#GearReview: @Thermarest Antares Bag and NeoAir Pad
I have been hiking, camping and backpacking for almost twenty years, going with friends, my family and leading other families and my students into the great outdoors. I am not a gear junky like some but I do like high quality gear so that I don’t have to throw away and buy new.
During Memorial Day weekend, my daughter and I, along with a friend and her daughter, section hiked the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. I love setting one adventure goal each year and accomplishing it. This trip was on my bucket list.
Prepping for this trip took planning, organization and making decisions about which gear to bring bearing the weight on our backs for four days. The girls got into the prep work: planning the meals, creating a packing list, making the gorp and packing their backpacks together. As moms, we needed to carry the extra weight of gear and food; however, we did give each girl some shared responsibility. Therefore, I laid out my gear and choose the most compact and lightest to help defray the weight of food for four people for four days.
I packed only the essential cloths, a tent and my new Therm-a-rest NeoAir sleeping pad and Antares sleeping bag, both weighting in just over a pound. With a small amount of clothes, the tent on the outside and the pad and bag compactly snug at the bottom of my pack, I had lots of room for food and gear, i.e. camping stove, water filter, etc.
After our long and cold first day hiking ten miles, my body was ready to hit the sleeping bag for some zzzz’s. During the first night, it took me a while to get used to the new bag. My previous bag had stuffing beneath me and didn’t attach to a sleeping pad. The Antares has no down underneath, only a thin sheet of wear-resistant nylon that snuggly fits to the sleeping pad providing the body’s insulation from the ground. I adjusted the bag quite a bit the first night because cold air seeped in various areas. However by the middle of the night after all my adjustments, I became warm and snug inside the bag.
After two more nights on the trail, I developed opinions about what I liked and didn’t about the sleeping bag and pad:
- There were no pressure points when sleeping on the pad. Usually my hips get sore waking me up and needing to roll over multiple times during a night’s sleep. Using the Neo Air, my hips felt good under the cushion height.
- I was surprised how lightweight the pad is for being full size with good height.
- The pad and bag are very compact, fitting in a small space at the bottom of my pack.
- I did not roll or slide off the pad, even while sleeping on a downhill slope.
- The pad deflated quickly without leaving air pockets behind.
- The pad stuff sack is supposed to help inflate the pad; however, after two trials, it was not effective. The seal around the nozzle leaked. Furthermore, the stuff sack didn’t generate enough air in the bag to blow the pad up. I used my mouth instead.
- The pad is long and tri-fold. Folding the pad up after deflation was time consuming and sometimes frustrating.
- It is important to have the bag correctly positioned over the pad so as not to introduce cold air into the bag. With practice, this did not happen.
I made a video to capture the story of our mother daughter adventures on the Appalachian Trail. We shared challenges and adventures and created memories that will last a lifetime. We learned that our daughters are strong, can persevere and meet many obstacles with smiles (yes, there were grumbles but usually when they were hungry!). We are so grateful to have shared this experience with them. And, we are so proud. We hope this will inspire many mothers and daughters to seek adventure on the trails together.