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TL/DR summary - Tough construction, a built in pillow, light and compact to pack - the Nemo Cosmo Insulated Lite sleeping pad is a winner in my book.

So, once your tent is set up, what is going to keep you insulated and warm during the temperature drop at nighttime in the mountains?

*cue the Jeopardy theme music*

A sleeping bag? Thick, warm clothing? Those are important, but it's been my experience that keeping a nice chunk of insulation between you and the cold, hard ground is The best way to guarantee a warm night's rest. Everything else is also important, but without a sleeping pad of some kind, you probably aren't going to sleep soundly. Now, knowing this, you would think that I probably took a long time deciding on which sleeping pad I was going to go with. Dear reader, you are indeed correct.

Nemo Cosmo Sleeping pad

I pored over the online resources, searching through all the reviews, reading forums, and in the end, I went with my gut. I chose the Nemo pad because I wanted to have the comfort of an air mattress - some of you just snorted your drink at that statement - with the additional insulation that design can provide. Now, if you've spent the night on the pool floatie style air mattresses before, it most likely wasn't that great. The long vertical construction of the baffles (the bladders that hold air) means that traditionally styled air mattresses tend to fold up around you as you lie on them. I never knew how much I loathed that until I bought the Nemo Cosmo Insulated Lite.

I got the 20R version, which means that it's 'regular' length, plenty for my 5'10" height to stretch out on comfortably. The baffles on the Nemo models are horizontal, which means they offer increased support and stay flat on the ground rather than curling upwards. The insulation was a must, because I knew I would be sleeping at altitude in lake basin areas where cold air would pool during the night. I tend to sleep cold anyway, so getting a sleeping pad like this gave me peace of mind that I would have a solid foundation on my way to a great night's sleep in the woods.

The mattress comes with a pack sack that collapses down to a size a little bigger than your two fists stacked on top of each other. The worst part about this mattress is having to blow it up at the end of the day, but it's not that bad. When you float comfortably above all the twigs and rocks that you were too tired to sweep out from under your tent, you'll realize it was totally worth huffing a puffing for a couple minutes. You can use the built in foot pump at the base of the mattress, but I never did.

Tough construction, a built in pillow, light and compact to pack - the Nemo Cosmo Lite sleeping pad is a winner in my book.


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I'm going to start my gear review series with this post because I believe strongly in the power of getting a good night's sleep when you're out in the woods. For most of us, that's not our normal habitat and we are operating at a level far above what we would normally push ourselves to do. This is great, but, there also needs to be sufficient time to rest or fatigue will overtake you both mentally and physically. Tired bodies get hurt easier, tired minds make more mistakes. For my Wyoming trip, I spent more of my budget on sleeping gear than any other subcategory. Let's dive in, shall we? (TL:DR summary at bottom)

Kelty Tempest 2 - 


I chose my tent after many hours of researching the conditions that I would be faced with where I was headed. I looked up weather reports from years past, lurked on forums, and called the people I was planning on working with for their local knowledge. Only then did I begin searching for tents that would meet those needs. Because I was trying to work within a budget, I figured that I would look for an older model of tent that had great reviews from people who actually used it as I would be. This is harder than it sounds, and took me three or four days of on and off searching to come to a decision. I am extremely happy with the tent that I chose - the Kelty Tempest 2. It's easy to put up and take down, stable, and handled everything I threw at it without so much as a scratch. It kept myself and my backpack dry, helped keep me warm when it was cold, and provided a much-needed haven from the mosquitoes. The tent stakes provided with the tent were perfectly serviceable. I would however suggest getting some spares just in case. I purchased these from Kelty, but anything similar should do nicely.

The vented design kept condensation on the interior on cold nights from being as much of a problem as it is with non-vented tents. The 'bathtub' style floor kept all water out even without the addition of a ground cloth or tarp underneath. It was really nice to be able to bring in all my stuff (except boots) out of the frost and rain. As for the boots, they slept out under the vestibule, which for those who don't know is like a built-in awning created by your rain fly. This is a great feature because it allows you to keep your muddy boots from getting rained on, yet keep them outside the tent.

The model I got, the Tempest 2, is great as a one man tent, or two people willing to get cozy. It's an older model, like I mentioned, so it might be harder to find that exact one. If you're looking for something for two to three people, or yourself and your trusty adventure dog, then the Kelty Tempest 4  tent is probably more your speed.

I hope that this review helped you out with your tent choice - if nothing else, you know the struggle to find the perfect tent for that awesome trip is very real. If you have other tents to recommend or anything else you'd like to share, please, leave a comment below.