Getting close to departure time, 10 days and counting. Right now it’s looking like I’ll be spending some nights sleeping on snow, so it’s time to consider what I’ll wear to bed and how I’ll be keeping the cold out. The biggest part, which I’ve already covered, is my sleeping bag. After that, it’s crucial to have a sleeping pad that will stop the ground from leeching my heat away… Especially if that ground is snow!
For most people, sleeping pads are easy. You can buy a piece of blue foam from Canadian Tire or any number of more technical foam pads depending on how cold you’re expecting things to be. Unfortunately for me, I can only sleep on my side. Side-sleeping on foam is not very comfortable for me, usually resulting in me waking up every 30 minutes to roll over because my arm is numb. If only I could sleep on my back, I would be way more comfortable.
For the PCT, I used a Thermarest Prolite 3 Short, a kind of self-inflating air mattress. I choose the short versions because I don’t mind having my feet on the ground and it saves a bunch of weight. When it’s cold I generally am curled up in a ball anyways, so there’s no issue there either.
In the last couple years, there have been some great advances in air mattress technology, and on the CDT I will be taking advantage of it. A Thermarest NeoAir is twice as thick as my old Prolite 3, weighs less, packs up more tightly, and is generally just way more comfortable. Prolite 3s have foam inside, that I assumed provided the insulation. NeoAirs are really just robust air mattresses, so I was somewhat skeptical about their insulative powers. Having now slept on mine in enough cold conditions, my fears have been eased – the NeoAir seems to be at least as warm as my Prolite 3.
Other than that, if I’m expecting cold weather, I usually add some long johns, a merino wool shirt, and a toque to my gear. I will probably start the CDT with all of these. They aren’t the thickest versions (mid-weight long johns, very thin merino shirt, and a knit toque), but it seems to be enough to get me by.