Natural-fibre sleep mat?

bilmo-p5

Maker Plus
Jul 5, 2010
8,168
3
west yorkshire
I haven't tried it but I reckon that a slab of industrial wool felt to the same dims as your basic ccf mat, say, 180 x 60 x 1 cm would perform just as well. It would be a bit heavier and rather more expensive but would roll up to about the same pack size.

Have a look here.
 
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MilkTheFrog

Tenderfoot
Nov 10, 2015
55
0
United Kingdom
Haven't read the whole thread, but it depends what you're looking for or what you're willing to put up with. You could do some kind of oversized sushi rolling mat, would have to experiment with the right type and thickness of sticks and you'd need a lot of straight ones:



You could make a section of braided or woven straw mat/carpet and roll it up:





Or a similar idea with any number of materials, maybe bark weaving, though you might have to make it in small rectangular strips and tie them together so they fold up similarly to the Thermarest Z Lite.

In addition to that, there's a lot of options for raised beds in a survival/bushcraft context, i think MCQ has one on his channel, but they generally require a fair bit of processing and can take a lot of resources from the environment, especially if it's just for an overnighter. One thing I've sometimes suspected might be quick enough in some form to consider when building a camp is rope beds, with enough cordage. Gets you off the ground, and if you throw a thicker blanket over it it could even be as comfortable as being at home.





 

andybysea

Full Member
Oct 15, 2008
2,611
0
South east Scotland.
When i did re enactment years ago we used a canvas rubberised ground sheet, blanket lined canvas bedroll and if colder months extra blanket, you can sleep below zero in that ,granted though we also wore wool long johns wool shirts and wool battledress.
 

pysen78

Forager
Oct 10, 2013
201
0
Stockholm
I realise this is an old thread, and you might have moved on, Tagaeri. But it got me thinking about the canvas or cotton duck bedrolls that they used in the old West. I've got friends who are in american civil war reenactment circles, that use them, although they stuff them with modern foam mats.
But didn't they use horse hair or multiple layers of wool blanket in the old days, and still managed to carry them through the campaigns? Maybe some of our american friends can enlighten us!

My own contribution to the subject is to always dig a small hole for your hip when sleeping on less than comfortable bedding. Makes all the difference, but doesn't improve insulation any.
In my youth I had a French surplus "sac de couchage" with heavy rubberised underside. Slept in that during summer several times, with only light layers of ferns as insulation.
Wouldn't try that today though, or my back would give me its letter of resignation! Around here though, there's usually plenty of spruce do be used in an emergency.
 

rg598

Native
In the American Civil War soldiers generally carried very little, usually just a blanket and a shelter half. If there was any more elaborate sleep system, it was transported by wagon or pack train. If you read How to Camp Out by John M. Gould, 1877 you can get a good feel for the type of gear that was used right after the war, and what the common practices were. They generally didn't travel through the woods. Travel was on roads, and they stayed in camps or towns.

The traditional method for insulating in cold weather was furs.

"The Bed of a mountaineer is an article neither complex in its nature nor difficult in its adjustment. A single buffalo robe folded double and spread upon the ground, with a rock, or knoll, or some like substitute for a pillow, furnishes the sole base-work upon which the sleeper reclines, and, enveloped in an additional blanket or robe, contentedly enjoys his rest." Rufus Sage, Rocky Mountain Life, or Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West, During an Expedition of Three Years, 1846

"We spread our apischimos on the ground out on the open prairie and covered ourselves with riding cloaks and buffalo robes.... We called to our dogs to lie on top of us, as usual, for the purposes of keeping guard and also of imparting warmth. But those canines were every instant scenting nearby wolves, bounding off with great outcry to fight the beasts or drive them away, then lying down on top of us again, scratching themselves and contesting one another's places. Under such restless, disquieting conditions, especially in our overexcited state, we were unable to sleep at all." Rudolph Freiderich Kurtz, The Journal of Rudolph Friederich Kurz, 1846

"We awoke on the morning of the 16th with a Norther penetrating our blankets. The river Arkansas, almost dry, and on whose north bank we were encamped, was covered with floating particles of thin ice. Drinker had but two blankets, and on awakening we found him lying near the remains of the bois de vache fire, the light ashes of which, on his clothing, gave the appearance of snow. We wore extra clothing during the morning’s ride, and Drinker looked bad from the effects of last night’s wakefulness. We rode in silence for a time, somewhat in advance of the party, in vain attempts to encourage conversation. At length, after a long pause, he said, “St. Vrain and Folger sleep together; Chad and Bransford do too. Hadn’t we better?” I acquiesced with pleasure. With saddles and over coats, we had good pillows-the other clothing remained on us. Wherever camp was made, a place was selected by each couple for sleeping before dismounting (mountaineer custom); and, ere dark, the pallet of robes was always spread. We huddled around the miserable “cow wood” fires, chilled by the cold winds." Lewis Garrand, Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail, 1850

Of course, such as sleep system was not carried in a pack. Travel was done either by boat or pack train.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the browse bag (a thin cotton bag filled with whatever was around) seemed to have been the preferred sleeping surface.
 

