thermarest or stretcher - which one warmer?

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 21:41
ThreadID: 100875 Views:4980 Replies:10 FollowUps:1
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We are doing a big trip up through the centre and the top end from April to July. We're taking a camper trailer, and the 3 kids will be on stretchers or thermarests in the tent part. We are wondering about taking a Coleman instant up tent for those one-night stops where we can't be bothered erecting the trailer. So....should we get (thick) thermarests or stretchers for the kids, and would one be warmer than the other?
I can see advantage of stretchers being they are off the ground, and you can store stuff underneath. Also can't get a hole.
Advantages of thermarests are they are smaller in the tent (so more room in the instant up tent), we could leave them rolled out on top of the trailer bed so they just need a quick puff of air at the next stop and they're ready.
Any strong opinions on one versus the other?
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Reply By: edwin - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 22:50

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 22:50
hi Carolyn, Im not familiar with the stretchers, but I have many many nights experience on a thin thermorest, you dont have to worry about the cold at all, I spent 2 years with mine camping thru europe and africa and loved it(its 10 years old now and still ok) have only had 1 pin hole in tanzania,easily patched up. The guy that sold it to me said you could sleep on an ice skating rink and you wouldnt feel it, not 100% sure of that 3 year old uses it on the floor of our camper trailer and loves it, some people think we are mean when they see him on the floor, but he doesnt care, its quick,comfy and easily lifted onto the camper mattress for travel.

AnswerID: 506006

Reply By: Travis22 - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 01:37

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 01:37
I can guarantee you 100% that the thermarest will be warmer. Do you need the additional warmth that is the million dollar question.

The quality of sleeping bag and or thermal clothing will also be a factor, but bottom... as above.

I love sleeping on stretcher beds, be it inside at tent or even in a swag on top of a stretcher bed, but generally speaking even a 'padded' stretcher bed will be noticeably colder to sleep on then a quality sleeping mat like a thermarest on the ground.

My vote would be both. Thermarest on top of a quality stretcher bed = perfect.

AnswerID: 506012

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 07:46

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 07:46

The thermarests will definitely be warmer than stretchers, but have you considered swags.
Depending on the age of the children, you may even do away with the instant up tent altogether as a good quality hoop style swag with have the tent "built-in".

A swag is also a long term investment that the kids usually treasure as their most favourite piece of camping gear.


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AnswerID: 506013

Reply By: Sigmund - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 11:35

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 11:35
Also take a look at Exped Synmats and Downmats. They're insulated 'air beds'. They pack small and provide good cushioning for side-sleepers.

The R of the Synmat is about 5; of the Downmat around 7. The Synmat is easier to live with as you can blow it up with your lungs whereas you need to pump up the Downmat.

I've slept on a Synmat in the snow. The added insulation over a basic self-inflating mat means you can opt for a lighter sleeping bag; that can mean significant savings on down fill and bag cost.
AnswerID: 506028

Reply By: Member - D&G SA - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 13:20

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 13:20
Thermarests are definitely the way to go - cold air accumulates under the stretchers.
AnswerID: 506032

Reply By: Member-Heather MG NSW - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 13:54

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 13:54
Here is a link to a new product made by Thermarest...a stretcher, however at $299 each it is a big cost above the thermarest inflatable mat.

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AnswerID: 506033

Reply By: tdv - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 16:14

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 16:14
Another vote for swags.

We have a camper and have had thermarests, stretchers and now swags. The swags are the best by far as the kids can be zipped up in them, stay warm and don't roll around. We store ours unrolled on top of our mattress

The stretchers were definitely cold (I slept on them for a trip once). Thermarests are good but we found our kids tended to slide off them during the night then roll around in the dark in a sleeping bag trying to get back on.

Hope that helps.
AnswerID: 506050

Follow Up By: DesF - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 19:55

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 19:55
We have had Thermarests for over 10 years and never had the problem of sliding off, but last year we went away and one chap was having that problem untill we found out he had the grippy side down, he like the blue side but that is the slippery side,
Once we got him sorted no probs. Cheers Des.
FollowupID: 782987

Reply By: Member - SeabreezeOZ - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 20:10

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 20:10
We have a fold up cot bed which is fully encloded with flyscreens etc, our 10yr old sleeps in that in the annex on a thermrest and loves it. There is another version which is rain proof.
AnswerID: 506067

Reply By: Carolyn R2 - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 21:49

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 21:49
Thanks for everyone's advice, really helpful. Now, to throw in a wild card, hubby has come home with the idea of normal, small sized foam mattresses. He reckons they will be as insulated as thermarests, and could just rest on top of the double bed in the camper trailer. So no holes, no blowing up, no slipping off, and pretty comfortable. I don't know if you can get foam mattresses in such sizes (camping shop, maybe, or cot-size, or cut at dunlop and covered), but is his thought process flawed? We automatically think of thermarests or stretchers for camping, but maybe having the trailer means we should be thinking differently. I've definitely had experience with the kids sliding off thermarests before (and I think we had them right way up, but will check!).
AnswerID: 506129

Reply By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 00:32

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 00:32
Have a look at ya common or garden self inflating matresses, they may be well cheapervthan these thermalrests.

The problem with ya standard foam is foam is so variable and all too often short lived and unless it is thick enough and hard enough ya end up bottoming out and those areas get ya get cold bum sysdrome.
The there is the moisture thing...either ya have to spec $$$$ on an impervious cover or the foam matress teneds to absorb moisture or even worse get wet.

persoanlly I hate sleeping on the ground.

but the self inflating matresses seem to be popular.

AnswerID: 506142

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