Recently on the Brushbeater Forum we were discussing our favorite ground pads. I’m always curious about how other people “skin the cat” and there was some good discussion happening. A gentleman who goes by “13-1A” shared a homemade pad of his own design. It’s foldable so it fits in his pack and it reminded me of the German Army folding pads.
When it comes to sleeping pads there’s two basic categories: inflatable and foam. Inflatable pads typically are more comfortable whereas foam are more durable. I’ve used both quite a bit and there’s always a balance to be struck between durability, comfort, and weight. While comfort is nice, the main reason I carry a pad is to insulate me from the ground at night.
Seeing 13-1A’s pad design gave me an idea for one of my own. I had already made my mind up after my first fieldcraft course that I needed a foam pad at a minimum so that I can lay down in whatever foliage I find myself in. I’ve played around with inflatable pads and they work great, until they get a hole in them. In fact a gentleman popped his Klymit Static-V at my most recent class and he had to get by using a browse bed the rest of the class. We don’t always get to pick the most primo spots to bed down and having something that I don’t have to worry about popping is nice. This folding pad is compact enough and lightweight enough that it can always be there packed against the frame of my pack.
I started with a standard GI roll up foam sleeping pad. I decided I wanted to carry it inside my pack similar to the German folding pad instead of rolled up on the outside. This makes for a smaller footprint that doesn’t snag on foliage and branches as you go by.
I measured the dimensions of the inside of the pack and found I could produce six 12” x 25” rectangular pieces from my pad. I used a tee square and cut the pieces out. I quickly realized that a stack of 6 would take up more room than I wanted so I got rid of two. This would still give me 3/4 coverage down to my knees which I think is appropriate for a lightweight minimal design.
I grabbed the Gorilla tape and began fitting the pieces together. In order to be able to fold the mat I had to leave a gap between each piece. To get the proper gap I laid the pieces on top of each other and then taped them, that way there was a gap created when they were unfolded.
I started with short pieces of tape until I had everything fitting the way I wanted then I went over all the gaps with lengthwise tape.
The final product creates a great pad that I can store easily in my pack. When folded it’s about 1 1/2” thick and fits against the internal frame of my Granite Gear CHIEF patrol pack easily. I’m really liking this pack and the extra room it provides as long as I am disciplined in how I pack it so I don’t add a lot of weight.
This 3/4 pad can of course be added to a browse bed and a small inflatable pad like my Klymit static-v. This was how I used it during the last fieldcraft course and it was a great sleeping system. It got down into the 30’s at night and I slept fine in my Swagman Roll and poncho. It’s also a versatile piece of gear in that I can kneel, sit, or shoot off of it as well.