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Jun 11 2013

Camping test-drive results: Birds 1, Shazzer 0

So Dr. Darling and I, eager to test the comfort of our new Exped Basic UL 7.5 sleeping mats, pitched our tent on the grounds of some friends’ farm near Kristianstad this weekend.

First let me say that they certainly lived up to their reputation for being small and easy to carry. The Swede was able to fit both mats, both sleeping bags, the tent, most of our clothes and the toiletry kit in a single backpack.

Hi-tech air mattress inflation. via shazzersnaps

Hi-tech air mattress inflation. via shazzersnaps

We were also impressed with how effective the pump was … and by “pump” I mean a yellow fabric sleeve with a nozzle attached to one end that allowed you to push captured air into the mattresses. This is not only WAY more efficient than blowing them up manually, it prevents moisture from you breath from accumulating inside them.

The first time we tried the pump (in the living room of The Penthouse Nordic), we thought we needed to whip the sleeve around to fill it with air before attaching it to the sleeping mat. But in fact, it works just fine to attach it to the sleeping mat first and then just open the open end as wide as possible before rolling it closed and squeezing the air into the mattress. Each mat was fully inflated with just under 3 sleeves of air.

But the BIGGER question remained: how would they “sleep” compared to the self-inflatable ThermARest camping mattresses we’ve been using for the last 10 years? (Dr. Darling takes excellent care of our gear and is furthermore a firm practice-r of the policy: “If it ain’t broke, don’t replace it.”) I have always slept fairly well on the ThermARests, but I suspect that has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve usually cycled somewhere between 60 and 80 kilometers on a fully-loaded touring bike before crawling into my sleeping bag.

Saturday’s activities (a full-day video shoot for a really cool Kickstarter Project) were not nearly as strenuous as a bike tour, which is why I feel confident in saying that the Expeds are definitely more cushy and comfortable than the ThermARests.

And had it not been for the noisy birds that sang literally ALL NIGHT LONG, I probably would have slept great. Don’t birds sleep at night? Or at least not sing? I realize that I haven’t slept outdoors for a while, but I have no recollection of ever being kept awake by birds after dark before, even when we were in a tented camp in Tanzania. I finally had to resort to ear-plugs around 2 a.m., which kind of flies in the face of the whole “one with nature” thing I’m trying to achieve by sleeping outdoors in the first place. But at some point, the need to to get some zzz’s wins out over anything else.

Oh, and then there was also the little matter of having to get up to pee THREE TIMES in the night, which is always a major production when you’re in a tent. I hadn’t had enough to drink during the day and made the mistake of trying to compensate for it by downing close to a liter of water with dinner. BIG mistake. At least that was my fault, not Mother Nature’s.

I guess if I’m being honest, I should probably revise the title of this post to: Birds 1, Bladder 3, Shazzer 0.

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Feed my ego!

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