PDA1

Settler
Feb 3, 2011
646
3
Framingham, MA USA
The raised rope beds may be fine from a comfort POV, but horrible from the insulation POV. The cold air circulating underneath you will suck out any warmth. So you still need substantial insulation, which is wind proof.
 

MilkTheFrog

Tenderfoot
Nov 10, 2015
55
0
United Kingdom
Would you? I'd have thought it would be a similar situation to hammocks. You'd be losing much less heat to the cold ground which can just suck energy away endlessly, but with some clever tarp/cover placement you can limit the airflow around a raised bed significantly.
 

rg598

Native
I wouldn't use a raised bed in cold weather. It provides no insulation. The air may very well be colder than the ground depending on the temperature.

A much better use of all that wood and rope would be to cut it up into small chips and pieces and pile it up on the ground. It will give much better insulation.

Better yet, take 1/100th of the time needed to make a raised bed, and gather proper bedding: grass, bark, brush, boughs, etc.

Lean-tos and raised beds look good in pictures and on Ray Mears shows, but are just about the most impractical form of shelter and bedding. They require a lot of work to make, but then depend entirely on the use of a huge fire to keep you warm, and semi-dry. The raised bed provides no insulation while the lean-to allows the rain and snow to fall on your face every time there is a breeze.
 

PDA1

Settler
Feb 3, 2011
646
3
Framingham, MA USA
I use a hammock regularly. Believe me, even on breezeless nights, you need insulation underneath you.. The cold air is cold, whether or not it is blowing. WIth a temperature gradient like that, you will lose heat, causing the air closest to your body to heat up and move. Even an air bed, if uninsulated, has the same problem. Insulation does not warm you, it reduces heat loss. Your body is surrounded by multiple layers of small air pockets which lose heat progressively from those next to your body towards the outer boundary. the larger the pockets of air (standard air bed) suffer convection currents which move the warmer air to the outside walls, where it is quickly cooled.
 

rg598

Native
Lol, making a raised bed is too much work but cutting an entire tree down into chips is just fine? ;)
My statement had two separate parts. The first was that if you are going to put that much work in and use that much resources, you can get better insulation from the exact same materials with the same work by cutting them up and placing them on the ground instead of making a raised bed.

The second part of my statement was that instead of doing either of those things, you can simply gather some normal bedding. It will take a lot less work and provide much better insulation.
 

Uilleachan

Full Member
Aug 14, 2013
585
5
Northwest Scotland
When I go out to spend the night sleeping out or camping, the very first thing I look out in my doss mat, synthetic foam. I've slept in and on many things often in just the gear I stood in in my time and experience has taught me not to compromise on the mat.

I'm using nothing fancy just a cheap low-cost full length 8mm foam camping mat, it is getting tatty now, quite a few cinder holes, but it still works well.

Eventually I'll cut the best bit out for a seat or bed for the girlfriends dog, Maisie the dog'll need a mat for howfing if she's to come with this spring, so perhaps thats what'll happen to my foam mat as I've still a seat sized piece from the last.

Then I think I may upgrade to one of these modern wonder mats as quality foam is getting hard to come by.
 

pysen78

Forager
Oct 10, 2013
201
0
Stockholm
In the American Civil War soldiers generally carried very little, usually just a blanket and a shelter half. If there was any more elaborate sleep system, it was transported by wagon or pack train. If you read How to Camp Out by John M. Gould, 1877 you can get a good feel for the type of gear that was used right after the war, and what the common practices were. They generally didn't travel through the woods. Travel was on roads, and they stayed in camps or towns.

The traditional method for insulating in cold weather was furs.

"The Bed of a mountaineer is an article neither complex in its nature nor difficult in its adjustment. A single buffalo robe folded double and spread upon the ground, with a rock, or knoll, or some like substitute for a pillow, furnishes the sole base-work upon which the sleeper reclines, and, enveloped in an additional blanket or robe, contentedly enjoys his rest." Rufus Sage, Rocky Mountain Life, or Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West, During an Expedition of Three Years, 1846

"We spread our apischimos on the ground out on the open prairie and covered ourselves with riding cloaks and buffalo robes.... We called to our dogs to lie on top of us, as usual, for the purposes of keeping guard and also of imparting warmth. But those canines were every instant scenting nearby wolves, bounding off with great outcry to fight the beasts or drive them away, then lying down on top of us again, scratching themselves and contesting one another's places. Under such restless, disquieting conditions, especially in our overexcited state, we were unable to sleep at all." Rudolph Freiderich Kurtz, The Journal of Rudolph Friederich Kurz, 1846

