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Q&A

How can I get comfortable sleeping on my side (backpacking)?

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I am a side sleeper. I use a v2 Klymite pad but my hip still hurts during the night because there isn't enough vertical room.

I'm considering:

  • Sleeping curled up a bit (so the angle from my hip to thigh bone is not straight, but maybe 30 degrees)
  • Bringing a second pad (non inflatable) with a cutout for my hips.
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5 answers

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I toss and turn a lot and haven't had an issue with the 2.5 inch pads I've used (2 NeoAirs and a Pacific Outdoor Equipment knockoff). The key has been inflation level. There's definitely a sweet spot for me and it's pretty small where I'd guess my hip is 1 inch off the ground. Too little and obviously your hip touches the ground or gets colder. Too much and it's too firm (for me at least). I sometimes need to make a little adjustment in the middle of the night as ambient temp may lower the pressure, requiring a little puff to get me back to the sweet spot. This is definitely true if you use your (warm) breath to inflate it.

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What I tried, after waking up with sore hips + being extra sensitive for cold in the hip area:

  • I bend a bit on the stomach side. This helps with the pain, not with the cold
  • Having a good sleeping bag excludes the need for several layers while sleeping: I fold these (coat, raincoat, towel) and put them under my hip area to create a softer padding + insulation layer. Helped so far.
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I will start as everybody else... :P

I'm a side sleeper too. I own a therm a rest 4 season sleeping and despite of being a nice mat for sleeping on snow (inside a tent of course) or soft grass, it's a bit too thin and I can get sore hips if sleeping on hard ground.

My wife got a exped mat and because they inflate quite a few inches (her one goes around 3 or 4 inches high) I didn't get sore hips in the few occasions I used it.

Another way I found is when I use my super winter sleeping bag because it's a 700g fill, it's gives a good base on hard ground. Of course that's not a option outside winter. :)

Sleeping mats.

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I know you said you were backpacking but you didn't specifically mention weight as an issue, so this answer assumes you'll trade some weight for comfort ;)

The LL Bean Pathfinder Sleeping Pad is better than most mattresses I've slept on. I'm a smaller framed guy with bony hips and I sleep on my back and my side. My wife has larger hips and sleeps on her stomach and side. Most of our experience with this pad is on the hard floor of wooden lean-tos.

The short version (the one we use, my shins and feet extend past the end) comes in at 22 oz though it does pack down fairly small. The full size is a whopping 34 ounces and packs quite a bit larger.

It's a self inflating foam style pad so I assume others like it would be similar.

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I'm a side sleeper as well, and I've found that the gaps in my x-frame help give my hips and shoulders a little extra room when I'm on my side:

enter image description here

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