Sleeping Gear

Another newbie question.
What to bring for sleeping gear?
I’m thinking a sleeping bag might be a bit much. It is typically warm at night, right?
Looking at getting a poly camping blanket that will pack down small and a closed cell foam pad.

Any tips or advice?

16 Replies

Kevin Even, June 24, 2021 at 5:25 am

Although typically warm it can get cold. I have found a very light weight, summer weight sleeping bag has worked for me. If too hot you can unzip and uncover and it cooler zip up as necessary.


Chris, June 24, 2021 at 6:04 am

…but a very good question!

I agree with Kevin: a summer weight sleeping bag works. We’ve had nights in the mid-50’s, and even when it’s in the mid 60’s after a good hot day, 65 feels way colder than you’d think. Add a little bit of damp that’s always in a tent and we’ve found ourselves cold far more nights than we’ve been too warm (2012 was a notable exception to that, but only the first part of the week). We either bring a poly camping blanket or +40 sleeping bags. We get cold feet easily, so the bag is nice. Makes getting up in the morning harder, though!

Poly blanket and a closed cell pad are a good start. If you feel like spending a few extra dollars, go for a Thermarest inflatable pad (or the equivalent. There are a lot of them on the market). I’ve found that makes a good night of sleep even better, provides better insulation from the ground, and packs down almost as small as a foam pad. Swore by them for a lot of years. I assume you have a “good” back. If you have a “bad” back, then I’d have a different pile of suggestions.

See you in July.


CyclingCyclone, June 24, 2021 at 7:53 am

With it being Iowa in July, you’d be amazed at how cool, and clammy the middle of the night can get.
I’ve slept on the tent floor, used closed-cell pads, and air mattresses. A few years ago, on this forum, someone raved about their Go-Kot. I checked them out, ordered one, and have been really happy with the product. It’s lightweight, sets up in about 60 seconds, keeps you off the ground, really sturdy, and is American made. ABC World News did a “Made in America” feature about the company a few months ago. It might be more of a premium product for some, but it definitely has held up the past few years for me, and with 36 RAGBRAI’s under my belt, I’m sleeping much better in the tent.
Enjoy your RAGBRAI.


Rob Fuller, June 24, 2021 at 10:07 am

Use your rain jacket as your pillow. Some “shell” parkas stuff nicely into their own pockets making a small cushion. The typical pillow takes up too much space in your bag and holds on to the week’s odors. Self-inflating sleeping pads work great (for me). Keep a small flashlight handy for potty runs – it is possible to become lost in a sea of tents in the dark.


Mark Henkle, June 24, 2021 at 1:42 pm

One year, I think it was in Rock Rapids, a record cold front moved through and the temperature dropped down into the low 40’sF. That was an unusual weather situation, but it can get cool.


Amanda, June 24, 2021 at 2:55 pm

I bring a pair of thick socks to wear at night. I hate cold feet!! This year I am bringing a lt weight sleeping bag and sheets. I will sleep on top of the sleeping bag with the sheets if it’s too hot!.


Rob Fuller, June 24, 2021 at 3:25 pm

2016 – the first night was a humid sweat fest slathered in bug repellent, then each night was better and better (or I was too tired to notice) until it was cool in PM, no bugs, and refreshing in the AM. Go with lightweight layers. I’m planning cozy socks (good idea Amanda) and a beanie in case of cool snap.


SFC JKL 2, June 25, 2021 at 12:00 am

Fleece sleeping bag (liner) and a sheet. If it’s hot I use the sheet and sleep on the bag. If it’s cold, put the sheet inside the bag as a liner. Never had an issue.


Maureen Kangas, June 25, 2021 at 12:20 am

I used a fleece sleeping bag in 2019 and I was cold every night. I’m going to bring a lightweight sleeping bag this year


Jack in VA, June 27, 2021 at 4:40 pm

After 20 years I figured out what works for me. I ride with a charter group so they haul the luggage from town to town. I use a Coleman – style air mattress exclusively- the charter has an inflator that will fill in up in a minute. Throw a fitted sheet on it and lights out. I bought a 40 degree bag about 16 years back -=most nights I fall asleep laying on the bag, only to end up crawling in at some point during the night.
Pull the plug on the mattress in the morning, roll the air out, pack it up, and repeat in the next town.


Rob Fuller, June 28, 2021 at 9:27 am

Just saw an extended forecast that has a few thunderstorms early in the ride, and overnight temps in the sixties later in the ride. Might want to pack a hoodie.


John Condon, July 1, 2021 at 12:22 pm

After years of staying in homes we are camping in tents this year. In addition to a lightweight sleeping bag and air mattress, my sleep also calls for earplugs and a sleep mask. With a tent you sometimes fail to notice that floodlight which will come on after dark. A battery operated fan is essential. On RAGBRAI you will be hot, and you will be cold.


moodyj16403, July 1, 2021 at 6:06 pm

Buy a cheap small usb powered or battery powered fan to help move the air and earplugs if you don’t want to hear kybos door slamming all night.


Jim Martin, July 2, 2021 at 7:01 pm

I decided to go with an ALPS synthetic filled blanket. Gets very small in its’ stuff sack.
And will use my backpacking air mattress. Also stuffs very small, though I will need to blow it up every night.


LawnchairMan, July 3, 2021 at 2:35 pm

I have been annoyed with banging Kybo doors over the years, so in 2019 I put foam tape on the doors. (from a local hardware shop) It made a big difference, but we didn’t always get the same Kybos, and people moved the foam tape. I don’t understand why Kybos don’t come with them glued on. I still use earplugs!


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