"We awoke on the morning of the 16th with a Norther penetrating our blankets. The river Arkansas, almost dry, and on whose north bank we were encamped, was covered with floating particles of thin ice. Drinker had but two blankets, and on awakening we found him lying near the remains of the bois de vache fire, the light ashes of which, on his clothing, gave the appearance of snow. We wore extra clothing during the morning’s ride, and Drinker looked bad from the effects of last night’s wakefulness. We rode in silence for a time, somewhat in advance of the party, in vain attempts to encourage conversation. At length, after a long pause, he said, “St. Vrain and Folger sleep together; Chad and Bransford do too. Hadn’t we better?” I acquiesced with pleasure. With saddles and over coats, we had good pillows-the other clothing remained on us. Wherever camp was made, a place was selected by each couple for sleeping before dismounting (mountaineer custom); and, ere dark, the pallet of robes was always spread. We huddled around the miserable “cow wood” fires, chilled by the cold winds." Lewis Garrand, Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail, 1850

Of course, such as sleep system was not carried in a pack. Travel was done either by boat or pack train.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the browse bag (a thin cotton bag filled with whatever was around) seemed to have been the preferred sleeping surface.
Thanks for that, Ross! Very interesting. Now that browse bag seems like a nice addition to any vintage camping outfit.
 

sunndog

Full Member
May 23, 2014
3,424
402
derbyshire
That first raised bed pic looks like its in the tropics.....thats the kind of weather you want for it
even in the jungle i'v wished for an underquilt on me hammock at higher altitudes.....anything under 20*c and your backside will feel like its gonna freeze and fall off :D , it'll feel like laying in a puddle all night at best
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,732
1,183
62
Pembrokeshire
That first raised bed pic looks like its in the tropics.....thats the kind of weather you want for it
even in the jungle i'v wished for an underquilt on me hammock at higher altitudes.....anything under 20*c and your backside will feel like its gonna freeze and fall off :D , it'll feel like laying in a puddle all night at best
In Thailand I was glad I did not use a mat under me - it was the only flippin time I felt any coolness in the month I was there!
I hate the jungle - a miserable place where the wildlife from Mozzie through Leach to Elephant are out to kill you, you never get dry and the heat drains the last bit of will to live that you possess!
Give me dry savanna, desert, icy mountains or wet Wales any day!
 

sunndog

Full Member
May 23, 2014
3,424
402
derbyshire
In Thailand I was glad I did not use a mat under me - it was the only flippin time I felt any coolness in the month I was there!
I hate the jungle - a miserable place where the wildlife from Mozzie through Leach to Elephant are out to kill you, you never get dry and the heat drains the last bit of will to live that you possess!
Give me dry savanna, desert, icy mountains or wet Wales any day!
I love it mate, my favorite enviroment of all. Everything is relaxed and easy
Bloody detest the desert though. Dry, gritty, and the sun definatly has some kind of vendetta against you

Agree on the coolness of a hammock though, its bliss to get into at night. It can get chilly at night if you get up into the hills though
 
Jul 24, 2016
8
1
Åland Islands
Bumping an old thread here.

I think an untanned reindeer skin is exactly what you're after.
They are almost as light as a synthetic sleeping mat. Much lighter than wool. When they are untanned they resist water well, you can also put linseed oil on the inside to make them even more water resistant.
Te only drawback would be
They loose hairs, not so much that they get worn fast but enough to find raindeer hairs everywhere on your clothes and sleeping bag.
Slightly bulkier than a synthetic mat. But on the other hand they give more warmth.

Up here in Scandinavia they are quite common on winter trips.
 

forestwalker

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
There is rya rugs that could work. Basically a "fake fur" woven from wool (some years that are in IKEA fashion as rugs). Not even remotely water-resistant, but fairly warm even when damp, being wool.

Toddy suggests reindeer hides, and they are very nice, but a bit on the bulky side by modern standards. A reindeer hide should roll up to not *much* more than a full size 14 mm thick closed cell foam pad: if you expect rain you can carry it in a plastic bag lined canvas bag (cut it down to 50-60 cm wide for easier packing). These days you can get them with silicon rubber bottoms, the untanned ones will hold damp away fairly well, and marine varnish will also fix many sins.
 

Tagaeri

Full Member
Jan 20, 2014
404
2
West Cornwall
Some great ideas. However, I moved away from using just natural fibres, and now use a mix of natural and synthetic at different times. My choice of sleep mat is currently a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm!