a unit and is instead usually purchased piecemeal and that can create a bit of a hassle. Gear designed to work together is the next level in camping, and that’s just what Kelty has created with their TraiLogic Collection.

Meet the Kelty TraiLogic Collection

Kelty TraiLogic Collection

Just in time for spring camping, the Kelty TraiLogic Collection is more of a system than anything. It’s made up of gear that falls into four product categories: tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and backpacks. Each piece is intended to make your next trip into the back-country as comfortable and hassle-free as possible, and can operate individually or as a four piece system.

The following pieces of the collection are available at ACK:

Kelty TraiLogic PKThe Kelty TraiLogic Pack (PK)

Being a company who got their start in backpacks, it makes sense that the centerpiece of the Kelty TraiLogic collection is the PK. The 50 liter PK is intelligently designed to perform effortlessly and accommodate all your essentials (whether or not they include other TraiLogic pieces).

The PK50 is highly compartmentalized for easy organization and a speedier campsite setup. A removable 15 liter outer compartment (intended for clothing) sits on the front of the pack and is meant to be thrown inside the tent at camp to create a 35 liter day pack for you day hikes. Oh, and the PK is completely zipper-less, so it can be rolled down to cinch everything down and avoid any type of  broken zipper catastrophe. See more about it in this video:

The Kelty TraiLogic Sleeping Bag (SB) and Sleeping Pad (PD)

The SB is the bag that falls in the Kelty TraiLogic collection and is accompanied by two different pad options, the PDa and PDsi.

The SB is a 800-fill power lightweight bag that uses Kelty’s popular DriDown insulating material that will keep the warmth in and the water out. These things stay dry long and if you do somehow get them wet, they dry quick too. The SB comes in a version rated for 20 degrees and 35 degrees.

The PDa (non-insulated) and PDsi (insulated) are ergnonomically designed to mold to your body and ensure comfort and minimize weight. They’re both self-inflating and (you guessed it) fit perfectly into the PK.

See more about the SB in the video:

TN2 configured for stargazing.
TN2 configured for stargazing.

The Kelty TraiLogic Tent (TN)

Uniquely designed for easy packing and to fit in the Kelty TraiLogic PK or any other pack you might have, the TN comes in both 2 and 3 person versions.  Unlike other tents, the TN features shorter-sectioned poles so you can pack it into a flat, rectangular tent cube.

Setup and breakdown on the TN is very easy thanks to its innovative snap-clip design. It also features a stargazing fly which offers an unobstructed view of the night sky – but if the weather does turn, a fly can be easily deployed to cover the tent without ever leaving the sleeping bag.

See how it works in this video:

With the introduction of the Kelty TraiLogic collection, longtime campers might find themselves at a disadvantage to those new to the activity. Do you cast aside your long used gear to adopt this new system? The answer is probably no, but you can always start to slowly assemble your own personal collection, one piece as a time. If you’re in the market for all four pieces then look no further – you won’t find a better assortment of gear to kick-start your spring adventures.




Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset – Employee Review

ACK Employee Colter MacKenzie took a three day weekend as part of ACK’s Go Play Day Initiative to get employees adventuring outside and he hit some campsites by the lake with some new gear. One of these items included the Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset from GSI Outdoors and he wanted to share his thoughts about the product here:

The Cookset.
The Cookset.

I really found that my Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset performed well on this trip. It has cups, mugs, plates, a boiling pot, and a frying pan, all of which fit together into a collapsible water bucket. It is compact and very lightweight. This thing is a must have for backpackers!

The Bugaboo Camper Cookset in action.
The Bugaboo Camper Cookset in action.

It does everything. I used it to boil water for dinner, then added noodles to the water and finally strained it with the built in strainer. The lid is made of rubber so it doesn’t get hot and it fits on the frying pan as well as the boiling pot. The mugs were great as well – they kept my coffee hot longer than expected and came with lids that have drinking spouts built in. It also includes a collapsible pot gripper, a sturdy handle which fits on the frying pan as well as the boiling pot. I give it a 8 out of 10, the only downside being how difficult it was to clean the mugs using the outside liner as a sink, forcing me to store it wet. Still, I definitely recommend giving it a look if you’re considering some backpacking that involves camp cooking!

Outdoor Summer Fun, Fun, Fun!

School’s out, summer is here, let’s all get out and play.

Whether you’ve got kids, grand kids, nieces, nephews…or not, you can’t deny that summer is a season of fun in the sun and if you don’t already have plans, why don’t ya just get up and go — outside that is! As a reader of this blog, you are already familiar with how enjoyable any outdoor adventure experience can be so c’mon now, don’t be selfish, share it with your friends and family. Theme parks, cruise ships and beach resorts are great but this summer, dodge the crowds and consider taking your family and friends with you to an outdoor destination adventure they’ll never forget. Need some ideas? As always, we’ve got a few…

Go Kayak/Canoe Camping
It’s affordable, exposes everyone to a part of any river or lake they may have never seen and provides an opportunity for the younger ones (and unfortunately some adults) to learn what it means to work together as a team. Make it enjoyable with hearty meals, plenty of pit stops and gear for a good night’s rest. A little too warm? That’s the joy of kayak camping, you’re right on the water, go swim!

Go Primitive
Sure amenities are nice when camping but with proper planning and the right gear, you can easily have just as an enjoyable experience in the backwoods. Imagine a campsite that offers nothing but the true sounds of nature, a night sky that is black as ink and a true feeling of disconnect from all the hustle and bustle. Of course, you’ll more than likely have to backpack to the campsite so it’s always a good idea to eliminate unnecessary items (ahem…handheld video games).

Make a Day of It Every Other Week
Afraid a 5-day outdoor adventure is more than they can handle? Go play for the day! Start early, load up some kayaks and head down to the lake. Paddle, explore then plan a picnic along the shoreline. Bring some water toys for the kids and some hammocks for the adults. Use this time to swim, play and relax and if time allows, enjoy the sunset. Of course, if you paddle at night, always take great care and outfit your kayaks/canoes with proper lighting.

Urban Destinations
Long distance travel plans not in the budget? Explore the city from a different perspective by paddling local waterways and just like our previous suggestion, picnic along the banks. If access to water is not anywhere near your city, make it a point to visit every city park by summer’s end.

So these are just few a suggestions and chances are you have just as many. If you do, be sure to share them with us, we want to now what you’ve got up your sleeve. Regardless of what you do this summer, we hope that outdoor adventure is a part of your travel plans. Sure, we’d love to sell you more outdoor gear but the reality is, we are all outdoor enthusiasts ourselves and there is a good possibility that if one us hasn’t already, we will probably put a check mark next to one of our recommendations.

Have fun out there!

Roland @ACK