Desert Kit List: Sleeping Kit

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Sleeping Bag

The sleeping bag is possibly the single most expensive piece of equipment you will need for your race. It is good to spend some time choosing this wisely as a lot of weight and volume savings can be gained whilst it is important to consider your warmth and comfort at night. A silk mummy liner can add up to 5.3 degrees to your sleeping bag and is a good complement. The nights in the Sahara are typically rather chilly though the temperature can vary. We recommend that you take a mummy liner and “test” what you actually need during the first night in camp before you decide what goes in your race pack and what goes in your luggage that you hand in before the start. Some sleeping bags don’t come in several sizes which means that if you are tall you are left with fewer options. Women typically require a bit more warmth at night.

The recommendations below are based on a race like the Marathon des Sables. However, if you are going to another race such as 4Deserts Gobi or the Atacama, the Richtersveld Wildrun, Grand to Grand or the Big Red Run you may need to exclude the most minimalistic options as they may not be warm enough. Also, the weight is really only important for the completely self-sufficient races where you carry all your gear.

Sleeping Bags

Y Passion One

Material: Down 870+ cuin
Weight (M): 320g
Limit Extreme: +15 / +12 / -1
Sizes: M/L/XL
Comments: A premium down bag for the minimalist. Full zip.

Y Passion Three

Material: Down 870+ cuin
Weight (M): 465g
Limit Extreme: +7 / +3 / -10
Sizes: M/L/XL
Comments: If money is not an object, you want the best, lightest, and you want to stay warm.

Y Fever Ultra

Material: Down 970+ cuin
Weight (M): 252g
Limit Extreme: +15 / +12 / -1
Sizes: M/L/XL
Comments:  The smallest and lightest there is… Half zip. Elisabet’s choice for 2015 & 2016 MdS.

Thermarest Hyperion 32 UL Sleeping Bag

Material: 900 fill GooseNikwax Hydrophobic Down, RDS
Weight (M): 464g
Limit Extreme: +5 / +0 / -15
Sizes: S/M
Comments:   A warmer bag if you feel the cold. Quality bag that compacts down small

Nordisk Oscar +10 Mummy Sleeping Bag

Material: Primaloft
Weight (M): 280g
Limit Extreme: +14 / +10/ -2
Sizes: M/L
Comments: One of the world’s lightest synthetic sleeping bags. Half zip and compact. Lightweight and great choice.

OMM Mountain Raid 1.6

Material: Primaloft
Weight (M): 450g
Limit Extreme: not rated
Sizes: Regular/XL
Comments: Great value, minimalist synthetic bags. We recommend coupling them with a liner. Regular not suitable if you are tall so size up.

Sea to Summit Spark 1

Material: RDS 850+ Loft Premium Goose ULTRA-DRY Down™
Weight (M): 348g
Limit Extreme: +9 / +5 / -9
Sizes: Regular / Large
Comments: Ultra-light and technical, the Spark is designed to keep you as warm as possible while minimising packed weight and size. An excellent choice.

See our full range of sleeping bags here, including some warmer options.

Sleeping Mat

A sleeping mat will not only protect you from the rocky or hard ground but a quality sleeping mat will also provide a fair bit of insulation from the cold ground and therefore complements your sleeping bag. Always look at your sleeping mat and bag as a complete system.

The main decision is whether to go for a foam mat or an inflatable mat. From a weight perspective, they compare very similarly depending on how much you cut your foam mat down (if at all). For 100% peace of mind, a foam mat is better as it can’t burst, but it doesn’t fit inside your backpack so you need to strap it to the outside. From a packing perspective, the inflatable mats we recommend here pack down very small and are typically also more comfortable to sleep on than a foam mat. As long as you manage your admin well you can minimise the risk of puncture. The decision is yours based on your priorities! The sleeping mat ideally needs to cover your shoulders and hips though some people prefer full length.

If comfort is important we recommend taking a small inflatable pillow. This will allow you to rest your legs on your backpack during the night for recovery.

Elisabet’s tip: “The Thermarest Prolite XS, because it has a foam layer inside, can be folded instead of rolled up and when packed against your back will serve as back padding in your pack. Used this way you can get dual functionality from it: back padding and sleeping mat. Save weight by taking out the foam insert in your backpack”

Sleeping Mats & Pillows Type Size (cm) Weight Sizes Race Mid Pack Cross the Line Comments
Multimat Superlite 8 Foam 1800x500x8mm 190g (R) R Cut to size to your requirements and reduce weight. Folds Up.
OMM Duo Mat Foam 80 x 45 x 1.5 155g (R) R Harder foam mat from OMM. Can be used as back padding.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir X-Lite Inflatable 119 x 51 x 6.3 230g (S) S/R/L A popular option for a light and compact inflatable mat.
Thermarest Prolite Self-Inflating Self Inflating 91 x 51 x 2.5 350g (S) S/R Get the best of two worlds with this more durable and self-inflating foam mattress. Elisabet’s choice for most multi-stage races including MdS 2015 & 2016.
Thermarest Neoair Uberlite Inflatable 51 x 119cm 170g (S) S/R The absolute lightest Air Sleeping Pad. Super compact. The size of a burrito!
Exped Airmat UL Lite M Inflatable 52 x 183cm 350g One Size Compact air mat that could be a cheaper option to the Neoair Uberlite
Exped Air Pillow Inflatable 23 x 28 x 7.6 (M) From 45g M/L Lightweight pillow for that extra comfort. The UL Medium is the lightest option.
Sea to Summit Ultralight Aeros Pillow Inflatable 36 x 26 x 12cm 60g R Perfect for MdS and all your multi stage adventures! Extra comfort
Exped Flexmat XS Foam 130 x 52 x 1.8 202g XS Cut to size to your requirements and reduce weight. Folds Up. Most popular choice.

For a full range of sleeping mats, see here.

Also, last but least and although tiny can make the difference for a good night’s sleep: Earplugs! we have included a corded pair (less risk of them wandering off if they fall out..) in our Multi-Stage Personal Care Travel Kit.

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