View Full Version : Sleeping pads and Groundsheets

05-08-2007, 05:11
When inside my tent, I have the combination of the tent floor and sleeping pad to protect my sleeping bag from any damage.

What do people do when sleeping in the shelters on the hard floors. Would a full length sleeping pad like a z-lite or a ridgerest be enough protection, or would a groundsheet also be necessary? I guess it would depend on how much the sleeping bag hung over the edges of the sleeping pad, or how much I rolled around when I slept. I'm planning on taking an Ultralite WM.

I was planning on taking a 3/4 z-lite, but maybe for the 4 extra ounces the full length one would be better giving my sleeping bag full protection from the hard floors of shelters. That way maybe I would not have to bother with a groundsheet. Would a z-lite alone be enough protection?

What do other people do to protect their sleeping bags in shelters?

Do people get away without having to take a groundsheet?

05-08-2007, 06:48
Most thru-hikers just put their sleeping pad down on the wooden floor. The pad and sleeping bag get pretty dirty pretty quickly.

In my compulsive, old-lady way, I always used a groundsheet under my stuff. It keeps it cleaner and keeps my stuff together so I can find it and pack it quickly. When I mentioned the cleanliness advantage to the young man who hiked with me for a number of weeks, he looked at me as if I were insane.


05-08-2007, 06:54
I agree. There is an awful lot of dirt, (bits of wax, bits of branches, mouse droppings...) on the floors of shelters - I am fastidious about my gear and want it to last more than a season (usually at least 20 years or more. I just use my tent ground cloth under my sleeping pad. If you are planning to exclusively use shelters, a couple of large Lawn and leaf garbage bags do the trick without really adding any weight.

05-08-2007, 07:20
Great post Marta, it made me laugh, thanks for the feedback.

05-08-2007, 07:29
I use a lightweight piece of tyvek as a groundcloth for my tarp. It is something like 3X7 ft and weighs around 2 ounces.

I don't usually use the groundcloth if I am sleeping in the shelter.

05-08-2007, 07:29
Like Marta, I try to keep my gear clean and organized. I use a ground sheet when sleeping in shelters.

Tipi Walter
05-08-2007, 07:58
When dealing with a thermarest and long term backpacking, all efforts must go into protecting the pad and preventing puncture. In the old days I used a wool blanket under my pad(inside the tent)but switched to a light silnylon tarp instead. I use the tarp inside my tent with the pad on top and this does two things, it protects the pad from thorns poking thru the tent floor and it keeps a heavy rain(with a leaky tent floor)from pooling inside the tent under my pad. The tarp keeps all the water between it and the tent floor, leaving me with a dry surface no matter how wet it is outside. Even a brand new tent floor will leak and if a tent is several years old it will seep up water thru the floor if the rain is heavy enough.

Why not put the tarp outside as a tent footprint? Cuz in a heavy rain the space between the tent and the tarp will fill with pools of water and it is nearly impossible to prevent this.

When bedroll camping(as in a shelter or on the ground), I always have and always will use somesort of puncture barrier to keep my thermarest alive. Those people who throw their pads down on the ground to sit on or strap an exposed pad to the outsides of their packs will soon be waking up in the night on a slowly deflating mattress.

05-08-2007, 11:57
Shelter floors are dirty and I'm always concerned about splinters ripping my bag so I use protection.

Try Gossamer Gear's polycro groundcloth. At $6 for a set of two medium size (40"x96") its about as good of a bargain as you can find. They may not look it but they're very durable. They clean easily and only weigh 1.5 oz each...about as light as you'll find. They pack very small...just ball em up and stuff in with your tent.

05-08-2007, 19:49
My Lady and I use to carry a small whisk broom to help clean out the tent floor...I imagine it would do the same for a small area of an AT shelter floor. Then put the groundcloth down on a clean(er) floor.

I wouldn't want to be sleeping on, in, or around mouse droppings. Out here in the Wild West we have a pretty serious disease called hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome -- hantavirus is contracted by breathing in the aerosolized virus from the feces, urine and/or saliva from infected rodents (deer mice). In the U.S. the disease is predominantly west of the Mississippi but there have been confirmed cases of a different strain of hantavirus in the east and southeast.

Be sure to exercise caution when sweeping those droppings around...you might also consider a small spray container of bleach to help further clean the floor.